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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,
I am in the market for a mower and am way confused on what's a good product these days. The who makes what list just made things worse. Anyway I would like some input on machine selection for cutting a 2.5 acre lawn(fast growing, flat but with many trees) and perhaps towing a small trailer for yard cleanup. I need to buy something used and just want the least amount of trouble possible with something that will get the job done reasonably quickly. I was looking at a toro timecutter today (2008 42") but saw on the "who makes" list it is made by mtd, which I understand to be a very low end manu. Seems like every brand has its share of horror stories from the reviews. So what brand/ model would you choose if budget is around $1500
Thanks
 

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Turf consultant
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141 Posts
For $1500 I don't think you will be able to touch a good ZTR, new or used. The new ones will definitely be on the cheap end and the higher-end used ones will be pretty beat by the time they reach the $1500 price point.


Although I will agree that a ZTR will be faster than almost any garden tractor, I think the price point leaves you with a tractor. I would suggest checking out older Cub Cadets or Kubotas with a 50" or larger deck. Both of them can be had for a reasonable price and parts are fairly common, with the advantage going to the Cub for parts availability. There are a few Deeres that could fit your needs but they will carry a premium price to some other brands.

My other thought is an older Toro Groundsmaster. You may be able to pick up an old Groundmaster 52 or maybe even a 223 if you searched around a bit. There are a few placed in Florida that deal in used golf course equipment which may be a good starting point.
 

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A 5 to 10 year old Craftsman GT5000 could be had in that price range, and they usually have the 54" deck. Don't go with the LT or YT or even the DYT models as they are lower end machines, but the Craftsman GT models are well made and are usually less expensive than comparable used CC or JD machines.
 

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This is a basic point of knowledge so forgive me if you are already aware but for the sake of thoroughness....

A geared transmission will be more durable (in general) and able to handle heavy tasks better (plowing, ground engaging equipment, heavy attachments like rollers).

A hydrostatic transmission comes into it's own when you have many obstacles like trees that require frequent speed adjustments. If you are only going to mow it sounds like a hydro is for you based on the many trees part of your post.

I have a hydro, but then again I only have a lawn tractor (as opposed to a garden tractor). This is because my tractor only mows and occasionally pulls a lawn sweeper. If you never plan on doing anything but mowing then a garden tractor might be more than you really need (not that that's a bad thing).

Based on your $1500 price point I doubt you really want a lawn tractor (like the title says).
 

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Certified Technician
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1500 will definitely get you into a Deere LX series, Hydro trans, 48"+ decks, Kawasaki engines.

I wouldnt pay over 500 for ANY GT5000 craftsman, I had 2..worked on numerous. The briggs is a ticking time bomb on the briggs equipped models, and the Decks were trash.
 

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I have a little over 2 acres and I would recomend you not get anything smaller than a 15 horse power..........John.....P.S..:MTF_wel: :MTF_wel:.. WELCOME to the club and like I tell new guys.....these guys have all the answers..........John............:trink39: :trink39:
 

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The Magnificent
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Don't know if Red would let you have his JD316 for $1,500 or not. Of course, he's a bit of a drive up there in the panhandle.

On the new/newer box store stuff, I'll help you narrow it down. They are all made by either Husqvarna, MTD, or John Deere (with the exception of course of the new Sears branded Simplicitys coming back in 2012.

None of those 3 main manufacturers are better or worse than the other. All build to a price specification determined by the retail outlet. Even the Simplicity Prestige rebadged by Sears is a Prestige-lite, and not quite the machine sold by the Simplicity dealers.

So, what to do with $1,500????? Not much in a newer machine. Especially one which is going to do a few acres.

A 42" deck is going to take a while on 2.5 acres. I'd recommend looking at a 54" deck which means a 24 HP machine in the newer stuff, or at least 18 in the older stuff.

I would recommend you put another $1,000 on your budget, then go to the Sears outlet store website to find a nice closeout GT for about half retail price, and get Sears' 3 year warranty with it.
 

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Older craftsman gt6000s are good (not be confused with the gt5000, as another user mentioned) However I wouldn't pay more that $800 for one. Older MTD mowers are good too, it's the newer ones that aren't. My suggestion is to look around on craigslist, and post some links here to what you're interested in.
 

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Turf consultant
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141 Posts
For $1500 I don't think you will be able to touch a good ZTR, new or used. The new ones will definitely be on the cheap end and the higher-end used ones will be pretty beat by the time they reach the $1500 price point.


Although I will agree that a ZTR will be faster than almost any garden tractor, I think the price point leaves you with a tractor. I would suggest checking out older Cub Cadets or Kubotas with a 50" or larger deck. Both of them can be had for a reasonable price and parts are fairly common, with the advantage going to the Cub for parts availability. There are a few Deeres that could fit your needs but they will carry a premium price to some other brands.

My other thought is an older Toro Groundsmaster. You may be able to pick up an old Groundmaster 52 or maybe even a 223 if you searched around a bit. There are a few placed in Florida that deal in used golf course equipment which may be a good starting point.
I may retract on my first statement a little here. How far will $1500 go on a Hustler Fastrak or an Exmark Pioneer, new or used? They both should be step up from a Toro Timecutter. Considering you situation of a decent amount of acreage and a lot of trees, a ZTR makes sense. I would even think the coarse, dense Bermudagrass in FL would give a slight advantage to a higher HP machine with high blade tip speed.

Go to a dealer (not Lowes or Home Depot) or two in your area. Start at the top of the line machine and work your way down. You will get a feel for quality and what features you need or want. For me, a welded deck usually means higher quality than a stamped one (with the exception of Deere's 7-iron). Do the same, learn what a quality machine is and go from there.
 

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Murray tractor owner
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MTD, yardman, yardmachines, white are good machines. I'd look for an 800 series or 900 series GT.
 

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OK you buy a new mower for $1500 take it home and mow the grass now you have a used mower probably worth $900 tops mow the grass 5 more times and now you own a
$6-700 mower.Take that $1500 and you can bring home a nice Simplicity Sunstar or Ariens GT in great condition you'll have a top quality machine,maintain it well and in about 5 years you'll still have a $1500 machine while the $1500 mower you bought at the Box Store sells for scrap at a consignment sale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hey guys,
Thanks for all the input. Gburnett I hear what you are saying and agree. I have been moving the last couple of days and have been looking at the yard which is nicely overgrown at this point and thinking I might have to cut this with the push mower until I can find something decent. I did see a jd 318 on clist for 1400 but not sure if running. Are lx series jd's actually made by John deere?
 
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