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Discussion Starter #1
Bought a used Yard Machines tractor about 3 years ago. got a good deal, but now currently paying the price for buying a low end tractor.

So i really need a tractor to replace it. Looking to do 2 things primarily.
Cut Grass:
just under 2 acres size wise. House is on the property and i don't cut all of it, but most of it.
Pull things. Potentially some smaller boats, although id love it if it could pull my ski boat 2600lbs)

I've been eyeing JD. Was hoping to find an x300 series with a kawasaki for somewhere around $2500 (im in Canada. dollar is crap right now) but i'm not finding much. maybe i should look at other series tractors. My main focus is having something that is reliable. I need my wife to be able to hop on it and run it without issue. been debating maybe buying new.

An S240 new in my area runs about 3200 +tax. but i am not sure if that will fit the bill. x350 is 4000 +tax in my area, but im not even entirely sure i understand what im paying for with that extra $1000.

Just looking for ideas. Anything reasonable is within the realm for me. My dad owns an old bolens, an older Toro wheel horse, and now a very new x540. he has been pushing the JD hard on me cause he likes his new JD so much.

Thanks
 

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You are at the point where a Garden Tractor would do the work, but a SCUT would probably serve you better...and there are some deals to be had fora new one at good prices...not just JD, but Cubs, Kubotas, Simplicity and the MF line looks really good...the low end tractor was like an investment to see if you want to go further into the "world of tractors" ..so it was not a waste ...and it gives you a good reference point for future thoughts on what you want.....if you are a young person and intend to live there for a long time a new SCUT would serve you well as long as you keep up on the maintenance...and by the way
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I wouldn't look for an X3xx to be doing a lot of pulling if any hill or distance is involved, size up to a X500 or go used with a GX345 or 425 (that has had plastic cam gear replaced). Their transmissions will handle what you want to do with no issues.
 

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Don't pull a 2600 lb. boat up any hills with an X300 series tractor. For towing something that size you really need an X500 series at the least, if you're leaning toward JD.

An X350 is the same engine and transaxle as an S240, basically a high end lawn tractor, but with the frame from the X500 series. I don't know why JD did that, other than to fill a price point above the box store lawn tractors and below the X500 series which is their real starting point for Garden Tractors..

If you're just looking to mow and tow then an X500 series should do just fine.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Really appreciate the info from all 3 of you @MARK (LI) , @PA318Guy , and @Nouveau Redneck .

As much as a SCUT looks amazing, i can't close the gap cost wise. up here Kubota BX series starts at $26,000. even if it were half that, its a big jump from 3 or 4000. pipe dream for me atm.

Now that i understand the difference between the S240, X350, and x500 series, i think im smarter to leave pulling boats out of the equation. That drops my needs to mowing the 1.5-2 acres, and possibly pulling around one of the small trailers with dirt etc? soo the big question is, will the S240 with the K46 handle that bit of towing? im not talking a lot, just the odd time. its easier than driving my vehicle on the lawn, but i can use the vehicle when need be. seems like the X300 series is a waste of money. is the S240 good enough to do what im talking about, and is it worth the extra $400 to get the 48" deck?

One of my big issues with the Yard machines mower was it did a terrible job cutting. so im wondering about the 42" vs 48" deck
 

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I think Garden Tractors may get the job done, and you have some good advice already.

It got me thinking though, Buying new and mowing lawns, very easy with the budget proposed. If you buy a full tractor (SCUT) you will find new capabilities you may never have considered and will undoubtedly enjoy the machine. It will give you years of service. When you know you need one, the decision is already made, but....

The down side is the price,

The price for the tractor,
The price for the mowing deck,
The price for the bucket,
The price for maintaining hydraulics if you are relying on someone else,
The price bracket for parts.

This is were I see the value of the Garden Tractor.

The GT is somewhere in between these two.

The price for the tractor will usually include the mower deck.
The price for maintenance will be on the rider side.
The attachments will be easy to afford and learn on.
The price for parts are mostly in the rider category.

The SCUT will be the least maneuverable in tight spaces. The box store special (rider) will be the most maneuverable. The GT is somewhere in between, and light if drain fields are a consideration.

If you are actually considering the GT because of things you might want to do around the 2 acres, Then a GT on the lighter side will start at $5000 to $6000 (US) (Cub Cadet does have a GT50 with K58 at $3,800?). There are used machines that I would consider too, that will most likely be very reliable for you if you stay with top tier brands.

A word on my personal experience towing trailers as something to just consider;

My first rider,

2011 Ariens, 6-spd manual, HD special.

I towed 700 to 1000lbs of sand in a yard cart with it well. If it was a K46 Hydrostatic, I'm confident I would have destroyed it in short order. The problem came when I had to stop on an incline of approximately 4 degrees, the tractor kept moving forward and the trailer flipped, bending the draw bar, and fortunately I was able to learn a valuable lesson without losing my tractor or worse.

I used to have a supercharged SeaDoo Boat, that came out to 2400lbs including trailer. Tongue weight was approx 200lbs, and the little brake pads on the riders and small GT's are similiar in size as what is common on a mountain bike with disc brakes.

If you are operating a rider that is 450lbs, your front end might be 180lbs or so and the wheel base will be short. Bumps affecting weight on the rear of the tractor, could easily lift that front end and if you have to stop that ton of weight it could fail with much more sever consequences than my little yard trailer. I understand the idea and yes it would be nice, but that level of capable just plain costs money.

What is safe for a GT?

My 900lbs Karavan Utility trailer when empty is very easy to move around with my GT and a power sleeve. The yard trailer no issues, and I was able to move my project car carefully with someone operating the cars brakes. As capable as I know my GT is, I still would not move the SeaDoo (if I had it) until I put a disc brake modification on it and my suitcase weights on the front end for counter weight. The SCUT is better suited for that job.

Dropping the 2,600 lbs occasional trailer moving will save you approx $7,000 to $8,000 (US) in initial purchase cost.

If there is any chance your significant other, or yourself has a green thumb and picture tilling, seeding, etc, or even landscape work, consider what your time is worth, a Garden Tractor can work ground at near rider maintenance costs much faster than anything you will push, and comfortably too.

I've spent $3000 on a 4x4 upgrade from the Dealer, I almost never used. And $1,500 on a steel boat trailer for saltwater use, I always regretted not putting an extra $700 ($2100) for an aluminum boat trailer.

Take your time, like buying the family car, it's worth the time, to find the right one.
 

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I think there would be concerns about pulling stuff with the S240/X300. It would at least make me nervous (damaging their transmission would be expensive).

Is used an option? A used garden tractor would be much more capable of pulling stuff around, easily better-suited than the S240 or at least the lower-end X3xx machines. I was looking at used machines like the John Deere GT235, or their GX series is even nicer, I believe (though tough to find, around here). Also Deere 3xx and 4xx series tractors. There are other robust GTs too, like Wheel Horse options, Cub Cadet 2xxx or 3xxx series tractors, etc.
 

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I think Garden Tractors may get the job done, and you have some good advice already.
...
A word on my personal experience towing trailers as something to just consider;
...
My 900lbs Karavan Utility trailer when empty is very easy to move around with my GT and a power sleeve.
...
Take your time, like buying the family car, it's worth the time, to find the right one.
Lots of great experience and info, thanks! Even though I'm not OP, it's still great to learn from what others have done.

Can I ask what a power sleeve is? I just mounted a $10 trailer ball on the back of my LT, in the attachments hole. And have now moved that ball to the GT. Thankfully, its steel is a lot thicker where it mounts, so less concern about bending, vs on the LT's mount.

Great advice to take your time to find the right equipment. I wasn't in a rush, it took me about 2 years before I found my machine. Upping the budget a little would have helped a lot, of course. And I still would have been in the price range of a "nice" box-store lawn tractor. But I got something much more solid and capable.
 

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You want to cut grass and pull heavier loads on a $2500 budget... let your wife pick out a new lawn tractor for 2k to cut the grass and go find your self an old school garden tractor with a Peerless 2300 manual transaxle.... a 2600 lb ski boat wont even slow it down.... I was pulling a 5000 lb Ford tractor around yesterday... went across grass and gravel without spinning a tire.
 

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You want to cut grass and pull heavier loads on a $2500 budget... let your wife pick out a new lawn tractor for 2k to cut the grass and go find your self an old school garden tractor with a Peerless 2300 manual transaxle.... a 2600 lb ski boat wont even slow it down.... I was pulling a 5000 lb Ford tractor around yesterday... went across grass and gravel without spinning a tire.
Probably the best advice on he subject..I would only add that if your property is relatively flat you could consider a ZT for the mowing tasks and used GT for the hard work...you can pick up something that would be usable in the US for about 500 dollars..I know you pay more up North of us ..just don't know how severe the difference is
 

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Interesting point. The GT wouldn't even need a mower deck, which might widen your options. We had a Craftsman GT18, maybe early-90s? It had a high and low range, which I understand is a good feature for dragging heavy stuff. No diff lock, unfortunately.

Lance, are there examples of machines that use the tranny you suggested? Might make it easier for him, if he had a starting point for searches.
 

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Ive now dragged home 218 differant garden tractors.... my PULLER... is a 1974 MTD 960 built in Canada and branded as a Columbia... 16hp BS single with Peerless 2300 manual shift transaxle and fiber disc clutch... not one other tractor that I have had even comes close to what this thing can pull... except another 960... I pulled that Ford tractor using 2nd gear and 1/3 throttle... easily.

Other tractors with the 2300.... thats a long list... most brands used them thru the late 60s/70s and early 80s... JD 110 if you want a green one.... and I happen to have one for sale in Alberta.Lol

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Discussion Starter #14
Liking a lot of the suggestions. I can't close the gap with a SCUT. where i am, its just way out of my price range. I'm digging the idea of something just for grass (which i need sooner than later) and something i find later for pulling (heavy workloads). that being said, ive had a lot of bad experiences with used equipment. This makes me very tentative to buy used. For example, i have seen a few used ZT's around (Husqvarna, JD, Toro) for between 2500-3000 CA. but im hesitant because they are used, and im unfamiliar. where as the S240 is a little more, but its brand new and has a warranty. i know what im getting.

Are the lower end ZT's in the big brands reliable?
 

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any new machine should give you a minimum of 5 years trouble free operation regardless of the price range.... after that even a 10k JD can break down... if you want the wife to cut the grass then let her pick out something she is comfortable with.... tractors are usually a little less money but a ZT is usually nicer to operate and get on/off.

Buying an old school tractor will probably mean you have a little work to do it BUT... they are very simple basic machines that most anyone can learn how to maintain... especially if you find a tractor scrapper, like myself, in your area... then you have a cheap parts source and free advice.

Im in a minority around here... I do not like hydromatic drive systems... everything you want to do requires the engine to be run near full throttle.... thats not really a nice way to treat a 30-40 yr old engine if you want them to last... and, you lose 15-20% of your available power just pumping the oil around... a gearbox is more efficient so you can have a 10hp JD 110 or similar and it will pull your boat around at less than 1/2 throttle... so there is also a big differance in fuel consumption.

For your purposes... I would say a little 10-12hp Cub Cadet from the early 70s would be ideal, parts are not too hard to find and they're a nice little tractor to own/operate... a word of warning tho... they are also addictive, as are most of the old school brands.

I had this CC 126 here a couple years ago, paid $125cad, rebuilt the pto and drive clutches, made up a new exhaust using bits and pieces from Canadian Tire... sold it for $700

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Are the lower end ZT's in the big brands reliable?
About as reliable as the lower end tractors. For the cost I wouldn't even bother and would look into new or used (residential use only) commercial zero turn.

I think the suggestion to get one machine to mow and one machine to tow is excellent. In that regards I would definitely get a Zero Turn, they're designed to only mow and it'll do better than any tractor will and quicker too. FWIW I was able to pick up a brand new, commercial Simplicity zero turn for less money than the entry level Simplicity garden tractor. I was even able to find a leftover model at a dealer for way less than MSRP. The benefit to the commercial zero turn is that for residential use it'll last you a long time, and the commercial zero turn is going to be heavier than any garden tractor which will give you a nicer ride, which will help when you have to mow lawn at full speed to get it done before a rainstorm, and they will mow just as good at full speed.

FWIW I got my Zero Turn new for way less than MSRP and 0% financing for 3 years (didn't need it, but it was there). I sold it 4 years later with only 96 hours on it for $3500 and it was a struggle to get that much. Only reason I sold it was it was too heavy for my new yard at my new house and I had too many hills, went back to my old garden tractor. I also have carpel tunnel and my fingers would go numb running the controls, still wish I could've kept it though.

For towing, Lance is right, an old gear drive tractor is better, all the power is going to the tires. Also older gear drive tractors are less expensive, simpler, and easier to fix.
 

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Sounds like you are getting some great advice which is why I really love this forum, everyone is so helpful. There was a discussion about a month ago that was along the same lines as what you have here. FLHusqGT provided some great info as he has here as well. you might benefit from reading it, I will put the link at the bottom. I think you really want to buy new if I am reading you right and I am in your Dad's camp on JDs I have a x738 and love it. I only wish I had bought one like it 30 years ago. It would still be doing everything that I needed it to do. If you don't want the huge cash layout all at once JD does offers interest free deals. x300s they offer 12 months same as cash and on the x500s they are offering 48 months a zero interest. the x700s are 60 months zero interest, just something to think about.
You said you are in Canada, what do you use to clear your snow, do you think you might want to use the tractor for some of that work? I think several guys mentioned to look ahead to see what you may need to use it for in the future. Many guys on this forum have said figure what you need to do the job and buy up one step. When I was looking for a new riding mower last year I really was struggling with the prices I was seeing and some one on this forum that I was reading before I joined shared " buy once, Cry once" and that really spoke to me. You can buy a tractor once and it will serve you 30 years or more, or you can buy something that you have to replace or upgrade once or twice in the coming years.
Good Luck and welcome to the forum.
Here is that link.
 

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Yeah, I do think "buy once, cry once" often makes a lot of sense. Especially if, say, spending $1500 lasts 3 years, and $2000 lasts 10 years (making up #s).

We've owned our house 15 years, I started with a push mower, then bought a really cheap used LT. A few years later bought a better used LT. Which I've just replaced with a very good condition used GT.

Now, in my case I probably spent $400 total to buy the LTs, so I really haven't "thrown away" much money, though I've spent a while fixing them. And recovered some when selling. But buying something more-capable up front would have provided more capabilities the whole time, and would have also been nicer to operate.
 

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for 2 acres a commercial level ZT is over kill and far above the original budget mentioned of $2500.... and they will still begin needing repairs in 5 years... I maintain a couple Gravely ZTs for a landscape company and they are very nice machines... could prob cut 2 acres in about 20 minutes with the larger one but you dont NEED that kind of machine for home use. Stick to your budget... get a 2k lawn mower... even if the thing is junk after 5 years its only cost you $400 a year....but chances are good that if you maintain it properly it will last 10 years. Nothing built today is designed to last much more than 10 years regardless of the price tag.
 

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that being said, ive had a lot of bad experiences with used equipment.
I've had a few myself over the years. It's understandable. I've also had trouble with new.

You want to cut grass and pull heavier loads on a $2500 budget... let your wife pick out a new lawn tractor for 2k to cut the grass and go find your self an old school garden tractor with a Peerless 2300 manual transaxle....
Lance Skene brought this up, I agree.

Interesting point. The GT wouldn't even need a mower deck, which might widen your options.
RedOctobyr added this, I agree.

Im in a minority around here... I do not like hydromatic drive systems... everything you want to do requires the engine to be run near full throttle.... thats not really a nice way to treat a 30-40 yr old engine if you want them to last... and, you lose 15-20% of your available power just pumping the oil around... a gearbox is more efficient so you can have a 10hp JD 110 or similar and it will pull your boat around at less than 1/2 throttle... so there is also a big differance in fuel consumption.
I also agree with him here. Manual is as close to direct power to the wheels as you are going to get. The $3000 lawn tractor with a 20 hp motor and Tuff Torq K46 (most common transaxle on the lower end) is only capable of producing approximately 3-4 hp at the wheels. I'll put this in a different way, if you had a 5hp motor driving that transaxle, you would have the same performance results as with the 20hp motor. You need hp for the deck too, but I'm just talking about the huge waste of power in the hydrostat.

For towing, Lance is right, an old gear drive tractor is better, all the power is going to the tires. Also older gear drive tractors are less expensive, simpler, and easier to fix.
There is a gear drive consensus building here.

If you put 20hp on that manual Peerless, the performance would be stunning.

As much as I prefer manual over auto, the hydrostat is efficient at some tractor work like using a bucket. The hydrostat seems to shine most in making the tractor easy to operate.

and then,

if you want the wife to cut the grass then let her pick out something she is comfortable with....
I think that is where the hydrostat will win the day.

I think you really want to buy new if I am reading you right and I am in your Dad's camp on JDs I have a x738 and love it. I only wish I had bought one like it 30 years ago. It would still be doing everything that I needed it to do.

You said you are in Canada, what do you use to clear your snow, do you think you might want to use the tractor for some of that work? I think several guys mentioned to look ahead to see what you may need to use it for in the future.

This is on the money, I too am hearing new.

Yeah, I do think "buy once, cry once" often makes a lot of sense.
This is also well said.

A used machine built a few decades ago, designed to last, and designed to work, I believe, will only be enjoyed by someone that has the time, knowledge, or tools-shop, If this is not you, then that used machine could end up costing you a fortune on what you can't see and the different shops you pay to try and resolve the issues for you.

I'm a big advocate for people wanting to learn how to repair these machines themselves and I believe once someone has successfully accomplished a repair, no matter how minor it seems, will potentially "catch the bug". I believe there are many people here that have been trying to say this in other ways and will be glad to offer proper help as in any hobby.

With that said, I know the reality is that timing plays a big role, and when our lives are too busy, the next best option is new.

If you buy the JD S240, I think you will be trilled with your purchase. I wouldn't use it for heavy towing though, use it for what it's designed for, cutting grass and light yard chores. I believe as JD stands by their product with you, it will enhance the joy of ownership. This is all good, and you stay within your budget, making your Wife happy, always a good thing.

If, and I really say if, you have the room, I encourage you to view the GT as a hobby, allow one of the many capable people here to help you, and start down the road of finding your project, assessing the repairs, tool advice, network parts through those wishing to keep this hobby alive, and build that machine.

While you build and possibly learn new skills, the grass is getting cut, enjoy the arguments of who's turn it is to cut the grass, the pressure is off, you will save a ton of cash in the long run, and have something to be proud of plowing snow, tending a garden, moving the boat, and simply showing off a little.

Sincerely,

:)
 
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