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Make Smoke, Boil Water!
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I've had my 345 since new. But we're both aging... I need your help to figure out what to do next. Grab yourself a cup of coffee (I just made a pot, help yourself) and a cookie from the plate over there while I tell you about the circumstances.

The tractor runs/works fine for the most part, and is a pretty good match power-wise for the duty I give it. It does think it's a brush hog because of the meadows I mow with it. They're not "lawns" because they are very rough, lumpy, and brutal-to-mow, alpine meadows. The grades run from about 6% to about 14% on the areas I mow.

There is a good side. Here's a photo to show what I mean.



I know lots of you would rather that I have a pretty, clean, shiny, unscratched hood in this photo, but the work that the machine and I do is rough, dirty, dusty, and long. It takes about 4 to 5 hours to mow everything. The old girl does get to sleep in a nice dry barn, though. It's been maintained way better than Uncle John specifies, but it's not been the most fun from a long-term ownership standpoint.

Here are my problems.

The tractor really, really beats me up when mowing. With the rough meadows, it's like taking a ride in a cement mixer, or going a round with Sugar Ray. My back and knees are still sore from mowing two days ago; I won't be right for another day or two yet.

This Kawasaki engine now has a static oil leak. It will eventually lose all the oil in the crankcase as it sits. Rate is about 1/4 quart per week. I only have about 300 hours on this tractor, (but they're REALLY HARD hours) and the engine serial number is just above the cutoff for the plastic cam gear. Repair for this problem has been quoted at about $400-$500, maybe as much as $650.

I have been mildly tempted to go look at new shiny green tractors, but I have a feeling that there's going to be a $12,000 difference involved. That's ... about ... six grand too much for an easy sale for my wife. Pretty much the choices I have for dealers in my area are down to green or orange. You very seldom see good used machines on Craigslist around here.

One side usage possibility is to get something that can drive a PTO generator with 5 KW of capacity, to power our house through the occasional (and always at the wrong time) power outages.

So my question: Do you folks have any suggestions as to anything that will ride better, save my back and knees, and do this basic work?

I want to have some firm ideas in mind before I talk to my wife further about which direction to go.

If you don't mind chatting back and forth a bit, maybe we can figure out what to do. Looking forward to your questions and comments.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Diesel Power
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5,340 Posts
Well, you kind of answered your own question in the first few sentences. You need a brush hog for that work. What you tow it with just needs to have a rear PTO and a 3 pt. hitch. For comfort you need a larger machine. Honestly you need a SCUT, but if money is a problem look into the older SCUTs like a model 650. The 345 is a fine machine but it is made for manicured lawns and not mowing pastures :).
 

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A couple things I would reccommend Check your tire pressure. Try running it a pound or two lower then reccommended, The next thing , I remove the grass chute . It don't row the clippings, It just scatters them. You have a good machine. and it is built to work , Not to keep shinie and look at; it's a work horse..
 

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My answer diverges to two answers.

1) keep the machine, those few $$ say a repair is a minor investment to keep that baby running.

2) get a bigger machine. I used to do the 4-5 hour mow, then I found the pleasure of a 72" cut GT!! :fing32:

That 4-5 hours turned into a leisurely 1.5 hour ride. I love it.

The older you get, the more you will like the shorter ride.

My 345 sized machine now gets used to trim around the garden, etc..

The big one does EVERYTHING else.

Generator!?? Get a Miller engine driven welder, you know you always wanted to learn to weld, anyways!! The same $$, MUCH more fun!! :drunkie:

All the welders are 8Kw to 10Kw, plenty to keep the missus happy when the grid is down.

OHHHHHH!! think of all the new projects the welder will allow!! :praying:
 

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Make Smoke, Boil Water!
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1,708 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Yep Tony, I do run the tires a bit low, that's how I figured out that TOO low is not good, either. Rolled one right off the rim, right up next to the fence. :fing20:

I haven't had the chute on the deck since the second year I owned it, so that one's covered! The tractor will mow wet grass just fine without that chute.

To give you an idea of how hard the machine works... First time I took the belt guards off, I about fainted at the amount of grass and junk that was stuck underneath!

And Harry, I sure appreciate your ideas. Maybe something used, but I haven't had any idea what to be looking for. This really helps!
I do have some narrow spaces where a tow-behind brush hog might get me in a pinch, but I could do them if I could back into them.
Can you mow backwards with a brush hog running?
 

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Sounds like $6k is about your budget limit. Does that include selling the 345? You can get 2-3 year old X740's in the high 7's on up if you can sell the 345 and add to the budget. I would go to machinefinder and see if you can find anything within driving distance. They come with suspension seats and a diesel so it will probably be the last tractor you buy. Gas powered X7's are much cheaper. I also see a lot of 2305's in the 9-10k range and that's usually with a loader and some form of mower (mid-mount or bush hog). You could also look at the generation prior to the 2305, they have come down in price and usually they do not have too many hours on them.

I flew a Chinook helicopter through the gorge a couple of year ago and that place is beautiful. I would have enjoyed if it had not been for the low clouds and high wires I had to thread through, especially around Bonneville ***.
 

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Hello,you need a 3520,No not realy ,but I do love mine.Go to the dealer, leave the check book home ! You just might want to treat your self to one ; new/almost new machine.kick some tirers,sit on some seats,look under some hoods.You where going there for parts anyway ?
 

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A 400-series or X with the suspension seat, 26" rear tires, and 60 or 62 deck would make life better.


Sent from the MTF Free App
BTW the Machines He Mentioned Can Be found Used In Your Price Range such as a 445, 455, X475, X485 X495, X575 and they can all be a equipped with 540RPM rear PTOs and Could Run a Generator actually Deere Markets a Generator for them and they Can even a run a 4ft Brush cutter if You wanted and they are all have a lot More Comfortable ride I have Run a X485 for the Past 10 years as of this June to Maintain 5.5 acres Here is the size of It

:thThumbsU
 

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I am going to disagree with most.Especially the bigger machine being more comfortable.
Your 345 has done and will continue to do what you need with the exception of running a generator.
You can take a seat suspension from a 445/455 or even one of the newer X series and fit it to your 345.
The back brace has to be cut to clear the gas tank but that takes only a couple seconds.
I would repair the oil leak,don't worry about the plastic cam until it breaks.This is a non interference engine so you won't bend valves when it does go.MANY do not break at all.It is not something I would worry about till it happens.
Here is a high back seat on a 445/455 suspension on my GX345.These guys can take a lot of abuse.Keep it and fix/modify yours is my vote.

AJ
 

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Make Smoke, Boil Water!
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1,708 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I sure appreciate the ideas...

You folks have been a real help here. :thanku:

I have no general fault with the tractor itself; it's taken all the beating I've given it in stride. But I'm the one who can't take the beating any more.

I started off thinking that maybe I could put bigger rubber on it, but then there's only so much space in those fenders. And changing the seat is only good for vertical bumps, not the side-to-side beating I've been taking. Think about the whiplash you get when driving over a standard 6" curb, one wheel at a time.

But oh my golly, I've been reading TractorForum for probably too long... :duh: Now I'm thinking that the 345 and all its attachments would bring me a good trade if I go see the guys in the Green and Yellow Store. Trading for a good used machine is looking to be the best strategy. I'm thinking that this summer might be the time to do it, maybe the dealer will be getting trades in. I could always leave my name for when something comes in, too. I don't HAVE to be in a hurry - speed always costs!

If you folks had any advice about when to trade, that'd be most helpful, too.

Now I just have to figure out how to present it so that it makes sense...
 

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Make Smoke, Boil Water!
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1,708 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
I flew a Chinook helicopter through the gorge a couple of year ago and that place is beautiful. I would have enjoyed if it had not been for the low clouds and high wires I had to thread through, especially around Bonneville ***.
I live along the top of a ravine that's one of the tributaries of the Columbia. The Air Guard and the fire bomber guys sometimes use it as a practice space. Some time ago, I'd been reading in my Smithsonian Air and Space about the Grumman Neptune. Couple days later, I'm outside reading Scripture when this sound that's only made by rotary engines is coming my way. I stand and look around and see nothing. It gets closer and way louder. Then I look to the right, up the ravine, and there's this giant vertical stabilizer cutting its way down the ravine, below me, and that's all I can see of it... It looks just like the shark fin in the movie JAWS. A few seconds later, this Neptune roars up out of the ravine with one wing high. What a sight!
 

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If you are driving over rough terrain ANY Deere is going to give you a beating.
Changing machines won't help you any.
The newer 345's came with 24x12-12 so you can go a little larger on tires.
Not sure how much if any that would help.
Thanks for the coffee and cookie.

AJ
 

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Make Smoke, Boil Water!
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Discussion Starter #16
Let's think about this for a minute

Okay, so let's take a drive down Speculation Road for a couple minutes here...

What about dual rear wheels...?

Looks like I might be able to put together something with Miller Tire here. This might be an easier sale for my sweetheart AND the result would give me better stability so just routine mowing wouldn't kill my back from the side-to-side whiplash.


So... next question then... I can see that this would put a lot of stress on the wheel bearings, so would I wreck my 345's transaxle by doing this?
 
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