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I have a small acreage. I need to mow about 3.5 acres fast because I hate mowing (belly mower + offset pull mower to mow 100+ inches per pass). I need to tend the garden which is currently about 14'x70' with room to grow as big as 1.5 acres. I need to repair and maintain ~700' of neglected gravel driveway and do snow removal on said driveway.

I have what I believe is a fairly large GT (JD GX345). I would really like something with more legroom and something where I don't have to reach down as far to release the parking-brake (come to think of it I really don't like anything about the brake on that machine from the pedal position to the release lever). Also I would like FEL, 3-PT, etc. I would like to really cut down on my snow removal time: bigger snow blower, especially taller to handle the deep snow, shaft driven so the belt doesn't get wet and slip when the snow is deeper than the blower is tall. Blower and blade on the same machine would help a lot, so I could use whichever is a better tool at the time/place.
I had this problem. 2.5 acres that took too long to mow, and a need for all the things that a decent small tractor would do.

Solution: Bolens HT-23 with blown motor, repowered with Kohler EFI, and an older Scag Turf Tiger 61". Commercial ZTR is a way faster mowing solution if you have anything other than an open, flat field; and you can keep your tractor in some flavor of working configuration instead of mower. Both made in Wisconsin as a bonus, and the pair was way cheaper than a newer SCUT. I have a mower deck, tiller, 48" wide 27" tall blower, cab, 54" mower deck for the tractor, and 54" blade, as well as a 3 point. Been watching for the FEL, but they've either been beat or expensive. Downside with the Bolens is lack of a 540 rpm rear PTO that works with the 3 point, but, given the attachments that are available for the tractor, I'm not really sure what I'd want to put on the 3 point that needs a 540 drive.

Both machines are shaft drive and Kohler Command Pro powered, although the mower is carbed. There is the odd occasion that I wish the tractor had 4wd, but with chains and weights, it's just not needed. I got 20" of that wet snow this last weekend, and the tractor didn't have any trouble pushing into 5' drifts with just the rear weights on...cab and wheel weights were already off for the year.

Diesel fuel has decent lubricating properties for the reciprocating parts in the engine, where gas doesn't. This accounts for much of the difference in longevity. The lower RPM that diesels excel at is another part of it...great torque at the bottom lets you run lower rpm on average. The heavier general build of diesels to handle the bigger forces that come with high compression ratios accounts for the rest. A "pro" or "hd" gas small engine is considered to be doing really well to pass 2000 hours without being opened up. I suspect it would be very a hard sell to have a machine that would be, what, 90% of the cost (transmission, axles, frame, hydraulics all have to be just as big to keep the capability) with a ~2000 hour gas engine vs. 100% of the cost with a 10,000 hour diesel. I believe that the demise of the last truly HD gas small engine (the Kohler K-series) is part of what killed off almost all of the large gas garden tractors by 1990--the cost vs value curve had shifted too far vs. diesel.
 

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guyina4x4
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They don't make them because most people don't want them.
Majority of people want to pay more upfront, pay more for service, pay more for parts.
Because they NEED a diesel engine!

Never mind all the 50 year old gas tractors running around in the US.

I think fuel economy is the only place diesel is proven better.
I also think all the added diesel expenses negate that advantage. Especially now that diesel fuel almost always costs more per gallon than gas these days.
 

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They don't make them because most people don't want them.
Majority of people want to pay more upfront, pay more for service, pay more for parts.
Because they NEED a diesel engine!

Never mind all the 50 year old gas tractors running around in the US.

I think fuel economy is the only place diesel is proven better.
I also think all the added diesel expenses negate that advantage. Especially now that diesel fuel almost always costs more per gallon than gas these days.
Funny how the gas tractors are all 50 years old...... Diesel is better. Once the manufacturers figured that out, gassers went away.

Fuel economy is a big one, but longevity and torque are two others. There isn't a gas engine around that is even in the same league as a diesel engine as far as longevity is concerned. Diesels are less expensive to own over a longer period of time. Service intervals are longer. Parts CAN be more expensive, but they are less prone to failure than their gas counterparts. If you are the type to trade your equipment in every few years, you may not see the advantage of a diesel engine, that does not mean there is no advantage, however. I enjoy mowing all summer on one or two tanks. The gas engine it replaced used a tank per mowing.
 

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An industrial gasoline engine will likely last as long as an equivalent diesel one; but most gasoline engines today are built lightweight and high powered. It's not due to the fuel they use, but the design they're built to. As said above, check some of those old gasoline engine tractors, still running today.
It doesn't have to be diesel to be tough.

Diesel fuel, being more stable, stores longer. A carburetor gasoline powered engine can have trouble starting and running after time idle, due to grunge buildup from evaporating fuel.
If fuel injected much of that problem goes away, but then the cost is nearly the same as a diesel engine.

In every country I'm aware of, except the US, diesel fuel is far cheaper than gasoline [this is not for technical or environmental reasons, it's political and social. But that's another subject].

The resulting overwhelming preference for diesel powered everything is more psychological than economic. Gasoline is considered ostentatious, wasteful, inefficient. The social pressures of those perceptions are more powerful than the actual numbers.

As scuts and agricultural machines are built for a worldwide market, economy of scale means that you Americans get a better deal if you buy the same machines everyone else buys.

If you put a modern gasoline street vehicle engine into a boat or tractor, set it to never rev more than 50% of the street application maximum.

This is because street specification assumes that it won't be done except for short bursts. Marine and industrial use is continuous.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
:congrats::congrats::congrats:
Bravo Mark.

Torque is a non-issue. If the gas engine doesn't have enough torque, it's not the right (gas) engine for the application. Engine longevity is a non-issue. As mentioned above, a significant number of 80+ year old gas tractors still run. I also wonder if the fuel economy advantage still exists (or has been SIGNIFICANTLY reduced)? I know in U.S. diesel cars and trucks, the emissions regulations have been decimating the fuel economy of diesels - sure they have better emissions but they now use 20% more fuel. Gas engines are getting more fuel efficient (especially in this 20-50 HP space) while diesels are getting less efficient.

Non-emissions diesel VS carbureted gas = Diesel is clear winner.
Emissions-compliant diesel VS Closed loop EFI gas engine = I don't know, I haven't seen a real comparison.

I'll open a Crowd-Funding page so everyone here can chip in to find out. I'll get a Deere X730 Gas (then have to re-power it with a closed-loop EFI engine) and X750 Diesel. I will alternate which one I use to mow every week this summer and keep detailed fuel consumption logs. :tango_face_grin:
 

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:congrats::congrats::congrats:
Bravo Mark.

Torque is a non-issue. If the gas engine doesn't have enough torque, it's not the right (gas) engine for the application. Engine longevity is a non-issue. As mentioned above, a significant number of 80+ year old gas tractors still run. I also wonder if the fuel economy advantage still exists (or has been SIGNIFICANTLY reduced)? I know in U.S. diesel cars and trucks, the emissions regulations have been decimating the fuel economy of diesels - sure they have better emissions but they now use 20% more fuel. Gas engines are getting more fuel efficient (especially in this 20-50 HP space) while diesels are getting less efficient.

Non-emissions diesel VS carbureted gas = Diesel is clear winner.
Emissions-compliant diesel VS Closed loop EFI gas engine = I don't know, I haven't seen a real comparison.

I'll open a Crowd-Funding page so everyone here can chip in to find out. I'll get a Deere X730 Gas (then have to re-power it with a closed-loop EFI engine) and X750 Diesel. I will alternate which one I use to mow every week this summer and keep detailed fuel consumption logs. :tango_face_grin:

Pretty sure the X730 is already a EFI equipped tractor.
 

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To be fair in this discussion, it should be pointed out that the torque can be measured in two places, engine output and rear axle, and the one does not relate to the other directly when a hydro is involved.

Engine output torque only directly relates to rear axle torque with a manual transmission. The reduction resulting from the various gear sets multiplies the torque value at the rear axle. In the case of the hydros used in GTs and SCUTs, the hydro motor displacement and the pressure within, multiplied by the gear reduction of the final drive, determine the rear axle torque.

Engine horsepower is the determining factor for axle torque with a hydro at a given hydro pressure. It takes horsepower to generate movement. Torque does not generate movement without horsepower to back it up.

The axle torque difference between a 24 hp diesel SCUT and a 24 hp gas GT is determined by the transmission and final drive reduction since they both use the same rear tires. The downfall for the GTs is that the final drives are not capable of handling the torque generation capabilities of the hydros that were installed in the heavier models. The SCUT final drives are built stronger, but they both spin their wheels with the same load on the rear tires.

Both SCUTs and GTs are light tractors and way overpowered for their axle torque handling capability. Engine torque and horsepower ratings are for calculating the size and workload capability of powered implements, not for moving the tractor under normal conditions.
 

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:congrats::congrats::congrats:
Bravo Mark.

Torque is a non-issue. If the gas engine doesn't have enough torque, it's not the right (gas) engine for the application. Engine longevity is a non-issue. As mentioned above, a significant number of 80+ year old gas tractors still run. I also wonder if the fuel economy advantage still exists (or has been SIGNIFICANTLY reduced)? I know in U.S. diesel cars and trucks, the emissions regulations have been decimating the fuel economy of diesels - sure they have better emissions but they now use 20% more fuel. Gas engines are getting more fuel efficient (especially in this 20-50 HP space) while diesels are getting less efficient.

Non-emissions diesel VS carbureted gas = Diesel is clear winner.
Emissions-compliant diesel VS Closed loop EFI gas engine = I don't know, I haven't seen a real comparison.

I'll open a Crowd-Funding page so everyone here can chip in to find out. I'll get a Deere X730 Gas (then have to re-power it with a closed-loop EFI engine) and X750 Diesel. I will alternate which one I use to mow every week this summer and keep detailed fuel consumption logs. :tango_face_grin:
I'll have to disagree on torque not being an issue. Torque level at an rpm is the horsepower figure; the equation to calculate it: HP=Torque (lb*ft) * RPM / 5252. I'll agree that gasoline engines can certainly be designed to generate better levels of torque, but typically are not, because the top rpm figures suffer, which in turn limits peak power production.

Diesels have 5 characteristics that, on average, tend to make them torquier at low rpm than similar gas engines, those being higher compression ratios, higher flame propagation rate, longer stroke length, forced induction, and fuel energy content. Stroke length is a pure design feature that can be added to gas engines for similar results, as can forced induction. As far as compression ratio and burn rate, direct injection gas engines come closer to diesels, but a typical port or throttle body injection gasser like you'd find at the top end of the small engine market today isn't close. Diesel fuel also contains about 15% more energy per unit volume than gasoline.

Taken together, those characteristics provide great torque at low rpm, which results in more power being available at low engine speeds. For non-PTO tasks, this allows one to run the engine slower for the same result, which tends to increase fuel economy. You can get similar results to diesel physics with a direct injected gas engine, but then you've lost the cost advantage, and still have the 15% energy density issue. It's looking like the next generation of DI gas engines will need emissions traps for particulates that are similar to the ones used by diesels now, which will push the fuel economy pendulum back toward diesels.

Old gas tractors had very well built engines, which consequently last a long time. Farmers (at least the ones I know) are, by and large, pragmatists; they pick the option that provides the best value when it comes to long term investments. My father in law is one of them; he still milks about 70 head. The bottom line is that, from a life cycle cost standpoint, including purchase price, maintenance, and fuel, gas tractors cost more to own over the long haul. Now, the ag market is a lot different than the SCUT market, to be sure, and this analysis may not be valid for SCUTS.

Gas engine longevity in modern engines is an issue due to how they're built. If you build them to last, like the old tractors were, they cost like a diesel. Once you get to that point, you get better winter starting, and....that's about it.

I'm on board with your general reasoning for having gas, as I made the same choice myself. But, per what I outlined above, I also understand the decision by manufacturers to not put gassers into tractors anymore, as there isn't much market for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Pretty sure the X730 is already a EFI equipped tractor.
I'm 99% sure the X730 uses an Open-Loop EFI engine, meaning it's barely better than a carburetor... Open loop EFI fuels according to a programed table for RPM, Load, Temp, maybe other things like barometric pressure, etc. Closed-Loop EFI starts out with the base-map the open loop system uses, then uses feedback from the O2 sensor to fine-tune the fuel injected in near-real time. The adjustments closed loop systems make are what really make EFI more efficient than carburetors. Why a manufacturer would make an EFI engine without a feedback loop is beyond me when considering how cheap O2 sensors are and how much benefit they provide.
 

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I'll have to disagree on torque not being an issue.
My point was in this space of 20-30 HP engines, if the gas engine does not deliver enough torque at the proper RPM it is not the right gas engine for the job. People make false arguments here that I read as this: "The job requires 43 lb*ft torque 'down-low', no gas engine on earth can make that much torque 'down-low'." False.

You also pointed out forced induction which, while true, is not relevant to any engine that I am aware of in this 20-30 HP GT/SCUT space. Over the last several days, I have looked at several dyno charts of various gas and diesel engines used in GTs and SCUTs... they can be remarkably similar.
 

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Eric,

Ignoring all this talk of engines, have you gone and looked at and driven any potential machines that would do the job?
From what you described, it seems just about any heavy GT or SCUT would do the job.

The real question is - is your budget big enough to get what you want? Anything fairly new and heavy will be pricey.

Dan
I'm cheap, so my "new" machine is a 1998 (Bolens/Troy Bilt GTX 20) and my toy is a 1983 (MF/Snapper 1855).
 

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I've seen lots of guys sell their gassers and buy diesels, never seen anyone sell a diesel to buy a gas. Diesel smells better. Diesel exhaust smells better.

As a general rule, the diesels long outlast the gassers. I'm sure they could build a heavy duty gas engine, but I don't believe anyone currently is. I've seen a couple thousand hours on a gasser that was still going ok, but never much more than that. I have seen LOTS of small diesels in this hp range with over 10000 hours still going great, albeit the machines were a little sloppy.

The last published fuel economy records I saw from John Deere on the X7 series, the diesels were getting awfully close to double the fuel economy of the gas counterpart. Since 10000 hours was your number in post one, you could save a lot of cash in fuel costs (and longer oil change intervals) over 10000 hours, and that's assuming you didn't need to rebuild the gassers several times over in that 10000 hour period.

I'll keep buying diesel. I wish they made diesel push mowers and weed eaters.

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Discussion Starter #33
DL-North: No, I haven't driven anything, I research online to figure out what my options are before laying hands on almost anything.

Nick4030: I would love to see manufacturer published fuel consumption data comparing gas & diesel (although I wish JD used closed-loop fuel injection).

I threw 10,000 hours out there as a hypothetical equivalent to 500,000 miles in a car. I am not a commercial farmer - I anticipate maybe 200 hours per year:
  • I don't want or need an engine almost guaranteed to go 50 years or more for my ~200 hours/yr. I'm too old, I won't be able to maintain this house & property for 50 years.
  • The return on investment through fuel savings is unacceptably long (or might not exist at all if considering the opportunity cost of money).
Also, as Nick4030 pointed out:
  • Wife's riding mower - Gas
  • Push mower - Gas
  • Pull mower - Gas
  • Leaf blowers - Gas
  • String trimmers - Gas
  • Walk-behind snowblower - Gas
  • Generators - Gas
  • Pressure washer - Gas
  • ATVs - Gas
  • Kid's toys - Gas
  • SCUT-Mower/Tiller/Plow/Blower/FEL workhorse - Diesel
"One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn't belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the others by the time I finish this song?"

A gas SCUT, to me, makes the difference between the attached pictures...
 

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Is it the gas engines that stand out??!




Sorry, I had too..... lol

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Eric,

Why do you think you need a SCUT? A large GT would also do the job and then you could get your gas engine.

Why do you compare to a car going 500,000 miles, when in all reality, most don't go anywhere near that far, 250,000 is a lot.

And 200 hrs/year use, that is a whole bunch. I put on about 20 per year for mowing and leaf duty. Snow blowing might add another 10 hrs.

I think the real limitation is your budget, the large GT's and small SCUT's are very pricey.

Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Eric,
Why do you think you need a SCUT? A large GT would also do the job and then you could get your gas engine.
Because I want a shaft-driven (AFAIK 3-pt rear) snow-blower, FEL, 3-pt with enough lift height to work a sub-soiler, and enough lift capacity (FEL & 3-pt) to get me through 30 years on this property.

Why do you compare to a car going 500,000 miles, when in all reality, most don't go anywhere near that far, 250,000 is a lot.
Because my car will turn 258,000 miles this week with no signs of getting tired. As much as I hate my car (and I have hated it for the last 14 years and 245,000 miles) I burn 1 quart of oil per 10,000 miles; the manufacturer considered 1 quart per 5,000 miles "normal" and "acceptable" oil consumption when it was new. I will probably drive this car until the wheels fall off (which is going to be a LONG time because I replaced the wheel-bearings around 190,000 miles).

And 200 hrs/year use, that is a whole bunch. I put on about 20 per year for mowing and leaf duty. Snow blowing might add another 10 hrs.
This is a new property to me, I have never cut this lawn... The seller told me it takes 5+ hours to cut the grass with the GX345/48" deck I bought from them which is ~120 hours of mowing. I currently have a 0.023 acre garden [which was 0.23 acres [10x as big] in most recent aerial photo...with room to grow to roughly 1.5 acres. Cutting grass plus time in the garden, FEL work, 700' driveway maintenance, plowing and/plus/or snow-blowing 700' driveway, and other miscellaneous use is how I got to 200 hours/yr. I did spend under 20 hours snow-blowing the driveway this year, which was less time, but more frustration, than my estimate.
 

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Re: the car, you have my sympathies. :) My truck is coming up on 200k and it's getting pretty rusty and getting some lifter noise, it's going at 250 whether it likes it or not.

I still think a X7xx series or similar would do the job. BTW. my kid has a GT345/48" deck, it's a long way from a X7xx series. In fact, it's well under even my GTX 20.

But, aren't SCUTs plus a well rounded bunch of attachments going for something in the 15 to 25 k range?

Either way, it will be interesting to see what you get and watch you put it to work.
Good luck and enjoy the ride.

Dan
Oh, a 1.5 acre garden?? more sympathies, I'd rather be fishing. :)
 

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Because I want a shaft-driven (AFAIK 3-pt rear) snow-blower, FEL, 3-pt with enough lift height to work a sub-soiler, and enough lift capacity (FEL & 3-pt) to get me through 30 years on this property.
Sad to say that while a SCUT will lift more weight with the 3PH, it won't lift an implement a whole lot higher than a heavy GT. Both tractors have the same size tires.

There are several heavy GTs with shaft drive rear PTOs. If I was a gardening man, my MF 1655 has a 48" shaft drive tiller that pretty much pulverizes the soil to a depth of about 8". It also has a FEL with a 54" bucket that can out lift my MF GC2310 SCUT by a substantial margin, and I gave up using the blower because the neighbor complained about the ice chunks knocking on his front door from 75' away. I use the FEL and 5' back blade for snow duty to the tune of 60 hours per season average, and another 40 hours for the rest of the tasks.

I used that GT for 24 years before getting my SCUT. If I was forced to choose one to keep, I'd sorely miss the back hoe that goes with the SCUT, but I lived without it until 12 years ago and can live without it again for the remainder of my life. My grandson will inherit my 41 year old GT in any event.
 

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Diesels took over in Ag because they were more fuel efficient, lugged better due to the diesel torque curve vs. gas (you get more torque sooner with a diesel), diesel was cheaper than gas, and they were relatively simple to fix.

That was 50 years ago though back in the days of mechanical injection, no EPA stuff, etc... Now, they are just as complicated, or more so, than gassers. In some cases - it seems like diesel has "jumped the shark". I looked at a diesel pickup this spring - it's not worth the extra cost and complexity. I ended up with a gas truck. If I was towing stuff thousands of miles a year, maybe. But that's not my use case.

I get your point. It's a pain to have multiple fuel types around. The new diesels are complicated - I'm not buying the logic they will last forever like their ancestors from 30 years ago. And it's not like any of us are running our tractors at rated power for any appreciable time, which is where the lugging benefits really stand out.

All that said, I do have a 430 on my bucket list someday. There is definitely a cool factor.
 

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Who can resist such a thread LOL....
All the viewpoints are credible and the OP posed a good simple question.
I have a diesel powered SCUT with 23HP. It cuts the same lawn and field 2 previous gas powered L&G tractors did, an 18hp Craftsman and a 23HP JD, and it does it at well over 1/2 the fuel usage. Granted both gassers drove smaller decks which meant more passes but an argument can be made that driving a larger deck takes more power i.e. takes more fuel. So I call it a plus for the diesel.
I still run 2 small gassers, both 8hp Kohler K's that perform duties the SCUT can't (fit into smaller spaces and sickle mows a steep bank).
I hate to use my trimmer but theres a few spots I have to use it because the smaller gasser can't get into.
Lastly I like to have some heat in my shop during the winter and there are times I'm only in there for an hr or so which is too short to run my wood burner so I have a couple kerosene heaters for fast spot heat.
Basically this means I have to store and maintain 4 different fuels:
Diesel
Gasoline
2 stroke gasoline mix
Kerosene
It would be nice to have them all consolidated but then again I'd be having to refill quite a bit.
I dunno, I call it all a wash LOL
Good luck
Dave
 
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