GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE Dork
8/11/20 11:33 a.m.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/924908931337628/

Asking you guys, since I saw the long thread about lawn tractors in the recent past and it seems this is one of the few things where older IS better. I'm going to be in need of a lawn tractor or riding mower because of my property's huge slope and 1/3rd of an acre; the more attachments the better, since living in the midwest means heavy cleanup, plowing and towing are merely eventualities you have to expect, not to mention that I have a building on my property will need to come down in the near future. This tractor will have to tow things uphill, no question and the Cadets heavy rear end appeals to me (heh).

It seems like Cub Cadets are beloved for good reasons, and my search for older tractors has turned up hardly any Bolens, a single late 80s Wheelhorse with a Kawasaki engine (17HP, similar price, deck doesn't work but mower runs, reviews are mixed https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/301522751208061/) and little else aside from boxmart crud. I know they're practically infinetly rebuildable; is this cadet worth a look at all? Should I travel for this one (https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/602959327261055) ? Or is there another brand I should look at?

EvanB (Forum Supporter)
EvanB (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/11/20 11:43 a.m.

I don't have any experience with cub cadet but i know the older ones are popular. I would look for Ariens as well. My gt16 is great, i got a zero turn to take over mowing so the tractor only gets used occasionally with the 3 point blade on the back.

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/11/20 11:56 a.m.

Another brand to keep a lookout for is Simplicity. 

WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter)
WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/11/20 3:35 p.m.

I have a slightly newer but same frame (I believe) Hydro 149.  I love the thing, but it is an old tractor.  Plan on replacing a bit of wiring (it's very simple) and cables such as the throttle cable when you get it any you'll have a better ownership experience.  Keep a starter/generator rebuild kit on hand if it hasn't been done recently and plan on servicing the points and cleaning up the coil connector, it'll make it run a lot happier.  Oh, and verify all of the carb bits are clean and not leaking.   All of this is pretty easy to do. 

I bought mine about 12 years ago when I bought my first house because I kept breaking transaxles on the stupid Bolens-sears-everything stamped-sheetmetal POS that I had.   

Mowing with it is a bit slow and uncomfortable to mow with, and I had to retire it from mowing duty since it took too long to mow my ~3.5 acres at the new place.  I still keep it around as a tugboat, leaf-hauler, and forrest-path-mower.  It still starts nicely after sitting for months at time.

The biggest thing that was hampering me is that, like any old vehicle, you'll go through bouts where every time you need to use it, you have a half hour or hour repair just because it's old,.. Maybe the shift lever has wallowed out the retaining pin so it's not able to go to full speed, for example.  I'm sure they weren't thinking it would still be in use in 50 years!  You'll also go through periods where it just seems like an invincible tank that can be fixed with a rock and a crescent wrench.

EvanB (Forum Supporter)
EvanB (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/11/20 3:39 p.m.
WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter) said:

The biggest thing that was hampering me is that you'll go through bouts where every time you need to use it, you have a half hour or hour repair just because it's old,.. Maybe the shift lever has wallowed out the retaining pin so it's not able to go to full speed, for example.  I'm sure they weren't thinking it would still be in use in 50 years!

Yep, that's the reason i picked up a used commercial zero turn for mowing.

WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter)
WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/11/20 10:29 p.m.
EvanB (Forum Supporter) said:
WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter) said:

The biggest thing that was hampering me is that you'll go through bouts where every time you need to use it, you have a half hour or hour repair just because it's old,.. Maybe the shift lever has wallowed out the retaining pin so it's not able to go to full speed, for example.  I'm sure they weren't thinking it would still be in use in 50 years!

Yep, that's the reason i picked up a used commercial zero turn for mowing.

And the reason I sprung for a brandy-new eXmark zero turn.  At one point, because of my schedule, rain on the nights I was available, and then mechanical issues due to having a ~45 year old tractor it took me a month to completely cut my lawn.   That's when I went shopping. 

pilotbraden
pilotbraden UltraDork
8/12/20 3:31 a.m.

I have a Cub Cadet 12 horsepower Kohler engine built in 1979 it is a wonderful machine. My father bought it new in April of 1979 it has had essentially no unscheduled maintenance done to it I believe there is a seal in the rear axle that had to be replaced because it leaked I would recommend those old Cub Cadet tractors

engiekev
engiekev Reader
8/12/20 8:13 a.m.
WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter) said:

I have a slightly newer but same frame (I believe) Hydro 149.  I love the thing, but it is an old tractor.  Plan on replacing a bit of wiring (it's very simple) and cables such as the throttle cable when you get it any you'll have a better ownership experience.  Keep a starter/generator rebuild kit on hand if it hasn't been done recently and plan on servicing the points and cleaning up the coil connector, it'll make it run a lot happier.  Oh, and verify all of the carb bits are clean and not leaking.   All of this is pretty easy to do. 

I bought mine about 12 years ago when I bought my first house because I kept breaking transaxles on the stupid Bolens-sears-everything stamped-sheetmetal POS that I had.   

Mowing with it is a bit slow and uncomfortable to mow with, and I had to retire it from mowing duty since it took too long to mow my ~3.5 acres at the new place.  I still keep it around as a tugboat, leaf-hauler, and forrest-path-mower.  It still starts nicely after sitting for months at time.

The biggest thing that was hampering me is that, like any old vehicle, you'll go through bouts where every time you need to use it, you have a half hour or hour repair just because it's old,.. Maybe the shift lever has wallowed out the retaining pin so it's not able to go to full speed, for example.  I'm sure they weren't thinking it would still be in use in 50 years!  You'll also go through periods where it just seems like an invincible tank that can be fixed with a rock and a crescent wrench.

I'm going through these same pains with an older Satoh (mitsubishi) diesel beaver tractor.  General reliability is great, the mechanicals are built extremely well but its the little things that always need adjustment; deck mower parts are usually worn and out of alignment, belts are aging, etc.  Parts are harder to find for older tractors so it almost doesn't make sense to use it for an "everyday" mower and putting tons of hours on the machine.  

Are there newer subcompacts out there worth a damn?  Seems like that with a deck mower would be a good solution instead of having one older toy tractor and a newer zero turn for mowing.

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE Dork
8/12/20 8:48 a.m.

In reply to engiekev :

I'm gonna check for general parts availability, but modern-day mowers are pretty bad. My parent's old rider- a John Deere somethin' from around 2010- started to roach it's rear end trying to pull my MR2 up a paved incline and had to have myself pushing from behind to move it up. Despite it's great engine that put up with dumbass teenager-grade abuse it would get stuck in ruts pretty frequently, through part of that might be poor tires.

The real big limiting factor here is just money; a new lawn toy is hundreds I'd need to instead spend on new doors, and I haven't seen a single rider that wasn't ~$800 scratch n' dent.

volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter)
volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/12/20 8:56 a.m.

Current mower is a Simplicity Sunrunner or Sunstar (forget) and it's a real tank so far.  Probably overkill for what you need though.  Mowing 1/3 acre is small rider/ good self-propelled mower territory.  It might be better to just get a really decent walk-behind (better exercise, too!) and then pick up an older cheap Cub with ag tread tires and no deck for towing and pulling and other dirty work. 

WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter)
WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/12/20 9:01 a.m.

In reply to engiekev :

When I was looking, I couldn't find any that didn't have a really flexible stamped-steel C-Channel for the chassis paired with a crappy (literally poor quality) cast aluminum transaxle case which was only clamped together by the 4 bolts that were securing it to said flexible c-channel frame.   I don't know if that's changed in a decade, though, but that's why I kept breaking transaxles on my Bolens.  My old property had a lot of sharp angles and if you went over one of those wrong, it would flex the frame and then crack the transaxle housing.

I'm assuming that they're out there, but I could only afford up to $2k at that time, and I couldn't find anything brand new that wasn't the same poor design under that price range.

When I figured out who had solved the problem (garden-class tractor pulling guys), all of my research pointed to the cubs, so that's what I went out to find.  I bought mine in 2009 (I think) for $800, and I got hundreds or thousands of hours out of it with minimal work.  It's a really good machine, just plan to tinker quite a bit like any older piece of equipment.  I'm also lucky because there's still an old-school cub dealer in my town that has the parts in stock, which makes it easier to keep alive when, say, the PTO clutch falls apart.

For reference, though, my '74 cub cadet had a MSRP of $1800, which would equal $9,460 in today's dollars.  So perhaps if I had more money to spend back when I was looking for a riding mower, I could have found a modern equivalent?

WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter)
WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/12/20 9:06 a.m.

Oh, one other thing, depending on your intended usage.  The (plow) blades are (were?) fairly easy to find, but the single-stage snow blowers were pretty hard to get ahold of in working or rebuildable condition, and generally regarded to not work as well as a modern 2 stage anyway.  Tillers are damn-near impossible to find, period.   If you need this to mow, make sure you know where to source a cutting deck before buying.  All of this stuff suffers old-tractor availability issues, sometimes there's a glut of them, sometimes there's a famine, so if you don't get a cutting deck with it, it may not be a good deal if you need to cut this year with it.

And I agree that tires will make your biggest difference when towing with the cub, especially over grass.   But keep in mind, the thing only weighs like 350-400 lb, so even with you riding it's only 600lb or so.  A fallen tree or knocked down building half-anchored in the mud may very well need more than that.  It's not a truck or a full size tractor by any means.

volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter)
volvoclearinghouse (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
8/12/20 9:21 a.m.

In reply to WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter) :

Right.  Even my bucket tractor, which weighs about 1500 lbs and is 4WD, struggles with stuff that my pickup can yank around with ease. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/12/20 9:55 a.m.
GIRTHQUAKE said:

In reply to engiekev :

I'm gonna check for general parts availability, but modern-day mowers are pretty bad. My parent's old rider- a John Deere somethin' from around 2010- started to roach it's rear end trying to pull my MR2 up a paved incline and had to have myself pushing from behind to move it up. Despite it's great engine that put up with dumbass teenager-grade abuse it would get stuck in ruts pretty frequently, through part of that might be poor tires.

The real big limiting factor here is just money; a new lawn toy is hundreds I'd need to instead spend on new doors, and I haven't seen a single rider that wasn't ~$800 scratch n' dent.

Betcha that JD was a box store purchase, right?  I proper John Deere pretty much can't be killed.  Same goes for a lot of the older name brands.  Dad has a JD 322 from the 80s that has been a mowing mule for 6 acres, tows as much as 3500 lbs around the farm, and the hour meter broke somewhere around 2000 hours and that was years ago.

box store versions of tractors are hideously awful.  Thin stamped steel for everything, including the rear axles.  I'm not sure why Cub Cadet, JD, or anyone would lend their name to that junk.

When I worked for HD, there were several times that two of us just picked up one of those riders and set it on the back of a truck.

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE Dork
8/12/20 11:01 a.m.

In reply to WonkoTheSane (Forum Supporter) :

Thankfully I have a free snowblower so I don't have to worry about that part- the unit comes with a mowing deck, so It'll be more figuring out if it's workable or not. I've already found ads for dozer blades that should fit near me.

I Yeah, I'm trying to keep myself from already "making up my mind" about it; problem is tho, with an odd wood shop that needs to come down and the huge incline, coupled with furniture I haven't begun to move yet, having it would be a massive help and getting one to run for half of the cheapest ones I can find will be a big help. I just have to make sure I get something good.

Also helps there's a chance I could get this working just fine for half the cost of the Honda self-propelleds. Even the cheapest propelled push mowers are near $400.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse (forum Supporter) :

Yeah, a low bar I admit, but my family has stopped using it completely after getting their zero-turn for many reasons like that one; i'd never ask for it tho, since they already have given me so much.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Yeah, I had read that thread to prepare myself for buying something like this: your story fits that JD to a T. It throws belts like you can't believe, and that pull was up such a mild incline we gave up and pushed it.

 

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