Before I get kicked in the tail for posting zero turns on a tractor forum, read on and then tell me if I don't have a very collectable machine. Antique zero turns will someday probably be collectable and I will probably kick myself for selling this 'Hopper, but I'll kick myself for anything I sell with half a good excuse to do it.
I bought an old Grasshopper mower recently. I bought it out of West Virginia, off the farm where it was sold new. I have the original receipt, sales brochure, and all the manuals for it. The man who sold it said he grew up running it and then he says "something happened" and they parked it. He couldn't remember what.
I should have been more concerned, but for a zero turn, and being the sucker that I am, the price was a deal so I dealt.
I brought it home, did the standard fuel system overhaul, changed the oil, and stomped the starter. Being a Kohler Magnum, it started right up and we were alive. Then there came the moment of truth. My fear all along was that a hydraulic drive was blown up, and that was why it was parked. I would have been simply screwed since parts to repair it would have totaled the mower. However, no strange sounds made me a little more relieved.
I pulled off the brake, held my breath, and gently coaxed the levers forward. We gently moved forward. My blood pressure went down, and then I gently backed out of the shop.
I was elated. Life was grand right then. It was the deal of the day.
I made it all the way across the yard, made a turn, and then kept doing it. There I sat, going in circles.
Once I unwound my head, reoriented my eyes, and figured out I was not on a carnival ride, I realized that only one wheel was turning. Being a chain drive machine, one chain had popped off. Shoot, that was easy! I took off the cover, threaded the chain back on, and took off about 10 feet. The same chain jumped. A little more frustrated, I reinstalled the chain. I made it back to the shop, flipped on the mower deck, and went to work. Let's cut some grass.
Guess what. As far away from
civilization my shop as I could get, the chain jumped. This time the cover came off and stayed off, and then I realized what was happening. It seems a bearing was out in the sprocket, so as the chain pulled, it was actually undoing the bolt that the sprocket rotated on that also acted as the chain tensioner.
I was chasing bearings. I called a Grasshopper dealer, and told them I needed bearings for a 1412. They said, "Huh?" I said "1412". They said, "Na." I said, "Ya." They told me to call Grasshopper, since they knew diddly-squat about a 1412.
So I called Grasshopper. The man who answer the phone said I was crazy. I agreed with him that I am usually crazy on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, just to make sure his pride wasn't hurt. When I dropped the bomb and faxed my pictures, I reassured him it was Thursday and I knew exactly what I was talking about. I had a believer. But no part diagrams.
Finally, they found the old guy at the factory (I love old guys who know everything at big companies) and he said he knew all about the 1412. He said it is a model 1212 with a 14 horsepower engine instead of the 12 horsepower engine.
Turns out, the 1212 was marketed all over the US. The 1412 was made specifically for a distributor in Pennsylvania who needed a machine with a little more umph to conquer some hills. Grasshopper was congenial enough to custom make a machine for this distributor (imagine anyone doing that today) and supposedly about 100 were made.
That makes my 1412 probably the rarest zero turn ever produced.
It ought to go in the Grasshopper museum!
Now for the interesting part. Remember, the 1412 was made for a PA distributor. My machine began its working career in W.VA. What gives here?
Ah, the old guy said. That's not unusual. He said that Grasshopper liked the power of the 1412, so they were prone to sending one to a dealer to act as a demo unit. He laughed and said that the 14 horsepower units sold quite a few 12 horsepower tractors! Turns out, he was right! The original sales invoice for my tractor says it was the demo unit.
Amazingly, parts were still available. Grasshopper tells me everything I could want for this mower is still available, and as long as they have any say in the matter parts will stay available. Two new bearings later, I was in style. I've mowed the yard a couple times with this cricket.
"For sale is a quality built Grasshopper 1412 zero turn mower with the hard to find snowblower attachment. Grasshopper built the world's first zero turn radius mower, and they have built quality machines ever since.
"This 1412 is in great shape and ready to get back to work. The hydraulics are strong with full power. The machine is chain drive from the hydraulic motors to the wheels. I have just replaced the bearings in the chain sprockets, so it should be good to go for years.
"The engine is a Kohler Magnum 14. That means it is 14 horsepower. The Magnum series is the next step forward from the legendary Kohler K series. It is still the same cast iron quality with the reliability of solid state ignition.
"The engine drives the hydraulics via a drive shaft. There are no belts to break here!
"It comes with a 44'' mowing deck (nice sharp blades and a new belt) and a 48'' snowblower. The snowblower doesn't look to have ever been used, the original paint is still on the paddles. The only thing you would need to buy is a good set of tire chains to use it."