I`ve been around Cub Cadets and all kinds of tractors since I was a kid but I`ve learned a LOT more about them in recent years. I love my 149, it`s a great "little big tractor". It can do surprising work for it`s small size and modest (by todays standards) engine. That said I`ve been looking into getting the 149 a big brother for larger jobs and possibly a FEL. I know the Super Garden Tractors culminating with the mighty 982 are often regarded as the kings of the Cub Cadet world but I wonder if we`re really being fair to the MTD manufactured later tractors? Some use the same trans as the 982 but have more horsepower. AFAIK know only the latest MTD made 982s (`83+) had fine spline 1" heat treated axles. In 1990 they went to much bigger 30mm/1 3/16" fine spline axles and bigger needle axle bearings. Some of the later ones Cubs also have features like a diff lock that could really come in handy.
So with no restriction as to manufacturer and discounting mid sized tractors, what is the brawniest traditional garden tractor Cub Cadet? Maybe a 2284 with 22hp, 2 piece diff and 30mm fine spline axles? Of course that one doesn`t have a diff lock... What do you guys think?