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Educate me on garden tractors

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#1 Escapegoat OFFLINE  

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Posted October 23, 2016 - 10:15 AM

Hey folks, I'm hoping to get some advice on buying a garden tractor.  I've never owned one before, so I'm not quite sure what I need or what is a good deal.  First a little background:


I recently moved from Tennessee to Ohio.  Garden tractors aren't very common where I'm from, especially older ones like Cub Cadet, Wheel Horse, Sears Suburban, etc.  Most people just buy a cheapo lawn tractor every 5-10 years, or people with a lot of money to blow buy a new Deere or Kubota.  But up here I'm seeing a lot of older garden tractors and they look like really interesting and handy machines.  I've seen several with plows and snowblowers and tiller attachments.  I've never used a snowblower, but now I'm near Lake Erie so I guess I'll need one.  I got an old Toro Snow Pup, and I think it will be fine for the house I'm renting in town.  But I'm looking at buying a place with two acres and a fairly long driveway, and I think I'll need something bigger.  I also might want to plant a garden, and of course I'll have two acres to mow.  A garden tractor seems like the way to go.  I have a lot of experience as a mechanic and fabricator, so I'm not worried about keeping an old machine running as long as parts are available.  But if something a little newer would do the job, maybe that's the way to go?  Some people here tell me that relatively modern garden tractors aren't really comparable to older ones from the 60's and 70's.  I think I could budget around $2500 for the tractor and attachments.  I have no particular brand loyalty.  I just want something simple and reliable to move snow and cut grass.  What do you guys recommend?  

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#2 SimplyRad ONLINE  

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Posted October 23, 2016 - 12:23 PM

Her is a couple leads of older Simplicitys.


http://limaohio.crai...5814605526.html This has a lot with it.


http://limaohio.crai...5777459978.html this doesn't give much info as to what or where.


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Posted October 23, 2016 - 12:33 PM

Honestly, i would reccomend stepping into something a bit bigger then your average GT.

I would suggest either a Farmall Cub, or 8N ford tractor.

Both can be had around 2k in decent shape, the cub will plow a garden and push snow, but you can only use cub attachments, which most are common, plus they are small and manueverable.

However, they are a bit "light" if you want to use it for hard work.

The 8N is considerably larger then a cub, will accept modern attachments, and has plenty of grunt for the average homeowner, however, its larger size makes it less manurverable and takes up more garage space.

If your dead set on a garden style tractor, id reccomend a wide frame cub cadet, just for the shaft drive and availabilty of attachments
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#4 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted October 23, 2016 - 12:39 PM

Welcome to GTT. You have a good attitude. Learn about the possibilities(which are many) before jumping in. The older GTs from the 60s and 70s were generally built to last most stuff built in the last 25 years has already given out. Decide what you want the machine to do. You have a huge budget which is nice. Beware that there is alot of overpriced crap out there. As well as the brands that you mentioned, add: Allis Chalmers/Simplicity(AC/S)(same company early on), Bolens, Case, and Ford/Jacobsen.


Checkout our Manuals Section for lots of info and our Galleries to see what you might like. To give you an idea of what things go for in my area(CT) there is a running Bolens 850 with tiller attachment for $250. Another add has a blower for it for $150. A nice Bolens H16XL with deck is $650. Once you find a tractor you will have to hunt for the attachments that you want. The tricky part is knowing all the adapters that are needed. I've found that it is often easiest to buy the tractor with attachments.


AC/S and Bolens were the most popular so, there will be the most attachments for them. Find out what is most popular in your area. Keep asking questions, we're all in this together. Good Luck, Rick 

Edited by boyscout862, October 23, 2016 - 12:41 PM.

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#5 Cat385B ONLINE  



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Posted October 23, 2016 - 12:40 PM

Just going by parts availability, it is hard to beat John Deere. They also hold their value really well. I was going to suggest their top of line GT in the 90's, the 425-445-455 tractors. Outfitting one with a blower, deck, and tiller in that price range would be tough.
Aside from newer commercial zero turn mowers, nothing mows like a Simplicity. Their midsize GT's used belt driven implements, and there are plenty out there. Their parts support is also decent, but their customer service is in a tailspin.
Bolens made some of the toughest and most innovative GT's before they were bought out, also a good choice.
Since your farther east, I should mention Gravely. Different from your ordinary GT, but they define 'overbuilt'.

All brands have positives and negatives.

Engines are something to mention. Older units with Tecumseh or Wisconsin engines are a crapshoot for parts. Onan engines have stuff available, but it can get pricey quickly.
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Posted October 23, 2016 - 12:57 PM

Id like to add to the engines comment.

In my experience, kohlers seem to be the best for torque and durability, but it seems briggs seem to be the most hardy, as in you can yank one from a field and dump gas in it and itll run.
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#7 oldedeeres ONLINE  

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Posted October 23, 2016 - 12:59 PM

Welcome aboard! You've certainly asked the right questions, and the guys here are bound to have the answers and are willing and very able to help.
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#8 OldBuzzard ONLINE  



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Posted October 23, 2016 - 01:14 PM

Being in Northern Ohio puts you in "Bolens Country".


If you aren't afraid to travel a bit, there is a Bolens  HT23, which is just about the best GT ever built, just north of Detroit listed on CL.




Bolens parts, should you need any are still readily available.

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#9 WrenchinOnIt OFFLINE  

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Posted October 23, 2016 - 01:42 PM

Welcome to GTtalk. I'd say close to the lake depending on wind the lake effect snow can be staggering. All good solid advice stated here. If your going to start off in town ( your rental) i'd lean towards a blower over a blade if I had a choice. Your in snow country now and you are solid in your thinking about getting prepared.

I like all of 'em. They all have pros and cons, your mechanical ability and the fact you recognize older units may require some work is in your favor. You have something else going for you, you joined the best GT forum out there! Tremendous amount of ALL BRANDS knowledge here, plus our sponsors can be huge help with parts ! If you see something you like post it here and the loyalists to that particular brand will help steer you staight.
Don't know how close you are to this:


IMO he's a little high ( if you hang out here long enough you'll find out pricing things sometimes can get controversial) however cash will talk I'm sure, these are VERY stout units, the Kohler K series are bullit proof, again IMO nothing beats an Ariens 2stage sno-caster, not a man killer to get on and off and they blow the snow into the next county.This is package that could fill your need.Good luck with your search.

#10 IHCubGuy OFFLINE  



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Posted October 23, 2016 - 01:49 PM

You could possibly move into something from the 80's or even the 90's.  I know that there are many excellent choices out there for brands and most all of them have been mentioned.  I have no experience personally with Sears, Bolens, Ford or Simplicity but they are all good machines to consider.  I would personally suggest something like a JD 318 or a 782/1812 Cub Cadet or a Wheel Horse 316.  I just got rid of a Massey Ferguson this spring and they are a good machine as well to consider.  Just beware of certain engines like Cat noted costing more to repair.  Onans are good but no longer made and parts are not cheap accordingly.  Like has been said find what is the most abundant in your area for parts and implements.  


Lastly and most importantly.   :welcometogttalk:

Edited by IHCubGuy, October 23, 2016 - 01:52 PM.

#11 Cvans ONLINE  



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Posted October 23, 2016 - 02:57 PM

If you go with a tractor in the 8N or Cub class keep in mind that if you should ever want to run a tiller behind them you will need to go very slow. Whatever you get should have gearing that will allow you to creep. Most older farm tractors that I'm aware of can not creep. The 8N's did come with Sherman step down transmissions as an option and those should allow you to run a tiller. 

Your on the right track though. Ask questions and do your research before making a purchase and you should be good to go.

Good luck with your search.


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#12 shorty OFFLINE  



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Posted October 23, 2016 - 03:03 PM

Welcome to GTtalk!

Find two or three tractors for sale that catch your eye. Then show them here to learn the pros n cons of them.

#13 toppop52 OFFLINE  

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Posted October 23, 2016 - 03:22 PM

The 3000 series Cub Cadets, hydraulics, power steering, weigh 800 plus so they're pretty stable, the 80's Simplicity, Agco Allis, Deutz Allis, Massey Ferguson were all the pretty much the same tractors and were heavy duty, a lot had power steering, all had some hydraulics. The John Deere 318 and 4 series, most had hydraulics and power steering. All these can have three point hitch or sleeve hitch, so implements are pretty universal. They all have front mount blades, buckets, blowers, etc... There are others as well.

#14 CanadianHobbyFarmer OFFLINE  

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Posted October 23, 2016 - 03:27 PM

An International Cub or an 8/9/2N Ford will have a lot more power than a typical garden tractor, but on a property as small as 2 acres, they may be a bit on the large size to manuevere, depending on how things are laid out. I have about 1 acre here and it would be very tight to get around with something that size. You will need something smaller to mow with for sure, I would not want to run something the weight of an 8N over my septic system. I am biased towards Bolens, but as others have said, find what's common in your area and go with that. It will make finding implements and attachments easier.



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Posted October 23, 2016 - 03:31 PM


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