EL Cheapo riding mowers: Grooming Mowers Finish Mowers  -- Tractor Attachments Implements 3ph Discussion Forum and Review EL Cheapo riding mowers: Grooming Mowers Finish Mowers -- Tractor Attachments Implements 3ph Discussion Forum

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 05-15-2005, 20:03 Post: 111084
DRankin



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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

Anybody have relevant experience with the basic low end riding mower found outside of any big box store?

You know the kind, one cylinder air cooled B&S engine, no oil filter (maybe not even a pressurized lubrication system??), belt drive, simple mechanical tranny, 38-42 inch cut, etc.

Can I go wrong for 900 bucks? Is there a minimum level of stuff I should be looking for? Are the engines reliable at this level? How long do the belts last?






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 05-15-2005, 20:42 Post: 111086
ncrunch32



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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

DR - I have driven many cheap lawn tractors - my Dad used to buy JC Penney, Sears - we had 3 acres of lawn and my father could fix anything. I have also purchased a Gravely lawn tractor (for $3,000 used) of my own in my later years which I have had for 18+ years and the engine is just starting to need an overhaul (probably will buy a new machine). I use a cheap MTD for my Mother's lawn which she can't bear to part with since my Dad purchased it later in life. I just had to have the tranny replaced in the MTD.

The Gravely is like a cadillac compared to the cheap MTD. So is a classic "wheel horse" like a cadillac. A good lawn tractor will run about $4,000 time you are done. A cheap $900 tractor will also serve you well but for far fewer years and will feel tinney, spring levers that feel weak, and will last a few years before help is required. They also can't pull much without hurting the transmission.

But - I buy cheap water softeners and throw them out when they fail and buy another. It seems to be worth it rather than purchasing Culligan. The same with lawn mowers - it is probably more cost effective to buy the cheap mowers and just buy another when you need them. However - I have a thing for lawn tractors and just like to be comfortable and feel the quality when I ride on them - same as a CUT. SO I think I will purchase up a notch from the lowest series when I buy a replacement for my gravely.

I am looking at the JD LT series tomorrow AM. I want the hitch to be strong enough to pull a garden cart without bending - also would like an electric PTO so my wife can use the mower. A Kohler or Kawasaki engine would be nice. And an adjustable seat! Nothing seems to compare to the Gravely anymore (at least within my price range).






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 05-15-2005, 20:46 Post: 111087
ncrunch32



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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

Belts, engines are usually fine on these tractors - they are just weak frames and weak transmissions. They are not meant to pull much weight - do heavy work - but the engineering is pretty good on belts - I never had to replace my Mom's belt on the MTD.






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 05-15-2005, 21:07 Post: 111089
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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

Not sure if this helps, but I bought a JD 14PZ push mower in 93 that has a one cylinder Briggs engine. I used it once or twice a week for seven years, then gave it to my cousin who is still using it weekly. Never a problem with the engine (or the mower, outside of a throttle cable and carb rebuild). And it always started much easier than the Honda engines I've had.






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 05-15-2005, 22:39 Post: 111100
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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

Mark, speaking of El Cheapo's, my neighbor across from me has has a Craftsman. When I say El Cheapo I mean the neighbor, not the machine. Other than a wave we don't communicate much so I can't get into particulars on the machine other than to say it's the VERY BASIC rider. No matter how high his grass gets, and he lets it get high, I'm always amazed at the results after cutting. I'm sure it's the blade that came with the rider, nothing special, he wouldn't part with the cash. The thing is, there's no wads of grass laying around when he's done. It looks like a golf course. It drives me nuts. He's had it about 10 years. I don't know if you've looked into them at all.






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 05-15-2005, 23:36 Post: 111102
funchy



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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

I owned two El Cheapos before I upgraded to my Kubota BX23. I used them mainly just to mow normal height grass, no extreme conditions or excessive wear.

My first one, MTD, had the trans die early and for no particular reason. My second one I believed to be an upgrade for the MTD cost $1,800 new. Its front wheels actually fall off! Stupid design had cheesy little c-clips holding the wheels on; turn too sharp and -pop- no wheel. Mower deck, a fancy "easy to level system", refused to stay tight no matter what I did to it. Manufacturers never seemed to care, retailers don't usually accept returns on gaspowered mowers after 15 or 30 days... so in a month or two you'll realise the problems and then you're stuck.

I won't even get into how often both these mowers had belt problems. Mower #2 also has one of the mower deck bearings suddenly sieze up (shortly after warranty expired), costing me alot in parts plus another new belt. #$^# things.

Both had reliable b&s engines though #2 had alot of starting problems in each spring once it was no longer new.

Oh, and did I mention these things have no resale value. They're build to be disposable. For $900 you're going to get a self-propelled pushmower that someone tacked a seat and a cupholder onto.

Hang onto your $900 and keep an eye out for a quality used riding tractor.






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 05-16-2005, 07:57 Post: 111118
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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

I'm thinking the same as the crowd on this one.

Your $900 will, IMHO, cut a lot more grass, probably better and definitely longer with a quality rider than a Home Cheapo spankin' new one.

The difference in the 'economy' series machines seem to be in the very worst place possible. The frame and gear. The engines are generally similar, albeit not I/C type stuff, nobody 'makes' an engine, they buy them, usually from either Briggs or Kawasaki, occaisionally Honda or Kholer.

However, a cast iron front axle and spindles and heavy frame may mean the difference between a couple of years of service, and a couple of decades of service.

Remember, there's really no suspension on a rider, a lawn is rarely as smooth as we'd like. Add to that a 195 pound operator (;->) and there's a lot of bumping and shock loading on that machine, not to mention the non-stop vibration.

I've got an older Toro WheelHorse that was given to me by a client, it was an inclusion in an auction lot he purchased. It had been THE machine at a small driving range. It was the ball picker, the grass cutter, and the utility truck. The hours meter read 1800+ hours when I got it years ago. It still runs like a top, and cuts beautifully.

Best of luck.






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 05-16-2005, 08:21 Post: 111120
shortmagnum

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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

I might as well get my 2 cents into this topic. Eight years ago along with my wife came a $900 Murray rider (at least I got something out of the deal Smile ). It was already 5 years old then and still works great. I've only replaced battery, cutter blades and a starter solenoid. Yes, everything on it is cheaply built, but it's really paid for itself many times over.
Dave






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 05-16-2005, 09:05 Post: 111123
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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

Now I wonder if El Cheapo would even haul my 300 pound carcass up-hill, especially given the power losses with the altitude around here.

Maybe I should look for something in 4wd. I have been mowing about an acre of weeds with a 5 horse push mower and it is kicking my "S".






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 05-16-2005, 09:14 Post: 111124
Murf

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 EL Cheapo riding mowers

Mark, you've already got the RTV, why look for a 4x4 ?

Find a 4' bush hog in the 'good used' department at your local (?) dealer with a pooched gear box and mount a 16+ hp vertical shaft engine from a donor rider on top to spin the blades. A small frame, hitch and a couple of caster wheels and you will have the equivalent of an Agri-Fab trail mower.

I'd be willing you have less than a grand into it also.

Best of luck.






Link:   Agri-Fab Trail Mower. 

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