"Alas,poor Yorick"

My poor old craftsman riding mower(AYP) whose broad back I have rode often, will probaly need replacing soon.What do you gearhead Guys recommend and are there any changes you would like to see in cheaper production mowers? I know this is basically an automotive thread,but maybe things will get to the point were people can mow with thier cars(chuckle)(actually Lowes has offered a combo generator,ATV,riding mower called a Raven) What do you think,I currently I mow about 2 acres-Kevin

I have been pretty happy with a five year old Craftsman 46" by AYP. It uses Husqvarna parts, and is much cheaper than an equivalent John Deere. The deck is some trouble to unhook and get off, but we haven’t had to do much to it. No issues with the transaxle. Mine has a B&S engine, but if I replace it in the future, I would go with a Kohler engine. The B&S is more temperamental than an older Kohler that I have.

Avoid the Troy Built and similar mowers made by the same company and sold under other names. The Briggs engine is good; it’s the rest of the chassis and the electrics that are junk.

The improvements that could be made to the above comprise a long list…

From what I’ve read on various gearhead forums, that Raven thing at Lowes is a lousy ATV and a lousy lawnmower. Only the generator is worth anything. The Lowes in my area has pulled them from the floor.

I have 5 acres of grass to mow and used a 54’’ cub cadet slt1500 for a long time, its slow, feels cheaply built but it has 400 hard hours on it and its still running.

What is your price range? All the box store mowers seem to have thier ups and downs.

Thanks Guys,@JayHawkRoy-sounds like “Yorick” to me,he has been pretty good,but I want to upgrade a bit next time,Under 2K is my mower budget.
Has anyone got any suggestions for the manus of mowers in this price range?-Kevin

For that price you’ll be looking at a basic lawn tractor. I truely think your best bet is to go to Home Depot or Lowe’s (or whatever established big box store is common in your region) and get their “branded” unit. I used to like Sears, because I could rely on parts availability long into the future and fixtures were readily available, but I’m not sure the Sears of today is long lived. It sort of rocked my confidence when they were bought by KMart.

A lot also depends on how you plan to use it. If you’ll be plowing or tilling, a heavier drivetrain is wise, so a “garden tractor” is better than a “lawn tractor”. I you’ll be pulling in and out of the road during your use, be sure your model has the capability to support a lighting unit.

Full frames to mount buckets and such as well as the PTOs to operate the hydraulics are available in small tractors, but not in the sub-$2K range.

We have had good luck with cub cadet

My brother is still using a Wheel Horse riding mower that came with the place he bought back in 1986. The previous owners of his house threw it in with the deal along with a boat (he has a large lot on a lake). The Wheel Horse has had no major work and the few parts he needed are still available for a 30+ year old piece of equipment. I have no idea of the cost of these units, but if my brother’s mower is an example of how well they hold up, the Wheel Horse might be worth looking at.

Why not go with another Craftsman? I’d consider a John Deere if I could afford it.

mowing 2 and 5 acres?


A couple of goats would do well on 1.90 acres of grass. Then sell the goat for slaughter or milk for cheese. Then you would need only a smallish 20" deck and be done in 15 minutes.

I’ll emphasize my recommendation about not buying a Troy Built. My daughter bought a new one and it was used mostly as a tow vehicle for a garden trailer with plants and tools. Mowing was irrelevant so this means any duty this tractor saw could be considered very light.

Problems with it in the first 2 years…
Shredded drive belt in the first 2 months. (Inferior Chinese belt)
Ignition switch failed leading to a no-start condition.
Ignition switch failed again; this time leading to no lighting operation.
External starter solenoid failed. (similar to a Ford solenoid, which is what I put on it)
Battery died inside of 6 months.
Pain in the neck to change oil unless you buy an optional oil change kit.
Excessive front tire wear due to too much positive camber and which is not adjustable.
The entire steering linkage is poorly designed and has a lot of slop in it. Cops could think the operator is a DWI case…
Carburetor needle leaking off after about a year of use and hydrolocking the engine.
Starter motor failed due to starter armature.
Starter motor inoperative once because an improperly routed wire harness was pinched in the gearshift mechanism.
Cutting deck does not come with casters; those are an option also.
Adjusting said cutting deck can be an exercise in futility; it seldom ends up straight.
Seat started splitting apart after about a year.

The tractor came with an owners manual. Unfortunately, this manual was in Spanish only; not a word of English anywhere.

As to warranty Lowes (both store and on-line) said that a certain small engine facility near here is an authorized factory warranty center. I had dropped by there one time just to make sure they were a warranty center and after talking to 3 people I just gave up because none of the 3 including the foreman could answer the question of whether they do warranty work or not. So I just wrestle the greasy pig myself…

I have no knowledge on how well built Troy-Built mowers are NOW. They got bought out almost 20 years ago.

But my 25yo mulching mower is GREAT. It’s a TRUE mulching mower. Mulches BETTER then anything I’ve see today. They don’t make it anymore. But it truly is a great mower. Still runs great. I just change the oil/sparkplug/air-filter and once a year. Sharpen the blade a couple times a year. Usually starts on the first pull every time.

And for DECADES they were the Gold standard in tillers. I don’t know how good they are now.

If you have access to Consumer Reports. start with the May 2013 issue. There is a wide range of CR best buys listed. I generally prefer 46-48" deck size, but as others have stated, a wider deck can be a plus. I would look at a John Deere D140 first and then go from there. Price-wise, it seems to be within your intended price range.

yes,JHR,I usually prefer something in that range,my current one is a “46” 2 blade mower,hmmm’ maybe the husquvarna fast trac.
Anyway all that aside for awhile,are there any changes you Folks would like in this mower range-Kevin

“They got bought out almost 20 years ago.”

Add Troy-Bilt to the long list of companies that used to make some of the finest gear, were bought out or new management, and sold junk there after:

Fender, RCA, Zenith, Marantz, Hewlett-Packard, Sony (CRT TVs at least)…

Care to add to this list?

Black and Decker manufactures a lot of junk…

My sister in law’s husband retired from the Air Force after a lot of years and does some lawn spraying and mowing on contract.
He sticks with John Deere mowers but he does curse the repair costs and compares JD green to money…

Consumer Reports best buys in the 46" deck:
Snapper NXT2346, $2800
Husqvarna YTH21K46, $1600
Craftsman 28885, $1300

In the 48" deck:
John Deere D140, D150, D160 $2000
Craftsman 28861, $2800
Craftsman 28858, $2000

To me, a smooth hydrostatic drive is important. I generally tolerate decks that are durable but somewhat painful to service (like my Craftsman). If possible, I would test drive some choices to see how they go.

Add Troy-Bilt to the long list of companies that used to make some of the finest gear, were bought out or new management, and sold junk there after:

Fender, RCA, Zenith, Marantz, Hewlett-Packard, Sony (CRT TVs at least)…

Care to add to this list?

Stihl, they still make premium saws, but many of their consumer grade saws are made in china now.

Starter. Back in the early 90’s starter jackets were quality, expensive items, they cost 135 back in 91. People were getting killed for them in big cities. Now they sell them at Wal Mart.

Milwaukee, They still have nice drills, but the big box versions are chinafied versions of what they once were.

Craftsman tools used to be coveted by tradespeople everywhere, but now they’re just run of the mill. They’ve been Kmartized.

Levis jeans, used to be top notch, now they are run of the mill.

Iams dog food. It used to be high quality, but now you can buy it at the supermarket and the ingredient list has changed significantly.

Another vote for Sony. in the 1980s, it was almost possible to see them forever owning consumer electronics.

Hoover vacuums.

Schwinn and Huffy Bikes.

Rca Tvs

Eddie Bauer, Northface.

Gloria Vanderbuilt jeans, in the 1980s only rich girls wore those, I think they were around 100 a pair in 1985 money.

Man this is depressing.

It is a common story-high quality manufacturer cannot compete with low end junk from China-so they sell their name and source the stuff in China.

Everybody has their goods made in China (pretty much), cars being a rare exception (so far). You can have the Chinese make you quality goods or lousy goods. Depends entirely on what you specify and are willing to pay for. I have no complaint with Levi’s. The basic jeans are made on amazing machines that do all the cutting and sewing and involve very little hand work. That’s rare for clothing, but makes for a remarkably consistent product. That’s for the proper standard 501/505, not the cheaper variants. You get what you pay for. At least that still seems largely true with Levi’s.