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Morris

What happened to the tractors?

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Morris
This is just a rhetorical quesiton, I suppose, but I went to Lowe's to get some bathroom tile and while there, stopped to check out some of the garden tractors. Husqvarna's, Cub Cadet's, etc. were in abundance. As I looked them over--and this in part was me thinking some on Beeser's recent thread, "I saw a John Deere 110..."--I noticed something. Not a single horizontal shaft engine, all verticals driven by belts, not driveshafts. The question: Is anyone still making direct drive horizontal engine machines anymore, and if not, why not? I had never paid that much attention to garden tractors before this year when I got into them, but it has made me wonder why they don't make them like that anymore.

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Kent
Both Cub Cadet and John Deere use horizontal shafts in their larger garden tractors (not the entry-level lawn tractors sold in the box stores). The Cub 2000 series is horizontal shaft, with a driveshaft, for example. You have to go up to the Legacy to get a horizontal shaft in the Simplicity lineup. I think one of the primary reasons is the cost. In the larger HP ranges (18-25 HP for example), the horizontal shaft versions are often $200 - $400 more... What amazes me is that you can buy one of those box store tractors, complete, for about $600 more than the engine alone would cost if you bought it retail... so you're essentially paying about $600 for the frame, transmission, front end, steering and other controls, sheet metal, wiring, seat, mower deck, and the tires and wheels... not counting that expensive green and yellow paint and decals! :D Go figure!

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Guest
Do any of the box stores sell hydrostatic transmissions? I think I've seen one at Sears... not HD yet.

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Kent
At least the top two Deeres (L130 and G100) sold in the box stores are hydrostats, as far as I know. I think only the cheapest one (L110)of the four models is gear, but I'm not sure... I really haven't looked that close. Basically, if the back wheels don't bolt on, I'm not interested....

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Morris
Guess I've been looking for love in all the wrong places! :D Nice to know they are still out there, even if they will cost an arm and a leg. But I guess, too, I agree with Beeser's post that that plastic and such on today's tractors is kind of a turnoff. I like the old stuff myself, as well...

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D-17_Dave
The nieghbors Troy-Built mower said HYDROSTITIC clearly on the fender decal. After he complained to me about it slowing down while pulling his spiker I looked at it. It uses a double idler pulley to engage the drive belt slowly to pull a forward/reverse transmision. The farther you push the pedal the less the belt slips-the faster you go. However, after pulling the spiker around for a few minuets and over heating the belt, it all but quit pulling. I was appalled that they would represent this as a hydro. No where on the mower does it use any form of fluid drive. After explaining the diff. to him I put him on my HB212. He said if his 23HP wouldn't pull it, how could my 12HP OLD mower pull it. I told him my TRACTOR would do just fine. An hour later he brought it back. Very surprised. This year he bought his Prestige.

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BrianP
I think most of what you see in the Big Box stores represent (as Kent said), entry level lawn tractors. These are for those folks who want to cut their grass while riding a machine and nothing else. Take a look under the back of one sometime. The rearend looks like it belongs in a washing machine. I think Troy Built comes off the same assembly line as all the other "entry level" Cubs, Deeres, Bolens (in name only) and MTD's. If I ever run across an old tube-frame Bolens like I used when I was a wee lad, I'd grab it in a heartbeat. I think Cub and Deere still make the "real" machines, but you have to step up to the cash register with a heavy wallet. Don't get me wrong, I still favor an A/C or Simplicity (when I can find one here in SC) as my "first choice", but an older quality-built machine will always attract my attention. I grew up with guys who taught me to appreciate quality and balance it with cost. Some folks only want the cheapest way to get a job done. "You pays your money and takes your choice" as the old saying goes.

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dirtsaver
As stated above, the "cost leaders" all have belt drives and vertical shaft engines, even in dealerships like ours. I blame this on people not raising gardens and such anymore. Heck, even most of the Zero-turn mowers have a hitch to pull a cart or dethatcher behind. Kent as for your observations on the $600 for the mower chassis and deck, take a close look under a 1000 or 2000 series Cub sold in the last two years. The belt guides for the pto clutch are bent 18ga sheetmetal held on by ONE self-tapping scew. How's that for quality? My estimate is that 85% of all new Cubs end up in the shop for warrenty repairs in the first year. And I'm not picking on Cub alone. We sell them! And I hate to see them go out the door! It's the same thing with most of the lines today and I hope Briggs does not screw up Simplicity that way too.

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Morris
I don't know if it's the fact that people don't raise gardens much anymore or what. Maybe it's that they DO raise gardens and the manufacturers don't want to sell a machine that lasts 40 years. Much more profitable to sell one that lasts for 7-10 and then sell a new one. It's a throwaway society, and that's been my observation for the past several years. Case in point, Grandpa's lawn mower. My grandfather died 3 years ago, and my grandmother passed this summer. I found his old push mower in the barn and asked if anyone wanted it (the tractor was long gone :( ) and no one did. So I took it, and another one. Both are real old, with Clinton engines. Let me tell you, they are STOUT. Very tough and heavy. Absolutely nothing throwaway about them, and that's my point. I just don't see these vertical shaft "tractors" as very worthy successors to the lineage formed by the earlier Simplicity's, AC's, Cub's, JD's, Bolens's, and even MTD's. Must be a common thread with me. I also collect antique telephones...and those are very heavy duty machines as well, for the most part.

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