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Discussion Starter #1
I have a small collection of 300/400 series deere garden tractors. All of which serve a separate task,mow,plow,till,snow removal. I recently purchased a new x534,used it a little last fall,this thing is a mere shadow of the mowers of days past. It is very nice to mow with,but i will be shocked if it lasts much more than 500hrs. Other than the engine,this thing is built pretty light. I really feel i should have saved my $$$ and restored my 332 or 430 to like new status. I do complete service every 25hrs.,as well as wash/wax regularly. I think my "old" mowers will still be going strong long after the 534 is in the scrap dumpster. I guess even deere has followed suit with the rest of the world in charging more and giving less. What are your thoughts on this?
 

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Yeah I'd say they are..well, kinda/sorta. Used to be the entry level machines were Lawn & Garden machines are very decent all around machines. I guess what's happened is they've introduced a whole host of "lesser machines" for suburbia.
IMO the 2305 and new 1R is a Lawn & Garden machine. Very good machine, but it comes at a price. I believe CubCadet/Yanmar and MF have similar machines in the same price range.
The last of the "Legacy" lawn & garden machines is the Ingesoll machines. A true lawn & garden machine largely unchanged from years ago, but not a cheap date.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah I'd say they are..well, kinda/sorta. Used to be the entry level machines were Lawn & Garden machines are very decent all around machines. I guess what's happened is they've introduced a whole host of "lesser machines" for suburbia.
IMO the 2305 and new 1R is a Lawn & Garden machine. Very good machine, but it comes at a price. I believe CubCadet/Yanmar and MF have similar machines in the same price range.
The last of the "Legacy" lawn & garden machines is the Ingesoll machines. A true lawn & garden machine largely unchanged from years ago, but not a cheap date.
i agree they are great machines,but pretty pricy,and slight overkill for 2 acres of property. a 430 w/a 60" deck already gets enough "looks" on a saturday afternoon.
 

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i agree they are great machines,but pretty pricy,and slight overkill for 2 acres of property. a 430 w/a 60" deck already gets enough "looks" on a saturday afternoon.
:drinks:
ROFL, we can debate overkill I suppose....Like you i've got a hair over 2 acres.....3520 Cab to play in the dirt and general utility work. F935 w/72" To mow. Yeah I've gotten those looks too!
 

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Yeah I've gotten those looks too!
:laugh:Those are looks of shear envy and jealousy boys.


:soapbox:
Cat, You have to understand it is a consumer driven market. You yourself even mention prices. As a consumer driven market it is all about the money. There is no truer saying than "you get what you pay for". I found myself in this very delema three years ago when looking to upgrade my Wheel Horse 520s. Toro/Wheel Horse didn't even come close to making a replacement machine. We all want top of the line quality but just don't want to pay for it. The quality is always the loser. I find I am usually the odd man out on this as I am willing to pay for the quality as most people value the money. It is priority and perspective. Sorry for the speech.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I am not about to shell out 12,000.00 - 14,000.00 for a sub-compact. I am not afraid to pay for quality either,my 332 & 430 were purchased new. Even if i were to purchase an x700 series,although nicer to mow with,i don't feel the even come close to the 430 in build quality. I guesss i'm just stuck in the 80's? I feel i will be happiest,just to do a complete restoration on my old junkers.
 

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Even if i were to purchase an x700 series,although nicer to mow with,i don't feel the even come close to the 430 in build quality. I guesss i'm just stuck in the 80's? I feel i will be happiest,just to do a complete restoration on my old junkers.
I know exactly what you're saying. And to rebuild your older machines is defenitely an option, it also has limitations. You are correct, it is what it is.
 

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I am not about to shell out 12,000.00 - 14,000.00 for a sub-compact. I am not afraid to pay for quality either,my 332 & 430 were purchased new. Even if i were to purchase an x700 series,although nicer to mow with,i don't feel the even come close to the 430 in build quality. I guesss i'm just stuck in the 80's? I feel i will be happiest,just to do a complete restoration on my old junkers.
Cant say I blame you with restoring your old classics...I dont think your alone either, Theres a reason you can still see PLENTY of 80's Era Lawn & Garden machines still doing daily duty. You can still see Cub Cadets of the 70's in service around here.
 

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In the 80's, I remember everyone saying "they don't build them like they use to". :unknown:
 

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i agree they are great machines,but pretty pricy,and slight overkill for 2 acres of property. a 430 w/a 60" deck already gets enough "looks" on a saturday afternoon.
The guy I bought my 4110 from has a 4320 cab on about an acre. LOL
 

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It would be interesting to do the inflation math on a 1980 "quality" garden tractor and compare to today's similar quality garden tractor. If you factor in inflation, interest rate costs of the 80s (in Canada they were approx. 15% for consumer purchases-can't remeber what they were like in the US), resale value and so on, I'm not sure there is too much difference.

I didn't have a '80s garden tractor to compare to, but I am very pleased with the quality and 'toughness' of my X585. 6 years and approx. 200 hours later, it looks like new, runs like new, plows/throws snow and cuts grass as good as ever. It starts at -30 and +30. I take good care of it but I think we did 30 years ago too.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that $12,000 for a 2305 or the X700 series may seem very high and not worth it, but in real $, the cost may not be that much more than the 80s for a similar quality machine.

Debate on...:laugh:
 

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google for "inflation calculator" and there's no shortage of sites. I picked one that use the cpi. Since this is economics and government figures, there's some serious YMMV going on. And for tractors, I claim we're in a 12-24 month period where we'll be seeing metal and fuel prices going up by 20 to 25 percent as the world starts to wake up from this economic slump. But all that not withstanding:

In 1990 my JD318 with 54" mower, 54" front blade, and 15 cu ft cart cost $5,000. Today that cost would be $8,100.

Looking at an X320 with 54 inch deck, the base list price is $4,400. A 44" front blade is $529. Note sure what the cart is (Deere web site is still frustrating, inconsistent, and not "Apple Safari friendly) but I'll guess $250. So a new rig today would be around $5,180.

You'd have to go up to a X530 with 54" deck and add the blade and cart to get close to that $8,100 and you'd be going up from 18 HP to 26 HP.

I've seen this touched on before. The "old" 300 series really needs to be compared to today's 500 series, and the "old" 400 series really needs to be compared to today's 700 series.

Now the new stuff has some features that were not there (cruise control and a few other creature comforts). The warranty is 4 year 500 hour, which makes me think that a new tractor must last longer than 500 hours or else Deere would be eating a lot of tractors.

I suspect that there are a lot of good technology improvements on the one hand, and a number of places where seat of the pants engineering and overkill has been replaced by overly optimized computer CAD software mixed with managerial malarkey. It's an interesting philosophical drift in design strategy. Used to be you'd work something until it broke, then beef up that part, lather, rinse repeat. Now there's more of a tendency to remove stuff until it breaks, then put that part back and call it OK. Managers ignore a designer or engineers gut feel on stuff so a lot of experience is being ignored. The difference between static and dynamic loads in the mechanical world make this a particularly vexing problem.

So I think that if you buy with the same equivalent purchasing power, the garden tractors of today are still pretty close to what they were years ago. You get some new stuff, but loose a little bit of "good 'ol fashion" ruggedness.

One last peak at inflation. My 2009 JD 4520 cost $32K (tractor only). In 1990 that price would have been $18,200. Some of this helps put the price of old iron in perspective.

Pete
 

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I don't have a good knowledgeable answer to this either. I also find all of this stuff is expensive and do wonder how long it will last compared to the older technology of years ago. There is way to much high tech-low quality goods on the market today from cell phones to tractors, seems to encompass my entire world.:thumbsdown:

I try to buy good equipment and hope it will work but even though I am not having any problems I still feel a little queasy about long term durability. There is so much emphasis placed on "throw away" durable goods now it is hard to know what to expect.

While all of us can cite the costs of new equipment such as my X749 being high in price the real truth is money is getting to be worthless. This impacts every thing we buy. Sounds overly simplistic? My 820 is simple and as good as it ever was.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
not trying to be argumentative here,but,take a good look at a 318,and then a new x534. it does not take too many brains to figure out that the 318 will still be mowing yard long after the x534 is in the scrap dumpster. is a 318 overbuilt?,absolutely,is an x534 underbuilt?, absolutely. my point with this thread is not to create a big argument. just simply stating there are only really 2 premium garden tractors on the market,that cost a premium,deere and simplicity. if a person is willing to pay for the best,they should get best. is the x534 the best deere can do these days? it just seems to be a natural regression in quality,but not price. my cousin has a gx345,even that tractor is built better than the model that replaced it. these new garden tractors are 200-300lbs lighter than the models of 20yrs ago,that in itself should indicate something. the new x700 series is admittedly nicer to operate,and work on,but that is where it ends. i take my 430's to plow days,it easily handles 2 bottoms,an x700 series diesel has its hands full with a single bottom. agian,just my 2cents......
 

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I see no arguing, just a great discussion.

I agree that the missing factor in the more recent offerings is the "overbuilt" is missing. As I rambled about before, don't know if that's not listen to experienced designers, silly management, or "better" design tools that let you control more details of the design (thus avoiding putting some big honking piece of metal in there and thinking to yourself "ok, I'll never have have to mess that _that_ again).

If Deere has really made the 5xx series so it last less than 10 years or less than 1000 hours, they will loose the market. Only time will tell. The second they forget that they are supposed to be a quality company they are toast. Hope they don't forget, but many other companies have.

The 700 series should had 1200+ hour life or 15 to 20 year life or no one will buy that again.

You can sort of see this in the 1xx series where I suspect most don't expect a 1200 hour or 10 year life from them, and part of that is or should be a conscience trade off because of non serviceable items. But they cost $2000. They key should be is the life of the tractor worth the cost.

Hard to say on the weight as a measure of quality. Hoods and fenders go plastic, weight goes down. But I suspect that part of the lower weight must be some metal getting thinner in the frame and transmission. Only time can tell if the process that reduced the weight was good engineering or a short sighted ride on the race to the bottom (both quality and price).

Steve's comments reminds me that more and more, the price of something has less to do with what it cost to make than it used to.

Well, a lot of this is almost a rhetorical question that will take a decade to answer. I guess as long as that's a decade of seat time, life could be worse...

Pete
 

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Thanks guys, very entertaining discussion.

:thumbup1gif::thumbup1gif::thumbup1gif:
 

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Oh I don't know. I grew up on one of the last 112's made. It's in the shed and needs an engine overhaul. Last year I traded Dad' 318 for a front mount now blower and kept the 314 as a backup mower. I felt the Kohler 14hp was more bulletproof than the Onan.

Two years ago bought a x748 and an x534. Yeah for a while we had a 112, 314, 318, X534, and X748.

I despise the 534 and call it "crazy wheels". THe air flow of the air cooled engine is an improvement with the Kawasaki. The Onan 18hp was a good engine, but the Kolher would last nearly forever.

The X534 clearly has a cheaper and lighter hydrostatic transmission. I don't expect this mower to last 1500 hours, but my wife wanted it and I wanted the X748. The X534 is more of a novelty.

I am impressed with the X748 with the 7 Iron deck. The deck is an improvement. It is heavy duty. Deere finally sped up the blades. Heck we knew the 112's blades turned too slow and the old salesman from the 70's admitted deck speed was Deere's weak point!

The X534 can mow faster than the 318 or 112. That is also a plus for the new tractors.

Yeah, I wish the X748 had more steel and less plastic, but i the transmission lighter than the old 400 series? The engine is the same. I do run a in auger with it!


That all said, what is my personal preference to mow with?
Well, I need to get the 112's engine rebuilt.
 

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Welcome to DT Scott, and thanks for your input. Sometimes it isn't that something is better or worse, it is just different. Type of use and maintenance can really come into play on stuff like this as well though.
 

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I have said for years that the 1970s were the low point in numerous parts of American culture: clothing, cars, music, interior decorations. But the 1970s were the Golden Age of lawn & garden equipment. Everybody seemed to build a decent machine...and Deere was at the top of the heap in my opinion. I grew up on my parent's 120 and my grandfather's early H1 140.

The 1980s 300-series is arguably the best tractor of its type ever built. My father bought a 332 in 1989. We endured the 332 for about 10 years (ours ate belts, rattled all around you, and cut grass poorly) until he stepped up to a 455 4WS. That 445 is a machine!

I was looking for a new house and a garden tractor may have been in the mix depending on lot size...it still may be. I kept my shopping to two basic machines: an H3 140 and a 318. I just have not been impressed with what I would describe as the newer disposable designs on the market today. My brother and a co-worker had 345 Deeres with numerous poor results...mainly on the liquid-cooled Kawasaki engines.

That's just my 2-cents...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
what was the issue with the l/c kawasaki? i personally feel that is one of the high points of the x-500/700 series. i have had those engines in the shop with 2000+hours on them,and still running strong. deere had some carb and water pump issues early on,but other than that they were/are bullet proof. the fuel injected version of that engine is one of the finest commercial powerplants on the market. i recently read a few articals that all the mfgrs. are going back to air-cooled engines for cost savings,yet another way to cut a corner,and save a buck. i reluctantly ordered a new 700 series diesel w/the 7 iron deck today. sold my higher houred 430 with the deck and 2 stage blower for 6500.00. good clean unit,everything was repainted a few years ago.this new tractor will still be a mere shadow of the old one. the deck is an improvement,but other than that,not too impressive.
 
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