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One of our neighbors had their ZTR quit while mowing a field that was a fair distance from the house. Fortunately they were able to get it going but it got me thinking about how to get a disabled hydro tractor back to the house. I've checked the operator's manuals for several different tractors and ZTRs and while they all have bypass levers for the transmission the manuals all state that it is only to be used to move the machine a short distance by hand. All the operator's manuals have pretty strong warnings to never tow the tractor with another machine or you risk serious transmission damage.

So... how do you get your garden tractor or ZTR back to the house if it dies in the back forty?
 

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The reason it probably says that is because of lack of lubrication to the parts. You could pick up the rear end and tow it, or even crank the engine to help distribute fluid to the bearings and such.
 

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Sounds like it's time to build a tractor dolly like used to tow cars behind other vehicles.
But what if it's a 4x4?
 

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The trouble is, most people dont tow slow. And they dont make sure the hydros are actually fully released.
Weve had this discussion several times over on WFM over the years.
The general consensus is, if you must tow it, and sometimes you must, make SURE the hydros are released. Make sure they dont "un" release while towing. And go SLOW.

On my Exmark, the hydro motors each have a "bolt" you screw in or out to release/engage each motor. When released, it freewheels.
My 318 doesnt like to be towed far. It has a lever to release the pressure, but you have to check it every once in a while, because it will sometimes build pressure while being towed.

If you can go slow, like under 5mph (personally, Id say 2-3mph max, but thats me), it shouldnt be an issue. If you cant, you are likely to have issues.
If you tow at all without releasing them, you are likely to have issues.
 

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The reason it probably says that is because of lack of lubrication to the parts. You could pick up the rear end and tow it, or even crank the engine to help distribute fluid to the bearings and such.
Pick up the rear of your 700 lb garden tractor? With what? Remember, it died a long way from the house. :)
If you can go slow, like under 5mph (personally, Id say 2-3mph max, but thats me), it shouldnt be an issue. If you cant, you are likely to have issues. If you tow at all without releasing them, you are likely to have issues.
I agree, towing any hydro without activating the bypass is asking for trouble. I was just surprised that all the manuals say not to tow with another tractor even with the transmission in bypass mode.
 

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The reason it probably says that is because of lack of lubrication to the parts. You could pick up the rear end and tow it, or even crank the engine to help distribute fluid to the bearings and such.
Agree.
 

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Learned something here......I would have towed my hydros out of gear and thought nothing of it.
Love this forum and the people that make it up:bigthumb:
 

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Once the hydro is disengaged, tow the machine slow only far a short distance, then take a break before towing again. This will allow the internal parts to stay cool without being damage.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Learned something here......I would have towed my hydros out of gear and thought nothing of it.
Love this forum and the people that make it up
There seems to be a difference between garden tractors and SCUT/CUT machines. All the garden tractor manuals I've read say to never ever tow under any circumstance. Whereas the SCUT/CUT manuals I checked simply say to use caution. Even the X700-series has the same language as the smaller machines.


  • Move machine by hand only.
  • Do not use another vehicle to move machine.
  • Do not tow machine.
My 2720 manual says to put the tractor in neutral and tow for short distances not exceeding 10 MPH. I checked a newer 2038R manual and it says you can tow but not to exceed 6 MPH. The 3033R manual says not to exceed 10 MPH.

So there must be something about the transaxles used in smaller machines that makes the more susceptible to towing damage.
 

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I think most of you are reading the manuals wrong. John Deere or any other manufacturer refers to "towing" as pulling it behind a vehicle at 50 mph. All the JDZTR's and most lawn tractors have a release valve so the hydros that free the gears so they can be moved freely. I would think that means any disabled tractor can be pulled by another tractor some distance, but, not at high speed.

I own a 1949 Ford 8N that has the 3 point hitch assembly, with a tow bar with holes it in, I can back up to the rear of my Z710A and JD 345 that has a hitch plate bolted to the rear and raise anyone that needs towed to the garage for repairs. Simple, simple .
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think most of you are reading the manuals wrong. John Deere or any other manufacturer refers to "towing" as pulling it behind a vehicle at 50 mph. All the JDZTR's and most lawn tractors have a release valve so the hydros that free the gears so they can be moved freely. I would think that means any disabled tractor can be pulled by another tractor some distance, but, not at high speed.
That's what I originally thought too. But when I was checking the manual about towing the neighbor's Cub Cadet ZTR the manual had a strong warning to not tow under any means. It was very clean about moving a short distance by hand only. It specifically said "Do not tow even with the bypass rods pulled out". It doesn't get any plainer than that. I thought maybe it was just ZTRs that were sensitive so that's when I started checking the manuals for my X500 and other JD X-series tractors. They all say the same thing... as shown above in bullets.

I created this thread because I figured there may be others like me who probably thought that disengaging the hydro transmission with the bypass lever made it safe to tow if needed. Obviously if you have a disabled machine located far away from the house you are going to do whatever you need to do but just be aware of the warnings.
 

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Read manuals on both 2305 and ex3200.....wording in both identical. Also in both no mention of disengaging hydros
Basically every thing disengaged, off or in neutral.
NEVER over 10 mph, and for short distances only.
 

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I've read both of my owner's manuals on the Z710A and the 345, just that both manuals state "Moving Machine by Hand" (Using the Bypass Pump Release Values) IMPORTANT: Transmission damage may occur if the machine is towed or moved incorrectly. Move by hand only. Do not use another vehicle to move machine. Do not tow machine. Like I mention in my other posting, I use the Ford 8N to lift the tractor rear and haul it to the garage.
Due to the fact these tractors have hydrostatic transmission, different than a gear shift type, they cannot be towed like an automobile.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Read manuals on both 2305 and ex3200.....wording in both identical. Also in both no mention of disengaging hydros
Basically every thing disengaged, off or in neutral.
NEVER over 10 mph, and for short distances only.
That's because those tractors all have transmissions which can be put in neutral. Most garden tractors and ZTRs do not have that ability because the transaxle is permanently connected to the engine with a belt or shaft. The only way to free-wheel the transmission is to put it in bypass. The bypass control can be anything from a spring loaded lever, to a screw/bolt or a push-pull rod.

My old 175 Hydro had a spring loaded lever between your legs that you had to hold while pushing. My X500 has a rod on the back that you pull out to bypass. Some ZTRs actually have a bolt that you have to screw in or out to bypass. It all depends on the manufacturer by the bypass function does the same thing.
 

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See done learnt some more......thx
 

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I have helped a couple of people "recover" machines including lawn tractors and a small zero turn. In each case, we have used a small open utility trailer that was 6' x 12' with a lift gate.

On the small lawn tractor, it had the steel rod hydro release handle sticking out of the rear of the tractor. Released the handle and used a come along and "Manual labor" to roll the tractor on the trailer.

On the neighbor across the road with a Hustler residential zero turn, I put a set of these 4 wheel car dollies under the rear wheels of the zero turn after lifting it with pallet forks and setting the tires onto the dollies which were on wood 2 x12's. I used one of Kenny's straps on the front of the trailer around the tongue frame member and one through the rear of the zero turn lowest frame and using a come along pulled the zero turn onto the trailer.

Overall, it actually went smoothly once the machine owner accepted I wasn't going to drag his machine across his 7 acre front lawn with my tractor.

He had used this zero turn over 400 hours since the last oil change. When I went to pull the dipstick on the motor to check the oil when it wouldn't turn over, the dipstick was just a little nub on the threaded cap. The metal dipstick had melted from the heat and was completely gone sometime before the engine seized. He paid the dealer to replace the Kawasaki engine after extensive whining and grumbling. About six months later, he paid to replace both hydro's.

This residential sized zero turn was offered with a belt driven front mounted snow blower option for a brief time, one year or two when it first came out and that is why this guy keeps fixing this machine. His driveway is 600 feet long and he uses this small zero turn to blow snow out of his driveway and he mows 8 acres of lawn with the 42" deck on this machine.

I asked him why he doesn't just keep this zero turn for "blowing snow" and get a larger one for mowing so he could cut down on the 4 plus hours he spends each time to cut his lawn. He had no answer. It's not a matter of $$$, plus his house is probably worth about $1.5 million. Meanwhile, he has now spent more to repair the zero turn than he paid for it, with the snow blower option......to each their own.

He still doesn't maintain it.......:dunno:
 

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I can't comment on the larger tractors, nor different brand names, but I'm very familiar with Deere L&G...140 and 3XX series...hydro-static systems.
A pump supplies oil for rotation AND LUBRICATION to a hydraulic motor connected by gears to the axles. The "by-pass" system simply diverts hydraulic oil from the pump to the drive motor. In the "by-pass" mode, moving the tractor WILL rotate the drive motor...through the gearing. Eventually, any residual oil left in the drive motor will be removed and the motor will be turning without lubrication. The further/faster you move the tractor, the more damage you'll do to the hydraulic drive motor. Bob
 

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I can't comment on the larger tractors, nor different brand names, but I'm very familiar with Deere L&G...140 and 3XX series...hydro-static systems.
A pump supplies oil for rotation AND LUBRICATION to a hydraulic motor connected by gears to the axles. The "by-pass" system simply diverts hydraulic oil from the pump to the drive motor. In the "by-pass" mode, moving the tractor WILL rotate the drive motor...through the gearing. Eventually, any residual oil left in the drive motor will be removed and the motor will be turning without lubrication. The further/faster you move the tractor, the more damage you'll do to the hydraulic drive motor. Bob
Hey Bob,

Your explanation is absolutely correct. This also applies to 4X5, X-Series 400, 500 and 700 garden tractors.

I own a 2210 SCUT that has a high / low range gear selector. In neutral, this disconnects the hydraulic motor from the rest of the internal hydro gearing. That is why it can be towed at slow speed. If you park it on an incline in neutral, and the parking brake is not set, a tractor can roll away. That is why I always leave the tractor in gear when I park it as a precaution. It can still creep away in gear, but will be much slower.

The above GT's can also creep away if they are parked on an incline with the parking brake not being set. It is much slower, but can happen.

George of Buford
 

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There seems to be a difference between garden tractors and SCUT/CUT machines. All the garden tractor manuals I've read say to never ever tow under any circumstance. Whereas the SCUT/CUT manuals I checked simply say to use caution. Even the X700-series has the same language as the smaller machines.


  • Move machine by hand only.
  • Do not use another vehicle to move machine.
  • Do not tow machine.
My 2720 manual says to put the tractor in neutral and tow for short distances not exceeding 10 MPH. I checked a newer 2038R manual and it says you can tow but not to exceed 6 MPH. The 3033R manual says not to exceed 10 MPH.

So there must be something about the transaxles used in smaller machines that makes the more susceptible to towing damage.



Lack of a cooler?
 

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