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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Which easier to install: 47" belt-drive blower (x500 series) or shaft-drive (x700)

Hi Everyone -

New member here, considering retiring my 29-year-old Wheel Horse garden tractor for a JD that will be easier on my aging and deteriorating back, especially when it comes to changing between mower deck and snowblower. I could probably get away with an x300 series -- I mow just under a rolling half acre and have maybe 250' driveway with 8 parking spaces. But I definitely want a hydraulic lift (my bad back again) and it looks like only the x360 among the current 300 series models has that. Good chance I'll be buying a late-model used machine.

Anyway, I've been looking at the x540 and the x700 series tractors, and see that one of the big differences, besides size, is that the 700s use a shaft drive. Is attaching and removing mower decks and snowblowers significantly easier on the x540 versus the 700 tractors, or vice versa? (I won't be buying a brand new 700 series with the groovy drive-on auto attach feature; a brand new x700ish would definitely cost more than I'm willing to spend.)

Anybody with experience on these machines, I'd appreciate your insights. I'm approaching 60 years of age, have already blown out one disc in my lower back, and have other discs that are bulging. I am in otherwise pretty good health, but I
am not particularly mechanically inclined. I did manage to swap equipment on my old Wheel Horse for years, but eventually bought a second old Wheel Horse just so I could just leave the blower on one and the mower on the other permanently. But the manual lifts on those tractors have become too much for my back.

Thanks!

Randy
 

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If your back is going get the X700 series drive over deck with the auto connect, if new is out of the question there should be some used out there. I've got a bad back also and quickly found out that the standard drive shaft can be a pain to reconnect since you sometimes need about 3 hands to hook it back up. One to hold the shaft, one to work the collar and another hand to rotate the deck blades a little bit to align the shaft splines. All while laying on my side with arms stretched out under the tractor doing it by feel since I couldn't see the shaft splines.

I remove my deck often for dirt work so that got old quickly. Luckily I found a new auto connect kit for $300 and have been very happy with it since then, very simple to remove and install the deck now.

No idea about the snow blower, don't have one, just a blade.
 

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I have a 455, which is a series which preceeded the x700 series. The 455 has a Yanmar Diesel and is shaft driven implements.

I can tell you that I use both the shaft driven snowblower as well as a snow plow blade. John Deere has a Quik Attach mounting mechanism which makes both the mounting and switching of front implements VERY EASY. In fact, I can add the Quik Attach unit to the tractor in about 1 minute. I can also switch between the snow plow and the blower also within a minute. I don't even have to remove my gloves to accomplish this in the winter. Few machines are as easy to use as the Deere shaft driven implement machines.

Personally, I would ONLY own a tractor which uses the shaft drive methods for it's implements. Not only is the shaft drive very effecient, it is also extremely reliable when greased and properly taken care of, which is actually very minimal maintenance.

If I were you and you have such a long driveway which you will use the snow blower to clear, I would locate a used 748 or similar tractor which would be the 4 wheel drive and also with the shaft driven implements. There are many of these availalble with only a few hundred hours on them and frequently, you can buy the x748 with a mower deck for around $7,500 to $9,000. Sometimes there are even better deals on Craigslist and similar local sites.

I have neighbors with the x500 series and while it is a good unit, I prefer the bigger chassis and better riding 700 / 455 series. If you have a chance to get a DIESEL engine, which is the Yanmar diesel which Deere has used for decades, JUMP ON IT QUICKLY. You will NOT regret it and the fuel effeciency of the diesel is simply amazing. The diesel has great torque, which is precisely what you need when running a front mounted snowblower.

I have another neighbor who has the x700 something with a gas Kawasaki engine. He has the exact same snowblower as do I. His tractor and mine are very similar in size and weight. But the torque advantage I have with the Yanmar Diesel is astonishingly
important when blowing wet and heavy snow.

If I were you and you want a great unit, look for the 455 series, which is a 1992 to 2001 heavy duty garden tractor that has the Yanmar Diesel. It is a machine which was sold before the current x700 series. It is often considered one the very best units Deere ever sold and it was sold in a large volume so they are out there for sale. You can buy a 455 with the 47" two stage shaft driven snowblower and a 60" shaft driven deck for around $6,000 to $7,500. Sometimes they are even priced better. I wouldn't be concerned about the age of the tractor. It is a real workhorse and you will not be disappointed.

I consider it to be the very best deal for your money when purchasing a heavy duty garden tractor. Keep in mind I have had one with all of the attachments and implements for just short of 20 years. I have 2,400 ish hours on mine and it has been an absolutely PHENOMINAL tractor. Seriously, find one and drive it and you will likely buy it. These are units which people keep and use despite newer choices and options.

Read some of the forums on here about the 455 and the x700 series and see what people have to say about them. If you want a great heavy duty garden tractor, these are two of the very best choices around. I prefer and would ONLY own a diesel as they are much more fuel effecient and reliable. You will see 455's with 6,000 hrs, 8,000 hrs and I have even seen some with 12,000 hours and they are still going. Frequently, you will find them with between 500 hrs and 2,500 hours and I wouldn't hesitate to own one which has been properly maintained.

You can often get back the vast majority of your money even after having used the tractor for several years by purchasing a good used DIESEL 455, x495, x595(? ) diesels which preceeded the current x748 and higher diesel series. As long as you take care of the tractor and buy it right, it's not uncommon for people to use these for a few years and sell them for nearly what they paid for them. That is a common occurance, not an abnormality.

Hope you find this helpful. Good luck and don't hesitate to pose any questions you may have. The members on this forum are very helpful and offer great insight and advice.
 
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Randy,

I'm new to owning a John Deere, well only 2 years, but only about 20+ hours on it. What I got was a used JD 455 from my dad when he bought a new 1025r. Mine has 1100 hours on it and it is joy to use. I primarily use it in the winter to move snow when there's 5+ inches and/or when the city snowplow blocks the end of the driveway. I've got the 47" shaft driven blower with a quick-hitch.

When I go to move snow I usually end up doing the whole block because 1) it's a diesel and I want to run it for a while when I do fire it up 2) it makes quick work of the snow. I can do the driveways of about 10 houses on the block in just over an hour and that's taking my time, and 3) it's just fun. The neighbors love seeing it throw snow 30 feet and how fast I can clear the driveways. Oh, and 4) I usually end up with some treats (cheesecake, beers etc) in return for having fun. Bonus. It's really cool when you hit the heavy snow and the 455's diesel just digs in and keeps throwing the snow.

So, I'm no expert (by far) and it was my dad's good judgement in 1993 to get the 455 so I'm lucky there, but what I can tell you is that I really love that tractor and it would be worth the investment.

If you do go new, the drive over decks are amazing. The one I've used on dad's 1025r is just so easy, it's amazing.
 
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Another vote for a 4x5 or x4 series tractor. I just want to mention that my gas engine 445 has no lack of power either. I have had no problems whatsoever with snowblowing or anything else.

Sent from my phone.
 
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I to have a very bad back t9 fused to s1.thats why I went with the x730,I had my deck off and blower on in less then ten minutes.the shaft drive is the only way to go,I have had belt units my whole life.never again.you just can't go wrong with a x700 unit,and at your age it's the last one you will buy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
on that 10-minute changeover

Thanks for your input, Slickzone. If you're making that changeover in 10 minutes, can I assume you also have that auto connect feature?

I have no doubt the 445/455s are great machines, same with the x700 series. But I'm weighing the enthusiasm expressed for the tractors with statements like this one from eric102 who wrote:

"I've got a bad back also and quickly found out that the standard drive shaft can be a pain to reconnect since you sometimes need about 3 hands to hook it back up. One to hold the shaft, one to work the collar and another hand to rotate the deck blades a little bit to align the shaft splines. All while laying on my side with arms stretched out under the tractor doing it by feel since I couldn't see the shaft splines."

I also checked out a nice video that Deere produced showing removal and installation of a 54HC or 60HC mower deck on an x700 Signature Series tractor. Even with the auto connect feature, as I'm understanding it, it shows the guy on his back reaching under the tractor to move the auto connect drive shaft out of the way so the mid-to-front power takeoff shaft can be installed. That's the sort of work I am hoping to avoid.

SullyBear, are you saying you don't have to do this with your setup?

Even if you do, I imagine it's possible that swapping mower decks and snowblowers on an x500 series tractor would be even more involved. But that's what I'm trying to figure out.

And of course, there are always two other options if it becomes too much for my back: have the dealer out to do it each season (ouch!) or go back to keeping two tractors!

All of you guys are great for sharing your insights. Thanks very much.
 

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Yes I do have the auto connect desk,it's come off easy.i have not put it back on yet,I'll keep you posted on that one next week sometime.but I do love this tractor,I hope and pray to get 20+ years out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
20 years certainly sounds doable

From what I've seen, 20 years from one of these tractors should certainly be doable. Heck, I've got 29 years on my little Wheel Horse 312-8, and I swear it runs as well today as it did when I bought it.

So, lots of love for the 445/455s and the x700s. Anyone out there want to weigh in on their x500s and how easy, or hard, it is to swap between mowers and snowblowers?
 

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Randy, once the deck is off it would be easy to deal with the shaft drive connections for the front blower since you would have plenty of room to work under the tractor. Its when the deck is in the way is when it gets to be a bit tricky for one person to re-install the deck drive shaft.
 

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The shaft drives are by far the easiest. I had a 425 for almost 20 years and now have an X739. I've never had trouble putting on/ taking off the shaft for the mower deck. Simply line it up by rotating blade or blade belt and push the whole mower deck back. I decided against the autoconnect on the X739 because I don't see a need for it (for me).


Thanks for your input, Slickzone. If you're making that changeover in 10 minutes, can I assume you also have that auto connect feature?

I have no doubt the 445/455s are great machines, same with the x700 series. But I'm weighing the enthusiasm expressed for the tractors with statements like this one from eric102 who wrote:

"I've got a bad back also and quickly found out that the standard drive shaft can be a pain to reconnect since you sometimes need about 3 hands to hook it back up. One to hold the shaft, one to work the collar and another hand to rotate the deck blades a little bit to align the shaft splines. All while laying on my side with arms stretched out under the tractor doing it by feel since I couldn't see the shaft splines."

I also checked out a nice video that Deere produced showing removal and installation of a 54HC or 60HC mower deck on an x700 Signature Series tractor. Even with the auto connect feature, as I'm understanding it, it shows the guy on his back reaching under the tractor to move the auto connect drive shaft out of the way so the mid-to-front power takeoff shaft can be installed. That's the sort of work I am hoping to avoid.

SullyBear, are you saying you don't have to do this with your setup?

Even if you do, I imagine it's possible that swapping mower decks and snowblowers on an x500 series tractor would be even more involved. But that's what I'm trying to figure out.

And of course, there are always two other options if it becomes too much for my back: have the dealer out to do it each season (ouch!) or go back to keeping two tractors!

All of you guys are great for sharing your insights. Thanks very much.
 

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Hi Everyone -

New member here, considering retiring my 29-year-old Wheel Horse garden tractor for a JD that will be easier on my aging and deteriorating back, especially when it comes to changing between mower deck and snowblower. I could probably get away with an x300 series -- I mow just under a rolling half acre and have maybe 250' driveway with 8 parking spaces. But I definitely want a hydraulic lift (my bad back again) and it looks like only the x360 among the current 300 series models has that. Good chance I'll be buying a late-model used machine.

Anyway, I've been looking at the x540 and the x700 series tractors, and see that one of the big differences, besides size, is that the 700s use a shaft drive. Is attaching and removing mower decks and snowblowers significantly easier on the x540 versus the 700 tractors, or vice versa? (I won't be buying a brand new 700 series with the groovy drive-on auto attach feature; a brand new x700ish would definitely cost more than I'm willing to spend.)

Anybody with experience on these machines, I'd appreciate your insights. I'm approaching 60 years of age, have already blown out one disc in my lower back, and have other discs that are bulging. I am in otherwise pretty good health, but I
am not particularly mechanically inclined. I did manage to swap equipment on my old Wheel Horse for years, but eventually bought a second old Wheel Horse just so I could just leave the blower on one and the mower on the other permanently. But the manual lifts on those tractors have become too much for my back.

Thanks!

Randy
dont believe everything you read here. a nice used x540 will last you a lifetime, if cared for, and the new style quick hitch on the x500 series is lighter and just as easy to hook up. all you do is slide the main pin through the frame and hook up the lift rod. very simple, and easy. the belt stays on the blower, you can either unhook the tension spring, or just simply pull the belt around the pto pulley. an x540 should easliy last 2000 hrs. before any major issues. a used 700 series while nice may be a bit much for 1/2 acre. the fuel injected gas 27h.p. is the way to go, it is quiet, with more than enough power for any job the tractor will handle, not to mention it will start better, and warm up very quickly in the winter. as far as durability, i have an x485 with just over 3000hrs. and it runs like new, and a new x730 with 300 trouble free hours. i also own a 455 diesel, it is no stronger than the efi gas models. it may use a little less fuel 3/4 gal hr. diesel vs. 1 gal hr. gas. it is just a garden tractor,and the gas engine is just fine. the 455 is built a little heavier than the new x700's, but it is getting old, and is a dinosaur in comparison. the new tractors are much nicer to operate and use, the old 425/445/455 don't even compare in features, ease of use. and operator comfort. in the end you need to choose what works best for you and your wallet.
 

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I have no doubt the 445/455s are great machines, same with the x700 series. But I'm weighing the enthusiasm expressed for the tractors with statements like this one from eric102 who wrote:

"I've got a bad back also and quickly found out that the standard drive shaft can be a pain to reconnect since you sometimes need about 3 hands to hook it back up. One to hold the shaft, one to work the collar and another hand to rotate the deck blades a little bit to align the shaft splines. All while laying on my side with arms stretched out under the tractor doing it by feel since I couldn't see the shaft splines."

I also checked out a nice video that Deere produced showing removal and installation of a 54HC or 60HC mower deck on an x700 Signature Series tractor. Even with the auto connect feature, as I'm understanding it, it shows the guy on his back reaching under the tractor to move the auto connect drive shaft out of the way so the mid-to-front power takeoff shaft can be installed. That's the sort of work I am hoping to avoid.

SullyBear, are you saying you don't have to do this with your setup?

Even if you do, I imagine it's possible that swapping mower decks and snowblowers on an x500 series tractor would be even more involved. But that's what I'm trying to figure out.

And of course, there are always two other options if it becomes too much for my back: have the dealer out to do it each season (ouch!) or go back to keeping two tractors!

All of you guys are great for sharing your insights. Thanks very much.
No autoconnect features for the 455. I do install the front driveshaft from the mid pto to run the front implements, but once you know how to do it, it is very easy. Same with the deck installation. I use a floorjack under the front and push the deck in with my foot and then lower the tractor by lowering the jack and attach the shafts. It eliminates any wrestling around with the deck. Just put it right where it needs to be and whammo, your done. Doing it like they tell you in the Deere manual is frankly much harder. Yes, it requires lying on the ground or getting on your hands and knees but honestly, I don't know that anything wouldn't at some point.

Some people have more trouble with things than others. I have watched a neighbor struggle to attach something and I can walk over and usually get it first try. A lot of that is experience blended with common sense. Anytime you are switching implements, it's going to require some degree of "hands on". Even the auto connect decks are going to require some human involvment from time, some people very little and others, well, more so.

I can tell you I have had 4 spinal operations including having L3 ,L4, L5 all fused and titanium hardware and synthetic bone graphs, a surgery which is performed thru your abdomen which is a major surgery. Just think of all the stuff they have to move out of the way to reach your spine from the front. Then add in the 4 shoulder surgeries on my dominant arm (in the last 8 years) and I understand the challenges of getting older (well into my 5th decade of life) and the impact of "structural issues". Some people have one thing done and they stop doing things and hire everything done. Others, despite their doctors strongest advice, just keep pushing themselves.

I am a HUGE believer in "the less you do, the worse you get" when it comes to physical injuries and "challenges". Early after my back problems began, I stopped doing alot of things and in fact, even paid someone to mow and plow snow for a few years. But then I found that the less I moved things, the less things seemed to like to move. I even have a spinal neurostimulator installed in my lower back with wire leads running from the base of my spine up to the mid chest level. Not ideal, but things happen.

Some of my neighbors send out their JD Tractors to have everything done. They pay the dealer to store their mower in the winter and they pay them to store the snowblower in the summer. It's not that they don't have time as they sure seem to find a lot of time to go out together for adult beverages. Me, I prefer to do things myself whenever I can and I can afford to pay someone to do everything for me if I wanted to. I like to know how to do things and I like the satisfaction of being self reliant. Others don't seem to care. It's part of what makes America a great place to live, even still.

I know more than one person who has multiple tractors so they don't have to switch implements. Others like having a "back up" even though they couldn't tell you the last time one of them was inoperative. Whatever works. All I do know is that I will NeveR own a belt driven implement again if there are shaft driven alternatives. That's my strategy while others may disagree.
 
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dont believe everything you read here. a nice used x540 will last you a lifetime, if cared for, and the new style quick hitch on the x500 series is lighter and just as easy to hook up. all you do is slide the main pin through the frame and hook up the lift rod. very simple, and easy. the belt stays on the blower, you can either unhook the tension spring, or just simply pull the belt around the pto pulley. an x540 should easliy last 2000 hrs. before any major issues. a used 700 series while nice may be a bit much for 1/2 acre. the fuel injected gas 27h.p. is the way to go, it is quiet, with more than enough power for any job the tractor will handle, not to mention it will start better, and warm up very quickly in the winter. as far as durability, i have an x485 with just over 3000hrs. and it runs like new, and a new x730 with 300 trouble free hours. i also own a 455 diesel, it is no stronger than the efi gas models. it may use a little less fuel 3/4 gal hr. diesel vs. 1 gal hr. gas. it is just a garden tractor,and the gas engine is just fine. the 455 is built a little heavier than the new x700's, but it is getting old, and is a dinosaur in comparison. the new tractors are much nicer to operate and use, the old 425/445/455 don't even compare in features, ease of use. and operator comfort. in the end you need to choose what works best for you and your wallet.
Yes, we know you like gas engines on garden tractors better than diesels. That's what the majority of your posts are about. I don't think this is a gas vs diesel thread. I understood the core question to be more of a shaft vs belt. Allot of people expressed their opinions. Did someone, in your opinion, post something in this thread that was factually incorrect?
 

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I believe, much like my previous post, it was partially in response to post 3 by SullyBear. I have not owned a x3xx or x5xx belt drive as I came over from Craftsman but I've found the shaft drive on my 445 to be much easier to work with than the belts on my old Craftsman EZ3.

Sent from my phone.
 
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Yes, we know you like gas engines on garden tractors better than diesels. That's what the majority of your posts are about. I don't think this is a gas vs diesel thread. I understood the core question to be more of a shaft vs belt. Allot of people expressed their opinions. Did someone, in your opinion, post something in this thread that was factually incorrect?
Imagine, a "dinosaur" which only gets 25% (by his admission, the actual results are better) better fuel economy. Perhaps he is right about one thing, you shouldn't believe everything SOME people write.....:laugh::laugh:
 

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I don't necessarily disagree with the point made about diesel however some people, like myself, prefer not to have to keep a separate fuel for a single piece of equipment. Also, the diesel engines can be much more expensive to repair and replace. Just an opinion. :)

Sent from my phone.
 

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Yes the Diesel engine cost more to repair,and the fuel cost more.but some guys work there machines very hard and put tons of hours on them.in these cases you are much better off with a diesel,the added power is a great plus.it just boils down to what you need,some can get by with the gas like myself and other need that diesel.but the Diesel is by far the better engine.and once you go to a shaft machine you will never go back to belts.and more power from the engine is delivered to the deck and blower with a shaft.more efficient delivery system.good luck and enjoy your new machine,and just remember nothing runs like a deere
 

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Yes, we know you like gas engines on garden tractors better than diesels. That's what the majority of your posts are about. I don't think this is a gas vs diesel thread. I understood the core question to be more of a shaft vs belt. Allot of people expressed their opinions. Did someone, in your opinion, post something in this thread that was factually incorrect?
did not make this a gas vs diesel post. read the whole post, not just the part that gets your shorts in a twist. its a public forum, and public opinion is made here. if you dont care for my opinion, dont read my posts.
 

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Imagine, a "dinosaur" which only gets 25% (by his admission, the actual results are better) better fuel economy. Perhaps he is right about one thing, you shouldn't believe everything SOME people write.....:laugh::laugh:
i guess i own both tractors, so i would or would not know? you tell me, since you seem to be so educated on the subject.
 
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