best bang for the buck 42" riding mower?

Subject says it all, almost- I only have a 100x300 lot, but the 3 hours a week with the walk-behind is proving hell on my allergies. I haven't tripped across any non-junk riding mowers in the garage sales, and none of the close-by dealers appear to carry used ones. So, what entry-level mower hits the sweet spot for price and reliability? The $900 ones all seem to be cheaply built, and look to come out of the same factory, no matter what brand name- just different colors and decals, and maybe a different shaped top shroud. CU, according to second hand reports, recommends the 1xx series John Deere models, and a buddy at work seems to like his. However, those seem to start around 1400-1500 bucks.
I know, I know, wrong time of year- I shoulda bought last fall, when they were clearing space for the snow blowers.
aem sends....
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On Sun, 10 Jun 2007 17:37:01 +0000, aemeijers wrote:

A decent Deere 42" will run you 2200 and up. Your 900 - 1500 Home Depot Yardmaster, MTD jobs will last several years if you treat them right. I've owned both, the later being a 12hp 38" cut Deere with a Kohler Commander engine that I bought back in 1999. Only problem I've had was a flat tire and had to replace the battery this year.
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I went through the same analysis recently. My personal conclusion was to go with whichever model I found the at the best price which had the following features:
- Kohler Engine or better (Honda, Kawasaki, etc.). - 3 or 4 deck wheels. - Pressure lubrication w/full filtering.
And then a buddy offered me a great deal on a used John Deere which had a Kawasaki engine and all of the other features I desired...
KB

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I bought a 17HP, 42" Poulan Lawn tractor 4 or 5 seasons ago for $999.00. It has been a good machine. In that time, the only trouble I had is a flat tire. The original battery is getting weak, so I'll have to replace it soon. I added a rear bagger to it this season, and it works just fine. This machine does what I need to do. No complaints about it at all.
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I got an old JD180 from a coworker a few years ago for about $300. I am always replacing parts and do not have it right all the time but is a rusty strong machine that keeps me from spending $1500 on a new one.
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aem,
The MTDs should be trouble free for about 5 yrs. After that they start to require parts, wheel bearings, belts et c.. If you can DIY minor repairs you'll be ok. Never owned a JD or Cub but my impression is that the high purchase price and the high price of parts makes them a poor choice for home use. Not sure why you need such a large mower but I think the 42" is pretty standard now
Dave M.
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Actually, while the purchase price is high, I have always found that part prices are quite reasonably. Another JD feature, is that while a model is out of production, replacement parts frequently have improvements that the original part did not.
After all, I sold a 22 year old JD riding mower for more money than I got for a 14 year old Oldsmobile station wagon, where the car cost many times more new than the JD mower did.
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EXT,
My only recent JD experience was a new starter for my mother's tractor. It cost $300. That seemed high to me.
Dave M.
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David Martel wrote:

I don't disagree that they're pretty proud of green paint, only that overall the reliability/quality is better than the initially cheap purchase price units so the longterm overall cost is competitive or better...
--
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Log me as one disgusted and stupid consumer. A few years ago (3 or 4) I bought a Ryobi 18hp 42" manual tranny. Had problems with belt slippage the first year and every year since. Ended this spring when it got so bad I couldn't get it moving in any except highest gear and limped back to the shed. There was absolutely no way to tighten the belts. I had it in a 'fix-it shop' twice and worked on it myself onece. Cost around $1200 near as I recall...oh yes, it was nothing but a re-badged MTD as revealed by the manual.
Shopped around and bought the bottom line JD LA1xx series hydro ($1800 with tax). Only less costly one would have been several hundred cheaper but non-hydro. Great machine and turns twice as tightly as the Ryobi evere did.
I don't buy into most of the JD hype as they don't build their motors or trannies but...
Bottom line is I wasted about $1200 and have nothing but a low hour 18 hp Briggs motor to show for it.
Harry K
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Harry K wrote:
...

I'd like to take that Ryobi off your hands if it's in your way & taking up valuable space...
Rob
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