Pros: Briggs & Stratton, Price & Features
Cons: No Cup Holder For My Beer!
A few years back my wife and I moved into a bigger house on one acre of land. Although 1 acre is not really that much, the majority of it is fenced in, has lots of big trees, 3 utility sheds, and a fenced in in-ground pool within the property fence. So my point is that what should be a easy 1-acre mowing job quickly turns into a night mere just having to mow around everything and on both sides of the fence. Not to mention that if it rains or storms at all, we get about 666 thousand limbs, twigs and branches that need picked up first!
By the time I would use my standard Craftsman walk behind mower and gas weed eater trimmer, this would turn into a 2-day job. Well by the time I get home from work and start it, have a few beers .take a heat exhaustion break, have a few more beers, jump in the pool .then commence to the yard again ..it could take up to 3 days.
So needing a good riding more has been on my wish list for some time now. I finally was able to scrounge a few extra bucks and decided to start shopping.
I first decided that whichever mower I ended up with must have a Briggs & Stratton engine in it. Why? Because theyre good! Every mower I had growing up and after that had a Briggs & Stratton motor and I never had a problem with any of them. The actual mower assemblies and other parts would fall apart first before that Briggs & Stratton would act up.
So that was a given. So from that point, the only thing I needed to compare was which companys build and assem a better product that use the same engine. Plus price and availability.
I looked on-line, read product reviews and drove to a few places to check out the variety of mowers. I narrowed it down to a few, based on my findings. I knew I couldnt afford a Cub-Cadet or a Torro/Wheel horse. So they were out. My price range was $1500.00 or less. So that actually made it harder to compare brands because there are many brands competing in that price range. And to tell you the truth most everything I saw in the $1000.00 - $1500.00 range looked alike, had identical features and many where and are exactly the same tractor just with a different name on it.
This company owns the following other companies:
*Cub-Cadet, Troy Bilt, Yard Man, Ryobi, Yard Machines, Bolens, White Outdoor, and Cub Cadet commercial.
Looking at all those brands the only ones that really stand out and seem to be built better was the Cub Cadet Brand. But I couldnt afford Cub-Cadet .at least with the features I was wanting. The Yard Man & Yard Machines look exactly the same and are ..and to me seemed cheap. The Yard Machine you can find at Wallmart ..which I did, and all of them looked like toys. I mean they looked like they were falling apart just sitting there. Flat tires, broken levers and some sitting lopsided. They were obviously new mowers and just pushed in and outside & lined up everyday. They couldnt stay together under those conditions? So in my observation I figured if they couldnt even handle that (and stay together) then there was no way they would last doing my yard. Right?
The Yard Mans ,Cub Cadet and Bolen mowers can be found at Lowes. I went there too. Once again for he money the Yard Man just looked cheap and are the same as Yard Machines The Cub-cadets were too much money and the Bolens looked like a cheaper Cub Cadet just a different color. Regardless all these companies are using the same engines in their mowers. They all are using the new Briggs & Stratton Intek motors along with Kohlers and a Tecumsen here and there. Cub Cadet mostly uses Kohler motors, which I dont know a lot about but have heard they are good.
From my research it seems to me that Craftsman, John Deer and Torro/Wheel Horse are the only companies that own themselves and the products they build tend to reflect that. They produce a specific brand and product!
Craftsman can only be found at Sears. John Deer can only be found at a John Deer dealer and the same with Toro. So that was the other thing that stood out to me and I like that.
Im not sure I like going to Lowes and Walmart and seeing all the same brands that are owned by the same company and just packaged different! Thats ok with T.Vs ,VCRs and DVD players, but I want a little more out of my power tools and yard equipment!!! Also trying to get someone to help you at either of those places you might as well watch the grass grow! Wal-Mart has no one with a clue there, and Lowes is a Zoo! Always packed and busy!
The main thing I found with John Deer that I didnt like was that the mowers in my price range seemed to all have Kawasaki engines in them. What? An American made John Deer with a Kawasaki engine in it? Come on .?, your Dads or Grand-dads old John Deer would have never had a Kawasaki engine in it. Maybe those are good engines but it just doesnt seem right to me. The other John Deer lower line is called Sabre and those, in the same price range, had Briggs & Stratton and Kawasaki engines in them. I have also heard through the grapevine that the John Deer tractors of today just arent the same as the ones your dad used to own. I dont know if that is true or not, it is just a comment that has been made to me from other friends of mine on more than one occasion. So needless to say I quickly ruled out John Deer.
Toro/Wheel Horse I dont know a lot about except they are expensive! So I ruled them out!
So that left me with Craftsman at Sears. Ive had good luck with Craftsman products in the past and decided to see how the LT1000 faired. Like I said, in the $1000.00 to $1500.00 price range the Craftsman seemed like all the others. Except ..they almost exclusively use Briggs & Stratton and all the models I looked at seemed built well and looked solid sitting on the show room floor. I liked some of the layouts and features better too. Also the sales man was very helpful and took as much time as I needed to ask questions and answer them. I had actually left and researched all the other brands and then came back to Sears 4 days later and bought my LT1000 mower.
Here are the specs and details on the one I bought.
The specs, for those who really need to know!
* Briggs & Stratton? = Intek IC OHV (One of the best Briggs & Stratton mower engines to date!)
*Overhead Valve Design, 90? V-Twin Configuration = More efficient operation and increased horsepower in a compact package.
*18 hp 502 cc Displacement = Large displacement provides more power to get job done.
*Full Pressure Lubrication with Spin-On Oil Filter = Maximum lubrication, increased engine life. Just like your car! An oil filter and oil pump, this keeps the engine oil cleaner and the engine properly lubricated!
*Dual-Barrel Carburetor = Duel Air Filter, Exceptional load acceptance and engine balance.
*Dura-Bore Cast Iron Cylinder Sleeves = Withstands wear and abuse while providing improved oil control
*Upper DU Bearing and Heavy-Duty Lower Bearing = Replaceable, self-lubricating upper bearing and large lower bearing withstands load and reduces wear for longer engine life.
*Low Mass, Permanent Mold Piston = Minimal vibration for smooth operation.
*High Volume Cooling Fan = Ultimate cooling system for longer engine life.
*Engineered Resin Blower Housing with Integral, Top-Load Air Cleaner = Durable and dent proof with easy air cleaner access.
*Magnetron? Electronic Ignition = Quick, dependable starts with no maintenance required.
*Dual-Clean Air Cleaner = Pleated paper filter with foam pre-cleaner ensures double protection for extended engine life. Can easily be removed & replaced or cleaned.
*High Oil Fill with Automotive-Type Dipstick = Easy to accurately check and service oil. Prevents under and over filling. Just like checking the oil in your car!
*Mechanical Governor = Controls the throttle to deliver more power for heavy mowing conditions.
*Engine Warranty = Two-year engine warranty for consumer use applications or 90-day engine warranty for commercial applications.
*Transmission Type = Manual 6 Speed shift. Six forward One Reverse.
*Shifter Location = On Right Rear Fender
*Brake/Clutch = One pedal to stop and activate clutch to shift gears. On upper left.
*Cutting Blades Number = 2
*42 in. Ventilated EZ3 deck system = EZ3 deck system for better cutting, bagging and mulching.
*Cutting Positions = six. Manual lift/lower lever on upper right.
*Cutting Range = 1-1/2 to 4 in.
*Gauge Wheels = yes, 2 one on each sides. These are adjustable.
*Deck Thickness (Gauge) = 12 gauge steel deck. Means its sturdy and can withstand plenty of use.
*Mulch Ready = yes, a mulching kit can be purchased and installed.
Deck Cut Width = 42 inches.
*Axle Material = Cast iron front end. Means can handle extra bumps, uneven landscaping and heavy attachments attached to the front end. Like snow blowers and plows.
*Frame Material = 11 gauge formed steel. Frame Type Channel type.
Handling & Operating
*Brakes Type = Disk, yup this thing can stop on a dime!
*Battery Ammeter = yes, analog meter tells you the tractor is charging the battery when running.
*Steering Wheel Type = Standard sector and pinion.
*Turning Radius = 18 in. Means you can make very close, sharp turns. This is helpful getting close to trees and fences.
*Headlights = Yes, 2 front headlights. Of on switch is wired to the ignition.
*Throttle control = yes. This controls how fast the engine runs. ? the way up is a de-tint and where they recommend the tractor to run properly at.
*Manual Choke Control = Yes, built into the throttle control. All the way up for cold starting.
*Fuel Capacity = 1.25 gallon.
Wheels & Tires
*Wheel Grease Zerks = Turf saver type. Designed to not leave prints and marks on your lawn. Also designed to grip the turf without tearing into it.
*Front = 15 x 6 x 6 in.
*Rear = 20 x 10 x 8 in.
My Thoughts After 4 Mowings
So far Im really happy with this mower. It started up right away from the store. Its easy to use and operate. It does a great job on the yard! I guess really what is there to say? Either it works or it doesnt right? The six speeds I have to choose from give me plenty of options. I usually use 3rd gear, which gives me a good, timely cut.
Things I like a lot
*I like the manual six speeds. The main reason is the new hydra-static (automatic) transmission, which does cost more, will be very costly when it goes out compared to the standard Brake/Clutch stop & shift 6 speed. I guarantee it! And most likely that will need fixed at some time, thats usually what goes wrong after a few years of service.
*I like how it steers, you can cut really close to fences, corners and trees.
*I also like the seat it feels comfortable to sit on.
*Being Able to mow in reverse! Some other brands you have to monkey around with different keys and switches and settings just to be able to do this.
*It has headlights, I love headlights!!!
*It also had a hitch attachment and I bought a yard wagon to pull behind it. This helps with picking up all the 666 thousand limbs and branches in the yard.
*The oil filter is easy to get to and the oil drain plug/valve is a snap to get to and drain! *Same with the air filter! And its washable! (re-usable)
*The middle deck (between my legs) is open and flat. I lay a towel there and my little Poodle loves to lie there and mow the yard with me. No Kidding!
Things Ive Learned To Look For
*Look for a cast iron front end.
*You want at least a 42-inch deck made of thick 12-gauge steel! Ive already ran the edge of it in to things and it hasnt even dented it!
*I recommend looking for the Briggs & Stratton Intek IC OHV motor.
*You also want wheel roller guides on the cutting deck.
*I think for 1-3 acres you need at least an 18 20 horse engine. Under an acre without a lot of hills & slopes and trees and things to mow around 12- 15 horses will probably do fine.
*Only use regular octane gas. The higher octane burns hotter and will make the engine run hotter and burn out quicker. It wont mow any faster with octane boost kids!
*When actually mowing, (running the blades)run the engine throttle/speed at full. This guarantees the proper blade spin and better power for cutting the grass smoothly. Plus keeps the right charging voltage for the electrical system.
*When engaging the blades driven by belts, lower the throttle to half speed, slowly engage the blades, and then bring the throttle to full. This helps reduce belt wear and stretching and scoring.
*About every-other mowing take the air filter out and bang it out or wash it if needed.
*Always check the oil before every mowing and change it about every 150 hours of use. Maybe 2 to 3 times a summer depending on how often you use it. At least change it before it turns brown. Keep it clean and it will run a long, long time.
*Always change the oil filter every time you change the oil! Just like your car.
*Once every so often make a once over inspection with a wrench to make sure everything (bolts & screws) are tight. Things do loosen up after a short time.
By all means if you own a different mower than the one Im writing about and love yours then great. I wasnt trying to put down John Deer, for example. Im not even sure if the mower I just bought will last a full season, but time will surely tell. And I would be glad to add updates later to let you know if the LT1000 was a good buy.
But for now ..Im happy. I have more free time to do other stuff now and my yard has never looked so good! And the mower runs great!
Plus, me & that poodle (clapton) I told you about are getting some good master/dog bonding time riding around the yard together.
Thanks for reading
Mark & Clapton Darnell
P.S. Please Be Careful IF combining alcohol and powered equipment such as riding mowers. Its not often recommended.