Pros: It Does Bag
Cons: It Bags Poorly, Poor Design, Expensive, Time Consuming
I owned a John Deere LT 155 a number of years ago that I sold to a neighbor, who recently replaced the old bagger that he had been marginally happy with but used and reluctantly, recently replaced.
While he has been very happy with the performance of the LT155, he found that he made far too many trips to the curb to empty the bagger unit, prolonging his cutting of a half an acre lot.
The John Deere 42" Bagger unit is a $330.00 option which is pricey right out of the box. The John Deere 42" Bagger is recommended equipment for 38, 42C, 46, 48C and 54 rider decks. It comes in pieces requiring minimal assembly and tools coming together in minutes. Attaching to your mower deck wit a hook and tether method incorporating a hard rubber tether it looks, on first inspection to be a rather sturdy unit. Two vertical tubes feed into the 7 bushel capacity dual basket. The baskets are made from tightly woven airy synthetic fiber mesh that withstands nicks from thorny bushes and collisions with limbs with ease.
The unit comes with a spring hinge loaded, lid that accounts for just under ? of the units capacity and is constructed with a high impact plastic which also withstands the usual punishment a lawn implement suffers in the course of a cut. The unit has an integrated plastic flag indicator to warn of a full hopper.
The steel frame mounts to the hitch assembly though not directly in the hitch opening, essentially rendering the hitch useless while the unit is attached to the mower.
Trial Under Fire
The John Deere 42" Bagger probably is sold on the reputation of the company itself because it certainly does not live up to the John Deere prestige on its own. There are a number of issues I have with the bagger.
The fill indicator works flawlessly with one vital exception, it warns when 1 ? bags are full. Now one can argue that it serves as an early warning system and that is fine, however, the bags fills quickly after about 360ft. which may seem like a reasonable distance but for a larger lot it certainly doesnt make life easy. Given that the manufacturer recommends riders that are suited for 1 acre properties, the units baggers should also work in concert with that unit, facilitating the process, not working against it. Now I will concede the point that given a consumer that is willing to spend an extraordinary amount of time cutting AND bagging the John Deere 42" Bagger is a good deal, the fact is, bagging literally doubles your time and work, on a rider!
My second qualm comes at the literal frustration derived from easy clogging experienced with this unit. Clearing the clog usually requires a tedious exercise consisting of manually taking the unit apart at the chute and reaching in to clear the narrow throat. The narrow throat is the root of the poor design requiring slow land speeds to prevent recurrence. Here again, if you have the patience and time to cut at a slow pace, this may be the bagger for you.
I suppose the whole issue boils down to time and patience. While I enjoy riding while I cut, I dont want to spend the entire afternoon doing it. While a bagger-less cut on my 3 acre lot requires about 1 hour and 15 minutes, the addition of the bagger, newly doubles that. I also realize that I perhaps should have opted for a larger rider though, they all use the same bagging system and while this is a two bag set up a three bag counterpart performs equally as bad on a grander scale. The fact is it takes less time and effort to cut twice but given todays fuel costs, it may be more financially expedient to incorporate a vacuum or pull behind sweeper. I personally use a Cyclone Rake bagger with excellent results, which I highly recommend.
My neighbor opted to keep using the bagger and, to my surprise, replaced it when the bags eventually wore out. Fortunately he only had to replace the bags at $40.00 each.
So, with all this in mind, you have to ask yourself, Do I have the patience to deal with this bagging unit? If you own a smaller lot i.e. ? to ? acre, I would say go ahead and take the north of $300.00 plunge on the John Deere 42" Bagger, otherwise I would suggest investigating other options.