There's an old saying that I'm sure you've all heard of:
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There are two constants in the universe: Death and Taxes
Well, I submit that there is another constant - Lawn Maintenance.
After avoiding this constant over the past two years by paying someone else to rip up, er, I mean mow my lawn, I decided it was time to stop throwing away my money on sub-par performance, and look into obtaining the proper machinery to do the job right and to do it myself.
Since I have over an acre of grass to deal with - half of which is relatively flat, and half of which varies from a 5 degree grade to a staggering 25 degree grade, I knew that a walk-behind mower, even a self-propelled one, simply wouldn't cut it. I say this from experience as I have a walk-behind and used it for two seasons on this park-like lawn of mine - each cut taking nearly 4 hours of my time.
A Lawn Tractor seemed to be the obvious solution. So, I began my research on them, familiarizing myself with every aspect, every nuance of these interesting machines. I gathered SO much data on them that I feared my head would soon explode from the sheer volume. But in the end, the knowledge and data I had researched helped me immensely with my ultimate decision.
Initially, I was looking at three brand names: John Deere and their off-shoot Sabre line, Simplicity and Craftsman/Poulan by Sears.
Before even visiting a showroom, save for a local Sears dealer, I essentially eliminated the Craftsman models do to largely negative reviews and comments I had discovered. It's not to say that Craftsman tractors aren't good machines - they are, and inexpensive too, but they're no comparison whatsoever to other brand names, like Deere and Simplicity. As I knew the contours of my lawn would push my tractor to some of its limits, I wanted to make sure I had a machine that would last. Bottom line: Craftsmans, while affordable, have less than a stellar longevity.
So, that left me with John Deere and Simplicity. Essentially, a coin toss. Both brands are superb, both brands offered similar models, at similar prices. In the end, I decided to focus my attention on John Deeres, simply do to the nearly unanimous top rating that most people give them, and because there were plenty of local dealers I could choose from.
Without boring you further with the choices I had to make from there, I'll cut to the chase.
There were two models I was eyeing. The John Deere LT 170 and the LX 277.
Essentially, the LT and LX models are similar in many respects, but the LX is the top of the line Lawn Tractor that John Deere offers, and with good reason.
This tractors offers an impressive 17 HP V-Twin Kawasaki engine which purrs like a kitten when the blades aren't activated. The engine's crank case is fully pressurized, assuring that all internal parts are lubricated at all times, even when you're driving up steep hills (important in my case). The 17 horses easily move this 600lb tractor up and down hills with ease, and its towing capacity is exceptional. The robot-welded frame of this, and most other JD tractors, is the key to its longevity. This is a solid piece of machinery that can handle a lot of abuse.
The LX277 comes with an ingenious two-pedal automatic transmission. One pedal moves you forward, one moves you in reverse. Both pedals are placed next to each other so you can seamlessly and effortlessly switch from one direction to the next.
The blades are controlled by a separate lever and can be activated in both forward and reverse - a nice touch when maneuvering a cut in a tight space.
And speaking of maneuvering, the turning radius on the LX277 is a nimble 20 inches - impressive considering the overall size of this machine.
Depending on your requirements, you can choose from several different mowing decks. Standard on the LX277 is a 42-inch convertible deck. Convertible indicating that you can modify it from a side discharging mower, to a mulching mower to a bagging mower. Three options - one deck, not bad on the surface, but a little more research into it and I discovered that the mulching capability was adequate at best, requiring a slow traveling speed and very limited cut height. The side discharge or bagging option (additional baggers costing upwards of $800 (Ouch!)) worked far better and allowed the LX277 to be exploited to its fullest potential.
The other decks available were 38 inch and 48 inch convertible decks. John Deere's revolutionary Freedom 42 dedicated mulching deck, unfortunately, wasn't an option on this model. The Freedom 42 is a 42 inch deck that's sole goal in life is to mulch - and mulch it does with relative ease. That was an important factor in my eventual decision.
Other niceties on the LX277 included cruise control, cup holder, high-back adjustable seat (very comfortable I might add), front headlights, and a 2-year limited warranty.
All of this sounded good - until I hit the price. $4,000.00 MSRP and most dealers wouldn't come down much from that price ($100 savings was the best I could find).
Paying someone to mow my lawn was starting to look attractive again, until I started eyeing the LT series from Deere. As previously mentioned, the LT and LX series have similarities, with the LX having a few more bells and whistles and (perhaps) a stronger frame (could never verify this). Plus, the LT series, specifically the LT 170, has the Freedom 42 deck available. With over an acre, I do not want to bag, and I hate discharging the lawn clippings out of the side of any mower. Mulching was the way to go, and the Freedom 42 deck, which has been raved about, was my ideal direction.
The LT170 also came with a V-Twin engine, albeit a 16 HP Vanguard (Briggs & Stratton) model. There was no cruise control here, but the turning radius was an impressive 14 inches vs. the 20 inches on the LX277. It had a cast-iron front axle, same as the LX277. It could handle most of the same add-on attachments as the LX series.
It seemed to be the solution. And the price? $1000 less than the LX 277.
The LX277 is a solid tractor, no two ways about it. At $4,000 many still feel it's reasonable because of the long-term benefits. I would agree.
But in the end, the pinch on my pocket and my desire to have a dedicated mulcher had me clearing out a little area in my garage for the LT 170. The tractor will pay for itself in 3 years having now cancelled my landscaping contract. That, my friends, is money well spent.
So, is the LX277 worth the price? Of course it is. But don't discount the LT line, especially since you can save a cool grand.
Below are some highlights and specifications of the LX277.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
John Deere LX277 Highlights
* 17-hp, V-Twin, overhead-valve engine with cast-iron cylinder liner
* Full-pressure lubrication and standard oil filter for long life
* Automatic transmission with two-pedal speed and direction control
* Tight 20-inch turning radius
* 42-inch convertible mower deck standard
* 38- or 48-inch mower deck optional
* Snow thrower and over 10 attachments available
* Standard cruise control
* MSRP: $3,999.00
John Deere LX277 Specifications
Power: 17 hp
Type: V-twin, OHV, oil filter, full pressure
* Transmission: Twin Touch auto. 2 pedal
* Mower: 42C, 48C, 48C/AWS
* Cruise Control
* Turning Radius: 20 in.
* Front Lights
* PTO: Electric
Rear: 20x10-8, 20x10-10 AWS
* U.S. Warranty: 2 Year, 30-Day Promise
* Rear Bagger: 7 bu. 2-bag
* Material Collection: 7 Bu. Power Flow
* Front Blade: 42 in.
* Snow Thrower: 42 in.
* Front Thatcher
* Utility Cart: 7 cu. ft.
* Tractor Trunk: 2 cu. ft.
* Tow-Behind Lawn Tools: Yes
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