Pros: Ours was pre-MTD it was a faithful work horse
Cons: Ate drive belts and didn't dodge well
Our old Cub Cadet Model 2185 Garden Tractor left home for the last time a few days ago. It was sitting forlornly on the back of a truck, going wherever old worn-out toys for big boys go. It had come to live with us in early 1997 after serving two faithful years of hard service with a neighbor and their landscaping and mowing business. It had been usurped by a zero-turn mower with a big diesel engine.
When it came to live with us it was still shiny and new looking. It had been well cared for and showed it. It worked faithfully for us for many years as it got older and less shiny just like us. We sent it in for a complete physical every winter and it came back mechanically sound for another summer of usefulness. The cosmetics didnt get renewed, however, and parts came off and paint was scratched. The seat looked pretty well used up. The cost of a face lift just wasnt in the cards. We loved it for its heart, not its looks. A run-in with the rear bumper of a car blinded it so it couldnt work after dark anymore. The neighbors applauded. Finally, after eight years of caring for our two acres of lawn, it was tired.
Our MTD CubCadet 2185 Tractor Mower
Since we bought the cub used we dont know its retail price. We paid $2400.00 for it. What we got was a tractor with an 18 horsepower Kohler gasoline engine and fitted out with a quick-detach 48 mid-deck mower. All the manuals came with it as well. It had been well broken in by its previous owner. Its first season of use by us was uneventful. We regularly checked its oil blew the grass and dirt out of and off of it, and it just worked, cutting a 2 acre relatively flat lawn with a few bushes and trees sometimes as often as twice a week in the spring growing season. The 48 cutting swath let us cut all of the lawn in a little over two hours, even counting the maneuvering around obstacles.
The steering was a little hard but the turning radius was fine. The hydrostatic transmission worked flawlessly as did the electric PTO. Setting cutting height was a little hassle, having to move the four anti-scalping wheels on the mower deck each time we wanted a different height. This wasnt too bad as all it required was pulling a pin and sliding the wheel mount up or down to another hole, once for each wheel. The lifting mechanism for the mower was mechanical and took some muscle. None of these things stopped our two daughters, then 8 and 10 from trying it and using it more or less successfully. They had some experience on its predecessor, a very old John Deere.
The second year the PTO quit early in the season. A recall was in effect for it so we werent out money to get it fixed, just loss of time. Luckily the neighbors let us use one of theirs during its absence. The belt for the mower deck broke shortly after its return. This became a regular replacement item at least one each summer. At around $25.00 that wasnt too bad. The last one we bought last summer was close to $50.00.
It began to need a little touch of oil in early summer its fourth year. We faithfully sent it in for its annual checkup each winter. We learned to sharpen the three blades on the mower deck as well. Since our soil is sandy, mowing plays havoc with the blades, particularly during a dry summer. To replace the blades you first remove the deck from the tractor. This involves pulling three pins, removing the belt, turning the anti-scalping wheels so they will roll the mower deck sideways and then pulling it out from under the tractor. Flipping it up on its side was not too hard. Getting the nuts loose took two men and a boy. We used a pneumatic driver instead. The whole operation, including sharpening and balancing was a two-hour job.
We went through three sets of blades during its time with us. Batteries seemed to last 3 years whether we babied them in the winter or just let them sit. We lost the bearings in the idler pulleys between the PTO and the mower deck two summers ago. We bought replacements and were back in business. The biggest problems we had were cosmetic damage. Growing girls sometimes ran into things. Sometimes it got left in the driveway and someone backed into it.
This garden tractor was built by Cub Cadet before MTD came into the picture. The experience we had with it may not apply to more recent offerings under the MTD ownership. If you can find one in good condition that was built pre-1997 it is a good bet for you. We loved our old Cub but we are already falling in love with the new Kubota that came on the truck it left on.