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Old 11-12-2012, 11:09 AM   #1
chacha OP
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Older John Deere lawn mower, Good Deal?

So I just bought a new house that has more lawn than my old one and a big driveway that will need plowing when we get snow. I found this ad on Craigslist the other night.

Now I've done some research already. I was just wondering if anyone else out there had experience with these machines.



John Deere 317 Garden Tractor

Heavy Duty 48" mow deck with smooth bearings, sharp blades and mule drive.

17 HP engine with hydrostatic drive transmission (no gears).

Electric belt driven PTO for mow deck or other implements.

2 sets of hydraulic ports on the front which can be used with a front blade or snow blower.

This machine is very clean and 100% turn-key ready to work. In fact, it's in amazing condition.

Separate left and right brakes which gives the operator the ability to transfer power from one wheel to the other for better traction control. Or the brake pedals can be locked together.

If you appreciate the craftsmanship of how things were built "back in the day" then you will not be disappointed. This is a very heavy machine (about 700 lbs without the mow deck or plow).

This machine is far better built than any of the most expensive models sold at Depot, Lowes or Sears for thousands.

This is a true work horse with the potential to use a plow, tiller, snow blower or other heavy duty attachments.

Also have a virtually new heavy duty front mount 54" plow with 4 way hydraulic operation and tire chains for an additional $750.

Or, a used 2 way hydraulic plow with chains but it will require a little work for an additional $350.

The tractor with mow deck is $1650.

WILL NOT SELL PLOW SEPARATE.

Key words: Kubota new holland bobcat craftsman cub cadet Scotts toro Honda Massey bang 110 160 210 212 214 216 300 316 318 322 332 345 400 420 425 445 455




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Old 11-12-2012, 11:25 AM   #2
lanceputnam
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This was the first lawn tractor I can remeber my grandfather owning when I was growing up. He has a 2 acre lake front plot that he mows religiously ever two days (retired, I wish I had that kind of time). He lives in northern Illinois, so plowing is also a huge deal for him. It is very well built and you cannot beat the craftmanship that came along with these ealry 90's Deere mowers.

IMHO, I would NOT buy this mower and heres why:

My grandfather used it almost daily for mowing and towing around a small trailer (JD model #45) and it was fine, nothing special but mowed very nicely. One afternoon in July when I was like 7 and my sister was 2 or 3, he was towing us along as we enjoyed so much when we were kids. They have a very large house that half of the first level is built underground into the side of a hill looking out over the lake. The hill rises at approx. 25-30deg angle. He was towing us along and started going up the hill, straight up with us in the trailer and it simply could not make it up. more than 10 feet. It stopped and bogged down and stalled with us in the back. The next morning, he took delivery of a 430 diesel. Night and day. More power, larger deck, heavier (for plowing) and he kept it from 1993 until last year when it was replaced by a newer version of the same mower. It ran just as well when he traded it in as the day he bought it.

I would find a diesel similar to that size if you can. So much better all around. If you buy and older 300 series and want to plow, get used to tire chains and wheel weights, You cannot plow with a small tractor without them. The heavier 400 series diesel is heavy enough to do everything you need and it will put more torque behind the PTO and mowers.

Hope this helps!

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Old 11-12-2012, 11:53 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input. My property is all flat so that isn't much of an issue. I can't go see it to test it out until next week because I'm out of town working but I will see about the power and bogging.
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:12 PM   #4
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I have a 17-horse tractor, similar to, but not your model . . . .

I installed the plow accessory, weighted the rear of the tractor, and found that anything more than about an inch and a half of wet cChicago snow made the thing slink off like an egg-suckin dog, crying uncle like the chubby schoolyard bully confronted by you older brother, hollering no mas like . . . . . .

I simply wasn't up to the task.
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:32 PM   #5
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I grew up in Maine so I know what kind of snow you are talking about. Stuff would make shovel handles bend and if you didn't move it before nightfall it refroze into a sold mass of ice.

The good thing is Colorado snow is very light and fluffy but so far that's 2 votes for "It's lacking in the hauling ass department."


Here is a screen shot from google to give you an idea of what I'm working with. The lot is 2 acres but not all of is lawn mostly the back and the upper right corner. The driveway is massive because of the racetrack style turn around but it is all flat.

The rest of the yard needs massive amounts of clean up in the spring so it will need to be able to pull a cart.

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Old 11-12-2012, 02:06 PM   #6
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You need go carts as well with that driveway!
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:44 PM   #7
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you need go carts as well with that driveway!
+1
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:54 PM   #8
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Personally, I'd pass on a used Deere mower.

Maybe I'm getting skeptical in my old age, but people don't just wake up one morning and decide to sell their mower, it is either getting expensive to fix or they are starting to get concerned that it might start getting expensive to fix.

Personally, if you have to deal with snow I'd get a 4 wheeler with a plow. That guy is asking 2 grand for the setup (also, even with chains those turf tires suck on snow and ice) and I suspect you can get under that with a 4 wheeler of a similar vintage and plow, and possibly have enough left over to purchase a crappy rider that can keep your 2 acres mowed in the summer.

In addition to plowing, a 4 wheeler is exponentially handier to have around instead of using a mower- goes faster, pulls harder, and is more fun with someone on it behind you. Anyway, just my 2 cents. Buy a 4 wheeler and plow now and pick up a mower in January and you'll have better and more versatile stuff for less.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:23 PM   #9
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Personally, I'd pass on a used Deere mower.

Maybe I'm getting skeptical in my old age, but people don't just wake up one morning and decide to sell their mower, it is either getting expensive to fix or they are starting to get concerned that it might start getting expensive to fix.

Personally, if you have to deal with snow I'd get a 4 wheeler with a plow. That guy is asking 2 grand for the setup (also, even with chains those turf tires suck on snow and ice) and I suspect you can get under that with a 4 wheeler of a similar vintage and plow, and possibly have enough left over to purchase a crappy rider that can keep your 2 acres mowed in the summer.

In addition to plowing, a 4 wheeler is exponentially handier to have around instead of using a mower- goes faster, pulls harder, and is more fun with someone on it behind you. Anyway, just my 2 cents. Buy a 4 wheeler and plow now and pick up a mower in January and you'll have better and more versatile stuff for less.


You know, I never even thought of the 4 wheeler option. I did talk to the guy and he is on the fence about selling it. I'm at work until next week so I won't have anytime to even check it out until then if it is even still around.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:32 PM   #10
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The old JD mowers like that one and some other models were great, last forever and are low maint, that being said if you wanted it for mowing, no problem, it would probably outlast you, for plowing snow i would think you need bigger.

I had a 4wd atv with a snow plow and it did pretty good but if the snow was deep you could not get enough traction, if you tried to take a plow load full then all 4 wheels would spin, with as much concrete area as you have my thinking is you will need bigger or if you go small equip you will need more time to get the job done.

BTW, nice place you have there.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:36 PM   #11
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The 317 is OK. It has a Kohler 17 horse but the drawback is that it is splash oiled. They did not last as long as other JD's.

Look for a 318. They have a 18 horse Onan that is pressure oiled.

I didn't see in the add how many hours were on it. Raise the hood and the hour meter is on the side. I can't rememer if it is left or right. I would say 1000 hours is what would be considered high.

The 3xx series is the class of lawn tractors. After that series, JD cheapened up the product to compete with the store brands.

Go here for more info: http://www.weekendfreedommachines.org/
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:03 PM   #12
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BTW, nice place you have there.
Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cutsit View Post
The 317 is OK. It has a Kohler 17 horse but the drawback is that it is splash oiled. They did not last as long as other JD's.

Look for a 318. They have a 18 horse Onan that is pressure oiled.

I didn't see in the add how many hours were on it. Raise the hood and the hour meter is on the side. I can't remember if it is left or right. I would say 1000 hours is what would be considered high.

The 3xx series is the class of lawn tractors. After that series, JD cheapened up the product to compete with the store brands.

Go here for more info: http://www.weekendfreedommachines.org/



I've been frequenting that forum a lot in my research. The 317 with the Kohler series 1 had the engine problems. The con rod bearings were lubed by oil dripping from the cam shaft above as well as splash. Basically a lot of side hill mowing or hills in general where not good for that engine.

I've also read some people have had a series 1 for like 20 yrs with no issues. I forgot to ask how many hours where on it when I called him. It is a series 1 motor according to the spec number he told me.


I did a quick search for atvs as a plow option but even used the price for an atv is much higher from what I found so far.
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:35 PM   #13
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The good news is that there are several places selling re-power motors for the 3xx series.

You can repower with either a Honda or a Briggs.
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:00 PM   #14
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I had the 318 with plow and 48" deck. Great tractor, but the Onan only lasted about 1400 hours. Re power was going to be near $1K. Sold it for $2K and bought a 425 with plow. Great tractor, moves snow pretty good and on the flat with chains and some weight in the back it will do fine for you. I'd buy the four wheel steer version the next time around. You can find them for about $4K with plow, deck, and cart. Sounds silly, but the 318 and 425 both have power steering, don't think the 317 does - makes a big difference on that heavy tractor. You can also get tillers, brooms, buckets, and three point hitch's for these tractors.

The 300/400 series of JD tractor are built like tanks -- you won't be disappointed. They are REAL tractors, not riding lawn mowers.

That said, the comment on the ATV with plow and cart might be a better option for you. It looks like you might be able to use the ATV for fun and not just work. If you're planning on seeding that 2 acres, you'll want a bigger deck anyway. I think you can get pull behind finish mowers for them also.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:31 PM   #15
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+1. The plow blade is useless. This gets it done here.. 4WD, 4Wheel Steering
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