Older John Deere lawn mower, Good Deal?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by chacha, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. chacha

    chacha CAT Herder

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    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 [​IMG]
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    #1
  2. lanceputnam

    lanceputnam Hayden's Dad

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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!

    Lance
    #2
  3. chacha

    chacha CAT Herder

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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.
    #3
  4. bomber60015

    bomber60015 Anatomically Correct

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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.
    #4
  5. chacha

    chacha CAT Herder

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    :lol3 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.

    <a href="http://s241.beta.photobucket.com/user/Nginear2/library/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i241.photobucket.com/albums/ff243/Nginear2/house.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"/></a>
    #5
  6. RickS

    RickS Been here awhile

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    You need go carts as well with that driveway!
    #6
  7. GreaseMonkey

    GreaseMonkey Preshrunk & Cottony

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    +1
    #7
  8. GreaseMonkey

    GreaseMonkey Preshrunk & Cottony

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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.
    #8
  9. chacha

    chacha CAT Herder

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    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.
    #9
  10. ChromeSux

    ChromeSux Plated and screwed

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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.
    #10
  11. Cutsit

    Cutsit Been here awhile

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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/
    #11
  12. chacha

    chacha CAT Herder

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    Thanks.




    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.
    #12
  13. Cutsit

    Cutsit Been here awhile

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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.
    #13
  14. kfsinc

    kfsinc Chaingolian Observer

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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.
    #14
  15. concours

    concours WFO for 41 years

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    +1. The plow blade is useless. This gets it done here.. 4WD, 4Wheel Steering
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    #15
  16. kfsinc

    kfsinc Chaingolian Observer

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    Love those things!!

    I'm happy to report that we don't get anywhere near that much snow here in Northern Illinois :eek1 So a blade works fine. I plow about 300' of drive with a bit of a hill. More traction would be better, but it does get the job done.

    kfs
    #16
  17. stainlesscycle

    stainlesscycle Long timer

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    for snow removal: gravely 5260 + plow + chains does mine now. if i would do it all over again, a good 4 wheeler + plow is the easiest way. have a backup 2 stage snowblower to clean it up/deal with stuff the plow has problems with. if i was gonna use a riding tractor, i'd be 4wd/weights/chains/cab/lotsa hp/blower attach....

    for grass cutting i'm using a yamaha yt6800...i've been looking for a yazoo yt60 for cheap, but haven't found one yet. but i'm dumb, and prefer old goofy dangerous equipment.

    a 4wd 4 wheeler with the right attachments could do everything you need, + more. but you'd be putting turf tires on for mowing etc.......

    i'm mowing more grass than that, and my driveway is like 400 yards long or more....
    #17
  18. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    In Iowa we usually get some decent snow......I did the same thing but decided to go used ATV.

    I have $1500 in this machine....

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    Its a 2001 Suzuki 300 King Quad......came with a no name winch and blade......and new ITP Mud Lites all the way around. Its a clutchless 5 speed with 3 ranges in the transfer case.......super low, low and high. On super low despite the fact its only 300cc it will pull an insanely heavy load. I use it to pull my SUV out of the ditch year before last.

    I found it so much MORE useful then a tractor for yard stuff.......but it doesnt mow grass for shit.

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    #18
  19. mjydrafter

    mjydrafter evil boy for life

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    That 317 is a really nice machine.

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    I have more in the tires than the original purchase price, I have the plow as well.:lol3

    That's rub, mine isn't very fun on trails.:D
    #19
  20. stainlesscycle

    stainlesscycle Long timer

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    i have a 110 from about the same era (kohler). eventually gonna trade it off for something neato.... too small/underpowered for what i need it to do...
    #20