Archive for Lawn
Model 300, 312, 316
Capable of using many of the same attachments as the JD 140, the 300 series of John Deere garden tractors began production with the 1975 model year. In that year, the hydrostatic model 300 was introduced, replacing the John Deere 140 and its seven-year production run. Although it shared many components from the 140, the 300 was upgraded to a 16HP Kohler K-series engine and had numerous styling changes. Major changes included a more squared off hood with integral headlights, engine side panels and a black plastic instrument panel. Realizing the liability of mounting a metal gas tank under the hood next to the battery, the model 300 had a plastic gas tank relocated under the rear fender pan with an increased capacity of 4.5 gallons. The John Deere 300 came equipped standard with a two-spool hydraulic lift system, a departure from the single or three-spool system available on the model 140. The charge pump and differential were largely unchanged from the 140, with the charge pump being manufactured by Sundstrand and the differential assembly by Dana. Individual rear wheel brakes also came standard on the model 300. Notably absent on the left side of the tractor was the clutch disconnect/ neutral return pedal found on the model 140. Identical to the model 300, the model 316 (Kohler powered) was manufactured during 1978 only. This particular model is often confused with the later series model 316, which was produced from 1984-1992. Being distinctly different tractors, there are few similarities between the early and late versions of the model 316. Manufactured briefly from 1977 to 1978, the model 312 provided a basic, no frills 300 series tractor with 12 HP Kohler engine, no engine side panels, no ammeter, H1 hydraulics, narrower rear tires, and a single brake pedal for both rear wheels. Headlights were an option on the 312.
Model 300 (Kohler 16 HP K341AQS)
Model 312 (Kohler 12HP K301AS)
|30,001 – 55,000|
|1976||55,001 – 70,000|
|1977||70,001 – 80,000|
|1977||70,001 – 80,000|
|1978||80,001 – 95,000|
Model 316 (Kohler 16 HP K341AQS)
Model 314, 317
In 1979 John Deere began manufacturing models 314 and 317, respectively. Very much the same as previous hydrostatic models, the 314 and 317 represented the “basic” and “deluxe” versions of the 300 series hydrostatic tractors from 1979 until the 1983-1984 time period. One design change that is readily apparent was relocating much of the steering gear to the left side of the chassis. The 314 was an upgraded version of the 312 that reintroduced engine side panels on the “basic” tractor, increased horsepower to a 14HP Kohler engine, and standard installation of the wider 23×10.50×12 rear tires.
The 317 was John Deere’s first attempt at introducing a twin-cylinder engine into the 300 series tractor. A horizontally opposed Kohler KT17QS engine producing 17 horsepower was mated to a 300 series frame, resulting in the model 317. Offered as standard equipment on the 317 were headlights & taillights, ammeter, dual-spool hydraulics and individual rear wheel brakes.
It is no secret that the 317 has had its share of engine problems. Many of the model 317 tractors suffered catastrophic engine failure as a result of poor lubrication to the connecting rod journals of the crankshaft. The engine utilized a “Pressure spray” lubrication system, which operated at approximately 5 PSI and did not provide pressurized oil to the connecting rod journals. Instead, the connecting rod journals were lubricated with oil sprayed down from the camshaft. This resulted in inadequate lubrication, particularly if the tractor was operated on a side-hill incline. Kohler did not offer an immediate solution to this problem, and as an interim solution John Deere engineered a retrofit kit that would allow an Onan p218G to be installed into the 317 chassis.
Eventually Kohler did rectify the problematic KT17 engine by redesigning the engine with a full pressure lubrication system. Known as the KT17 Series II, the engine operated at a significantly higher oil pressure of 25-50 PSI. Kohler also cross-drilled the crankshaft, which allowed oil to be supplied under pressure to the connecting rod journals. The result was a much more durable engine with significantly longer life. A KT17 Series II engine can be identified by a specification (Spec.) number of 24300 or higher. Well into its last year of production, 1982, the 317 came equipped with a Kohler KT17 Series II engine as standard equipment from the factory. Unfortunately the reputation of the 317 and the original KT17 engine was well established by this point.
|Model 314 Kohler 14HP K321AQS||Model 317 Kohler KT17 QS|
Model 316, 318, 330, 322, & 332
Starting with the model 318 in the 1983 model year, John Deere completely redesigned the 300 series. It was as revolutionary as the 140 had been when it was introduced. From a clean sheet of paper came the model 316 and 318, respectively. Once again all of the attachments that could be used on the previous 140 and 300 series tractors could be adapted to the new 318. New design features included:
- Two-cylinder Onan air cooled engine with cast iron cylinder liners standard on both tractors.
- Rear of frame redesigned to an “Open Frame” configuration, as opposed to “closed frame” design of previous 300 series tractors.
- First use of annunciator lights incorporated into dash panel of 300 series tractors. Electromagnetic clutch for both front and rear PTO.
- Redesigned fender deck resulting in a more “squared off” appearance resulting in greater operator protection and comfort.
- Redesigned front axle to allow more weight bearing capacity. Replaceable spindle bushings.
- Transaxle manufactured by Tecumseh, with a Hydraulic oil cooler as standard on the 318
- True hydrostatic power steering. A first on a Lawn and Garden tractor.
- A reserve fuel tank that allowed 15-30 minutes extra operating time.
- Two spools of remote hydraulics
The 318 was truly a revolution in the Garden Tractor industry. And it needed to be. After the public relations disaster that Deere endured over the 317, Deere had gone back to the drawing board and went above and beyond anything the competition had. Operator comfort had been dramatically increased through the used of hydrostatic power steering. With a tight turning radius on 26 inches, the 318 turned inside many on the previous models.
The 18 horsepower Onan engine was powerful, and had tremendous lugging ability. The twin cylinder design was smooth and the engine was rubber mounted to further enhance operator comfort. As stated earlier, all of the current worktools in the Deere stable that fit previous models, could be used on the 318. In addition to those, a new two stage snow blower was added, as well as a Deere designed front broom.
With a change in the rear frame design, a whole new set of rear attachments was introduced. A rockshaft mounted three point hitch and 2000 RPM rear PTO controlled these attachments.
- 48 inch rear pto driven tiller
- 30 inch hydraulic tiller
- 50 and 60 inch rear mounted grooming decks
- Rear pto driven Material Collection Systems, one with hydraulic dumping
- Also the #44 front mounted loader.
In 1984, the 318 was joined by its little brother the 316. Basically the same tractor as the 318, but without power steering and having only 1 spool of hydraulics. In 1986 the 330 joined the team, Deere’s first diesel powered Lawn and Garden tractor. And in 1988, the 330 was replaced by the 332, a diesel and the 322 was added with a 3 cylinder gasoline engine. The 330, 332, and 322 were all liquid cooled and the engines were sourced from Yanmar, the supplier of John Deere’s compact tractor line since 1979.
During the reign of the 318, Deere produced its 1 millionth Lawn and Garden tractor, and the 318 outsold any of the other models. It remains a very sought after tractor, with resale values remaining very high.
Model 318 Onan
|1983||222,001 – 285,000|
|1984||285,001 – 315,000|
|1985||315,001 – 360,000|
|1986||360,001 – 420,000|
|1987||420,001 – 475,000|
|1988||475,001 – 595,000|
|1989||595,001 – 999,000|
|1990||010,001 – 100,000|
|1991||100,001 – 110,000|
|1992||110,001 – 120,000|
Here you are searching Craig’s List once again for that great deal on a John Deere garden tractor.
Then you see this ad “John Deere Garden Tractor For Sale – $XXX”. With great anticipation you
click on the ad expecting to see a 140, or a 318, or perhaps a 430, and there it is a RX75 rear engine
rider. Or perhaps you’re clearing off your drive way with your John Deere X748 when your
neighbor asks about your “lawn mower”. Annoying, yes, and perhaps nitpicking, but when will the
populace learn that your garden tractor isn’t just a lawn mower.
Riding mower, lawn tractor, garden tractor, the names get tossed around and can get intermingled
and confused. So with this in mind, this little article will help explained what is what and what
nomenclature we should be using to avoid confusion and our own annoyance.
First off, there are several different categories, rear engine rider to a super garden tractor. Knowing
what constitutes a machine in each category will help you explain to your wife that your “garden
tractor” is not a “lawn mower”.
First what is a lawn mower? This term can be used for a walk behind mower to a ride on mower.
It isn’t really a category, but more or less a generalization or a cross of several categories. I would
categorize a walk behind, a rear engine rider, and a lawn tractor as a lawn mower. These machines
usually have just one function or just one function it does well, and that is cut grass. For this article
sake, a lawn mower is not a category, but a blend of several machines that only functions well
when it’s mowing grass.
Since we all know what a walk behind, or push mower, is we will skip that category. Sufficient to
say, they only have one function and that is to mow grass and it’s pretty oblivious to all that this is
what we will call a lawn mower.
Our first category we will discuss is the rear engine rider. The category name pretty much
describes this category. It’s a ride on lawn mower and will have the engine in the rear of the
machine, either behind the operator or slightly underneath the operator. They normally have small
tires and rims, have small decks as small as 24 inches, but can have decks up to 38 inches. They’re
fairly light machines, usually under 350 lbs and may even have a bicycle type handle bars instead
of a steering wheel. Some manufacturers even offered a small snow blade for these, but they’re not
heavy enough to be efficient enough to push snow. They’re pretty popular for small, postage size
yards, but are not suited for larger yards.
Next category we will discuss is what is known as the lawn tractor. Keep in mind that some will
call a rear engine rider a lawn tractor, but in theory a rear engine rider is not a lawn tractor for it’s
not a tractor at all.
A lawn tractor will usually have slightly larger tires than a rear engine rider, have the engine in the
front of the machine or at least in front of the operator. They’re excellent at mowing the lawn, but
can handle attachments like a small snow blade or a small snow thrower on a small scale. They can
pull a small yard cart, an aerator, a spreader and other non-ground engaging implements. Deck
sizes can range anywhere from 24 inches up to 54 inches. Even though they can handle a snow
blade or a snow thrower, their transmission isn’t rated for heavy implements or for ground
engaging implements. Some in this category will have updated, expensive features like power
steering, liquid cooling, bolt on rear rims, upgraded, high back seats, front bumper guards, etc.
They are mainly designed for mowing grass and are best suited for small to mid-size yards. We
must understand their main function is to mow grass and were first designed to do that task. Snow
blades and snow blowers were options to appeal to homeowners who didn’t want to spend more
money on a garden tractor.
Next category is what I would call a cross over – a yard tractor. They are usually a lawn tractor
with bigger rear tires. They may be able to handle some ground engaging equipment, like a tiller
with its own engine. They will usually have a larger engine and a more robust transmission than a
lawn tractor, but not always. Decks are usually from the 42 inch range to 54 inch range. Some
manufacturers will just put larger tires on their lawn tractor and call it a yard tractor. Unless you
want a smoother ride the larger tires provide, I wouldn’t really look at a yard tractor over a lawn
tractor as their capabilities aren’t that much more than a lawn tractor. If you think you need a
garden tractor, then I would overlook this category and go straight to a garden tractor. If you want
to mow the lawn, then buy a lawn tractor unless your yard is rough and the larger tires are
The last category is the garden tractor. I will place the super garden tractor in this category as well
as a garden tractor will do as much work as a super garden tractor and have almost as much
A garden tractor will have at least 23 inch rear tires and 16 inch front tires, minimum. They are
usually bought originally to mow the lawn, but with an eye for other implements. A garden tractor
will have decks ranging from 38 inch to 60-62 inch. They are excellent mowing machines and are
best suited for mid-size to very large yards. Most only see mowing duties, but their real value lies
in their ability to handle several implements and attachments, and can handle them very well. The
garden tractor were designed for home owners, estate owner, etc., who wants their machines to do
more than mow grass. Garden tractors can handle snow blades up to 54 inches or more, 2 stage
snow blowers, mechanical as well as hydraulic tillers, center (mid) dozer blades, back blades, box
blades, mold board plows, disk harrows, cultivators, etc. 3 point hitches, including category 0 or
category 1, are offered for the garden tractors, as well as integral (sleeve) hitches. Features can be
hydraulic lift, even up to 3 spools of hydraulics, power steering, rear and front PTOs, liquid cooling,
diesel engines, tilt wheels, 4 wheel drive, differential locks, turning brakes, etc. If you want your
lawn mower to do more than mow a lawn, then you want a garden tractor.
One other category I guess we should mention is the zero turn. If you want to cut grass and get it
done very quickly and have no need to move snow or plow a field, and have a fairly large area to
mow, then you might want a zero turn. They’re good for one thing, and one thing only, to cut
grass. Some zero turns are best suited for hilly or sloping yards, but are great for mowing large
areas. Some may have dual steering levers, some may have a steering wheel. Engines are usually
in the rear behind the operator and some may have casters as front wheels. Decks can range upto
72 inches. Some zero turns are designed for commercial use and will have more robust frames,
heavier built decks, roll over protection (rops), commercial grade engines and separate, dual hydro
pumps and motors. Some are made for residential use and will be more economical to buy, but will
have less expensive engines, lighter decks, some may have single hydro pumps and motors, and
overall aren’t as robust or durable.
The next category I guess we should mentioned here and that is the front mower. Front mowers
are meant to cut grass, but some can handle a front snow blade or snow blowers. Engines are
usually in the rear and deck sizes range up to 72 inches and are in the front, hence the name front
mowers. They can have dual steering levers are a steering wheel and usually have hydraulic lifts.
Some may have a single tire on the back.
The last category is the SCUT or sub-compact utility tractor. These machines will come equipped with diesel engines, 4 wheel drive, a mid and rear PTO, and a limited category 1 three point hitch. These tractors are designed considerably more heavy duty and are just the smallest version of the big boys on the farm. They will easily handle heavier loads on the optional front end loader and rear 3 point hitch. The best way to explain a SCUT is it’s a tractor that can mow, not a mower that can do limited tractor chores. With one of these machines, you can quickly find your list of chores get shorter much quicker. In fact you’ll look for a lot more to do other than just “cut the lawn.”
If you have more questions on tractors you can visit the John Deere Forum at Green Tractor Talk.com
Here are the charts showing John Deere Lawn & Garden Tractor models by year and serial number. The charts are broken up by decades, i.e. one chart for the 1960s, one chart for the 1970s, etc. If you are searching for parts, this can be very helpful.