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Inclinometers, or as they’re also called clinometers, will measure the angle of tilt, depression or elevation of a tractor. Tractors do not typically come with them installed as a standard piece of equipment. Many tractor drivers prefer to use their own senses when it comes to determining how they will do on a slope or hill while operating their equipment.

Many variables also come into play that an inclinometer will not factor in to its equation:
* Amount of fuel in the tank.
* Tire air pressure
* Number of implements being used
* Location of implements being used
* Bar uphill or downhill on a mower
* Fluid in tires
* Holes or divots in the ground
* Ground wet or dry
* Wind
* If you are pulling anything
* And many more….

inclinometer tractorHowever adding an inclinometer to your tractor can be a good safety measure. As you drive your tractor more and more, eventually you will get a better feel for how it operates on sloping ground. Adding that inclinometer can help you to gauge at what slope or tilt seems too much, you can eventually rely on your meter more and more to help you stay upright. There are varying opinions on what’s best, be sure you start by learning more about the tractor you drive, its weight, understand the center of gravity per the manufacturers specifications and do extra measures to make sure you stay safe operating it. Every tractor, operator and land conditions will be different. So take the time to learn more about your surroundings and what you’re driving!

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The John Deere 110 Garden Tractor

The model 110 was John Deere’s first Lawn & Garden tractor. In 1962 a design was laid forth to build a lawn and garden tractor that would offer many of the same features and wide range of implements that the bigger John Deere tractors offered. It would offer small rural and urban landowners alike the chance to own an affordable Small Tractor with a Big Farmer feel. The new tractor was designated the John Deere Model 110 in keeping with the current Ten Series Waterloo and Dubuque tractors. Ergonomically designed, with new features way ahead of its time, its exclusive Variable Speed Drive allowed for high speed mowing and super low end tilling. Its stout, and dependable Cast Iron 7 hp K-161 Kohler engine gave the tractor plenty of power to utilize the integral worktools. It was a great design, and was quick to become a big seller with 1000 models built for 1963. Features included:

  • Seven horsepower, air cooled, Kohler model K161 cast iron engine with electric start 
  • Peerless three speed transmission with speed variator that allowed slowing the tractor without interrupting power to the driven equipment
  • Rear tires and drive belts enclosed and shielded for operator protection. A full hood and grille protecting the engine, battery, starter, etc.

  • Quick -Tach style mounting of attachments

  • Scratch resistant fiberglass hood and fenders 
  • Triple safe starting 

  • Heavily built frame and front axle to handle heavy loads.
  • Adjustable tread rear wheels, important for mowing on hillsides.

 

Introduced as a seven horse model in 1963, for 1964 an eight horse Kohler K181S was utilized and the fiberglass fenders were replaced with steel. For 1965 the transmission was changed from three speed to four speed, and in 1966 Hydraulic Lift was offered as a factory only option. In 1966 a new 110 with Manual Lift cost $719 and the standard 38″ deck was $148.

Triple safe starting was a feature from the start. The PTO needed to be disengaged, the transmission in neutral and the key used before the tractor could be started. This feature was advertised by showing children playing and climbing on the tractor. Deere considered the safety feature to be a key selling point on the tractors.

The most obvious design change was in 1968 when the separate “round fenders” were replaced by a one-piece “fender deck” that was rubber mounted to the frame. The next significant change occurred in 1972 with a larger, heavier frame, choice of the 8 hp Kohler K181S or a 10 hp Kohler K241S engine.  Electric lift became an option in 1973.

The model 110 initially weighed approximately 500# with the later versions adding weight to a total of 775#. The 110 was designed as a garden tractor and Deere offered many integral attachments to suit the homeowner, as well as the commercial user :

  • Model 20 Compressor
  • Model 38, 39 and 46 (for 10hp)  mower deck
  • Model 36, 37, and 37A snowthrowers
  • Model 30, 31, and 31A rear rotary tiller
  • Model 42 and 43 blade
  • Model 80 dump cart
  • Model 7, 5a, and 5b sprayer
  • Front and rear slab weights and rear wheel weights
  • Tire chains, hub caps, cigarette lighter, and headlights
  • An integral hitch
  • Tire equipment options

Serial number breaks are as follows:

Year Serial Number Engine
1963 2,550 – 3,550 Kohler K161 (7hp)
1964 3,551 – 15,000 Kohler K181 (8hp)
1965 15,001 – 40,000 Kohler K181
1966 40,001 – 65,000 Kohler K181
1967 65,001 – 100,000 Kohler K181
1968 100,001 – 130,000 Kohler K181
1969 130,001 – 160,000 Kohler K181
1970 160,000 – 185,000 Kohler K181
1971 185,001 – 250,000 Kohler K181
1972 250,001 – 260,000 Kohler K181
1972 260.001 – 272,000 Kohler K241 (10hp)
1973 272,001 – 285,000 Kohler K181
1973 285,001 – 310,000 Kohler K241
1974 310,001 – 320,000 Kohler K181
1974 320,001 – Kohler K241

 

 

The John Deere 112 Garden Tractor

The model 112 came out in 1966. After the successful sales of the Model 110, Deere realized they need a lager size mower for the larger size jobs. The 112 carried on the same sleek styling of the 110, but with a larger motor and of course, a wider deck.. The new model 112 had the following specifications:

  • Cast-iron Tecumseh HH100 ten hp engine.
  • 4speed transaxle with super low for tilling
  • Electric start,
  • Worm gear steering
  • Fiberglass hood
  • 1.9 gal fuel tank
  • Dry type air filter
  • Variable speed drive

 

The 112 is truly a farm-bred tractor. They bring time saving performance and convenience that owners expect form John Deere. They are designed for everyone to drive with a triple-safe starting system to prevent dangerous unexpected starts. The variable speed drive gives you complete control to match the tougher job conditions without sacrificing engine speed or working efficiency. Hydraulic Lift was a new option for the 1966 model year on the 110 and 112.

The 1966 112 had a base weight of 642 lbs, and carried a $830 price tag. A 12 with hyd lift weighed in at 663 lbs and was $938. The #46 deck was $150.

The 1968 model year showed a lot of new changes. The fenders and platform were combined into a 1 piece fender deck. An adjustable cushioned seat provided great comfort. Slanted footrests provided a place to rest the feet while mowing. Headlights were placed right above the grill just under the front lip of the hood. In 1969 another 10hp was an option. You could get a K241AS 10hp Kohler. Hyd lift was still an option.

1972 brought another hp change. A 12 hp K301AS Kohler was standard. Manual and Hyd lift were dropped and electric lift was the only lift option. An electric PTO clutch was standard 1972,73. In 1974 a manually engaged PTO replaced the electric clutch.

Year Serial Number Engine
1966 2,551 -3,550 Tecumseh HH100 (10hp)
1967 3,551 – 100,000 Tecumseh HH100
1968 100,001 – 130,000 Tecumseh HH100
1969 130,001 – 150,000 Tecumseh HH100
1969 150,001 – 160,000 Kohler K241 (10hp)
1970 160,001 – 180,000 Tecumseh HH100
1970 180,001 – 185,000 Kohler K241
1971 185,001 -225,000 Tecumseh HH100 (10hp)
1971 225,001 – 250,000 Kohler K241
1972 250,001 – 260,000 Kohler K301 (12hp)
1973 260,001 – 300,000 Kohler K301 (12hp)
1974 300,001 – Kohler K301 (12 hp)

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
necessary.


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
features.

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.”


So the next time someone calls your John Deere 430 a lawn mower, remind them of what it can do!

If you have more questions on tractors you can visit the John Deere Forum at Green Tractor Talk.com

Mowing doesn’t have to be just another chore. You can have fun cutting the grass. Have you noticed the lawns the professional landscapers mow? The nice striped effect can easily be replicated on your lawn too. Your lawn mower, garden tractor or compact tractor has a high quality mower and you can easily achieve an excellent cut just by making sure it is set up correctly and level. The mower deck needs to be properly adjusted as in level side-to-side and about 1/4″ low compared to the rear of the mower. Be sure to measure the blades and not the deck for the best accuracy.  To measure the blade you might have to manually turn them by hand under the mower.

To mow my lawn, first I’ll cut the perimeter of my yard, usually two passes. By doing this, I have plenty of room to turn the tractor around and the clippings will stay in the yard and not on my driveway or in my landscaping. My first pass with a new pattern is right down the middle. I’ll concentrate on an object in the distance and steer the tractor as straight as I can towards that object. Then you need to alternate directions in subsequent passes keeping the straight lines. If you notice a pass isn’t straight,  no problem. Your next pass can correct it. Just don’t take a full width pass the next time. This will allow a little wiggle room to straighten your lines. It’s important to change the pattern that you cut the lawn to avoid soil compaction. Some won’t experience this problem and will cut the same pattern over and over, but it depends on the soil type you live on. I like to change my mowing pattern every time I mow to avoid any compaction issues, plus it keeps mowing interesting and fun!

Categories : Compact Tractors
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John Deere 2520Here is a topic I have seen some complaining about on other sites; MMM (mid mount mower) independent lifts on the 2000 series machines. The complaint is “My deck won’t stay up unless I keep bumping the up lever”.

Let’s explore the reason you would actually need the independent lift option. The original intent of the design is to use the standard “mechanical lift”. This mechanism is power slaved off the 3pt hitch and does exactly the same thing as the independent lift “it raises the deck” so that you can set the proper cutting height or lock it in the full up position. Now, there may be an application where you want use the 3pt hitch function yet control the deck lift separately. I have just the example. In the fall I attach a trailer vacuum to my 2305’s 3pt hitch that is fed directly from the deck. Well I don’t want the blower and trailer hitch going up and down when I raise and lower the deck. So I added an independent lift to the 2305 and now can raise and lower the deck separately while leaving the 3pt in the full up position. It works great.

There are a couple of issues here that need clarifying.

First off, hydraulic cylinders are not designed to hold applying forces for extended periods of time. The piston seals are not capable of not leaking. In a hydraulic cylinder the seal will always have some kind of leakage or seepage. And with use will get worse and eventually get to the point it will need replacing. Just read the numerous threads out there complaining about their loaders leaking down. The MMM lifts are the same way. To expect the cylinder to hold the deck up for extended lengths of time is unreasonable. Now don’t get me wrong, there are things that Deere can design in to make this happen. The problem is it is not cost effective or practical. The point is the cylinder does exactly as designed; it lifts the deck so that it can be set to the proper height.

Secondly, on the 2305 and the 2320 Deere has designed a very nice device right into the platform of the tractor for controlling the deck cutting height and locking it in the full up position. The 2520 and 2720 have add-on options to set cutting height and full up lock out. When used properly the items work flawlessly. So, enjoy your tractor and always think safety.

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