John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

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Dead Man Walking
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John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Dead Man Walking »

I own a 2004 John Deere L110 lawn tractor that has developed what is often called the "Kohler knock," which is the sound that the Kohler Command CV 491 17.5 hp engine makes when the balance gears on the crankshaft loosen after years (900 hours) of operation. A Google search revealed that the engine may run for a few years before it blows up. Due to the age of the tractor, I've decided to buy a new one and retire the old one to back up duty. Consequently, I've shopped for new models. I've looked at new models by John Deere, Cub Cadet, and Husqvarna. I was surprised to discover how much the quality of construction had deteriorated in the last 14 years. None of the new models looks to be made as well as my 2004 model.

I've decided to buy a John Deere D130 because my bagger (a $350-$400 option) is compatible with it and it has features similar to the old one. The D130 has a larger engine, larger tires, and a better seat than the L110.

Does anyone have experience with the D130?

DMW
pshonore
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by pshonore »

My Gravely friends tell me that balance gears do not really serve much of a purpose and can be removed. (I'm not sure what that entails). My Gravely walk-behind has a Kohler 301 12HP engine that is still running after 35 years.

Here's a link with more info than you probably want to know about single cylinder Kohlers and balance gears:
http://gardentractorpullingtips.com/balance.htm
TRC
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by TRC »

Not sure what your needs are, but if it's a small yard and all you're doing is lawn cutting, you should be fine. I used to own a John Deere LA115 that was fine, though pretty chincy IMO. We moved to a new house and I ended up selling it to buy an X748 with snowblower and front end loader. If you ever decide to "trade up", the x300 is a pretty big step up from the 100 series. Used they're about the same cost as a new 100 series. http://www.mytractorforum.com is a great forum.
squirm
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by squirm »

We have lots of acreage on hills. My JD175 is crap, tranny gets too hot and can't make it up the hills. I'm sure I was asking way to much from it though, but the JD X series wouldn't do that. I use my Kubota tractor.
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lthenderson
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by lthenderson »

I think it is more important to worry about getting the 7 gauge versus 10 gauge deck for longevity than the side panels on the tractor. The deck takes the brunt of the abuse over the years.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Doom&Gloom »

I had an L111 which I absolutely abused for a few years due to conditions beyond my control. I replaced it with a D140 about 5 years ago and have had no issues with it at all. The conditions of our 1.5 acre lot which caused the abuse to the L111 were no longer present, so it has not seen the same type of hard usage as the L111.
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by chmcnm »

Why not run your current LT until it dies or buy new and sell it? You might be able to find something on Craigslist. It's amazing what used JD's go for on Craigslist. My friend only likes JD. His 130 lawn tractor finally died a few years ago. He found a used JD on Craigslist in great shape for a good price. I towed it home for him. I see why he likes them. The quality has gone downhill the past 10 years (on just about everything). I find myself buying used and refurbishing. The build quality and steel is better.
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I tend to separate power equipment into "big box store" versions and "dealer" versions. While the dealer versions are more expensive, they're easily serviced, have replacement parts available and simply last longer. This applies not only to tractors but chain saws, leaf blowers, etc. I can't find anywhere that says who makes Deere big box tractors (only that they're made in Mexico) but know that some of the other brands are made by MTD, who is a very low end manufacturer. (I've owned an MTD....now own a Kubota....there is no comparison).
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mrc
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by mrc »

Jack FFR1846 wrote:I tend to separate power equipment into "big box store" versions and "dealer" versions. While the dealer versions are more expensive, they're easily serviced, have replacement parts available and simply last longer. This applies not only to tractors but chain saws, leaf blowers, etc. I can't find anywhere that says who makes Deere big box tractors (only that they're made in Mexico) but know that some of the other brands are made by MTD, who is a very low end manufacturer. (I've owned an MTD....now own a Kubota....there is no comparison).
+1 there. So long as you buy from a dealership, and not a big orange/blue box store, you should be fine. I have a 4100 (c. 2001) with a FEL that should outlive me. I have a belly mower for this that I don't use (have a Lazer-Z) that probably outweighs the big box garden tractors for sale today.
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Ron »

Over the last 23 years, I've had four lawn tractors (two Craftsman/Sears, a JD 130 and a Cub Cadet). The first Sears (brand unknown) ran for nine years before it started giving me trouble. The second Sears (which was a Husqvarna) lasted just three years with deck leveling problems, broken spindles, and finally valve problems. The Cub Cadet was nice - when it wasn't throwing blade belts which it did quite often. After taking it back to the dealer multiple times, they didn't have a solution (other than trade it in, but by that time I didn't trust the brand).

I have around 1.25 acres of grass. Unfortunately it's been tough to mow over the years with all the rocks, tree stumps (borders on a development built in a forest) and a lot of "soft" areas due to springs and runoff from other properties (which I in turn pass on to those folks below me).

I'm turning 70 at the end of the year so I thought about not replacing the Husqvarna but just use a mowing service. The problem with that is twofold; I've already used a service when we go on long trips (3-4 weeks) but I'm never satisfied with the way the service performs their job. The second is that I just enjoy sitting on the tractor and mowing for a couple of hours.

The result is that I went to my JD dealer and test drove various models. While I always spent around $2k +/- I was willing to go with something more expensive this time. Initially, I was going for the S240 sport, but after driving the X350, there was no comparison to the S240. The S240 listed at $2,500 - just a bit more than what I had been paying in the past. However, the X350 listed at $3,200 - a big jump from what I expected to pay. However, after driving it around their test area, there simply was no comparison. When I had it delivered (last month), I could not believe how the design of the new deck (Accel Deep Deck) vs the Edge Deck I had in the past had changed the cutting output. It was almost like using a mulcher/bagger but with just a standard blade and output.

The cut result is that the blades of grass are much smaller than normal. I could tell when the dogs went out in the morning when the morning dew would force me to hand-wash all eight paws with the prior day's cutting clinging to them, but now there is little/no clinging to their fur. JD really did a good job with their new deck, which just came out last year.

And due to the added weight of the machine (primarily to the frame used in both the 300 & 500 series), I have not gotten stuck in any soft areas; something my other lawn tractors (including the smaller JD) have done over the years.

If you have a clear, level lawn that stays dry when you cut, you certainly don't need a 300 series. However, if you want a superior cut with ease of function (including having the steering feel like it is powered, but it isn't), I can highly recommend one of the larger series JD mowers.

FWIW,

Ron
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Retired1809 »

I agree that mowers built before 2000 are better than today's. I bought a used 1998 self-propelled walk-behind MTD with a 6 1/2 HP B&S engine three years ago (for $85 at a yard sale) and it's the best mower I've ever owned! It's a shame we can't buy new mowers with that quality. I believe that it helps to use only ethynol-free gas.

This mower body has heavy-guage steel, much thicker than the new ones. I hope to keep it for many years.
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FrugalYankee
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by FrugalYankee »

I've had a D130 for a couple of years and I'm satisfied with it. I have about 2/3 acre with a slight incline. I use it to mow the lawn and mulch leaves, nothing heavy duty.
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Crimsontide
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Crimsontide »

I have a 6 year old D130 that runs like, well, like a Deere :happy I keep hoping it will start giving me problems or die because I really want a Zero turn for mowing my 2 acres. Once the D130 gives up the ghost, which doesn't look to be this mowing season, I'm going Zero turn (Bobcat).
iamlucky13
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by iamlucky13 »

Compared to other mowers in the same price range, the Deere D-series (the models sold at big-box stores) usually have the same engines and transmission, but weigh a bit more, which hints at a bit beefier structure. They're a good option for most people. I've also been pretty happy with Husqvarna's (who also makes Craftsman mowers).
lthenderson wrote:I think it is more important to worry about getting the 7 gauge versus 10 gauge deck for longevity than the side panels on the tractor. The deck takes the brunt of the abuse over the years.
I don't think you're going to find that on sub-$2000 lawn tractors. Even 10 gauge decks don't seem to be common at that price. But 12 guage should be sufficient for quite a few years on typical lawns, as long as all the attachment points well designed. The in-laws had a Cub Cadet , for example, that had welds holding the spindles to the deck crack and have to be repaired, but that was 5+ years ago. Hopefully Cub Cadet fixed that in the meantime

I've got a new Cub Cadet XT1 now that I wouldn't have bought if the decision had been up to me (don't ask). I could point out a lot of things I don't like about it, but ultimately the real problem is that my property is too hilly and rough for a lawn tractor and I should have a garden tractor. I think the XT1 would be fine for a typical well-kept, acre or less lawn.

There are two complaints worth mentioning though. First, the Kohler Courage single cylinder engine is surprisingly loud and has more vibration to it than I'm used to, and looking around online, does not have a great reliability reputation. I don't know how Kohler came to be viewed by many as an upgrade over Briggs. It's at best on par. Second, a blade bent, presumably on a mole hill, the very first time I used it. I never had that happen in much worse conditions on any other mower. Fortunately, Tractor Supply Co. was good enough to give us a spare set of blades in response. If it happens again, I'll have to search out some heavier duty blades.

Also, it's really ugly. That shouldn't really matter, but when taken as far as making it the lawn mower equivalent of the Honda Element, it's just too much for me.

I do have one fairly significant good thing to say about it: they skipped most of the easily marketed features that aren't easy to execute well at this price range - it doesn't have an electric blade clutch, or a fancy deck height adjustment. Just simple manual hand levers for both. Instead, they put the money into a Tuff-Torq K-46 transmission. The K-46 has a dubious reputation, but when I dug into it more, I found out this is because Deere equips a lot of their X300 series mowers with it. The X300 costs twice as much (and has over 100 pounds more weight beefing it up), and consequently, many owners use it at least twice as hard. It's just not a transmission designed for regular towing and steep hill climbing.
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by iamlucky13 »

HikerNC wrote:I agree that mowers built before 2000 are better than today's. I bought a used 1998 self-propelled walk-behind MTD with a 6 1/2 HP B&S engine three years ago (for $85 at a yard sale) and it's the best mower I've ever owned! It's a shame we can't buy new mowers with that quality. I believe that it helps to use only ethynol-free gas.

This mower body has heavy-guage steel, much thicker than the new ones. I hope to keep it for many years.
You can buy that quality today. You just have to be willing to pay what folks were willing to pay in past for the quality. My Husqvarna walk behind was $350, and I consider that an excellent price for a mower with a Honda engine. I put 5 years use on it with over an acre of rough, mole-infested ground with very fast-growing grass before I broke down and bought a rider for the areas a rider can traverse (the walk behind is still necessary). I've probably put more hours on it as most walk behinds accrue in 20 years, and they've been far more brutal hours.

The interesting thing about this market is how prices haven't changed as long as I can recall. 20-25 years ago, my dad finally had mercy on us and bought our first rider. It was a $1000 (I remember the price because it took so long to convince my dad it was worth it) store-branded, MTD-built model. After 5 years or so of relatively heavy use, stuff started sequentially breaking on it.

You can still buy entry level MTD-built riders for $1000, and they remain lightly built mowers that need to be treated gently to last much more than 5 years. The CPI has increased over 50% over that time period.

You still see some of the old Cub Cadets around that gave the brand it's reputation back when it was still recognized as the miniature version of the International Farmall Cub. If they still run reasonably well, they sell for as much today with 3-4 decades use on them as many new riders. Their inflation-adjusted original price would have been somewhere in the ballpark of $6000 - comparable to a John Deere X500, which is a fairly high end garden tractor that weighs almost twice as much as the MTD.
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Dead Man Walking
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Dead Man Walking »

pshonore wrote:My Gravely friends tell me that balance gears do not really serve much of a purpose and can be removed. (I'm not sure what that entails). My Gravely walk-behind has a Kohler 301 12HP engine that is still running after 35 years.

Here's a link with more info than you probably want to know about single cylinder Kohlers and balance gears:
http://gardentractorpullingtips.com/balance.htm
Thanks for the link. I've been told that the balance gears loosen over the years and may pose no problems unless one of them breaks a tooth. The engine runs fine at high rpms, but makes a heck of a racket when it shuts down. Since my snow blade won't work with the new 100 series tractors, I'm keeping the L110 to plow snow. We don't have that much snow, so it may last another 14 years. Remembering to keep the battery charged may be my biggest problem.

I've heard that the John Deere products sold at the box stores are not the same as those sold by dealers. I don't know if that is true. I'm buying from a dealer because I have found that the dealer is very cooperative when he enters my name in his computer system and sees that I bought the tractor from him.

DMW
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by iamlucky13 »

Dead Man Walking wrote:I've heard that the John Deere products sold at the box stores are not the same as those sold by dealers. I don't know if that is true. I'm buying from a dealer because I have found that the dealer is very cooperative when he enters my name in his computer system and sees that I bought the tractor from him.
They're different quality tiers, but they are still made by Deere. The rumor that the box store models are just MTD mowers painted green is false. My understanding is the Tennessee factory builds the D and S series models and the zero turns, and the Wisconsin factory builds the X series and the Gator utility vehicles.

The box stores sell D-series (formerly labeled as L-series. I'm not sure anything significant changed except the label).

The dealers sell X-series, and sometimes also the D-series, depending how much they feel like competing on price with the box stores. Recently an S-series model also was introduced at dealers as an in-between product with a D-series frame and deck, but I think both the engine and transmission from the X300.

Dealers are usually more interested in supporting the product than box stores. You might not be able to get quite the same pricing at the dealer as the box store, but you're more likely to get a prompt response if you need something fixed in the middle of mowing season or have a warranty issue.
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by pshonore »

Here's another alternative - these are walk-behind (no riding) and will also cut rough brush, high grass, saplings, etc. They also take optional attachments (except for the "entry level" model) such as wood chippers, snow blades, snow throwers and a 42" finish mower for regular lawns. They are similar but not quite as heavy duty as the older 5000 series Gravelys.

http://www.drpower.com/power-equipment/ ... sh-mowers/
mrc
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by mrc »

pshonore wrote:Here's another alternative - these are walk-behind (no riding) and will also cut rough brush, high grass, saplings, etc. They also take optional attachments (except for the "entry level" model) such as wood chippers, snow blades, snow throwers and a 42" finish mower for regular lawns. They are similar but not quite as heavy duty as the older 5000 series Gravelys.

http://www.drpower.com/power-equipment/ ... sh-mowers/
DR maintenance items and parts are very expensive. My string trimmer has some design faults that I wouldn't expect to find on a $800 unit. I've never used one of the brush mowers though. I want to like DR more than I'm able.
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queso
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by queso »

Subscribed. Still using my old Craftsman, but I have been looking around at what I might buy next. Honestly, I haven't been too impressed with the JD's I have seen in person, but those have all been big box store JDs (110s and 105s). They have some nice stuff at the place where I buy my Stihl equipment (Scag, Toro, Hustler, Husqvarna), but most of it looks like overkill for my 1 acre flat yard. I may take a trip to the dealer so I can get a better sense of what is offered beyond the big box store models.
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by soupcxan »

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mrc
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by mrc »

soupcxan wrote:John Deere will not sell you a tractor - they only license them now. I would not do business with a company that doesn't believe I have the right to repair my own equipment.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... eere-apple
Don't think what this article describes applies to JD lawn tractors: a bright red 27-ton Case tractor which has tracks instead of wheels. It’s worth about $250,000
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iamlucky13
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by iamlucky13 »

soupcxan wrote:John Deere will not sell you a tractor - they only license them now. I would not do business with a company that doesn't believe I have the right to repair my own equipment.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... eere-apple
It might be worth writing to Deere to inform them they automatically forfeited the opportunity for your business, if you haven't done so already. They'll ignore it or maybe respond with a generic "thanks for your feedback," but if enough people complain, the message might eventually get heard.

Anyways, this policy is going through the slow, tortuous process of getting overturned in court due to conflicts with the doctrine of first sale, the Magnuson Moss Act, and probably more. It's also not just Deere guilty of this crap.

The height of electronic sophistication on the mower that I'm aware of though, is the hour meter.
mrc wrote:Don't think what this article describes applies to JD lawn tractors: a bright red 27-ton Case tractor which has tracks instead of wheels. It’s worth about $250,000
Don't assume it won't trickle down if given a chance to.
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Ron »

iamlucky13 wrote:<snip...>The height of electronic sophistication on the mower that I'm aware of though, is the hour meter.
Actually, they have come a long way. Here's the digital display on my X350:

http://salesmanual.deere.com/sales/sale ... 50x225.jpg

It even has heads up display (HUD) on the visor when I'm cutting the grass wearing my official JD helmet (just kidding, of course :mrgreen: ).

- Ron
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Dead Man Walking
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Dead Man Walking »

soupcxan wrote:John Deere will not sell you a tractor - they only license them now. I would not do business with a company that doesn't believe I have the right to repair my own equipment.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... eere-apple
The D130 is quite similar to the L110. I've maintained my L110 using parts purchased from a John Deere dealership. The only time I had it serviced by a dealership was after I had major surgery. I had them replace the blade brakes and do the annual maintenance. The blade brakes are poorly designed and replacing them was a waste of money since they didn't function properly after about a month. I had tried to adjust them following the instructions in the owner's manual. I thought that I hadn't done the adjustment correctly; however, I determined that the professionals can't fix a design flaw. As mentioned above, the only electronic device on the tractor is the hour meter.

DMW
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Beach »

What is your budget? How big is your yard?

I recently switched from a riding lawn mower (JD L130) to Bob Cat CRZ 48" Zero Turn. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! I've cut my lawn mowing time almost in half. Sure, its more expensive on the front end but I've put 30 hours on it over the past year and its been amazing. Today's John Deere isn't the same as the yesterday. Get a commercial grade mower from a commercial grade company and don't look back (Bob Cat, Gravely, Exmark, Scag, etc)
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Dead Man Walking
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Dead Man Walking »

I've checked out zero turn mowers. Most zero turn mowers require two properly functioning arms. My left arm doesn't function properly; consequently, a zero turn mower isn't a practical alternative. Toro and Cub Cadet offer zero turn mowers with a conventional steering wheel, but they don't have the longevity for an accurate record of reliability. I mow an acre and a half. Since I'm retired, time isn't a major concern. I don't need a heavy duty tractor because my lot only has a slight incline and mowing and bagging leaves will be the main use. My L110 has been adequate for my purposes, including plowing wet snow about 5 inches deep. Price isn't really an issue. Thanks for your responses.

DMW
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Dead Man Walking
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Dead Man Walking »

I purchased a new D130 from a John Deere dealership for $1,899 this afternoon. I took the bagger and mulch cover from my old L110 to make sure that they were compatible with the D130. I actually installed them on the showroom floor to be sure that they worked. This saved about $400. I also bought the optional bagging blades.

I noticed a couple of differences between those sold by John Deere dealerships and Lowe's. The metal guard on the discharge chute was made of heavier gauge steel and functioned better on the dealership's model. The plastic shields beside the engine on the dealership's model were solid plastic rather than the mesh on the Lowe's model. The one on the showroom floor looked better than the one in Lowe's parking lot. This may simply be perception.

DMW
Beach
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Re: John Deere series 100 lawn tractors

Post by Beach »

Best of luck! I think you made the wise decision buying directly from JD rather than from Lowes.
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