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Tractor/Blower: Craftsman or John Deere?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by Zephrant, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. Zephrant

    Zephrant Member
    Messages: 37

    I suspect it is impossible to buy right now, but I'm considering getting a garden tractor / blower combo for my road (1/4 mi, 100' up a hill).

    My dad has a JD 322, which is a 18HP tractor with chains and the JD blower. That seams to work fine for his driveway, which is similar to mine but not as steep. Unfortunately he is too far away for me to just borrow his unit.

    I was trying to buy a used Craftsman 3000 (23HP) with blower, but think I moved to slow on it.

    Now that I'm about desperate enough to buy new (and wait for months for delivery), which way should I go? I want something in the 20-25 HP range, so I can throw wet snow (like today's little 9" surprise).

    Any compelling reasons on one brand being better than others?
  2. 04sd

    04sd Senior Member
    from pa
    Messages: 266

    I'd go for a 400 series JD. They are all at least 20hp/power steering/hydro and are physically bigger than the 300 series. Add a lot of weight to the rear, I hang about 300lbs on my 445.
  3. Zephrant

    Zephrant Member
    Messages: 37

    04sd- Do you use the hang-on weights and the tire weights on yours? Any times that you thought you needed a bigger tractor to blow with?

    After nearly a full day doing online research, I've come to the conclusion that I don't like the Craftsman blower- Too many negative reviews with what appeared to be valid concerns to me. Even though the JD looks to be at least 30% more expensive, I think I'll go JD. I demand quality in my products, and I think JD will deliver better there.

    I really like the rear discharge of the X300R, but I'm worried that 17HP is not enough for the blower. JD does not appear to make any bigger rear discharge machines.

    I've had a Toro with a back-dumper on it for 30 years, I've kept it because it still works, and I don't want to have to hop off the tractor to pull out soft bags and dump them when mowing. But that option adds about $1000 to the cost of the X300, and prevents me from getting as many HP as I'd prefer.

    My dad has an older 322 (18HP) that he blows with that works fine, so I suspect 17HP would be OK, but I really wanted to be in the 24HP range to make sure.

    Anyone have any experience with an X300R?
  4. 04sd

    04sd Senior Member
    from pa
    Messages: 266

    No wheel weights on mine. I've got a weight box I built that I hang 6 of the JD suit-case weights on (42lbs each) and usually there are some chains or something in the box. I have the two stage blower, works well but doesn't handle slush very well. I also have the the snow plow that goes on the same quik tach mount but have only ever used it once. I had been using an old jeep with a plow for years before buying the JD and last year I bought a plow for my Bronco II. With the Bronco I stay warm and dry, now the blower is just for the "big" snows :)
  5. Zephrant

    Zephrant Member
    Messages: 37

    I've been plowing with my Jeep for 5+ years, but the plow is getting beat up, as is the Jeep. I need to replace/repair the blade mounts and straighten the blade. And that still leave me with a dent in the passenger door and a scrape on the drivers side from snow/ice/rock combos. And I just repainted it last year too.

    So I'm trying to give up on plowing, and change to blowing. I agree that being warm would be nicer, but am afraid I'll roll my Jeep down the hill trying to keep my speed up enough to throw snow over the berms.

    Local shop has a X300R in stock, and has the blower coming in on a trunk in two weeks. I told them I'd take it and signed the paperwork. Then I got home and the guy with the used Craftsman had emailed me less than 10 minutes after I left saying his was still available (after 7 days of no contact)... at about 1/3 the cost of the JD.

    So now I'm conflicted. I really like the X300R, but it's pretty hard to walk away from a $3500 price difference. But again the guy won't return emails/calls again, so that may make the choice for me. :(
  6. Zephrant

    Zephrant Member
    Messages: 37

    Well the guy flaked out on me- told me on the phone that I could have it after 7 days of no responses to emails. I arranged to pickup the cash and hired a flatbed and truck to go get it. I called to set the time (left a message) and 15 minutes later get an email saying it was sold because he got a "great offer". That was about an hour after he had told me I could have it. :(

    I imagine he told another caller that it was sold, and got a higher offer. It was a decent price and considering the season, many people would have gone higher I suspect. Desperation et all....
  7. slowhand11404

    slowhand11404 Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    I had a Craftsman for many years - but needed both wheel weights and chains to get around.
  8. Zephrant

    Zephrant Member
    Messages: 37

    Every day or two there is a Craftsman lawn tractor on Craig's list for sale- Never seen a small John Deere, although some of the larger tractors get listed. Not sure why people are selling them, maybe just a lot of them out there is all.
  9. AndyTblc

    AndyTblc Senior Member
    Messages: 681

    Don't get an older john deere, i've had more problems than you could imagine, my neighbor has an MTD and has no problems, but his blower is a bear to hook up, where john deeres have the quick connect. But make sure you get a 2-stage, thats probly the most important. I have a single stage, and it's only good in dry snow, it works better in 12 inches of dry snow than it does in 2 inches in wet snow.
  10. santaclause

    santaclause Member
    Messages: 58

    check the cost but look at a kubota subcompact tractor alot more tractor for the money the bx series work really well and they are diesel and they wont have any problem moving your snow either front blower or loader on front and rear blower have a friend of mine who has one got it brand new and what a machine for the size of it not alot more than a regular garden tractor but this is JMHO i have been considering garden tractor but the cost you might as well go sub compact and be done with it again JMHO
  11. Zephrant

    Zephrant Member
    Messages: 37

    Funny you should mention Kubota, there is a used one on Craig's list now for $6400. Bucket only, nothing else so I'd have to buy a big blower for it. No details on hours or what year it is.

    I'd like to go with a tractor, but didn't want to sink that much money into something I would not use that much.
  12. Bigfoot Brent

    Bigfoot Brent Senior Member
    Messages: 202

    That's because Craftsman are crap compared to Deere's or Kubota's. Why would you buy a tractor from the same place your wife might buy her underwear? What would you do for parts or service? If you see a JD for sale it's because the guy traded it in for a larger unit, not because it's falling apart.
  13. zztarg

    zztarg Member
    Messages: 68

    I've been running a Kubota BX2200 for years - I chose between the Kubota and the JD 455. Both were about the same HP, but the Kubota was a lot more tractor for the money. A Cat 1 hitch made a lot more attachments available for the Kubota than the Cat 0 on the Deere. For plowing I REALLY like the steel frame of the Kubota much better than the unibody-style construction of the Deere.

    When I had to replace a hydraulic hose last year I was very impressed at how modular the construction of the Kubota was. Granted, I took off a number of pieces, but everything made sense and it was easy to work on.
  14. IdahoSnow

    IdahoSnow Junior Member
    from PNW
    Messages: 1

    If you still want to consider the Kubota option I will recommend Coeur D Alene tractor and ask for Larry. He sold my neighbor a tractor last month and he loves it and has come in handy for all our big snow we've dealt with. They have great products in both the garden tractor size you mentioned or you can go with a bigger BX series and so on. Check it out and give them a call. Front mount blowers for them are impossible to get new this season as explained to my neighbor. He has been waiting since August to get his when he put in the order. It's not the dealerships fault, the manufacture in Canada who makes the blowers can't build them fast enough and told Kubota the order they had would be filled. Slowly the dates for his blower are getting pushed back until like March/April 09. My neighbor also said that the dealership there in Coeur D Alene had orders for nine front mount snow blowers and each order was affected, also everywhere nationwide. I'm sure they can help you and I know the prices are very competitive with everyone elses too! Good luck
  15. Zephrant

    Zephrant Member
    Messages: 37

    Thanks for the info guys-

    Well I made a down payment on a used JD 2210 today, with the loader. They are getting in blowers with a 2 week lead time, but I couldn't stomache the extra cash yet, so I'll use the loader to push back my berms this year, and keep an eye out for a used blower this spring/summer.

    Thanks for all the tips- this was a big purchase for me. It costs more than I paid for three out of my four cars, combined. :)
  16. 04sd

    04sd Senior Member
    from pa
    Messages: 266

    I'm sure you'll love the loader, it'll come in handy for so many things. I assume it's 4x4 but you'll likely still want chains on the back and probably some sort of rear weight to hang on the hitch. My father has the smallest 4000 series compact Deere with a loader, great machine that gets lots of use.
  17. harddock

    harddock Member
    from mass
    Messages: 67

    You can buy the mounting tabs and have them mounted to a plate which can be bolted to the bucket and attach a older Myers or Western blade to the bucket. Depending on how creative and what your budget is you might even be able to have power angling. It will go on and off in a minute and you still have the bucket for piling high. Just make sure you have more rear weight to compensate for the plow.
  18. Zephrant

    Zephrant Member
    Messages: 37

    The loader is great, but I've not figured out the back blade yet. Need more time on that.

    Good idea on the front blade, but I'm hoping the bucket and back blade will serve my needs. I'll keep that in mind though- it would have come in handy already for pushing back the piles of snow.
  19. harddock

    harddock Member
    from mass
    Messages: 67

    I have a rear grader blade on my JD770. I can back up to the garage, pull away about 10' move over and repeat. Next I can bucket the snow to the sides. My blade is a 4' and does well on sidewalks too.
  20. Zephrant

    Zephrant Member
    Messages: 37

    Not much chance for pictures yet- frosty in the morning, dark at night.
    I did pull it in to the garage today to take the tires off and get them ballasted.

    Forgot to take a "before" picture:

    Wet spots on the floor are from the Jeep, not the tractor.
    And yep, I slipped in the jack stands after I took pictures.