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 Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?

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Crazy_Carl
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PostSubject: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 9:05 am

Seems as if the kids are taking interest in mud mowers, and I am by no means familiar with all the nuances or even how to identify the different types of chassis, nor do I see any real thread on how. AYP? MTD? Murray? Sears rebranded who's tractors for what lines?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Are any horizontal shaft lawn tractors particularly stout machines to start out with?

Same goes for engines and transaxles. Kohler, Briggs, Tecumseh? I know Ford, Chevy, Dodge. From what I can tell, Kohler is like the old Mopar stuff. It's stout and makes a little more power from the factory, costs 3 times as much, and the Courage series is as reliable as the tranny in a Caravan, whereas a Briggs and Stratton flathead is like a small block Chevy in the sense that it's readily available with a strong aftermarket and cheap parts. All the different series and what not, though, is a lot to take in, and I'd love to know at least the absolute basics about them all. Same with the transaxles, I'm clueless.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 9:35 am

It mostly comes down to opinion, if you have a welder and are willing to do the work you can just fabricate stuff on the frames. As far as engines, Tecumseh has a really bad reputation, but I've never owned one. The old K-series Kohlers are awesome and stout, new ones, not so much, they'll do I guess. Briggs, the old cast iron ones are awesome too, and the single and opposed flatheads are pretty sweet. The newer V-twins, I don't know a lot about them but I've seen a lot of blown ones.

Transaxles, pretty much if you buy a garden tractor, you'll have 0 issues. If you buy a lawn tractor, you'll blow the trans pretty quick.

If you don't want to do any fab work, then just get an old garden tractor from the 60s, 70s and 80s. They're way overbuilt, crazy thick frames, cast iron transaxles, cast iron engines, they're really just the end-all tractors. Anything else, you're going to have to be doing a lot of fab work and replacing trannys a lot.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 10:15 am

@Cheesedawg82 lol I like you compared small engines to common car engines.  I like that.

I won't speak for AYP, MTD or murray because even though I do work on those machines for customers, I haven't modified one for off road use.

I love to talk about wheel horses though!

Here are the selling points for horses for me.  They are very common in my area because up until about 5 years ago a dealership was operating very close to me.  Here are the strong points of the 8 speed garden tractor style Wheel Horse.  These are great things found on a variety of models made over a period of decades:

-strong cast iron transaxle with an 8 pinion rear diff and 1 1/8 axles
-cast iron front axles that just don't break
-very simple and strong steering setup with a beefy steering gear and real tie rod ends stock
-metal hoods and dash, no fiberglass
-simple to work on horizontal shaft K series engines with easily accessible points and very cheap parts available on the aftermarket and when properly maintained with last for 30 years mowing once a week
-8" front and 12" five lug rims allow for a lot of great tire upgrade options
-chassis easily accepts a variety of engines swaps like honda clones or diesels
-factory 5/8 belt system is very simple from the factory and isn't too bad to modify with a pulley swap and better clutch that doesn't slip
-not the greatest machine to mod for speed, but great for heavy off road or work horse use
-very simple and strong angle iron frame
-The original wheel horse was made in a garage, the tractor is very simple in many ways, and those design elements were held on to over the years
-there is a separate clutch and brake pedal stock and the clutch is on the left where it belongs
-finally just look at her...
Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Img_2431
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 12:11 pm

Crazy_Carl wrote:

-finally just look at her...
Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Img_2431

Perfection!
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 12:56 pm

There's not one that's really better than the other, they're both pretty flexible which is what you DON'T want in a mud mower. It really comes down to which body style, and if you like C-channel frames or not (murray (MTD) is C-channel and craftsman (AYP) is not).

On a murray, you have to drop the tranny to change the pulley unless some modification is done, And you have to cut a lot of junk out the way to fit a bigger pulley on the front. Also the murray steering column is a piece of junk so it MUST be reinforced. Whereas craftsman is a lot different from murray. I don't know all the pros and cons to a craftsman but for some reason a lot of people like craftsman better than murray (not me lol!).

My experience with Tecumseh has been pretty good. Although I don't see one going on a mud mower. I don't have a problem with Kohler, but when you break something, it's gonna hurt your wallet. As for Briggs, they break every once in a while but fixing them is easy and cheap. Plus they're very powerful, they sound great, and they're super simple. They very rarely die. Now for trannys, really anything besides FNR, and hydrostatic should work fine. I personally like peerless over spicer 'cause they are a little tougher. Garden tractor trannys I know nothing about so I can't help there.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 1:03 pm

Murraymountain wrote:
There's not one that's really better than the other, they're both pretty flexible which is what you DON'T want in a mud mower. It really comes down to which body style, and if you like C-channel frames or not (murray (MTD) is C-channel and craftsman (AYP) is not)

that's true with LTs, but not GTs.  My John Deere 110 has a 1/4" steel frame with stock reinforcements running across it, I've tried my darndest to flex it, and it won't.  I've taken it on places where my LT frames flex easily.

Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? No_fle10
Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? No_fle11

As you can see, the tractor that weighs 600 pound's frame refuses to flex, and the front axle is bottomed out so it picked up one tire instead.

Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? 20180310

In the exact same spot, as you can see, the front axle is 100% straight, that is all frame flex, and this thing weighs about 250 pounds.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 1:08 pm

Yeah. like I said I really don't know much about GTs but they seem like they would definitely be built better. Also murrays don't have flex like that last pic. Now that I think about it no tractor I have does, is that frame broke by chance?
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 1:11 pm

Murraymountain wrote:
Yeah. like I said I really don't know much about GTs but they seem like they would definitely be built better. Also murrays don't have flex like that last pic. Now that I think about it no tractor I have does, is that frame broke by chance?

No actually that frame was pretty solid. I'll take my Murray over there later and show you that it flexes like crazy too.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 1:34 pm

AYP is like Ford, to use your a.nalogy (mods, can you change the filter please), they have a a few different brands. They made craftsman, husqvarna, weedeater, and some others. I like the way they’re put together, and a lot of people here do too. They’re pretty much the only thing the mowrons run at haspin because they’re very easy to beef up

MTD is like GM. They have too many brands to count. The easiest way to tell an MTD is by the transaxle. They use an FNR (forward neutral reverse) and have a CVT style sliding pulley with two belts. Really only suited to mowing the lawn. So if you wanted to build an MTD for any serious off road or longevity, plan on a new transaxle, and full belt system. The upside to these are that they’re mildly quick stock, so if your kids are younger you might get away with removing the deck and maybe some better tires.

Murray....eh. I’ve built one, they are pretty flimsy stock. They aren’t built very well for strength, but they’re extremely easy to work on. Something like 6 1/2 inch bolts and the whole fender and dash assembly lifts right off. Then you can adjust pretty much anything on the tractor you want. Changing belts is a pain though, the steering shaft passes right through it so you’ll have to remove the steering to change the belt (one bolt underneath, not the end of the world, but still a pain if you’re a mile from home without any tools.

You can pretty much make anything work, but as stated before, stay away from hydrostats (slow and burn up quickly with off road use) and GT’s are ALWAYS built better than LT’s. Older is better for strength, fining parts for newer (85ish and up) tractors seem to be easier because everything is more universal.

Hopefully something in here helps you haha
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeSun Mar 31, 2019 3:59 pm

Garden tractors are definitely better as far as durability goes. Heavy frames, front axles, engines, steering components, and transaxles. Of course that adds a lot more weight which some people don't like, but I prefer a heavy tractor to a light one for off-road use anyways.

As far as engines go, Briggs, Teccy, Kohler, etc. all have good and bad engines.

The Kohler K Series are legendary small engines, and the later KT Series 2, Magnums, and Commands are very very good as well. After the KT Series 1 Kohler was pretty good about using pressure lubrication in their engines, which is a definite plus. The Courage series however are not much good. They use an odd twin cam OHV setup that is known to fail, and they leak oil like crazy.

The old cast iron Briggs models 19D, 23D, 24, etc. are great old engines. They do have minor qwerks like sometimes finicky carbs and magneto coils that loose their strength after so many years, but those are nothing big. Then of course the models 22, 25, and 28 vertical shaft flathead singles are extremely reliable, and  also quite simple in every aspect. The real big weakness of theirs is the counterbalancer system. The models 40, 42, and 46 opposed twins are very very good engines, that everybody (inculding myself) seems to love. Newer engines like the Inteks aren't much good when compared to the old flattys of the past, however the Vangaurds are quite good.

The old cast iron Tecumseh HH series are great engines from what I know. They were very early endorsers of electronic ignition while competitiors like Briggs, Kohler, Onan, Wisconsin, Continental, etc, were still using the conventional breaker points ignition system. They were also pretty know for producing OHV vertical and horizontal engines later on as opposed to flatheads, but I've never owned one of them so I'm not sure how reliable they were. I think they made some pretty good ones though. Their V-twins aren't very common, but they did make one that was pressure lubricated and had twin single bbl carburetors (which I think is super cool, haha.)

Then of course you have your Honda, Kawasaki, Subaru, etc. engines that are pretty popular anymore but I know little about them.

Now, transaxles... I could probably do two pages worth of garden tractor transaxle talk, but I'll try and keep it short. lol!

Peerless made very good garden tractor transaxles and final drive units. However, although they were quite a common choice by GT manufacturers, in my opinion they are not nearly the toughest  garden tractors transaxles that were made.

Countless garden tractor producers used transaxles of their own make that were super heavy duty and all quite unique in their own ways. A few examples; Wheel Horse, Bolens, Allis/Simplicity, Cub Cadet, Gravely, Case/Ingersoll, Bantam, Power King, Amigo, Bush Hog, Lambert, Tiger, and David Bradley. Obviously here I'm not talking about off-road wise, but just quality in general.

Really at the end of the day as far as lawn tractor chassis go, anything can be made to do something with the right amount of knowledge and fab work. Even my MTD lawn tractor which was completely stock when I got it, has been built up into something that I feel is quite a bit better than when it rolled out of the factory. It did take a lot of work to get it there though, tons of frame rienforcement, transaxle and belt system upgrade, automotive steering components, major front axle upgrading, tires, etc.

If you're like myself though, all the upgrading and customizing is not looked at as a burden in any way, so much as it is seen as pretty much the most fun part about what we do with these things. As opposed to leaving most things completely stock and having a tractor that is more or less "like everyone else's builds". (That's definitely not to say that my builds are superior to anyone else's in any way, that's just how I prefer to build things)

As has been said before, it's mostly a matter of opinions on which brands are better suited for off-road. Some prefer to use brands that others despise, which is just fine frankly. Like everything, they all have their good and their bad.

Build What You Like, How You Like! As I like to say, haha.


"This'll either wake you up or put you to sleep forever!"- Red Green         "Whatever you do you should do right, even if it's something wrong." - Hank Hill
     
      - MTD Off-Road Build
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 Garden Tractor Collection: Allis B-110 x2, 710, 716, & 410 - Wheel Horse 655, 953 & 500 Special - Case 444 - Bolens Versamatic, G10 & 1668 Diesel Swapped - Cub 106, 124 & 1000/149 Frankentractor - Ford 120, LGT 125 & 145 - White 1650 Yard Boss - Moto Mower 710-100
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeMon Apr 01, 2019 11:24 am

So there's a hill you have to get up to get to the flexing area, it's about a 60* angle, and the 6.5 horse 600 pound John Deere did just fine, the 12.5 horse Craftsman weighing about 250 pounds did just fine, this thing, with the Craftsman's engine because I blew the trans in the Craftsman, weighing like 150 pounds, couldn't even make it up the hill, LOL.  I had to push it, it was just smoking the belt because the Murray clutches suck.

Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? 20190410

This thing was light enough to pick up one tire, but as you can see, one fender is about 3" lower than the other one, and the seat is a lot more off-level than the steering wheel. I'll give it to the Murray that it didn't flex as much as the Craftsman, but it also weighs a lot less so it isn't being forced to flex as much as the Craftsman is.

Another note, I bought this thing about 3 weeks ago, put mud lites on it, stock pulleys and everything, put less than 4 miles on it, and I think I've already mangled the shift keys a bit.  Whatever you buy, buy an H-shift tranny.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeMon Apr 01, 2019 11:48 am

I definitely get it with the garden tractors. I have a couple, myself, and I use them in the garden. That K series Kohler is definitely a beast, I've got a 10 and 14 HP in the fleet. Im on the page because I'm working on a utility machine that's pretty much everything you don't want in a mud mower, too, with a shaft drive hydrostatic cub cadet that's a perfect candidate for this job.


What I really think I'd like to know more of is how to identify them all, particularly how to spot the difference in a craigslist ad.

So far it seems like if I look for mowers that don't have the FNR or a Hydro drive, I'm good. I've done a lot of work on fleet vehicles, and it was pretty nice to have the commonly broken parts of an Astro van sitting there waiting, and I knew all the tricks to change 'em fast.

How do I spot an AYP? An MTD?

Is pretty much anything with a vertical shaft flathead briggs and a shifter coming out from under the seat a solid purchase?

If I were to go big into mud mowers as fun for the family, I'd want several similar machines. That would probably total 6, 4 being one for each family member, 5 being the spare, and 6 to cut grass. In a perfect world, they would all be the same make and model. I'd like to run the best mix of cheap and reliable available, and I really want to know how to find it.

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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeMon Apr 01, 2019 11:55 am

Double W Cross Ranch wrote:
So there's a hill you have to get up to get to the flexing area, it's about a 60* angle, and the 6.5 horse 600 pound John Deere did just fine, the 12.5 horse Craftsman weighing about 250 pounds did just fine, this thing, with the Craftsman's engine because I blew the trans in the Craftsman, weighing like 150 pounds, couldn't even make it up the hill, LOL.  I had to push it, it was just smoking the belt because the Murray clutches suck.

Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? 20190410

This thing was light enough to pick up one tire, but as you can see, one fender is about 3" lower than the other one, and the seat is a lot more off-level than the steering wheel.  I'll give it to the Murray that it didn't flex as much as the Craftsman, but it also weighs a lot less so it isn't being forced to flex as much as the Craftsman is.

Another note, I bought this thing about 3 weeks ago, put mud lites on it, stock pulleys and everything, put less than 4 miles on it, and I think I've already mangled the shift keys a bit.  Whatever you buy, buy an H-shift tranny.

Good grief! You must really hate that thing if your already trying to destroy it hahaha lol!. Just kidding.

I don't wanna jack the thread so I'm gonna answer this over in the murray's thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeMon Apr 01, 2019 12:00 pm

Well, the way to tell an MTD is it'll have a shifter on the fender with 3 positions, then a shifter somewhere else for the vari drive, that kind of MTD, I think we're all agreed that unless you do a ton of work to it, don't get it.

Anything else, it'll have a shifter on either the side or the center that usually will have reverse, neutral, and 5-6 gears, sometimes 3 or 4. If it's an AYP, it'll be branded as Weedeater, Poulan or Poulan Pro, or as Craftsman. these are fairly good for off roading if you're not doing anything serious. I'd still recommend a GT, but that's just me. Murrays are pretty much the same as far as the shifting thing goes, and they'll probably do. I'd recommend trying to find a flathead opposed twin, they're easy to work on and have plenty of power.

that's about it, if you want something that will be SUPER easy to modify, then I'd recommend an AYP. Murrays need a lot of trimming and stuff to retrofit pulleys in them, AYPs don't.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeMon Apr 01, 2019 12:16 pm

The thing I know about garden tractors is that they're all unique. That really takes the whole "fleet" thing out of it, plus the kids are gonna have to push them around, hopefully without me, but most often without them, so lightweight seems to be the way to go.

Is there a mass production, super common, modern, vertical shaft, MTD/AYP rebadged "garden tractor" that doesn't suck but can be easily had for a 50 dollar bill?

To me, if it's got a stamped sheet metal frame and wasn't built to utilize ground engaging implements, it's not a garden tractor, even if the badging or marketing claims otherwise. (For example - a Sears Suburban is a garden tractor. A Sears Craftsman "GT" is not a garden tractor) Would members of this forum be of the same general consensus, or shall I expect to be enlightened a bit more today?

I'd LOVE to build a wheel horse. My grandmother had a GT 2500 silver anniversary edition. Grandpap bought it new and passed away the following year. She hired a lawn service but kept the tractor and let me wash and wax it as a kid, until we started mowing with it again. It was beautiful, but it got sold, and 20 years later I still haven't forgiven my parents for selling it. I just can't justify the time or expense of tracking down 6 matching WH's with hard to find horizontal shaft engines that are too heavy for the kids to push or get out from underneath of it when they eventually put it upside down.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeMon Apr 01, 2019 12:34 pm

Cheesedawg82 wrote:
To me, if it's got a stamped sheet metal frame and wasn't built to utilize ground engaging implements, it's not a garden tractor, even if the badging or marketing claims otherwise. (For example - a Sears Suburban is a garden tractor. A Sears Craftsman "GT" is not a garden tractor) Would members of this forum be of the same general consensus, or shall I expect to be enlightened a bit more today?

Well, I've never owned one, but I think you probably made a few people mad lol. The Craftsman GTs are in fact rated for ground engagement, and a lot of them have vertical shaft engines and a belt twist to a horizontal shaft 633a or 633a style transmission, or non-belt twist design and a Peerless 820, which is also rated for ground engagement. It's basically a 920 with bigger axles and bearings everywhere and 4 shift keys instead of 2, reverse chain is the only real draw back, which isn't that big of a deal I suppose.
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeMon Apr 01, 2019 1:45 pm

Double W Cross Ranch wrote:


Well, I've never owned one, but I think you probably made a few people mad lol.  The Craftsman GTs are in fact rated for ground engagement, and a lot of them have vertical shaft engines and a belt twist to a horizontal shaft 633a or 633a style transmission, or non-belt twist design and a Peerless 820, which is also rated for ground engagement.  It's basically a 920 with bigger axles and bearings everywhere and 4 shift keys instead of 2, reverse chain is the only real draw back, which isn't that big of a deal I suppose.

Now seeing that you've got a real MTD garden tractor, a JD 110, and what appears to be a farm that could have some big tractors, I figured you'd be thinking the same. Yes, a Craftsman GT is rated for ground engaging equipment, but you need to buy an aftermarket sleeve hitch that needs to bolt up in 47 places to have any kind of strength at all, and add 150 lbs of weight to get traction, where the MTD has a factory 3 point & optional hydraulic lift that's actually built in to the tractor's frame, and will still pull a 10" plow through anything, all day long, every day, so long as you change and fill the fluids.
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Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeMon Apr 01, 2019 2:58 pm

It's sounds like for building tractors for fun you're looking for an AYP which on top of Weedeater, Poulan or Poulan Pro and Craftsman could also be branded as Husqvarna. I think a basic model to keep an eye out for would be something like an LT1000. Once you develop an eye for that chassis, you'll see just how common they are and they can be had for cheap with a geared transaxle in them.

One thing I know from working on these for customers is they are light, easy to work on, and the parts are very very common and can be had for dirt cheap new or free once you acquire parts machines.

The achilles heels of that AYP style chassis IMO are the steering boxes and week tie rods with cheap plastic bushings, the front axle and frame can flex and bend but if you own an angle grinder and welder you can take care of those problems.

Do a craigslist and facebook market place search in your area and see what is more common. Murray or AYP. If you see for example a bunch of AYPs and you're willing to commit, message the seller with a low ball offer, but tell them you have the cash in hand and can come pick it up right away. I hate getting jerked around by people that want things delivered for free at a low ball price and then never bother showing up after they told me they're coming and I've given my address out to a stranger I don't trust.
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CraftsmanQuad19
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Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeMon Apr 01, 2019 4:18 pm

Another weak point of the AYP frames are where the front axle mounts to the frame. There are two types of steering boxes you can get in them, the gen 1 (vertical “pizza slice” gear) or the gen 2 where both gears lay flat if you will. The gen 2 is much stronger from the factory, but the gen 1 can be beefed up
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Cheesedawg82
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PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeTue Apr 02, 2019 11:17 am

Following your advice and following a couple build threads, it looks like the same AYP garden tractor I was talking smack on is gonna be where it's at, and it shouldn't be hard to reproduce more frame brace/lift kits if I plan ahead and save templates of all the parts.

I may have to make some room in the garage and reconsider some of the way too many projects I've got lying around.

I have a whole bunch of stuff to trade if anyone's got a matching set they'd like to part with.
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Double W Cross Ranch
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Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeTue Apr 02, 2019 1:50 pm

Cheesedawg82 wrote:
I have a whole bunch of stuff to trade if anyone's got a matching set they'd like to part with.

I would recommend getting on the Sprocket's Garage Facebook page, I'm pretty sure you could trade some stuff for 2 pretty easily.
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Murraymountain
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Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitimeTue Apr 02, 2019 3:47 pm

Yeah so basically, a Craftsman LT1000, Craftsman 2, or Murray widebody is the way to go. Depending on where you live you could easily get one of those for $50 or less. They are all super common, easy to work on, and parts are cheap. As it's been said before it really depends on what's more common in your area, and also which body style you prefer.
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Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'?   Can someone explain the differences between the common chassis'? Icon_minitime

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