Hi Tech. Yeah, ain't it great? My mom is in the same position. She has a couple of acres to mow and it is just enough to eat the generic "MTD" type mower up in 3-4 years. The parts cost as much as the mower. Even if you don't care about dropping $1000 every few years on a generic, 14hp "tractor" the aggravation factor alone is enough to drive you crazy. Used to be we would find an older Bolens, Wheel Horse, Cub or whatever and drop a few hundred dollars in parts in it and go till it quit. That is not even a half arsed option anymore. The parts for these older mowers are RIDICULOUSLY overpriced. When you can find them. It disgusts me that the throw away economy has driven the better category out of business. You used to be able to buy good(sears, wards, mtd, etc), better(wheel horse, Bolens, Cub Cadet), or best (John Deere, Ford, Massey, Simplicity) but no more. You either buy throwaway or best. Nothing in between. I don't know if Simplicity even exists anymore but about a dozen years or so ago you could still get nice 24hp air cooled tractors from them with cast iron front axles, hydraulics, power steering, and they were still nowhere near the price of John Deere. I suspect they are either history or whatever carries their name is not exactly the same thing if you get the drift. I can say that I have looked at the Massey Ferguson 2200(I think that is right)models a few years ago and they had the three cylinder Izeki engines in them, full hydraulics, power steering etc. In fact, they are completely Izeki made. Very good tractors and quite small in size. Perfect for what you are doing. However, I suspect they eclipse the $6000 mark easily. What a shame. All a guy wants to do is mow the ruddy yard so he shouldn't have to take out a second mortgage to do it.
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