Review of Our MTD Riding Lawn Mower

Updated on March 22, 2018
Blond Logic profile image

Mary is an organic coconut farmer. In her articles, she shares ideas on land management and how to increase the profit from a small farm.

MTD Riding Lawn Mower
MTD Riding Lawn Mower | Source

Why We Bought an MTD Riding Lawn Mower

For us, getting a ride on mower revolutionized work on our coconut farm. My husband had been cutting our grounds with a brush cutter and was finding the work too much. He is 67 years old and is an amputee.

We don't have workers so the cutting and clearing on our 8-acre farm is down to the two of us. Couple that with a high humidity level and an extreme UV rating, it is fair to say we were struggling to cope with the work which needed doing. The time had come where we needed help in the form of a tractor or ride on lawn mower.

Before we bought the ride on lawn mower, my husband looked at the other options available to us. A large tractor was out of the question as they are horrendously expensive in Brazil and in retrospect, we didn't need it. The mower does everything we need it to do. The only exception to this is cutting the bases around the trees. My husband has developed a method for getting pretty darn close though. He then follows up with the brush cutter.

Our ride on mower is the same as the Yard Machine mower produced by MTD. They rebrand it for the Brazilian market though. It has a 42-inch cut and is 17 HP. My husband knew the quality of the Briggs and Stratton engine it had and after scouring the internet for weeks to find the one he wanted, this was the most bang for our buck.

Using the Mower on Slopes

When cutting slopes, which might be up to a 45-degree angle, my husband will cut across the slope not up and down. The reason for doing this is less strain on the tractor and a more thorough cut. As he cuts he leans towards the incline to counteract the imbalance and prevent any accidents happening. We have the tires it came with and my husband was initially concerned that they might not be grippy enough. I'm happy to report, that he hasn't experienced any slipping or wheel spin unless he has gone into an area which has standing water.

Selecting the Correct Cutting Levels

Because we are a farm and not a landscaped garden my husband keeps the cutter at a level of 3 or 4. This keeps the blades high enough so it won't hit debris such as small coconuts but low enough to cut off the unruly grass heads and keep everything looking tidy.

We have a variety of grasses and weeds including some which form quite a dense clump. For these, he passes over them with the blades at a higher level and then drives over it again with the blades set lower. Otherwise, the mower may stall. This is not something you want to happen as starting and stopping a lot takes its toll on the battery, just as in a car. Moreover, the jarring, in the long run, wouldn't be beneficial for the machine.

Source

Caring for Your Lawn Mower Blades

Unlike a conventional gasoline push mower, our sit on mower has two blades which are housed under a cutting deck.

If you're cutting ground which has never been cut do a walk across the intended cutting area to remove debris. This may include stones, branches etc. Here on our farm, there are coconuts, bits of building rubble, and trash which keeps resurfacing. We are in a rural area of Brazil where people bury their trash. Although twice-weekly trash collection occurs here, the custom of burying or burning trash still exists here. Therefore we are finding bits of bottles, cans, shoes and plastic bags resurfacing from time to time. If you are in a rural area, this may be the same for you, especially if your homestead had people living there previously as ours did.

The blades should be checked regularly for signs of wear. Because we are on sand, the blades wear down fast. You can extend the life of your blades by using a grinding wheel to put an edge on them. This has to be done with care as the blades have to be balanced or it can cause problems to the mower.

For the job they do, buying and replacing the blades as needed is the better option as they have been precision engineered to provide you with optimal cutting.

Pulling a Trailer

Once we bought the tractor mower we needed a trailer. Before I was having to use my wheelbarrow or we used our VW Kombi for larger items. Our trailer was built by our neighbor who is a welder. The majority of materials were sourced on our farm, including a wheelchair, fish cages and a chicken shed door. My husband discussed what he wanted with our neighbor, the weight he expected it to carry and the welder began to go to work.

Not only are we using the tractor as a grass cutter, it is now a workhorse here on our farm as there is always something which needs moving. When we replant trees, everything we need including spades, stakes, manure, compost, trees and the worker (me) goes into the trailer.

custom built trailer for lawn mower
custom built trailer for lawn mower | Source
Ride on mower with trailer
Ride on mower with trailer | Source

Lawn Mower Maintenance

As with any machine, there is ongoing maintenance. Getting to grips with what to check and potential problem signs can save you not only time but money. My husband is now quite handy at doing minor repairs and maintenance when needed.

The main user will train their ear to the sounds of the operating machine. This is the same for a car, a washing machine or a lawn mower. The operator knows what it should sound like when it is doing its job. By doing this, if a problem occurs, it is immediately rectified and the machine is back ready for the next job. It isn't just a change in sound but also any change in vibration. This could indicate that there is something loose under the cutting deck.

Check the following regularly as a matter or course for any wear and if necessary, replace with new ones.

  • Belts

  • Air filter

  • Blades

Other Attachments

We have had the trailer made for us but there are also other attachments which can be purchased for it including:

  • Grass collector

  • Leaf bag

  • Rakes, threshers, aerators

  • Ground levelers, rollers

Cutting Efficiently

My husband is continually looking for ways to make every job easier and use the mower more efficiently. This not only saves time but also money.

In the manual, we downloaded for our MTD lawn mower, there was a guide showing the best way to cut. A grid pattern is suggested so you are covering the area without missing any ground or driving over an area twice.

Everyone will find their own best way of cutting including speed and height of blades. Our MTD mower has 7 speeds and my husband has found, cutting on #3 the most effective for our situation.

Using the Ride on Mower as a Mobility Scooter

Although the mower is used for cutting and hauling here on our farm it serves another purpose. Since my husband is disabled, he uses it if he is having problems with his prosthetic. This enables him to still check the coconut trees here on our farm but without the excessive walking involved.

Although this is designed as means to cut grass, on our farm it has become so much more.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Mary Wickison

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      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 

        7 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        I already have horses, and rent some of my pastures to cattle, but they are about as destructive as goats--lean over fences to destroy my papaya, lean under fences to rip out my pineapples. I have geese too but they cannot be let out in my bananeira because they destroy the sprouting plants. Sheep are kind of my last hope, but I think you have the right idea on avoiding that 13th salary and all of those holidays! Your mower sounds like the best option.

      • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

        Mary Wickison 

        7 months ago from Brazil

        Hi Mark,

        Sheep may be a better bet than goats, we had two goats and they nearly stripped my siriguela (hog plum) bare!

        Goats eat everything except what you want them to eat. We also had a cow and a calf which were too time-consuming for the good they did.

        Geese and ducks will also keep lawn short, but are pretty useless on other stuff.

        If there is a person with cows or horses near you, often they will look for grazing land or will cut grass to take to their animals. Although we don't charge people to take the grass many people do. Years ago it was R$10 a bag.

        A combination of a mower and a brushcutter, in our opinion, are the best bet. There is also no 13th-month salary nor do they have time off for celebrating saints you've never heard of. :)

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 

        7 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        That might have worked in Florianopolis or SP, but here in Bahia the prefeitura mows football fields with gas weed trimmers. I already have one of those, and as you pointed out they get tiring when you have to do several hectares.

        Goats would probably eat the young coconut trees, so I could not let them go in my new orchard, but what about sheep? Did you all look into that?

      • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

        Mary Wickison 

        7 months ago from Brazil

        Another possible avenue for you to try is the council. Here, they use them to mow the grass on the football (soccer) fields. I would think they change them frequently.

        As you know, if you ask enough people, someone knows someone who has one for sale.

        The man we bought ours from was an agent for Husqvarna and Stihl but sold and repaired other brands as well. Sometimes it's best to get someone to do the searching for you. We told the guy what we wanted and how much we were willing to pay.

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 

        7 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        You are very fortunate. The only one I have found around this area was brought from Espirito Santo, so I am back to checking Mercado Livre and OLX. It looks like most of them are available in SP or Minas.

      • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

        Mary Wickison 

        7 months ago from Brazil

        Hi Mark,

        We went to a shop to buy a Husqvarna rotovator. We mentioned we were looking for a ride on mower. The guy knew someone who had one for sale. It was about 4 years old when we bought it.

        The benefit of doing it that way was convenience. If we had to buy it from OLX or Mercardo Livre there would have been a lot of traveling and security issues. This guy was a retailer and also had a repair shop. He delivered both our rotovator and our mower to our farm which was about 70 km away.

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 

        7 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        You mention the expense of tractors here, but what about riding mowers? Any tips on how and where you searched? I have horses and also rent my land to cattle ranchers but am seriously considering this purchase.

      • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

        Mary Wickison 

        8 months ago from Brazil

        We are flexible but thinking of buying a sailboat. I want to travel.

      • profile image

        george 

        8 months ago

        where do ya'll think your moving to?

      • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

        Mary Wickison 

        8 months ago from Brazil

        Hi Fletch,

        There are many cars here which run on ethanol but they always need gasoline for that initial kick off. I have been told that ethanol dries out rubber seals.

        Brazil is a huge producer of bio-fuel and encouraged its use by making it cheaper than other fuels.

        Regarding the coconut water, no it's very healthy and refreshing especially if you've been working outside.

        Just to let you know, our farm is for sale.

      • profile image

        Fletch 

        8 months ago

        Hi Mary,

        I believe the premium gasoline has 25% ethanol which would be a cleaner in and of itself.

        I use the new one micron filters on my fuel pumps available today for both gasoline and diesel. I change them more often but think they are well worth it.

        I live in the upper midwest in the US and when 10% ethanol came in the early 80s we had to change fuel filters very often(like once a week for a while) from the gasoline varnish built up in the surfaces of the fuel tanks in the older vehicles, it did not bother the newer ones. I still own three of those older trucks from then and they are not used often and have not had new fuel filters in years. Once clean they stayed clean.

        If I lived where you do, do you suppose I could grow tired of drinking fresh coconut water? Naw, I doubt it.

      • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

        Mary Wickison 

        8 months ago from Brazil

        Hi Fletch,

        You've brought up an interesting point. I wasn't sure of the percentage of ethanol in the gasoline but knew it must be fairly substantial.

        After having many problems with the gasoline, not just in our farm machinery but also in our old VW Kombi, we use the gas which has a cleaner in it. This too we pass through a fine filter before putting it into our mower. Often we find small particles of grit which will cause problems if not removed.

        My husband has had to strip down carburettors to clean them and that was due to the regular gasoline. Since we have changed the gas it is much better.

        I also know, that for some of our machines a higher octane is better. We are limited to what we can get where we live, so we opt for using a premium gasoline with the cleaner.

        Thanks for reading, and your question.

      • profile image

        Fletch 

        8 months ago

        Hi Mary,

        The common gasoline of Brazil has 27.5% ethanol. Is this what you use in this lawn mower? Thanks.

      • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

        Mary Wickison 

        13 months ago from Brazil

        Hi Shauna,

        My husband is continually tweaking his method of doing things on the farm. In order to save gas, he will often cut on his way to where he wants to go and cut another section on his way back. He says, if the grass and weeds are kept low, the machine is using less gas than when he leaves to grow. If he doesn't have anything to mow, he will remove the cutting deck completely to make the machine lighter. That also gives him a better ground clearance.

        Now is a busy cutting time as we are nearing the end of the wet season. He will have to cut as the water recedes otherwise it will be a job for the brush cutter.

        Thanks for your comment.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        13 months ago from Central Florida

        A riding mower is definitely a necessity for anyone who has acreage. When your husband uses it as a means of transportation on the farm, does he raise the blades?

      • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

        Mary Wickison 

        14 months ago from Brazil

        Hi George,

        You're right about the turning circle on those. We looked into those before we bought. For us, partly due to our location, the availability and price were prohibitive. Plus we knew ours was robust and going to give us years of service.

        Thanks for reading and your information.

      • profile image

        Georgeetaylor 

        14 months ago

        Enjoyed reading your article as always. I want to let you know that the "zero turn" riders are more efficient than the regular riding mowers. Investigate them and you will find you can get closer to the trees and turning around is a breeze.

        As always, I thank you for sharing.

      • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

        Mary Wickison 

        15 months ago from Brazil

        Hi Bill,

        Although we have a lawn around the house, the majority of our cutting is in between our coconut trees. Because we have buried our irrigation pipes, we need to cut on top instead of plowing.

        Although it is a lawnmower, we use it in lieu of a tractor.

        Hope your Sunday is peaceful.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        15 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Well, we have completely gotten rid of our lawn, so this really isn't something I can learn from. Oddly, I don't think I've ever ridden a riding lawnmower. Seems like it would be kind of fun. I'm babbling now, so wishing you a happy Sunday.

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