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Scotts S1642 Lawn Tractor
<ul><li>16 hp Kohler Command overhead-valve engine</li><li>Hydraulic-valve lifters extend engine life</li><li>Soft Touch hand-controlled automatic transmission</li><li>12-gauge-steel mower deck</li></ul>
25 Reviews from Epinions.com
Apr 19, 2002
Three seasons of pure mowing bliss!
Pros: Engine, Build Quality, Hydrostatic Transmission, Easy-to-Handle
Cons: Abrupt Reverse to Forward engagement, Possible Service Issues
The Bottom Line:
An excellent choice for anyone looking for a well-designed, reliable and rugged lawn tractor that's easy to handle and requires minimal maintenance.
I am just now getting into my third mowing season with my trusty partner, the Scotts 1642 riding mower. I purchased it at, where else, Home Depot. The 1642 has been flawless over the past few seasons. I have had no problems with it whatsoever.
The 16 in the model number 1642 stands for the 16 horsepower Kohler Command (CV460) engine. The Kohler engine is supposedly a bit more durable than the Briggs & Stratton engines more often found in riding mowers and lawn tractors. The Kohler Command has a cast iron cylinder liner and hydraulic valve lifters, which mean added durability and extended engine life. It is also an overhead valve design (OHV), making it relatively efficient as compared to other 4-cycle engine designs. Lastly, its aluminum block helps to keep the overall weight of the engine to a minimum.
The 42 in the model number 1642 represents the 12-gauge-steel 42" wide mowing deck. I mow about 3/4 of an acre of grass, and have found that the 42" deck is more than sufficient. In fact, I was originally looking at the 46" mowers, and I am very glad I stuck with the 42". The rather tight turning radius of the 1642 makes it very easy to handle around tight spaces, and I'm not so sure I would be saying the same thing about the 46"
The Scotts 1642 is a well-built mower, especially when compared to something like the Sears Craftsmen (model no. 27206). The Sears mower is priced about the same as the Scotts, at $1,649 (I paid $1,698 for the Scotts). While the Craftsmen model and the Scotts both share the same Kohler CV460 engine, there are differences that are significant. I think it is important to point these out as many customers looking at Scotts mowers will likely also take a look at what Sears is offering.
So, let's compare the two. First, the Scotts has an extremely durable cast-iron front axle compared to a formed steel axle on the Craftsmen. Second, the Scotts has a robotically welded frame, compared with a frame put together with nuts and bolts on the Craftsman. Car and truck frames are welded for a reason, and the same holds true with lawn tractors. Third, the hood on the Scotts is an injection molded polymer compared with the steel hood on the Craftsman, which is more prone to weather damage. Lastly, I have heard that the Craftsman mowers are fully assembled and then painted, which means that the cracks and crevices where the paint doesn't reach will be prone to rust. The Scotts pieces are painted prior to final assembly.
REAL WORLD USE
I really enjoy mowing the grass now. Prior to the 1642, I had a push mower, and it was a long and exhausting process. I have a bad back, and the push mower would really have my back aching after an hour-and-a-half or so of mowing. Now I just hop on the Scotts, and I am done in a mere 30 minutes.
Let me take you through a mowing to give you an idea how the Scotts performs. First I roll it out of the garage, and start it up. With the choke engaged, it has always started on the first try - even when I start it up for the first time after winter storage! After the engine starts, I let it warm up for about 2 or 3 minutes, during which time I am slowly bumping the throttle up until it runs smooth at full throttle and I am ready to go. At that point, I hop on the seat, release the brake, and nudge the hydrostatic transmission forward which gets me moving.
The transmission is great, with no gears to worry about. There are infinite speed settings, so a slight move of the lever will result in a slight change in speed. It makes it super easy to get some speed going on long flat runs, then quickly and smoothly reduce speed for a turn. The 18" turning radius makes the turn a snap too.
The one minor complaint I have about the transmission is the "jerkiness" that can happen when going from reverse back to forward. If you aren't really careful, the tractor will go from a slow roll backwards to a real lurch forward. It can be a bit unsettling. So you need to learn to be really delicate with this maneuver.
It is easy to set the mowing height with a lever located between your legs, just under and in front of the seat. However, I think I'd prefer the levers off to the side which seem more convenient and also a bit easier to use based on their design. Regardless, the Scotts makes changing the mowing height easy. I generally set the height to 3" (although I have experimented with some of the more aggressive heights), which produces nice results and also protects the lawn by keeping enough height to protect the lawn from periods with lots of sun and little rain (it has been quite dry here in the northeast the last couple of years).
When it's time to mow, you simply move a lever located just above and to the right of the steering wheel to engage the mowing deck. Then move the throttle lever forward and mow away to your hearts content (or until you run out of gas)!
MULCHING & BAGGING
When I first got the Scotts mower, I mulched exclusively. However, when the leaves started falling, I ran out and got the bagger attachment. What a great investment. It turned the whole process of picking up leaves from a pain to a pleasure. At the time I purchased the bagger, my lawn had a few inch deep covering of leaves. The bagger sucked them all up and I was left with a nice lush green lawn. Barely a leaf could be found when I was done. The only negative is that the bags are not all that big, and they fill up fast if you have a significant leaf covering on the lawn. So you end up stopping frequently to empty them out.
Throughout the mowing season, I stick to mulching. The Scotts 1642 does a phenomenal job at mulching. Unless the lawn is really, really tall, you cannot see a shred of evidence that the portion of grass that was sliced and diced was sent falling back onto the lawn. If you let the lawn go for more than a few weeks without mowing, then you may have to go over it twice if mulching. I understand that mulching is good for the lawn, so I save the bagger for when the leaves start dropping. Also, the mower is easier to handle without the bagger. The bagger sort of extends out on one side of the mower, leaving the other side rather slim. So if you take a turn in the wrong direction and there is on obstacle off to the side, you may whack it with the bagger before you realize it's in your path. I just may know this from experience with my mailbox!
For two seasons, I did nothing to the Scotts mower except for sharpening the blades, which can be removed from the mower fairly easily. There is a kit available at home depot which includes a sharpening stone and a base on which to balance the blade. What you do is sharpen the edges on the blade, then rest it on the base to ensure that the blade is balanced. If the blade is not balanced, then the extra weight on one end will cause vibration as the mower spins the blade at a high rpm. So if it doesn't balance, you just take a little more away from the side that is heavier until it does. Of course, if you don't want to worry about the hassle of sharpening the blade, you can simply buy a new set for about $21 at Home Depot.
After each season, I store the mower for the winter in my garage. We have a relatively small two-car garage, and I was worried about being able to fit the mower and the two cars in the garage. Turned out I worried for nothing. Without the bagger on the mower, I was able to store the mower along the back wall of the garage, and it took up very little space. In fact, it just took up a short span along the back wall, and extended out toward the front of the garage about 42" (the width of the mowing deck). I was easily able to get my car into the garage with space to spare. To ensure that the mower would be in good shape for the next season, I add fuel stabilizer to the gas, and run it through the mower for a few minutes. I then top the fuel tank to the brim, which inhibits condensation from forming in the fuel system. I then spray the rubber pieces (including engine hoses), plastic and vinyl pieces with a high-quality protectant. Then I forget about it until the next season, at which point it starts right up and is ready for business.
This year, since I am going into my third season of use, I decided it was time to give the mower a real tune-up. I went to Home Depot and bought the tune-up kit for the Scotts mower and went about getting it ready for the season. In all, it took me about 3 hours of work to complete the job. The kit includes everything necessary to change the spark plug, oil, oil filter, fuel filter and air filter. Everything was easy to gain access to, making the process of getting the engine revitalized a rather simple process. I then went on to level the mowing deck front-to-back and left-to-right. This was fairly easy, requiring the manipulation of a few bolts. The last step was to check the belt tension on the mowing deck and also the tension for another lever, the name of which I don't recall. It was all a bit time consuming, but not all that difficult.
One other adjustment I made was to the front gauge wheels on the mowing deck which are supposed to prevent scalping the lawn. There are a few steep dropoffs on my lawn, and I was getting a little scalping on some of the crests of these dropoffs (mainly when mowing at height settings of under 3"). What I didn't realize is that the front gauge wheels on the mowing deck were set to the height recommended for shipping the mower. This wasn't right, and was probably responsible for the scalping, as the mowing deck would touch the ground well before the wheels would (since the wheels were set at a height above the bottom edge of the mowing deck).
Now, what should have been a very simple process turned out to be a huge pain. For some reason, these bolts are set ridiculously tight at the factory. At least the bolts on mine were. It was as if Hercules himself tightened them. I am not a small guy at 6'3" and 205 lbs., and I had major problems getting them undone in order to move the gauge wheels to a lower setting. I ended up having to use a vice grip wedged against the surface of my driveway to stop one side of the bolt from turning, while using my foot to push a socket wrench connected to the other side of the bolt. This did the trick. However, at that point I was cursing and sweating profusely. At one point I was so frustrated I tossed the socket wrench aside in disgust. I couldn't believe I had serviced 99% of the mower, just about ready for my first mowing of the season, and was stuck because I couldn't loosen a couple of darn bolts to move the front gauge wheels down! The story does have a happy ending, as my mower no longer scalps the lawn on those pesky crests.
Since up to this point I have maintained the mower myself, there isn't much I can say about service. One thing I can say is that I dread the day that something goes awry with the mower. If something was to happen during the mowing season, I am sure I'd be without a mower for some time. I'd also have to figure out a way to lug it to my local Home Depot, which will be a pain.
This all became clear when I went into my local John Deere dealer (Scotts is made by Deere, and the Deere service centers are authorized to repair the Scotts brand), and they really didn't want to talk to me. It seems that most of the dealers are not too happy about John Deere's choice to sell their mowers through Home Depot. The Scotts brand is basically the same as John Deere's Sabre line, which are sold through the John Deere dealers. Neither the Sabre nor the Scotts are quite as nice as a true John Deere, but the dealers can't be happy that Home Depot is selling huge volumes of mowers which are identical to their Sabre mowers.
So unless you get really lucky, or know someone, it is doubtful that you'll be able to get anyone to repair your mower except for Home Depot. Unfortunately, Home Depot just sends them out for repair, so you are talking a significant down-time.
In between me using a push mower and getting the Scotts, we had been paying a lawn service $35 a week to keep our lawn mowed. I figured that the Scotts, if I actually used it, would pay for itself in one season. Well, since I really enjoy mowing the lawn with the Scotts mower, I have used it just about every week during the mowing seasons. It certainly has paid for itself a few times over in that time frame. It is rugged, reliable and easy-to-use. What more could you ask for! I highly recommend the Scotts 1642 for anyone who needs to mow around 2 acres or less of grass.
The Rear Bagger is a great accessory. In addition to the bagger, you can also get 46" Snow Blade or 42" Snow Blower (2-Stage) attachments. If you are looking at doing any ground-breaking activities, such as tilling, you'll want to step up to a larger lawn tractor. The tractors meant for ground-breaking implements usually have heavier frames and more power. The Scotts 1642 is really designed for mowing and other light-duty applications, and does them well.
As for the potential service issues, that is something to be concerned about. You may want to talk to your local John Deere dealer first, as well as talk with Home Depot to see what the typical down-time is for repairs. In fact, while you are at the John Deere dealer, you should look at the Sabre. The Sabre is pretty much identical to the Scotts, is priced about the same, and your local John Deere dealer won't kick you out the door when you are in need of service!
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