How much is too much?

Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:00 am

Good morning folks.

Here's my great big question for the day: I have a Cub Cadet 1200 - original kohler 12 hp engine. This is the one I've rebuilt in the past two years. Great running machine.

I now have a pond with a sloped dam that I need a spare mower to do the mowing with. I'm not so worried about turning the tractor over with the slope, rather I'm more worried about oil starvation in the engine. I know this engine is supposed to be a splash lube - or at least I think it is what it is. Certainly not an oil pump engine.

This engine was just rebuilt professionally at a machine shop last year, and now has about 35 hours on it, with proper oil change at 5 hours, etc. I definitely don't want to take the chance of ruining a good engine by mowing on a slope with it.

So, do you guys think it can handle mowing on a pond dam? I would guess the length of the dam to be at least 500 feet long. I can't really tell you the slope right now. I might be able to find a photo to let you see what it looks like.

Looking forward to the answers here. Don't be afraid to tell me don't do it!

Thanks in advance.

Re: How much is too much?

Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:16 am

Guess the question is; How steep if the slope?

I mow across a moderately steep slope with Cub Cadets with the Kohler engines. Where the slope is really steep, I mow down the slope then drive around.

Thought, place the Cadet on the slope with the oil filler/dip stick on the up hill side. Then check the oil level on the dip stick. If it doesn't take a lot of oil, you could top off -over fill the crankcase to the full level.

Re: How much is too much?

Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:19 am

The slope of most dam's is going to be rather steep for cross mowing (even for up/down mowing), and I wouldn't use a "splash lubricated" engine on one (well maybe if I was mad at the engine). That is the type of mowing that help kill a lot of KT-17 Series I engines in 682/782 models.

Re: How much is too much?

Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:58 am

Thanks guys for the info. I'll try to see if I can dig up a photo to give you some insight about this slope.

I'm not real good at describing slopes, but this is the face of the pond dam.

I've had times when I was a teenager push mowing the pond dam gave me more than the creeps. It is a real wonder I still have both feet in mostly normal working condition. I slipped several times going down, and fortunately, I was able to keep my feet out from under the mower as I slipped down.

Mowing downwards will not work as the only thing stopping me would be deep water. Nah, I'm not going that route at all.

I have mowed it in the past with lawn tractors, but the engines were a different Briggs & Stratton make, and I don't know if they were just splash lubrication or something else.

If I have to, I guess I could take my Simplicity Landlord over there and use it. It has a B & S Vangard engine, and I know for sure that one is pressure lubed. But, I don't want to take my very best mowing machine over there and leave it. I'm sure I wouldn't get back my prime machine in the condition it currently is.

Of course, that could be said about the Cub Cadet too. :shock:

Re: How much is too much?

Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:16 pm

A thought. Why not pick up a two wheeled garden tractor with mower? I have some photos of one in the "Sand Box" under "In Progress". Some of the older Wisconsin engines on 2 wheeled garden tracors have oil pumps.

Re: How much is too much?

Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:07 pm


I don't mow the sides of my pond :shock: Did that with the push mower and that bank is just too darn scary. Already tossed the Craftsman into the pond once .. in reverse :shock: :oops: :( . However my front yard has a 45 degree slope that has to be mowed. My old 1991 12.5hp Craftsman (aka Roper) rideon with a B&S engine was my primary machine for a number of years until 2006 I guess when Em bought me the new JD L-111 20 hp hydro. That one is now my primary mowing machine and regularly mows that incline. I think the 12.5 was a splash lube engine but not sure. Mowing on that kind of angle does require some creative sitting to balance.. can be done but it requires paying a lot of attention. Rolling the mower would not take a lot because the CG is already outside optimum range so care really must be taken.

I would probably be looking at Eugene's suggestion .. those Simplicity Walk Behinds are kinda neat and probably a lot safer on a hill near a pond. In fact, I am going to see one of these critters hopefully this week.

Re: How much is too much?

Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:59 pm

The engine in the photo is a Clinton. One of the problems with that particular engine was oil starvation when mowing side hills. Quick Mfg. over came the problem by using Clinton engines with an oil pump.

That machine free wheels going forward, as do my other 2 wheel garden tractors, because of the ratchets in the drive, which allow one wheel to turn faster than the other when making turns. The solution is to lock both wheels solid by turning one of the ratches in each wheel drive around.

I have looked at the DR trimmer which appears would be an excellent machine. My big hang up was the price.

Re: How much is too much?

Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:14 pm

I've had a lot of experience on tractors and slopes, and I would not be too worried about the lubrication in a splash lube engine. Typically, if you can stand to drive the tractor on it, you're still at an angle that the engine will perform fine. However, one thing that I have learned, I'd NEVER do it on a gear drive tractor. Especially a Cub Cadet where the clutch and brake are integrated. Pick up a hydro drive tractor with the hydro lever on the dash board (not a foot controlled). The problem with gear drives, is, if you have the clutch pedal on your downhill side, and you're sitting on the fender on the uphill side (yes, you will, and we all have done it) you really cannot push the clutch pedal to stop the machine in a hurry. Also, whatever you are mowing with, install some AG tires, or chains, and load the rear end with as much weight as you can get. It's better to leave tire ruts than to have the rear end slide out on you, trust me!

Personally, I'd try to find one of the wide cut walk behind mowers, like the Cub Cadet 33" widecut, or a Troy Bilt walk behind sickle mower, NOT a big commercial wide cut mower. The nice thing about this size walk behind is that they are light weight, and easy to maneuver (compared to the bigger commercial walk behind mowers), they can be bought for the right price (I just picked up two of them with 100-hours on them for $500 each), and they have turning brakes so you can use the drive mechanism to move it along and compensate for the slope with the steering clutches. The biggest thing is safety. If something happens to a walk behind, you just stand away and let it happen. If you're sitting on a tractor and something happens, you're part of the problem and it is immediately an unsafe condition.

Re: How much is too much?

Wed Oct 05, 2011 8:30 am

Well, the thick plottens as some would say. (Most people know the saying as the plot thickens).

I hired a guy to mow around the pond with a JD Zero turn. I'd read that those things don't like slopes much at all.

He managed to get the pond and dam mowed, but told me he wasn't going to mow it anymore. He mentioned something about his rear cheeks and "pucker power" when he was mowing the face of the dam.

I've asked him if he knew of someone who had a garden tractor that would be interested in a seasonal contract to mow around the pond. He said he'd check with some of his friends that do mowing as a side line.

Folks, the walk behind might be a good idea, and I have owned a Dr. Brush mower in the past. It would do the face of the pond dam with no problem. But since that time, I've had a couple of surgeries on the lower back, and they didn't exactly work out all that well. So, for chores like this I have to get somewhat creative and come up with better answers.

I do appreciate the feedback. I know not to use the straight drive Cub Cadet for pond mowing duties. I'm leaning towards paying someone to do that duty for the rest of this year and from here on out.

Re: How much is too much?

Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:32 pm

I mow a little hilly area but i always make sure my crankcase oil is topped off full. I do mow a flat at the sametime so its one pass hilly one pass flat. The biggest problem is to make sure the gas tank is topped off to so all the gas if its low won't go to one side and the fuel bowel gets nothing.

I'm getting ready to restore a wisconsin powered 3 reel gang mower since the wisconsin engine rod, piston and cylinder is oil injected from a piston type pump in the oil pan when the rod hits it i should be ok on slopes.

Re: How much is too much?

Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:55 am

Well, I finally got around to going out to the old place with my camera and take a couple of photos.

Here are three of them with the pond side of the dam I'm concerned about. Sorry I couldn't get much better, but I'm having problems with the tenants in the house right now, and I have to sneak a peek just to see what is going on.

#1: Image
#2: Image
#3: Image

I don't plan on mowing the high grass next to the water's edge. I used to do that with a push mower, but back then I was very young and stupid too. :lol:

So, do you think my Cub Cadet 1200 could possibly handle the front side of the pond dam? Opinions are certainly welcome!

Thanks folks.

Re: How much is too much?

Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:09 am

Ok, now looking at your photos, the slope is really not that bad. Similar to the ponds at our hunting club, and ironically enough, we're mowing them with a Cub Cadet 1200 and a Cub Cadet 1811. The 1811 is a hydro with the Kohler Magnum engine and pressure lubrication. A step up from the KT-17 that Paul mentioned earlier which were splash lube flat twin engines and known to blow up from oil starvation. The 1811 is definitely more comfortable, with the hydro lever on the dash. It's much easier to scoot your butt around on the seat and still keep a hand on the hydro lever without having to reach a pedal to stop. The 1200 will do the work, and I've not had any problems with it, but the 1811 is definitely a whole lot nicer to use.

One thing I'm definitely doing this summer though, is adding AG tires to whichever tractor we plan to mow the ponds with. The turf tires just slip around way too much. Even in the summer when the grass is dry, they slip on the freshly cut grass just from the moisture in the grass clippings.


Re: How much is too much?

Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:24 am

Thanks Bill for the comments. They are much appreciated. As this is my very first Cub Cadet with knowing it is a splash lube, I am concerned about doing harm to a fresh rebuild on an engine.

Walking the slope really isn't all that bad. However, I do remember using a Murray lawn tractor mower with a Tecumseh engine years ago. That thing would start smoking enough to keep the mosquito population in check.

IMHO, I think that mower had problems anyway. Even on level ground it wouldn't do right.

I agree with using the Ag tires. I currently have Ags on my JD 322 that I might decide to put back on the Cub Cadet for this chore. I can easily put the JD turf tires back on it for the time being.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. :sick:


Re: How much is too much?

Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:39 am

Hey "Sunday"...I like the idea of putting the rear ag tires on your Cub Cadet, as that will give you some good stability.

If it were my pond...I'd get me a Gravely gear drive "L" or Gravely Commercial from the early 70's...put dual wheels on the sickle bar front mower & the front 36 inch rotary bush hog and a ride on-sulky. Then I'd mount dual wheels on the sulky and...OFF I'd go to mowin'. With everything mowing out front on the Gravely...and the dual wheels...and the direct'll have that pond bank lookin' BEAUTIFUL in no time flat :wink: ...'Country'

Re: How much is too much?

Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:43 am

you could always find you a Haban sickle bar for that cadet :wink:

My backyard averages between 15 and 28 degrees that I mow across and roughly about 110 yards in length. Now I mow with a new (2009) cub GT that has a pressurized kohler command. My biggest fear wasn't the engine, but flipping. I switched out and now use 10.5 wide Carlisle All Trail tires that's fluid filled, 1/4" wheel spacers, and have 70lbs of wheel weights on each side. I feel more than comfortable enough riding the slope now. I don't know how much over the 10-15 degrees those old kohlers are good for or not.