I’ve received a few inquires over the last year about riding mowers for people with disabilities. Primarily people are looking for lawn tractors with fender mounted speed controls. Here are a few of the questions they asked.
“I’m a paraplegic who uses a 25 year old Craftsman with an obsolete Hydro-Gear, a hand control bolted to the left foot brake pedal and the forward/stop/reverse handle on the right fender that both work real fine without use of legs. They no longer offer units with the fender handle and the zero turn units, even the units with a steering wheel, really frighten me on the hill. What do you advise me to replace the Craftsman to provide similar safety and longevity?
I’m looking for a durable transmission, a tall cut (for horse), comfortable foot pedals, and a steering wheel I don’t have to lean forward to reach comfortably (long legs). I have driven my neighbor’s Husqvarna 46-48″, 23HP, Briggs & Straton-not a big fan, but the pedal was too high and I couldn’t mow in reverse.
When using my lawn tractor with a foot control my leg wants to cramp up all the time. Is there a mower with a fender mounted speed control?
It would be nice if they made adjustable pedals or an extendable steering wheel.
I’m looking at a Craftsman 19HP 46 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower… being paralyzed, if u tell me this thing is very reliable and i wont get stranded cos of the automatic tranny failing or a belt or whatever, i’m getting it today. btw how’s the motor?
thank you very very much for ur input u have been a great help!!!
I am a paraplegic and I refuse to let anyone else mow my lawn. I used an 1862 cub cadet with 44″ deck for 18 years. It has finally died and need a new one. Being paralyzed, I need a hand operating hydro. It took me about 4 hours to mow with the old cub for I mow all my neighbors also. no hills just 6 or 7 trees. I only have about $2500 to spend.”
There are six lawn tractors for 2017 that I know of that use a fender mounted speed control. (If I missed one please let me know in the comments below.) I’m not going to review each model here. Just put then model number in the search bar above and you’ll find a review. I’ll also mention how a zero-turn can help in another section below.
Lawn tractor seats have the hinge in the front and the spring suspension in the rear. This lets you tip the seat up to keep the seat dry and critters from leaving footprints but if you have a hard time sitting upright it make it hard to stay in the seat. I found a seat belt kit at Amazon that will be easy to install. Drive Medical Wheelchair Seat Belt, Auto Style Closure, 48″. Just drill two 3/8 inch holes in the metal fender and attach the seat belt with bolts and locking nuts from your local hardware store.
All of the Craftsman and Troy-Bilt lawn tractors listed here have the taller high-back seat.
Click on the Craftsman tractor’s name to read more and purchase at Sears.com
The Craftsman and the Troy-Bilt all use hydro-static transmissions. Just move the lever to go forward and back. The more you move the lever the faster you go. These hydrostatic transmissions have a neutral position where the tractor will not move but the parking brake is not set. To set the parking brake you have to press the left foot pedal. If you park it on slope, it may want to “creep” down the hill. If you can’t set the brake make sure you are on a level surface and turn the engine off.
All of these tractors use the slightly longer yard tractor frame so you can step through the tractor. You don’t have to swing your leg over the seat like the old lawn tractors or today’s inexpensive lawn tractors.
Getting on and off a mower.
“I really need help. I am an older handicapped female. I am now widowed. My husband always mowed our 1-acre yard. I have a John Deere lawn tractor with a 42″ deck, but I am not able to get on it. My legs are weak and I cannot step over the deck to get to the seat.”
Here is a picture of an old kitchen step stool I found at an auction. You or someone you know can make something similar with a 6-foot piece of 1X8 pine board and few wood screws. Set on the stool and then step over to the tractor.
Most zero-turns with lap bar steering.
A zero-turn with lap-bars can also be a good option. The 42-46 inch residential models are about $800 more than the equivalent lawn tractor but will mow your lawn faster. Most zero-turns with lap-bar steering don’t have foot controls. If they do, it is just for the lift assist to raise the deck up and down. When you are looking at inexpensive ZTR though make sure they don’t have the blade engagement or parking brake between your legs.
Getting on and off a zero-turn may still be an issue. The decks stick out the sides so you have to stretch over the deck to get on and off. Also standing up from the seat can be hard for some people. Two brands, Toro and Country Clipper offer an assist bar or an assist rail to help you get on and off. The Country Clipper setup is especially nice and will work with either their lap-bar or joystick models. The step on the Country Clipper is at the front making it even easier to get on and off.
The Country Clipper set up is available through your local Country Clipper dealer.
The Toro Assist Bar and Step Kit for TimeCutter SS and MX is available through Home Depot or your local dealer.
How to operate a zero-turn mower
Country Clipper Joystick.
Last but not least Country Clipper offers their patented joystick control. If you can use your right hand and forearm this is one of the best ways to drive a mower. I love the system and wish it was available on more zero-turns. If you don’t now Country Clipper they have been in the ZTR business as long as anyone else. They use primarily rural lifestyle dealers and farm implement dealerships for distribution. They make a complete line of residential and commercial ZTRs and are very dependable zero-turn riding mowers. I highly recommend their products.
Here is a quick Promotional video on the residential models with the joystick.
The Joystick Country Clipper front step and handrail for easy access to the mower.
A longer video that shows you how to drive the joystick.
My husband is an amputee. We are looking for a mower that he can pull himself onto the seat and not have any foot controls, including a brake. We like the John Deer we have. I think it is a LA105, but it has a left foot brake that has to be pressed in order to start it. Looking at the zero turn mowers, many of them (maybe all) prevent an amputee from getting onto the seat because of the controls/sticks next to the seat. If we can just do something about that foot brake on our John Deete, ours would work perfect for him. Can anyone help?
There is one ZTR that is perfect for your husband. Single joystick control, no control handles in the way. Front step and full grab bar for getting on and off the unit.
Go to countryclipper.com – find the mower you like – and add the accessories to make it perfect for your husband.
I have a bum right leg. I need a left foot break lawn mower/tractor. I currently have a Husqvarna that I like but it has seen better days. Is Huskey the only company who makes them?
Hi Jamie, Just about all lawn tractors have the clutch/parking brake pedal on the left side. Craftsman sells a few of the red models that have the speed control on the right fender instead of a foot pedal. Just go to the sears.com site and look for the models with the lever on the right fender.
Your other option is a zero-turn mower. Many of them use 2 lp-bars to drive the machine.
Hello, I’ve been paralyzed from the mid-chest down for the past 23 years. I recently moved to a wheelchair accessible house on an acre lot. Right now , it’s mostly weeds but I would like to put a lawn in next year. Whether it be cutting weeds or a mowing a lawn, I’d like to be able to take care of the area myself. I want to adapt a riding lawn mower so I can operate it from my wheelchair. I’ve seen people use sliding boards as well as lifts /slings to get in the seat of the lawn mower but I don’t want to transfer. I have two torn rotator cuffs and need to save my shoulders. Do you know or have you seen anything that might work? I don’t know much about riding lawn mowers to ask any specific questions. Thank you!
Hi Kristi, I understand what you are looking for. There have been a lot of people who have built something like that for motorcycling.
I am not aware of anyone who has built a lawn mower that accepts a wheelchair, but I do have an idea or two. Search youtube and you will find a few people who have built off-road units that are strong enough to pull carts, etc. One of those could pull a pull-behind mower. I’d also contact Country Clipper directly and see if they have a solution you could work with. They have equipped quite a few of their mowers for people unable to use the lower portion of their bodies.
Hi again Paul,
I’d like to pick up a couple accessories for my T3300 273900. There’s a guy near me who has a LOT of accessories for various Craftsman Riders all at reasonable prices, yet doesn’t have a Cross-Reference guide for what older parts numbers match to newer part numbers and or will fit the newer mowers with an adapter kit or easy modification.
Can you point me to the right web-site or place where I can find such a list … AND … what is involved or required to mate each piece?
Thanks again for your help and dedication to this site.
Hi Gregory, There is no document or guide that matches the old accessories to the new tractors. I’ll give you a couple of things to remember though.
The biggest problem with mounted accessories is all of them have shoulder bolts, brackets or other parts that semi-permanently attach to the tractor. Those parts are never taken off the tractor when the accessory is abandoned or the tractor sold. The brackets in particular are very hard to find.
The second biggest problem with accessories is most of the used stuff out there is for pre-2005 tractors and none of that stuff will fit on your new Craftsman.
Finally, Unless that guy is willing to install the accessory for you finding assembly manuals for some of the attachments is impossible. Searpartsdirect is pretty good at parts listing but they never kept a lot of the attachment manuals.
Your tractor is built by Husqvarna so all accessories model numbers have to start with 486. or 917. For example, you can still order the parts you need to install a 42 inch snowblower (starting with 486.) but it will usually cost you about $150 for the chassis parts plus the correct belt. $70.
Any other model number of snow blower or snow blade WILL NOT FIT!
Baggers. A three bin bagger needs the shoulder bolts that are always left on the tractor. The chute is specific to your deck. A 46 or 48 inch chute will not fit. The part number is not listed on the chute. There is a difference between a 46 inch 3 blade and a 46 inch 2 blade. The correct lower chute is about $100 with the attachment clips and bungee cords.
First and foremost … THANK YOU for all the advice and guidance you’ve put forth! I am not only appreciative of your knowledge, but enjoy your writing stylings.
I’ve found a Craftsman 273900 for about $1000.00 with less than 1 hour on it. After a thorough inspection, one of the blades does not spin freely when disengaged. After some pressing, the owner finally admitted there was a faint smell of burning rubber when they used it. I am “ass-u-ming” it’s the belt burnishing itself against a highly resistant-to-spin pulley because the spindle seems to be bound up. With force (20 lbs +/-), I can get the blade to move, but it’s reluctant.
Are the spindles on these new units something that need attention? Are they easy to fix, or is it a “replacement only” item?
Bonus Question: Are the decks on the Pro Series interchangeable with the “Red” models?
Thanks again for all your advice and help.
Hi Gregory, That’s a good price! To get the part. (You will have to remove the deck and replace the mandrel assembly. It’s not a hard job to do with a socket set.
Click on this banner or the Sears Parts Direct Banner in the right column.
Type in your model number:917.27390. Go to the deck parts diagram and order “Lawn Mower Mandrel Assembly” It is part number Part #: 587253301. Ignore the chat window that pops up – they just confuse the issue.
Or…..since you now know the part number you can order it on Amazon and save $30! Amazon link Spindle Assembly 587253301 Husqvarna, Mandrel, Craftsman Mower 46″, 48″ & 54″ Decks
By the way this is the correct spindle with the sealed bearings – you do not want the 4-bolt spindle that you have to grease.
No, the decks on the pro series are not interchangeable – two different manufactures.
Thank you Paul ! !
I picked up the mower, then a new “mulch-kit”, dropped the deck, and found a shredded nylon rope twisted/wrapped/slightly-friction-melted into the top of the deck where the spindle meets the pulley. This is what bound-up the spindle. An Exacto-Blade, needle-nose plyers and some WD-40 to dissolve the melted nylon and the spindle was good as new. Mulch Kit installed easily and I went for a few passes around the yard with the deck lowered just-enough-to-trim some of the taller blades of grass was all it took to get used to it … but the brakes will take some time as they grab and stick better than anything I’ve ever driven! ! I seem to lock up the tires with even the slightest application.
Lowered the deck to my cut depth and cut a half-acre in record time. With some tree-pods, on the lot, I may remove the Deck Shield on the right side as it’s a significant hindrance on right-side cuts … unless you/thisteam have a better solution to share.
Again, Thank You for your help and assistance.
Hi Gregory, Great, you know, about 80% of problems on these machines is not a bad part or defect. It’s usually something the owner did. I’m glad it turned out to be an inexpensive fix.
I use the side discharge when the grass is growing quickly in the spring and when we have been getting a lot of rain so I always keep it attached. I just use a rubber bungee cord or tarp strap to lift it out of the way when I’m mulching.
Remember, reattaching it is a pain, but you really need it when side discharging. Your deck will throw a baseball 600 feet or a rock or stick hard enough to break your neighbor’s windows. And of course it’s always the kids that get hurt from flying debris. We average 7 kids a day who get injured from lawn mowers.
Sheldon S. Cantor
Thanks for your reviews regarding John Deere lawn tractors. My wife insisted that I go to a dealer rather than Home Depot because she heard that they “switch engines” or whatever, and they weren’t the same.
On another note, I’ve heard that when you purchase a John Deere, someone is suppose to come out and show you how to run and maintain. Did I miss that in your review or am I mistaken?
HI Sheldon, Yes, there are a lot of rumors running around about the John Deere tractors “just have to be” less quality than the same model at the dealers. Hell, I’d make the same claims if I was dealer trying to compete with Home Depot. What those dealers – or whoever starts the rumor – is that once you get caught in a lie that person will NEVER set foot in your door again.
If you buy a Deere online at Home Depot your local John Deere Dealer sets it up, tests it and brings it out to your home. That delivery person then will show you how to use it.
If you buy a Deere from existing stock at Home Depot it has been adjusted and test by a Deere Mechanic. Home Depot delivers it or you take it home and no, no one comes out to your house.
If you buy from the John Deere dealer is depends on the dealer. Most want to sell you the more expensive X300 series and I’ve never heard of a dealer not delivering it to your home and going through the operation. I expect they will do the same for the 100 series.
I continue to enjoy your reviews and feedback. I have a Craftsman T2200 with the hydrostatic transmissions which I enjoy. I have had a minor issue with the cutting deck. It has been making a pinging noise when I am cutting thick tall grass. The noise will get louder the longer I cut in such grass. If I move to cut grass that is not very high or thick, the sound will slowly quiet down. I have had a Sears repair man look at it three time with little change or success. He thought it maybe a spring banging on the deck. Have you run into such a problem and do you have any ideas on how to resolve the problem? Look forward to your reply!
Hi Michael, I’m no mechanic but….check under the springs to see if there is any scuffing or chipping of the paint on the deck. If there is try wrapping a little electrical/masking tape around that part of the spring and then go out and mow to see if the noise goes away. If it does make sure the bolts that hold the spring bracket on the deck are tight.
Check the spindle bolts for tightness – under the belt pulleys on the deck there are 3 nuts/bolts that hold the blade onto the deck. Check them for tightness.
Finally, check to see if you hit something and caved in the front edge of the deck. Look to see if the mower blade is scraping off the paint under the deck. if it is, take the deck off and flip it upside down. You can usually pound/straighten that dent back out with a large hammer. (I have a 3 lb sledge hammer for that type of work)
August 10, 2017
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Hello.I just wanted to jump in here to say.I bought the craftsman model#203901 with the general rs800 transmission.I really like everything about the lawn tractor,turning radius engine ride ect.I do not use it very much probably 20 hours a year.I only have about 18 hours on the tractor. Had not used in in about 2 months.yesterday I go to use the craftsman and the forward and reverse pedal sticks real bad.I could not get it to go in reverse with out hitting forward a few times real quick then hitting reverse real hard.Also when going in forward when I take my foot off the pedal the drive tire locks up and skids tearing up the lawn leaving a tire mark tearing up the grass.Same thing when going from reverse to forward.I have to keep hitting reverse over and over then go to the forward pedal.I have to go back and forth and hit the pedal real hard.Sometimes it just will not go.Also going into forward I hear the gears trying to mesh but will not engage unless I hit reverse a couple of times then go back to the forward pedal.Up till yesterday the lawnmower was working perfectly.My lawn is mostly flat and I am not hard on the mower.Just an old retired guy with bad knees so I needed to ride .My lawnmower is year and a half old so I called craftsman for service and I am waiting for the guy to come today.Just thought I would let you know this happened
Hi John, Sears probably changed out the transmission but most likely it’s just dirty. The older 20390’s have a habit of getting dirt up on top of the transmission and that makes them hard to shift. If you have an air compressor, clean the dirt and debris from the top of the trans. If it still doesn’t work well – go here: https://services.generaltransmissions.com/en/?lang=en. GT will help you get it working correctly again.
Wow!!Paul,You are right on.Here in Austin Texas we have a lot of dust dirt and in the summer very dry grass.The service man used my 60 gallon air compressor to blow out the dirt and debris on top of the transmission but the forward and reverse pedal still stuck so he ordered a new transmission saying the dirt was too jammed in the transmission.After he left I removed the metal plate at the rear of the mower under the gas tank and got really in there with a long air blower wand and a lot more dirt came out.The lawnmower forward/reverse pedal is working great again thanks to your expertise.One more thing.When I first got the mower it was hard to start lots of cranking,or not start at all.It was just the choke needed adjusted.Now starts right up every time.Service man said that is common on new mowers.Choke does not get adjusted right in assembly.I had read your articles before I bought this lawnmower and the engine with the pressured oiling system is the main reason for buying this model.The tight turn radius is a must have also.This riding mower is also fast. I got a speeding ticket on the road in front of my house,,Just kidding.Thank you Paul for being out there with your expert information.>>John
Hi John. Great! General Transmissions is very dedicated to making the best transmission on the market. As soon as they figured out that the Craftsman’s were getting full of dirt and binding up they sent out that repair order to help the techs diagnose the problem.
I suggest letting the tech install the new transmission. The new one will have a cover over the linkages so it won’t fill up with debris again. And stay off the road!
Ok. I am going with the Model # 27390. What kind of life do you get from the drive belt? Do you need to jack up the front end to get to the belts or does the cutting deck have pins or bolts that allow for easy belt service? Is the belt system reliable? Any common issues with the mower?
@Jeff, most people get 3-5 years out of the deck belt and 5-10 years out of the transmission belt. The deck comes off easily with 3 clips for cleaning and blade sharpening.
no, keep it clean, do the maintenance as suggested in the manual, try not to run into things and it will last 15-20 years.
If you don’t know how to perform maintenance and other stuff youtube is a great place to start.
A question on the craftsman 247.203702 mower. Is the deck vibration normal on this model?
Hi Craig, No, Some things to check. Diagnose in this order.
Blades not balanced when they were sharpened.
Something wrapped around the blade.
Loose spindle – check the tightness of all the spindle bolts
Broken spindle – The aluminum spidle house may be cracked
Bad bearing in spindle
Worn out drive belt.
Clean the underside of the deck
Is the vibration actually coming from the deck? If you didn’t find anything in that list check to make sure the engine mounting bolts (four of them) are tight.
I read your article about mowers for people with disabilities, and wonder if you have a recommendation for people with back problems. Specifically I need to cut about 3/4 acre, and wonder if a stand on or walk behind mower would be less punishing on my back because my legs could absorb the bumps. Is there a walk behind or stand on mower you would recommend in the $5,000 price range?
Hi Matt, I am a big fan of standons for just that reason. You can ride them so your back stays straight and you can use your knees to absorb the bumps. In additions, the standon’s today all have a shock absorbing platform for added comfort.
Price. The brands have all catered to the commercial operator so all but one is well over $7000. But – there is one in your price range. The best part it is a great mower from a manufacture who has been around since the early 90’s. The 48 inch is about $4300 and is built as well as other costing much more. I wrote a short blurb on them earlier this year and I’ll repost it here:
Bradley Mid-Price Stand-On Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Stand-on mowers are the way to go if you want a great cut, have a very complex lawn and want to get done quickly. They are actually easier on your back than a suspension seat ZTR and better for slopes. (If you get on too steep of a hill – you just step off the machine.) Stand-on ZTR’s are fun to drive and more maneuverable than the sit-down versions. If you regularly have a lot of trash, twigs and debris on your lawn these can save you a lot of time because you just step off the machine to stop and pick up the debris. They are the easiest mower to get on and off of. Yes, I’m a huge fan of stand-on’s but most are way too expensive for a homeowner. Bradley Mowers are the exception.
You may have never heard of Bradley Mowers but I have and have been following them for over 20 years. They are just a small manufacturer an hour south of Chicago that makes a very rugged, commercial grade, affordable mower. Parts and maintenance items are always available quickly. It’s worth your time to check them out.
Just because no one else ever talks about Bradley Mowers I am putting links to their two flagship mowers here. (I have no connection to them) You can buy them online through their website or there may be a dealer in your area. These are true heavy-duty, commercial grade zero-turns that cost a lot less than the competition. These are perfect for 2-5 acres of sloping and/or complex landscaped lawns. I highly recommend these mowers.
“recommended” BRADLEY 48″ STAND-ON COMPACT MOWER BRIGGS VANGUARD (Bradley Mower Link)
“recommended” BRADLEY 52″ STAND-ON COMPACT MOWER BRIGGS VANGUARD (Bradley Mower Link)