Vintage Sears Garden Tractors
Craftsman Riders
Many of us will remember some of these old machines from seeing them in the store. Or maybe the old guy down the street had one. In
my case, my first four wheel mower was an old Craftsman. The neighbor had gotten it from somewhere, but it would never run right. I
could hear him over there fiddling around with it, backfiring and sputtering. In those days, once a year  they had a free trash day, where
the city would come around with loaders and dump trucks to take away whatever you put curbside. The neighbor's Craftsman was in
the pile after one of the backfiring episodes, so it became mine. All it needed was for the Welch Plugs to be removed from the
carburetor so it could be cleaned properly.  The rider was very primitive in design. The rear axle was solid; the tires were semi
pneumatic. Of course the solid axle would spin the inside tire like crazy in turns. But the tires were slick, so no damage was done to the
grass. The front wheels were treadless also. I can vividly remember going straight ahead in wet grass no matter what direction you
turned the handlebars to steer. Oh, and talk about scalping grass! The deck was mounted solid to the frame....if you want to call it that.
Any raised or uneven area in the lawn was mowed flat no matter what. There wasn't much power by any standard. There was virtually
no lift to the blade, so what the tires matted down would spring back up in a couple of days. I didn't care, I had a ride now and it was
FREE! I made a trailer for the back of the mower. I carried a push mower in there and went around the neighborhood mowing lawns. I
wish life was that simple and easy again. Here's some pictures of old Craftsman mowers.
1977 rear engine rider
1977 front engine rider
1967 also seemed to be a transitional year for the riding mower line. The vertical shaft engines were becoming more powerful
and it made sense for AYP to adapt them to the riders. The older style, solid rear-bald tire, tractors were on borrowed time.
The newer style tractors, like those pictured above from 1977, were going to make the old streamlined body styles a thing of
the past. It's interesting to note that you had to purchase the mowing deck separately for the horizontal shaft engine riders.
The tractors were even called, "power rider units." The decks, which were called "grass cutting units", came in 32" side or
rear discharge, along with a 36" side discharge. They were the cast decks with two gearboxes, similar to those available for the
Custom line of tractors. I see some of these old riders for sale occasionally, and I always think to myself that they look like
they're built like tanks. The decks are hard to find though, because most have been broken over the years. Keep in mind that
the model year of these machines is approximate. Here's the 1967 riders:
Note that the images hosted on this site are
intended to be used for educational or
reference purposes only. Owners of Sears
tractors often are interested in what
year their tractor was manufactured. Also of
interest to owners are the color
schemes and decals originally applied to the
tractors. It is the hope of the owner of
this site that the images may be of use to
those interested in restoring their tractors
to their original condition or who are merely
curious as to when they were made.
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Written material © 2007-2011 VSGT