Welcome to Brian Miller's Garden Tractor Pulling Tips & Tricks!

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This is a very popular web site! So be sure to bookmark THIS PAGE before you continue! Updated 8/13/14. Jump down to links to my other pulling tips web sites.

No registration or password required, no automatic popups, no spyware, adware, viruses, Trojan Horses or malicious codes inside. If you have any problems with any of my web sites, please let me know and I will correct it/them immediately! All of my web sites are easy to navigate, too...no tricky links or shenanigans! Also, all my web sites are educational, easy to understand, safe and enjoyable to read for all ages! The information in my web sites is more understandable and direct than any Kohler or Cub Cadet publication. And it's best to use the newest version of Google Chrome or Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browsers to experience all the effects of my web sites. Optimized for 1024 x 768 screen resolution. To search for a word or phrase in any of my web sites, with Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x, or Google Chrome, press CTRL+F to open the Find dialog box. And I apologize, but I have no printed material (books) available at this time. You'll have to print out my web sites. I contacted some book companies and they said being all my information is online at no charge, they don't think the books would sell well.

A Typical Competitive Garden Pulling Tractor Would Tech Out Like This:

Links to my other pulling tips web sites -

Engine Performance -


Drive Train Performance -


Miscellaneous Performance -

Miscellaneous Links -

Introduction to the Sport of Garden Tractor Pulling

What is Tractor Pulling?

Tractor pulling competition is when a special-built weighted pulling vehicle or tractor pulls (or drags) a mechanical weight transfer machine, which is more commonly known as a "sled," on a dirt (clay) track of a specific distance, which is usually a maximum of 300 feet in length. As the vehicle pulls the sled down the track, ballast (weights) that's in a box which is positioned at the rear of the sled is automatically transferred (mechanically winched) forward on the frame of the sled. This transfer of weight, or ever-increasing of weight, creates friction between the skid pan (that's part of the front of the sled) and the ground, and that in turn makes the sled harder to pull, eventually stopping the vehicle. The winner is determined by not how fast a pulling vehicle goes down the track, but who drags the sled the farthest. In other words, it's not a race, it's a pulling event. Go here for more information: Tractor pulling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Garden tractor pulling can be a fun and safe sport for the entire family. If done fairly, garden tractor pulling helps build good character and sportsmanship in people of all ages. Sports has always been considered a healthy outlet for young people. A chance for young people to learn how to win or rather lose. But most importantly, how to play by the rules, which help keep them out of trouble at home and with the law. Kids also need proper parental guidance so they can live a happier, healthier and more fulfilling adulthood. I think this is a good sport for people of all ages (as long as they can safely operate a tractor). Sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and any other kid who has gotten bored and are running the streets too much. If you have the means to spend some money to help kids go down the right path and have good clean fun, then garden tractor pulling is for you and your family. Not only the young can enjoy garden tractor pulling, but older folks can enjoy it, too. It gives retired people a good excuse to get out of the house, and keep their mind and body active.

Garden tractor pulling is a sport, just like any other sport. Some people like to go fishing. Some play golf at a country club. Others do tractor (or truck) pulling. All of these activities are considered sports, which is supposed to be fun and relaxing. If a tractor does well at a pull, and if there's prize money to be won, most of the time the prize money usually isn't that great. In fact, the winner would be lucky to make gas money. But it's fun to compete, test your mechanical skills on the tractor and driving skills on the track. Garden tractor pulling is not only appropriate for the whole family, but actually makes people feel encouraged, inspired, and challenged. It's also a good excuse to get your mind off your daily job and routine life, and it's a good reason to get away from home for a while, like a short vacation. And if you think about it, it's mental therapy or a great stress relief. It's an "escape" to maintain yours and your family's or friend's sanity. Also, tractor pullers from various areas are like one big family, not bound together by blood relation, but by a common interest. Many of them are hard working, honest people that have a family to support.

The sport of pulling can be a fun and exciting family activity. With a reputable pulling club/association, garden tractor pulling can be a lot of fun for the entire family and/or with friends and very affordable. Just a reliable average pickup truck and a small- to medium-sized utility trailer is all that's needed to haul the garden tractor(s) to and from the pulls. Garden tractor pulling also helps to bring families and friends closer together. A broken tractor is much easier to fix than a broken family. Besides, if you don't spend time with your family and kids now, then perhaps one day you'll wish you did. Anyway, you and your family/kids and/or friends get to travel to other towns or communities, see the beautiful countryside and interesting sights along the way while on the road, meet interesting people, have a chance to be with other pullers who share your interests and make new friends, you can dine at nice restaurants, even stay at a motel before or after a pull! Traveling to and from a pull should be half the fun! As they say, it's not just about the destination - it's about the journey. While at a pull site, if it's at a county fair, there's usually other activities also. Early before the pull begins or when the pull is over (if it's not too late), you and your family can walk around the fairgrounds to see the sights, and your kids can go on the carnival rides. The rides are usually free, because most of the time there's free admission [for pullers and helpers] to the fair! And please remember, ALWAYS drive carefully, get plenty of rest before starting a long trip so the driver will be alert for unexpected events while on the road, and definitely wear your seat belts!

Below are videos of Track Master, the official sled of the Hot Rod Garden Tractor Pullers Association. Click the videos below to see our sled in action!

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Always Wear a Helmet When Pulling!

I know for a fact that some pullers don't wear a seat belt in their vehicles while traveling or on their way to and from the pulls. (Safety must be the last thing on their mind.) But unlike seat belts, wearing a helmet isn't only for safety, it makes the puller look PROFESSIONAL to the sponsors, promoters and spectators! Tractor pulling is a spectator entertainment sport, or show business. And to put on a good show, you gotta dress for the part!

And if the sanctioning rules require that long leg pants and closed-end shoes be worn when pulling, if a puller wears shorts, and complain about the summer heat, they can just slip on some sweat pants and closed-end shoes, and then go pull. As long as their legs and feet are covered, that's what matters.

And during the hot summer heat, sometimes tempers will flair at a pull site. It's just human nature. This is something track officials and pullers need to take into consideration when confronting a disgruntled puller. When this happens, just tell them to drink some ice water, go cool off, calm down and gather your thoughts. Because they're not being themselves. It'll be wrong to get upset at them. Because when you're an official of a club, you must delegate authority responsibly.


Using a Competitive Pulling Tractor - Top of page

IH Cub CadetIf you're looking for a quality garden tractor to build up and do some serious pulling with, then what you need is a beltless, non-hydrostatic drive, clutch-driven, manual shift Cub Cadet that was built by International Harvester and the early ones built by MTD (Modern Tool & Die). The best Cub Cadet garden tractors for competition pulling are clutch driven. These models include:

The differences between Cub Cadet frames:

How to Make a Hydrostatic Drive Garden Tractor a Competitive Pulling Tractor -

Replace the OEM Cub Cadet Charge Pump Relief Spring (by-pass/pressure relief spring) with one that's twice as stiff or much stiffer than the original so when the tractor (hydrostatic system) is under a severe strain, oil pressure will not by-pass the hydraulic motor and return or circulate back to the hydraulic pump. In other words, doing this will allow much more oil pressure to be applied to the hydraulic motor. On Cub Cadet models with a PORTED pump, the Charge Pump Relief Spring is located under the plug on the LEFT SIDE of the hydrostatic pump housing. And on NON-PORTED pumps, the spring is located under the plug in the CENTER of the hydrostatic pump housing. See pictures below Ê. Also, the use of [heavier velocity] SAE 30 weight hydraulic oil will help increase the pressure. And the tractor will definitely need a healthy or bigger engine, preferably one that's built to the max to increase the torque. By the way - I don't know which spring works the best. You'll just have to shop around for one that works.

But any hydrostatically driven IH or MTD Cub Cadet garden tractor can be easily converted into a clutch drive tractor using the transaxle and clutch/driveshaft components out of a clutch drive "parts" tractor, as long as the frames on the donor and recipient tractors match. IE: a narrow frame for a narrow frame, a wide frame for a wide frame and a spread frame for a spread frame. The transaxles for all IH and early MTD Cub Cadets are basically the same, rather if it's an internal or external brake design. The clutch/driveshaft components must match the frame of the donor tractor to be converted. For example: to convert an IH Cub Cadet wide frame model 109, 129, 149, 1250, 1450 or 1650 into a clutch/gear drive, the complete clutch assembly with the throw-out bearing release lever and cross bracket, and transaxle from either an IH Cub Cadet model 86, 108, 128, 800, 1000 or 1200 must be used. The brake components will also be needed from these tractors.

Most IH-built Cub Cadets come from the factory with a cast iron block, K-series Kohler engine. And almost every late model of the spread frame Cub Cadet that's made by either IH or MTD are hydrostatically driven, with the exception of models 582, 1050, 1535, 1606 and 1806 which are all clutch driven with a durable and light-weight MTD-built aluminum case transaxle.

Unlike the IH and early MTD Cub Cadets, most garden tractors that's built nowadays won't be in use 30-40 years from now. They're just not built that good nowadays. This is a well-known and proven fact. The older Cub Cadets (and Kohler engines) were built back when most manufacturers took pride in their products. Nowadays, it's all about American businesses making more money with Chinese negotiations. If you ever restore an old Cub Cadet so it's fully operational, you'd probably fall in love with it. Because I think any new garden tractor that's build nowadays can't match the durability and capabilities of the older Cub Cadets. Besides, International Harvester builds big farm tractors and semi-trucks, and they put all that heavy duty technology in their smaller products. Once you use an older Cub Cadet for whatever purpose, you'd be reluctant to use anything else. The quality is unmatched to any other make of anything else. If you do find an older Cub Cadet that's worth the money, and despite the condition it's in, just remember that it is worth repairing or restoring. It'll be like restoring an old Chevrolet.

Remember, when building and/or acquiring a pulling tractor, remember - it's best to use what the winners are using - a direct clutch drive (no belt involved) Cub Cadet and use the biggest engine your club's rules allow in its tractor's class. The best Cub Cadet model to use is either: 70, 71, 72, 73, 86, 100, 102, 104, 106, 108, 122, 124, 126, 128, 580/582, 682, 782, 800, 982, 1000, 1050, 1200, 1282, 1512, 1535, 1606 or 1806. And there's sanctioning rules with every pulling club/association regarding how a tractor should be built or set up. Not all clubs use the same sanctioning rules and specifications. The rules vary from one club to another. You'll need to contact the person in charge of the club you plan to pull with and acquire a copy of their up-to-date rules and ask their pullers questions before you build a tractor. And while you're at the pulls, look over the pulling tractors and ask the pullers questions regarding how to build a durable and competitive tractor. And remember - if you're going to build it, you might as well build it to win! Go here to find a pulling club near you: Hot Links to Various Garden Tractor Pulling Clubs and Associations.


IH Cub Cadet Garden Tractor Serial Numbers-to-Date Manufactured, up to 1981.

Model of Tractor
(Click links for identification of tractor.)
Serial Numbers Dates Built
International Cub Cadet "Original" This model has a K141 [6¼hp] Kohler engine with a starter/generator, internal dry band axle brake, 3/8" wide drive belt-to-pulley/clutch-disc driveshaft and bolted implements. This is the very first Cub Cadet model that IH manufactured from 1960 to 1963. That is why it's called the "Original". It also has no model number. 501 to 65547 1960-8/63
70, 100 These models have a K161 (7hp) [70], K241 (10hp) [100] Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/short center section; both of these are clutch driven with an internal brake. 65458 to 127160 8/63-8/65
71, 102 These models have a K161 (7hp) [71], K241 (10hp) [102] Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame 71 w/short center section; 102 w/tall center section; both of these are clutch driven with an internal brake.
122 This model has a K301 (12hp) Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; clutch drive with internal brake.
127161 to 218009 8/65-11/67
123 This model has a K301 (12hp) Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; hydrostatic drive with an internal brake. 157490 to 218009 6/66-11/67
72 This model has a K161 (7hp) Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/short center section; clutch drive; internal brake.
104 This model has a K241 (10hp) Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; clutch drive; internal brake.
105 This model has a K241 (10hp) Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; hydrostatic drive; internal brake.
124 This model has a K301 (12hp) Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; clutch drive; internal brake.
125 This model has a K301 (12hp) Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; hydrostatic drive; internal brake.
218010 to 306085 11/67-08/69
73 This model has a K161 (7hp) Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/short center section; clutch drive; internal brake.
106 This model has a K10hp Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; clutch drive; external brakes.
107
This model has a K10hp Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; hydrostatic drive; external brakes.
126 This model has a K12hp Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; clutch drive; external brakes.
127 This model has a K12hp Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; hydrostatic drive; external brakes.
307000 to 400000 08/69-08/71
147 This model has a K321 (14hp) Kohler engine with a starter/generator; narrow frame w/tall center section; [frame factory widened for an engine with the larger 9½" flywheel and shroud, but never was installed]; hydrostatic drive; external brakes. 316816 to 400000 11/69-08/71
86, 108, 109, 128, 129, 149, 169 These models have a K181 (8hp) [86], K241 (10hp) [108, 109], K301 (12hp) [128, 129], K321 (14hp) [149] and K341 (16hp) [169] Kohler engine. They have a starter/generator; wide frame, a solid mounted engine, external brakes, mechanical PTO clutch. Models 86, 108 and 128 are clutch driven, the others are hydrostatically driven. 400001 to 529811 09/71-10/74
800 This tractor is considered a "Quiet Line" model. Has a K181 (8hp) Kohler engine with a gear starter; alternator charging system, clutch drive, wide frame; ISO-mounted engine; external brakes, electric PTO clutch. 5300001 to 572876 10/74-1/76
1100 This tractor was an economy model of the "Quiet Line" era. It was the only spread frame model to use an ISO-mounted 11hp Briggs & Stratton horizontal shaft single cylinder engine; belt drive with a 2300 series Peerless transaxle.

Serial numbers unknown

'74-'79
1000, 1200, 1250, 1450, 1650 These tractors are considered "Quiet Line" models. They have a K241 (10hp) [1000], K301 (12hp) [1200, 1250], K321 (14hp) [1450] and K341 (16hp) [1650] Kohler engine. They have ISO-mounted rubber motor mounts to reduce engine vibration throughout the tractor for operator comfort. The engine is enclosed with side panels. It also has a gear starter; alternator charging system, wide frame, external brakes, electric PTO clutch, an enclosed engine compartment, and it has an oblong shaped air cleaner assembly that draws air through the flywheel shroud for less noise. Models 1000 and 1200 are clutch driven, the others are hydrostatically driven. The "Quiet Line" model tractors with serial # 632502 and later were equipped with 1" diameter front spindles. 5300001 to 664996 10/74-9/79
482 This tractor was also an economy model. It has an ISO-mounted 11hp Briggs & Stratton horizontal shaft engine; belt drive with a 2300 series Peerless transaxle; spread frame; red in color. 665001 to 688742 9/79-2/81
582 This tractor has a 16hp Briggs & Stratton horizontal shaft twin cylinder engine; clutch drive with an IH transaxle; spread frame; solid-mounted engine; red in color, external brakes.
582 Special This tractor was too, an economy model. It has a 16hp Briggs & Stratton horizontal shaft twin cylinder engine; belt drive with a 2300 series Peerless transaxle; spread frame; solid-mounted engine; red in color.
682, 782 The 682 has a 19.9hp Onan twin cylinder engine, and the 782 has a Diesel engine; both are hydrostatic drive; spread frame; solid-mounted engine; red in color, internal brakes.
665001 to 700000 9/79-4/81
1282 This model has a K301 (12hp) Kohler engine; hydrostatic drive; spread frame; ISO-mounted engine; red in color, internal brakes.
982 This model came with either an Onan or Diesel engine; hydrostatic drive; spread frame; ISO-mounted engine; red in color, external brakes.
665001 to 688712 9/79-2/81

The IH Cub Cadet production ended and the line was sold to MTD/Cub Cadet Corporation in June 1981.

The serial number is located in one of the following locations...

NOTE: The model number of the tractor represents horsepower of the engine, and if it's clutch or hydrostatic drive. Odd numbers are hydrostatic (fluid) drive, and even numbers are clutch (mechanical) drive. Example: Model 104 has a 10hp engine with a clutch drive transaxle, model 105 has a 10hp engine with a hydrostatically driven transaxle, model 122 has a 12hp engine with a gear drive transaxle, model 123 has a 12hp engine with a hydrostatically driven transaxle, etc. The only exceptions are models 71 and 73. They have a 7hp engine, but they're both gear drive. Why that is, I have no idea.

The "wide" frame models can only accept a single cylinder engine. The "spread" frame models can accept either a single cylinder or a twin cylinder engine because the frame rails were made wider and they lay down more to clear the cylinders of a flathead twin opposed cylinder engine.

FYI - As far as a single cylinder Magnum engine in a Cub Cadet is concerned, only the single cylinder Kohler K-series engines was installed in Cub Cadets at the factory. No Cub Cadet came from the factory with a single cylinder Magnum engine. When Kohler ended production of the K-series engines, and redesigned them into the Magnum engines in 1979, it wouldn't fit in the narrow or wide frame Cub Cadets, so instead of Cub Cadet redesigning their tractors to accommodate the single cylinder Magnum engines, they made the spread frame models instead and used the twin cylinder flathead engines. Only a few remaining NOS (new old stock) single cylinder K-series engines was installed in certain spread frame models after 1979. When the stock ran out, Cub Cadet ended production of those models. That's why there wasn't too many of them made.


MTD/Cub Cadet Corporation Garden/Super Garden Tractor Serial Numbers to Date Manufactured, from 1982 to 1997.

Model of Tractor
All models below have a spread frame, are yellow and white in color and are hydrostatically driven except where specified. The clutch drive models have an MTD aluminum case transaxle. Models w/serial number 719999 and below have internal brakes, and models w/serial number 720000 and up have external caliper brakes. Click links for identification of tractor.
Serial Numbers
(Use last six numbers)
Year Made
482 (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 580 (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 580 (disc clutch drive), 582 (disc clutch drive), 582 Special (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 680 (hydrostatic drive), 682 (hydrostatic drive), 782 (hydrostatic drive), 784 (hydrostatic drive), 982 (Onan; hydrostatic drive), 984 (hydrostatic drive), 986 (hydrostatic drive), 1282 (hydrostatic drive) 700000 to 712899 1982
482 (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 580 (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 580 (disc clutch drive), 582 (disc clutch drive), 582 Special (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 680 (hydrostatic drive), 682 (hydrostatic drive), 782 (hydrostatic drive), 784 (hydrostatic drive), 982 (Onan; hydrostatic drive), 984 (hydrostatic drive), 986 (hydrostatic drive), 1282 (hydrostatic drive) 712900 to 724524 1983
482 (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 580 (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 580 (disc clutch drive), 582 (disc clutch drive), 582 Special (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 680, 682, 782 (KT17 Series 1 engines installed with serial number 726124 and below; KT17 Series 2 engines installed with serial number 726125 and up), 784, 882 (Diesel), 982 (Onan), 984, 986, 1282 724525 to 737624 1984
1210, 1282, 1512, 1604 (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 1604 (disc clutch drive), 1606 (disc clutch drive), 1710, 1711, 1712, 1912, 1914 737625 to 747224 1985
1210, 1512, 1604 (belt drive/Peerless transaxle), 1604 (disc clutch drive), 1606 (disc clutch drive), 1810, 1811, 1812, 1912, 1914 747225 to 756299 1986
1204, 1210, 1211, 1512, 1572, 1806 (disc clutch drive), 1810, 1811, 1812, 1872, 2072 756300 to 766351 1987
1204, 1210, 1211, 1572, 1806 (disc clutch drive), 1810, 1811, 1812, 1872, 2072 767352 to 779096 1988
1050 (disc clutch drive), 1210, 1211, 1772 (Diesel), 1806 (disc clutch drive), 1810, 1811, 1812, 1872, 2072 779097 to 799999 1989
1340, 1535 (disc clutch drive), 1541, 1782, 1860, 1862, 1882, 2082, 2182 800000 to 811671 1990
1340, 1535 (disc clutch drive), 1541, 1782, 1860, 1862, 1882, 2082, 2182 811672 to 821059 1991
1440, 1641, 1782, 1861, 1862, 2082, 2182 821101 to 836000 1992
1440, 1641, 1782, 1863, 1864, 2082, 2182 836001 to 851000 1993
1440, 1641, 1782, 1863, 1864, 2084, 2182 851001 to 864500 1994
1440, 1641, 1782, 1863, 1864, 2182, 2284 864501 to 880000 1995
1440, 1641, 1782, 1863, 1864, 2086, 2284 880001 to 889000 1996
1440, 1641, 1863, 1864, 2086, 2284 889001 to 899000 1997
The above are the last of the "true garden tractors" with the heavy duty, traditional IH-designed frame. See these web sites for more information: Cub Cadet.html Page and Cub Cadet Garden Tractor by International Harvester Unofficial Home Page.


How to Make a Hydrostatic Drive Garden Tractor a Competitive Pulling Tractor -

Simply install a set of much stiffer matching pressure relief springs in the hydraulic valve assembly so when the tractor (hydrostatic system) is under severe strain, less oil pressure will by-pass the hydraulic motor and return or circulate back to the hydraulic pump. In other words, this will allow more oil pressure to be applied to the hydraulic motor. Use SAE 30 weight hydraulic oil to help increase the pressure, too. And the tractor will definitely need a healthy or bigger engine, preferably one that's built to the max to increase the torque.


If you decide to build a pulling tractor, and if you want to be competitive, then it's best to use a clutch drive Cub Cadet. Also, there's sanctioning rules with every pulling club/association regarding how the tractor and engine should be built or set up. Not all clubs use the same rules and specifications. Rules vary from one club to another. You'll need to contact the person in charge of the club you plan to pull with and acquire a copy of their up-to-date rules and ask their pullers questions before you start to build a tractor. And while you're at the pulls, look over the pulling tractors and ask pullers questions regarding how to build a durable and competitive tractor. Most pullers will be honest with you, while some will give you misleading information, which I think isn't right. In this competitive sport, use your best judgment and don't believe everything you hear from other pullers.


If you don't want to embarrass yourself in front of the spectators, then don't waste your time, money and materials on something less than a true-to-it's-name garden tractor. Stamped steel frame lawn tractors (MTD, Murray, etc.) simply cannot compete against the power and torque or muscle of a true garden tractor. If you want to win or at least do well at the pulls and look good doing it, then get yourself a clutch-drive Cub Cadet, and use the stamped steel frame lawn tractors to mow your lawn with. Or adapt the lawn tractor sheet metal (hood, grill, fenders, steering support column, etc.) onto a Cub Cadet chassis.

To be competitive in garden tractor pulling, what you need is a garden tractor that has an automotive-type frame, horizontal engine, a cast iron transaxle and 12" diameter, 5-lug rear wheels. It can be belt drive, too. Look for a good-size Wheel Horse or a Sears Suburban. They're the most popular and least expensive to build up for pulling in a stock class. Fact is, the drive belt on some garden tractors robs the engine of power. The Cub Cadet on the other hand use a direct drive clutch/driveshaft system, which is much like the ones that's used in automobiles. You get more power to the track with a Cub Cadet. Belt-driven garden tractors, such as Wheel Horse, Sears Suburban, etc., do very well in the stock classes with a limited horsepower engine, but if you want to move up into a more powerful or highly modified class, the Cub Cadet is the only way to go. They've been proven to be the most competitive garden tractor for pulling that's available.

Certain models of John Deere and Massey Ferguson garden tractors have a variable speed control called a "variator," which is a factory-installed lever positioned on the right of the steering wheel. Most Cub Cadet pullers call this lever a "cheat stick." When it's pulled back, it slows down the tires to reserve engine power and torque. When used in competitive pulling, this feature allows the tractor to have plenty of ground speed upon takeoff and go down the track with plenty of ground speed, and when the weight of the sled comes up on the tractor, and if the engine begins to bog down or lose power, the operator can pull back on the lever, slowing down the tires, so the engine will have more reserve power to "chug, chug" a little further down the track without running out of horsepower. It works great in the stock class(es), but being it's part of a belt-drive drive system, the tractor may lag behind in a higher horsepower class with a wide open throttle engine.

And the reason there's different classes for pulling tractors is because some tractors come with a bigger engine and some weigh more than others. A tractor with a big engine will undoubtedly out-pull a tractor with a small engine. And the same goes for a tractor that weighs more than the others. Therefore, most pulling clubs try to match the engine size and the weight of any particular tractor (with the driver) so they'll be competitive within their class.

Ever noticed how there's always more Cub Cadets at the pulls than any other make of garden tractor? That's because the Cub Cadet is capable of transferring more usable horsepower and torque to the rear tires through a unique direct-drive disc clutch system much like the ones used in automobiles, farm tractors, etc. And, there's more high performance parts readily available for the IH Cub Cadet and Kohler engine than any other make of garden tractor or engine.

One of the most popular bodies to adapt onto an IH Cub Cadet frame is from certain models of John Deere garden tractors. The reason for this is many pullers like the John Deere so well, but sometimes they can't out-pull a Cub Cadet. So they create a "generic" John Deere garden tractor. That's when the John Deere body parts are integrated onto a Cub Cadet frame. The Cub Cadet frames that's suitable for the John Deere body parts are: 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 147 (narrow frames; because these models have the tall center section), and any wide or spread frame model. If the JD body parts are installed correctly and the entire tractor is painted the traditional JD green and yellow, the tractor will have the appearance of a genuine John Deere, but the pulling components and power of a Cub Cadet. Many pullers do this. Like the old saying goes: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!"

Ever noticed at the pulls, how many genuine Cub Cadets show up, but very few John Deeres (or is it pronounced "John Deere"? hmmm) are there? With a generic John Deere doing well at the pulls, this puts the Deere name out front. Hence, "Nothing runs like a Deere!" But nothing pulls like a Cub Cadet!

One thing about the Cub Cadet is, they're so versatile! It's so easy to adapt wheelie bars, an adjustable pulling hitch, and many other things to these tractors without having to make any major modifications to the frame.

Of course, the body components of other makes and models of popular garden tractors, such as Wheel Horse, etc., can be integrated onto a Cub Cadet frame as well. It just takes some time and effort to figure out how to adapt the parts so it'll look original.

Most rules require "a garden tractor frame." Therefore, most pullers prefer to use the later model "wide" and "spread" Cub Cadet frames. They're strongest frames for use with a high horsepower engine. They're more rigid and flex less than the older narrow frames. Frame flex absorbs horsepower and torque, which must be transferred to the ground through the rear tires. The "wide" frame were originally manufactured to make room for the small gear starter and large flywheel on the 10hp-16hp single cylinder Kohler engine. And the "spread" frame were originally manufactured for a twin cylinder engine, but a single cylinder Kohler engine can be easily installed with no adjustments.

The manufacturer didn't exactly design the Cub Cadet (or virtually any garden tractor) to be fitted with a powerful engine, being weighted down, using 26-12.00x12 cut tread tires and pulling several thousand pounds of stubborn weight with. Therefore, it's necessary to "beef up" the engine, drivetrain, transaxle and chassis to be truly competitive and to keep parts from breaking. If you're wanting to win, you might as well build it to win!

Personally, I think it's best to convert a Cub Cadet (or any garden tractor) that's dilapidated or near to being a "piece of junk" into a pulling tractor. Because it'll be a shame to convert a nice looking, fully functional and useful mowing/utility tractor into strictly a pulling tractor. Besides, for it to be truly competitive, the entire tractor, including the engine, drivetrain, transaxle and chassis, will all need to be completely disassembled, reinforced and rebuilt/built-up from the ground up or from scratch. So why not do it with something that will need to be totally rebuilt anyway? Because if it's not rebuilt/built-up now or before the pull(s), you may be wishing it was. And don't be surprised or disappointed when (not if) changes will need to be made to the tractor so it'll be more competitive. This is part of the learning process, using the latest technology, being competitive and enjoying the sport.

For new high performance parts and used Cub Cadet tractors/engines, check out these Vendors. By the way - know what out-pulls a Cub Cadet? Another Cub Cadet! Of course, other makes and models of garden tractors are competitive, too.

When building a pulling tractor, remember - it's best to use what the winners are using - a clutch drive Cub Cadet and the biggest engine that's allowed in your class. And there's sanctioning rules with every pulling club/association regarding how a tractor should be built or set up. Not all clubs use the same rules and specifications. These rules vary from one club to another. You'll need to contact the person in charge of the club you plan to pull with and acquire a copy of their up-to-date rules and ask their pullers questions before you start to build a tractor. And while you're at the pulls, look over the other pulling tractors and ask the pullers questions regarding how to build a durable and competitive tractor.

Economy (Low Budget) Class of Competition Garden Pulling Tractor -

(Cub Cadet) tractor will need 23-10.50x12 lug tires (rear), 4.10/3.50-4 (front) tires; a 10" drawbar height. Therefore, due to less stress on the rear end with the small tires and low drawbar height, can use a stock clutch assembly with the stock carrier and coarse spline axles. Weight of tractor will be either 950 or 1,000 lbs. w/driver. A stock 4,000 rpm 10hp Kohler engine can be used. (Low budget build.) And depending on power output of engine, the tractor may be able to pull in the stock 19 tooth 2nd gear. A lightweight and easy-to-start sled will also be required for this particular class of tractor.


Are V-belt drive system garden tractors competitive pullers?

A "V" belt will rob an engine of power simply because it "rubs" in the pulleys due to friction and that's how they grip to transmit power. If you were to place the transmission in neutral with the engine at a slow idle on a belt drive mower/garden tractor, then release the clutch pedal, you'll notice that the engine will slow down some. The tighter the belt, the slower the engine will idle. That's why V belts are noisy on some older automobiles. And that's also why auto manufacturers nowadays use a single serpentine belt to drive all the power accessories. Serpentine belts robs an engine of less power and it helps to get better fuel mileage. Direct drive Cub Cadets use no belts in the drive train. This means no power loss whatsoever.

Although sometimes a belt drive tractor will do very well in the stock class(es), they tend to lag behind in the higher horsepower class(es). But if you really like your V belt tractor and want to be a competitive puller in the higher horsepower classes, you'll have to adapt your V belt garden tractor fenders, hood, grill, etc., onto a Cub Cadet frame and drive train.

But if a belt-driven garden tractor is used for pulling (that's obviously going to be used in a stock class), the things to keep the drive belt from slipping are:

  1. Make sure that the belt and pulleys are in good condition and there's no deep grooves worn in the drive pulley.
  2. Make sure all pulleys are properly aligned so the belt won't run out of alignment. If necessary, use a straight-edge to align them.
  3. Install a stiffer spring for the tensioner pulley to tighten the belt more than what the factory intended.
  4. As the last resort, attach a long lever on the clutch pedal so the operator can pull back on it (with his/her hand) to help tighten the belt even more.

Driveline Components for Cub Cadet models 482, 582 Special & 1100

For competitive pulling, certain belt-drive transaxles are not geared "just right" to provide the proper ground speed needed to balance engine power/torque with traction (according to track conditions). One gear may be slightly too fast and another too slow. Unfortunately, there are no aftermarket gears available for most belt-drive transaxles (excluding the Cub Cadet "Original"). So to create an "in-between speed," to increase the ground speed of a belt-driven tractor, a slightly larger diameter pulley will need to be installed on the engine and/or a slightly smaller diameter pulley will need to be installed on the transaxle. To slow the tractor down or decrease the ground speed, do the opposite. A different length belt may need to be used. Actually, in the stock class, it's best to pull with an older garden tractor that have a variable speed drive. The variable speed drive works much like a manually-operated belt-drive torque converter. These tractors have a hand-operated lever that can speed up or slow down the tires when the engine is over- or under-powered according to track conditions. Cub Cadet pullers that have problems competing against these type of tractors call this lever a "cheat stick."

If the drive belt flies off the engine pulley at high rpms - Top of page

To prevent this from happening, fabricate and install two heavy belt guides so the belt will stay on the pulley. Make the guides L shape, from mild steel, 3/16" thick x 1" wide x whatever length they need to be. Then with the tension tight on the belt, fasten the guides to the engine block (or tractor frame) close as possible to the drive pulley with the long part of the guide spaced 1/8" from the outside edge of the belt. Position one guide over the belt where it goes onto the pulley and the other guide under the belt where it comes off the pulley. Secure them in place so they won't slip. I've done this many times with my customer's riding mowers and garden tractors drive and driven pulleys and mower deck pulleys, and if installed correctly, it works great!


The differences between a riding mower, lawn tractor, lawn & garden tractor, and a garden tractor - Top of page

To start out in pulling, an ordinary riding mower or lawn & garden tractor can be used for tractor pulling. People do it all the time. Just remember that the sled will need to be lightweight and the tractors will need a low hitch height (below the centerline of the rear axle) to prevent from breaking the transaxle and they'll need wheelie bars for safety.


How to Start a New Garden Tractor Pulling Organization, and How to Set Up and Hold Professional Pulling Events - Top of page

  1. Contact interested potential experienced and inexperienced pullers in your area, and members of a nearby reputable club/association that have [reasonable] sanctioning rules and regulations for the proper operation of a club/association and pulling events. Remember - you don't want your new organization to gain a bad reputation!
  2. Contact a reputable owner of the weight transfer pulling sled your new club/association may be using, or acquire or build your own pulling sled. The sled should be designed for and be able to start easy and successfully stop the particular class(es) and weight(s) of the pulling vehicles that's going to participate in the pull.
  3. IMPORTANT! Acquire at least $1,000,000 of spectator liability insurance in case an airborne part dislodges from a pulling tractor, hits someone and causes injury or death. If possible, this should be a "blanket" type of insurance, to cover the spectators, pulling sled, all participating people and pulling vehicles. Search on the Internet, ask around at other pull sites or look in the Yellow Pages for an insurance company that provides adequate coverage for garden tractor pulls.
  4. Acquire a flat and level tract of land with red clay dirt that has enough space for a minimum 25 feet wide x 300 feet long pulling track and adequate parking area for several dozen vehicles, including some with a trailer, for a centrally-located pull site for interested pullers to congregate, socialize, get to know and trust each other, and to attract new participants that can be used several times per year to hold local pulls until sanctioned pulls at various area fairgrounds, etc., can later be contracted. The pull site should have access from the main road or highway with easy entrance and exit drives. There should be a "pit area" that's close to the track for pullers' vehicles, trailers and pulling tractors. The spectators should have their own parking area. FYI - Red clay dirt makes the best pulling track material. When damp or moist, it packs together much tighter than top soil so lug tires can get a better grip. Top soil doesn't work as well because it don't pack together like clay and will crumble even when damp.
  5. IMPORTANT! Place a barrier (fence, yellow caution ribbon, etc.) on each side of the track approximately 15 feet from the edge of the track to the closest spectator seating area. This is in case a pulling vehicle goes out of control and for the spectator's safety. Have at least one filled and ready to use fire extinguisher on each side of the track in case of a fire. Remember - safety first!
  6. To "spread out" and pull at other events, contact a nearby small community fair/fairgrounds, homecoming, special fund-raising event, social event, state fair, etc., in various towns, and ask the person or committee in charge if they would be interested in having your club/association put on a quality show at their event for a reasonable fee.
  7. Have a way to accurately measure the distance of each pulling vehicle where the sled stops on the track from the starting line. Although a rope and tape measure with premeasured stakes placed along each side of the track can be used (this is the old fashioned way), the sled should be equipped with an on-board electronic measuring device (Agri-Tronix Industries) with a remote monitor that's also placed at the announcer's/judge's stand.
  8. Have a weight scale positioned close to the track at the starting line so each pulling vehicle can weigh before they pull.
  9. Equipment and crew to properly maintain track conditions. Equipment includes:
    • Farm tractor with a rear blade to remove excess piles of loose dirt from the track or smooth over loose dirt and to fill-in tire-spun/dug-in holes.
    • Heavy garden tractor or small farm tractor to pull a large/heavy [lawn] roller to pack loose dirt back in place.
    • If a pull-back type of sled is used, a farm tractor will be needed to pull it back to the starting line every time.
  10. Ask friends or members of a local non-profit organization (Lions Club) to help with the promotion and operation of the pull, put the word out to the pullers, create a web site, post information concerning the club/association, schedule, and basically just advertise your new club/association to the public online and have fun!


For questions or technical information, please contact:
A-1 Miller's Performance Enterprises | 1501 W. Old Plank Rd. | Columbia, MO 65203-9136 USA | New Phone Number: 1-573-256-0313 (home/shop) | 1-573-881-7229 (cell/text). Monday-Friday (except Holidays), 9am to 5pm, Central time zone. If no answer, please try again later. (When speaking with Brian, please be patient because I stutter.) Fax: 1-573-449-7347. E-mail: pullingtractor@aol.com. Send a message with Yahoo Messenger: | Directions to our shop | Yahoo! Maps, 1501 W. Old Plank Rd., Columbia, MO | 1501 West Old Plank Road, Columbia, MO - Google Maps or Map of 1501 West Old Plank Road, Columbia, MO by MapQuest.


A-1 Miller's Performance Enterprises
Offering Quality Products and Professional Workmanship at Reasonable Prices!

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