Deere 14/JA/JX/JE series mowers - Who's got 'em?

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MasterMech
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Deere 14/JA/JX/JE series mowers - Who's got 'em?

Post by MasterMech »

John Deere 14 Series 21" walk-behinds and their descendents hold a special place with me. There was an earlier series, including the 12 and 14 series models from the late 80's but it's the far more popular 1993+ units that were a part of JD's renewed focus on lawn equipment at the time and became the 'legendary' 14 series.

Towards the end - around 2005-6 or so, the JX75 was running almost $1000 for a 21" walk-behind rotary. Cast Aluminum Deck, Blade Brake/Clutch, Kawi FC150V (Full-Pressure Lube with optional spin-on oil filter), Ball Bearing wheels, 5 spd gear transmissions.... these things were Cadillacs albeit far more reliable. :lol: :thumbup: The JE75 was the same machine but with Electric Start. The venerable 14SB/SE preceded the JX/JE75, and was nearly identical other than the paint color (silver vs JD green). There was even a JX85 targeted to the commercial lawn contractor with small accounts. Same as a JX75 just with steel wheels instead of plastic. Towards the end of the production run, the deck molds were producing noticeable casting flaws. :cry:

During the reign of the 14 series, there were several levels of the same, excellent, design. All at increasing price points.

14PZ - "Zone Start" (meaning behind the handle) Briggs Quantum power, Push
14SZ - Zone Start Briggs Quantum, Self-Propelled (3 spd)
14PB - BBC Kawi FC150V, Push
14SB - BBC Kawi FC150V, Self-Propelled (5 spd)
14SC - Zone Start Kawi FC150V, Self-Propelled (5 Spd), Steel wheels, Oil Filter kit factory installed.
14SE - BBC Elec Start Kawi FC150V, Self-Propelled, Elec Start

14PZ >> JA60
14SZ >> JA62 (but with a 2 spd vs 3)
--- >> JA65 (Was essentially a JX75 with a Briggs OHV engine)
14SB >> JX75
14SC >> JX85 (The JX85 gained a BBC that was not on the 14SC)
14SE >> JE75

The JA units moved from Briggs flatheads to Briggs OHV in 2001.
The JA62/JX75 mower deck was re-designed/re-styled in 2004. These were the only models to survive post-2003.

On all, the accessories were easy to use. The bags just hung against the back of the mower and aligned intuitively, no plastic chutes to wear out, leak, or break. The bag could be removed/installed one-handed and it fit through the handle no problem. The discharge chute would hang-on in similar fashion, oddly, these were left-side discharge. The mulch plug inserted into the bag chute in such a way that you couldn't do it wrong. A large spring-loaded door would hold all accessories in place. Most people gave up on these machines after 10-15 years when the wheels were bald, it needed a new bag (which was pretty easy to replace), or the deck succumbed to fertilizer corrosion after having never been washed. Most of these units died due to neglect after being handed down from their original owners. The second owner would run it until it stopped and then opt not to fix it for $150-$200. (I'm shedding a tear here.... :roll: )The Kawi engine was much like German cars in that if you kept up with it, it would reward you with decades of excellent performance. Neglected, the failures would cascade into a relatively expensive repair bill. I bought many of these with surging carburetors, weak spark from a failed ignition capacitor, and valves that hadn't been adjusted in 15+ years. Usually with the original air filters in place too! The BBC models weren't ideal for those who didn't like to clean out under the deck either. They all would rust themselves onto the crankshaft if never disturbed, but if always ingesting alternate layers of dirt and moist grass clippings, it was only a matter of time before those two factors resulted in a machine that was too expensive to fix. (Clutch failed, seized to crank, lots of labor to even attempt pulling it off and replacing it with new.)

I cannot figure out for the life of me, how Deere screwed this up. They discontinued all but the top models of the 14's (which soldiered on as JA/JX/JE units) and released the JS models which were steel-decked nightmares of which few examples remain in service. They started from having simple, reliable, excellent performing walk mowers that were priced at a premium (think Toro Super Recyclers level) but lasted for decades, with excellent parts availability. Which is pretty much what folks expected from Deere. Then they moved to offering heavy, poorly designed, average performing machines (JS-anything), got caught building price point machines wearing the same "sticker" model number as dealer units for the big-box stores, and when the units began to fail consistently, they offered replacement parts at exorbitant prices only to discontinue them when the volume fell off due to every owner scrapping these turds. Wait, maybe I do know how they screwed this up after all...... :bd:

Anyhow...... Do you have one of these machines? Still mowing with it? Post a pic!

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