L245 DT Tractor replacement and transmission Choices - Std or Hydrostatic?

John RHR

New member

L 245 DT
Oct 11, 2013
Lake County, Calif
Folks -

Still going around and around with myself regarding rebuilding the engine, etc in my L245DT vs.... New tractor? The 245 is 25 HP, so I'd want that much or a little more. I was looking at, what, the 3302 or the 3902. I don't really need four wheel drive. The bulk of my work is flat land - mowing, discing, mitigating for fire hazards. We have 20+ acre walnut orchard that we are currently taking out. Don't know yet what we are replacing it with at this point, probably going to do a green cover crop for a year anyway while I deal with the wood debris and aftermath.

I am 64. We also have an ancient 1947 MF tractor that we've been using for the bulk of the work, and it's hale and hardy. Plenty of power - good tractor! But, the clutch on that thing! Zeus himself would have trouble pushing the clutch. Anyway, the wife complains about it and if we're going to go the route of a new machine I was wondering what the pros and cons - from YOU guys are, regarding HST vs Manual transmissions. I like things simple. How dependable, how durable, how fussy is an HST? I've never used one. How is PTO operation different - I know there's some difference between Manual and HSTs when it comes to PTO operation. I would really be interested in some feedback from those with specific experience. I know that an HST can be wicked expensive to replace - but hell, at this point, I'd imagine I'd be in the same soup if a crashbox went south too...

Your thoughts? I'd like recommendations for both suitable model tractors and the pros and cons of a transmission choice. Thanks all y'all for riding along and any information you can provide.

John Moorhead
Lakeport, CA

PS: I've already looked at the color choices for the tractors. I'm going with orange.


Well-known member

Jul 17, 2017
In short, an HST is pretty zero maintenance on a new tractor. On an old tractor, there may be some work in it. You should get 20 years out of one easily, so that takes you to 84. If you're still alive at 84 (OK odds of that), maybe treat yourself to a new tractor to celebrate.

So I don't see a reason to avoid one just because of maintenance/repair concerns.

Then onto whether it's a good thing or not. In a smaller tractor you don't get options for shuttles and the like, so it's HST or gear. Gear comes with a clutch.

In terms of PTO operation, the L02 models now all have some sort of electronic PTO engagement, so whether you're gear driven or HST I believe you get the same PTO behaviour - it's entirely independent of travel, and you turn it on or off with the dial/lever/switch/however it works.

On an older tractor, the HST PTO was generally as on the L02 - it ran whenever engaged, irrespective of what you did with driving forward or back. Whereas on a gear tractor many PTOs will stop when you push in the clutch - so change gears or stopping at the end of a row would stop your PTO. Some gear driven machines had a two stage clutch - so a part press on the clutch disengaged the drive, but you needed a full push to disengage the PTO as well. Complex and hard if you ask me, but it works.

In terms of general use, the rule of thumb is that anything that involves people with less leg strength (aka the significant other), then HST is better. Anything that involves lots of back and forth (loader work, mowing, grading) then HST is better. Anything that involves long stretches at constant speed, HST can be a bit of a pain - cruise control helps, but realistically my cruise control doesn't work well so I never use it. You also lose a little bit of power down on the ground (which doesn't really matter if you have enough power to spin the wheels anyway) - if you upsize to an L3902 then you've added more power than you'll lose. Finally, you can make an HST hot with constant ground engaging work - like running a disc or a plow. But sounds like your property isn't huge, so unlikely to be a problem.


Well-known member

L4701, WC68 chipper, grapple, BB1572 box scrape, Howes 500, 16kW IMD gen
Apr 27, 2020
Central Piedmont, NC
I have HST and 4WD on my L. Clutch/stick (not even a reverser) on our two older 2WD’s.

Downsides to HST. Less efficient. Example: Mine is rated at 39.3 PTO HP with manual trans; 37.8 PTO HP with HST. That’s 1.5 HP (not quite 4%) reduction in power just for the transmission’s intrinsic loss. That almost 4% gets translated to heat (possibly another downside in a cab in summer). Apparently some of it gets translated into noise. The HST whine is infamous. I don’t find mine to be particularly loud or annoying but whine is a common issue.

Good things about HST. Ground speed and engine speed aren’t directly related. PTO speed and engine speed are directly related, same as gear drive. If performing a task such as mowing near capacity or tilling where PTO speed needs to be constant but the situation calls for ground speed to be quite slow, you can go as slow as you want. Constantly varying speed for constantly varying conditions is easy on a HST. Probably the biggest advantage: direction changes are MUCH more efficient on a HST. You may have noticed, dedicated equipment that does a lot of direction change (forklifts, wheel loaders, bulldozers, etc.); none of them have clutch/stick trans.

Sounds like you’re familiar enough with gear drive you don’t need any opinion on +/- there, but there are gear drives that don’t require clutching to use the reverser. Not sure how the models you’re looking at work.

For the most part it boils down to what your primary uses will be. If a lot of loader work or back/forth mowing tight areas or back/forth grading or anything else with a lot of back/forth directional changes, HST will outperform gear. Running a tiller, HST will outperform gear. For “put it in gear and go” mowing, discing, etc. you’ll get better efficiency and less heat out of a gear drive. However, if the efficiency comparison bothers you, I’d suggest look at the actual numbers for the model(s) you’re contemplating to see if the difference is enough to be of concern to you. In my case, 1.5 HP isn’t close to outweighing the benefits of the speed and directional change capabilities of the HST but that’s not universally true for all applications.

One last thing. If you plan to do any loader work with it, strongly consider 4WD. Backing up the slightest incline/out of a dip with a full bucket of rock is a much more pleasant experience when the front wheels have power. If you want your 4WD to be a 2WD, there’s a lever for that. If you want your 2WD to be a 4WD, you have to go back to the dealer and bust out the checkbook. Yes, we have a loader on one of our old 2WD tractors. It’s the last loader I’ll have on a 2WD.


Active member

L6060HSTC, RTV 1100
May 15, 2022
Have you considered a cab ? Like everything else, there are pros and cons. It keeps you warn in the winter, cool in the summer, and dry when it's wet outside. It also protects you from bugs, dust, etc. BUT, it's $$$, reduces your visibility, and is a bit harder to get into.

Another thing to consider is tires. The R14's are becoming very popular, and would be my choice, but R4's and turfs, or even ag's, are options.


Well-known member
Lifetime Member

L35 Ford 3930
Mar 24, 2020
If you want a gear tractor, the L2501 and L3302 have transmission-driven PTO, which I think will be a big disappointment to you. All three HSTs, and the L3902 gear, have independent PTO.

I'd definitely recommend 4WD on these tractors.

I got this info off the spec sheets on the Kubotausa site. The build part of that site is flakey lately, today it doesn't have the L2501 on it.


Well-known member
Lifetime Member

John Deere 790
Nov 19, 2010
Love, VA
Resale on a 4WD is much higher than on a 2WD. Depending on where you are in the country, a 2WD is a hard sell. I know that for where I live, and what I do, I wouldn't consider a 2WD.


Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Aug 7, 2018
Real men shift gears 🤣


Sorry 😂

Mine came to me by chance, so I didn’t have a transmission choice. It’s gear drive.

Wife can’t drive it (sounds like yours can tho)

It may take a couple more beers to mow with if you have many obstacles

It doesn’t whine


you don’t know what you’re missing with a HST 😂