"Sadly in the UK, compact tractors aren't half as common or prevalent as those in the US, so finding a dealer with any stock, and modern stock at that is fairly tricky - they tend to be either low-spec compact at a lawnmower dealer, or very high-spec compacts destined for Golf Courses or landed estates at an Agri-tractor dealer.Either way, decent advise and support is hard to come by.
I spent what I thought was a long time researching things, having bought an 18 acre property, which is in itself fairly unique - having been part of a large 17th century estate until it was broken up, the land is parkland--not garden, not fields / paddocks, but bona fide parkland so a mix of large lawn (4ac), meadow, orchard and ornamental grasses (4+ac) and then assorted tracks, pathways and so on around woods and lake. Either way the mix of land, gradients and sheer volume was going to be more than a bog standard Countax lawn tractor was going to be able to cope with.
So dealers talked me up from Countax A-series to Kubota G-series, and finally to the BXs or an out-front machine. However, I began to realize their entire stock revolved around Kubota, and that I wasn't going to get to see the competition unless I went elsewhere. Plus I was horrified at the idea of £12k for a G-series or BX with decks and collectors, or £15k+ for the ST30 they had (which had piqued my interest).
I retreated to the JD dealer who didn't want to know I existed, the Massey dealer who wouldn't return my phone calls, and finally the NH dealer who showed me some cracking kit which promptly made the Kubota stuff seem cheap.
Sitting at home in misery, I came across another dealer who specialized in tidying up ex-govt and ex-council work stock and selling it on. They had my MF1235, fresh from 3 years duty clearing roads and so on, with an FEL, standard bucket, and a mid-mount 60" deck. I went over to see it and was at first appalled that there were dents and bashes out of the panels - until I looked underneath. It was immaculate. Okay so the operators never cared as it wasn't their machine, but the mechanics clearly did.
To add to the fun, the mid-mount deck (3.5ks worth of Ransomes-Jacobsen deck, not the cheaper Iseki/MF one) was brand new - it was bought with the tractor and never mounted. The loader was also piped for a 3rd service (not to mention the spools on the back as well), and I spotted a 4-in-1 bucket in their yard and asked if it'd fit? To sweeten the deal, they got the right quick-hitch brackets for the bucket and swapped it over, and threw in a linkbox for lugging bits around with me... for £9k. 3 years old and 1400 hours. Laughable.
What's it like? Blooming marvelous. Very powerful for its size, the Lewis loader is easy to use and likewise pretty powerful (and takes all of 3 minutes to mount/dismount from the tractor which is incredible) and the 4-in-1 bucket has been even more useful than I'd anticipated. Cuts the grass like a dream, drags trailers around without batting an eyelid and has served us exceptionally well for the last 14 months.
The biggest downside for me is the reaction of M-F and their dealers. Several I have contacted have insisted the tractor doesn't exist, others that I'm "confusing myself" with the 135 (yeah, right...) and either way don't want to help whatsoever. Thank goodness I spotted the sticker on the ROPS which said "ISEKI" on it... a bit of googling around and oh look, I have an Iseki TF330 which just happens to have red bodywork... hey presto, cheap and easy parts and servicing, job done.
Oh, and perception is an evil thing - having been thinking of a Countax, a BX looked big, then an ST looked bigger, then an L or this 1235 looked enormous. Now it looks all a bit small and weedy. Maybe I should have bought a bigger one.