Yup, I've just bought a new one and had the previous one for 25 years. The one I've replaced uses a Foote gearbox which I've broken internally several times and I've plit the casing twice. I'd give a Foote gearbox a miss if it's a few years old.
The new tractor has a front mulching deck and the previous one has a central, between the wheels, side exit deck.
On balance, I think I prefer the side exit deck. You can mow and at each pass the cuttings are shifted across which leaves the area pretty clean and if you want the grass lifted you only have to clear up the final strip. There is obviously a limit to this if the grass is left to get very long.
You have to work out a strategy for cutting because you can end up throwing the cuttings over your paths and garden.
With the mulching deck the grass is left below the deck and doesn't get thrown out at all but the tractor wheels run over it and compress it into a bit of a sludge. The wheels also pick it up and it becomes a tyre. It eventually breaks away and leaves a sticky strip of mulched grass as the tyre rolls off.
If you want to have the grass lifted you can do this 3 ways; 1) a collector can be mounted on some mowers which will collect the mulched cuttings,
2) the side exit deck will often come with a chute from the deck exit to a couple of bins mounted on the rear of the tractor,
3) use a rake and a wheelbarrow.
If the area to be cut is largeish, say 0.5 of an acre or more, collecting the grass will quickly produce a mound of waste grass and it becomes a bit smelly as it rots down. It will not have nearly enough time to rot down between regular cutting so the mound grows with the passing of the season.
If the land is a bit rough and/or sloping, the normal grass tyres on a two wheel drive tractor may not give you the traction you need to climb even a small gradient because they are designed to spread the load and not damage the grass with their tread. This was the case with my old tractor and I had to fit some knobbleys to make it usable. The new one is 4 wheel drive.
There are alternative transmissions, manual and hydrostatic.
The hydrostatic type use hydraulic motors so there is no need for a clutch and the deck can be driven at cutting speed while the tractor can be driven to suit the grass.
With the manual type, because the cutting deck needs the motor to be run at high speed, depending on which gear you have selected, you can shoot off like a rocket so control can be a bit of a challenge.
However, if the grass cutting is in long runs then the manual machine can be a good bet because the throttle is set and it drives itself whereas the hydrostatic drive requires the driver to use a foot throttle as in a car. Using a foot throttle can become a bit wearying after bumping around for an hour or so.
With a manual machine 12hp is plenty but with a hyrdostatic drive 16hp is better.
John, I'll pm you my pnone number and you can phone if you would like to chat.