What's in a Model Name?
Sears Tractor Model Conventions
Here's what I can tell you about Sears' tractor model conventions and marketing approach.
A tractor model name is just a name; otherwise it tells you very little.
For discussion, let's call the model name on the front side of the hood, e.g., DLS3500, YS4500, DYS4500, the tractor name. The tractor name doesn't really matter. It's the actual model number that counts. The only way to verify the configuration of a Craftsman tractor is to get that actual model number, which reads something like 917.287240, from the label under the seat. You can then obtain the Operator's Manual for that model number on Sears' managemylife.com web site. By the way, the first 6 digits of the serial number, found on the same label, tell you the build date of the tractor. So, for example, if the serial number reads, 051407D011000, it was built on May 14, 2007 (051407).
Briggs and Stratton engines are identified by a Model, Type, and Code on the silver valve cover at the very front of the engine just below the spark plug. The code, which will read something like, 070508ZD, tells you the date of manufacture (DOM) of the engine. The first two digits are the year. The remaining 4 digits provide the month and day. So an engine with Code, 070508ZD, was made on May 8, 2007.
The original engine will always show a DOM that is a few days up to several weeks prior to the tractor build date.
If the engine DOM is many months or years before the tractor build date or after the tractor build date, it is not the original engine. [Aside: there is nothing necessarily wrong with a replacement engine as long as it isn't significantly older than the tractor. If this is not disclosed, the seller is misrepresenting the machine. In some cases, the owner actually installs a better engine.]
With Craftsman, the bottom line is that Sears offers a myriad of configurations under any given tractor name, like YS4500. The tractor name is identified by the sticker on the hood, but the actual model number (or configuration) of the tractor, along with the build date (first 6 digits of serial number), are identified on the label under the seat.
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