I'm a "use what I have Guy" I fabricated up an entire new deck myself about 12 years ago & had to rebuild last spring. Note I have done away with the original skid hoops. I reinforced the discharge side with a 1/4" X 5" strip of A36 steel then made riser skids from 3/4" round bar. All new Timken tapered roller bearings, & seals. also made 1 new bearing spindle (outboard).
Planning on upgrading the 10 HP K241 to a 12HP K301 in the off season this year. just picked up the engine pictured below. IDK anything about it other than was told "Running Take Out" 10 years ago.... Still rolls free & is all there including PTO clutch, except ignition coil. Planning on complete Reman of engine. Bore, new piston, Rings, Valves, Guides, Crankshaft Bearings. I'll have crankshaft reground if crankpin is out of tolerance. & it probably will be.
over the years I have made other small modifications/improvements in my opinion. I have re-machined the clutch drive plate for a dual row ball bearing that replaces the bronze "Pilot Shaft Bushing". Also done away with the clutch "Creeper" spring. replaced that with a solid bushing of = length. I had trouble with the creeper spring collapsing & locking the clutch engaged!!! which nearly spelled disaster a couple times. Muffler although it's almost Cub original It is off a Hobart 16D engine drive welder. Again Needed a muffler, It was laying around... Make it work. LOL
I also separated the disk brakes out onto a pedal on right hand side of mower. Again it is an "It works for me" thing The mule drive was whacked out in almost any way possible. shaft fits, warped pulley brackets, you name it it was wrong. pretty much built that assembly from scratch & put OE Cub Cadet iddler pulley/bearings back on.
I'm really a bit undecided about Paint restoration this winter. It's the type of thing that if I begin, I'll have the tractor dismantled completely. Then feel like I have to go buy automotive grade paints, primers additives, & in the end yes probably clear coat.
That kind of paint job will invest enough money to almost buy & rebuild another cub!!!! Besides it is my USE it tractor. The Practical side of me is screaming clean up a bit, paint the new engine, repair the center of the hood, & a new seat....
I guess it's all in the person. I work my tractors as well but completely dismantled one last winter and painted her up! I simply used a brush on paint and rattle cans from tractor supply...looks good from the road!!! Like I said,I work them,I ain't gonna show them! Works for me