This is a pretty old thread, but thought I would make some input in hopes of helping future questioners.
The 254 and 244 are basically the same tractors. I've been using one or the other for close to 20 years and own a 254 now that I gave $3000 for, knowing it had a stuck piston when I bought it.
The engines are made by Mitsubishi, as are many of the tractors with less than 30 hp. Parts are still available from Case/IH, but some are pretty high for what you're getting. Instead of paying $150+ for a voltage regulator, I installed a $10 single wire regulator for a Mopar. Glow plugs and such are available from NGK for less than $10 + shipping.
a thread on another forum that may answer some of the 3 point malfunctions.
South Texas rust is to be expected and since the tires still held air, they're probably good to use for a while.
The 5 foot bush hog is a little big for a 244 and will cause it to over heat if it's run too low to the ground.
The tractor should have started with any 24 or 24F automotive battery. There's plenty of room in front of the radiator for just about any battery.