My primary use for whatever machine I end up with is to drag my little arena rascal to condition my arena, and maybe pull a small utility trailer around the farm. We have a bigger tractor with a FEL, but it's shared with some one else, so is sometimes not available and I drag my arena every two days at least.
Locally I see Ford 8N tractors for sale for $1,500 to 2,000. ATV's with 4 wheel drive and enough power to drag an arena are at least $3,000 used and likely more.
So...the Ford is WAY less expensive than an ATV with enough power (or torque) to do what i need. I am tempted to get one instead of an ATV...any opinions from more experienced folk?
The pto on the back of our 8N drives a pump nicely to
spray water on the arena footing as we drive. My husband,
who does most of our arena maintenance, says he feels that
an ATV will do a much better job dragging the arena.
Do keep in mind that the 8N is going to be 60 years old
(they stopped making them in 1952 I think) and will likely
need fairly regular repairs. We have not found these hard
to do but they do come up fairly often.
Just thought I would throw this out there, my workhorse vehicles on our farm are golf carts. I have two, and put mud tires on them. They drag my arena, and pull the utility cart for transporting barn shavings and manure, tree limbs, or whatever else I need to haul. One of them has a back seat that folds flat and is perfect for hauling hay from the hay barn, or other big items. I bought both of them used, one is a 1987 model and still going strong. They are quiet and dependable.
One piece of advice I got from an old-timer that I trust is: never buy a used ATV unless you personally know the machine for its entire lifetime. ATVs inspire all manner of yahoo-ery and who knows what mayhem has happened to the ones that are getting sold.
We use an ATV for all of our farm chores and it's a fantastic tool. Pulls a pretty heavy trailer, a (gas-powered) field mower, harrow, etc. We've got a Honda Rancher 350, lots of power. But the turning radius is not great-- takes a lot of arm power to do sustained small circles/figure 8s. It's better in 2wd vs 4wd but still, I have to day I don't look fwd to mowing the smaller fields. Definitely do a test drive and try repeated turns that match the shape of your arena, to get a feel for its flexibility.
Make sure the PTO on the 8N will work for everything you want a PTO for. I believe the 8N's were better than the 2N's. We sort of "inherited" a 2N (Older than an 8N) and although you could kind of use a brush hog on it for field mowing, it was a major PTA. Ended up borrowing a neighbor's tractor for field mowing and he borrowed our brush hog when he needed it.
That little 2N worked very hard it's whole life and was still going when we had to move and couldn't keep it any more. However, I would caution about metal fatigue in old tractors. We ran into that on more than one occasion. Also, anthing that is not 4WD will not be very helpful in snow and ice conditions for other uses.
If you get an old tractor, it helps to scope out where you can get parts and to live in areas where people collect them. Sometimes the only way to replace some major parts is to find parts from other old tractors that are no longer working. Metal fatigue could still be an issue.
I have to have an ATV and it is the most useful thing on my farm. I would get an ATV over an 8N unless I specifically needed the pto. I bought a used one and it was dempendable for many years. I also bought a 2wd even though I go through a lot of rough terrain, cross creeks, and go through snow.
I have to cover long distances, too, so I like the speed of an ATV.