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How much tractor do I need? And maintenance??

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  • How much tractor do I need? And maintenance??

    UPDATE! Thanks for all the help. My (ok, our!) new Kubota B2320, with front end loader and bush hog is being delivered Thursday! My husband almost died when he found out how much tractors - even 'baby' ones - cost. But I think this thing will last years. I can't wait to start using it!



    I am finally insisting we buy a tractor - after living on 12-acre farm for 8 years. My husband is the 'problem' here. He thinks mowing our pasture with a completely overfaced 22HP 42" Sears lawn mower is just fine. He thinks tractors are nothing but constant maintenance (despite the fact he spends a huge amount of time fixing our poor beat to death mower.)

    I've had enough of trying to maintain my arena with a chain link gate with cinder blocks tied to it.

    Push has come to shove.

    We are getting a tractor. I know nothing about tractors and he insists the tractor will be MY responsibility - purchasing, maintenance, etc. Says he will have NOTHING to do with it.
    Fine.

    So, how much tractor do I need? Everyone has said you must have a front end loader - I agree - then we won't have to hire someone when we need more crushed concrete under the gates or to fill in holes on the driveway. And there is the 12 acres of mowing, with lots of trees on about 40% of it. And I will want something that can pull some sort of 'real' arena drag.

    How many HP? tips on shopping for used tractors? Is the year less important than how many hours it has? What are some good brands? What sort of regular maintenance is required? Are they really a maintenance money pit as my husband claims? (he has a Ph.D from MIT and is used to being the 'smartest guy in the room' so I have to approach everything with enough scientific evidence to win a debate!)
    Last edited by cyndi; Apr. 26, 2010, 08:26 AM.
    Donerail Farm
    www.donerailfarm.com
    http://donerailfarm.wordpress.com/

  • #2
    We had a Massey Ferguson for about 25 years, traded it in on a Kuybota.

    They are not a big deal to maintain, About all we ever did was an oil and fuel filter change once a year. However choose a brand that is supported by a nearby dealer, unless you get one that is small enough to fit on your trailer. If it has to be hauled off for repair closer is better.

    Right now we have 2 tractors, one 25 and 1 50 horse. For the most part the 50 horse is overkill, but came in real handy to move snow after the blizzards. We also use it to drill fence post holes, plow the garden, turn the compost heap, move pallets of bedding and round bales and bush hog. It gets used at least once a week, year round.

    The smaller one has a belly mower and also a back hoe. We used the back hoe to renovate landscaping and I hope to dig some drainage ditches with it. It gets less use however than the big tractor, being used mostly for mowing the lawn in the summer.

    We have 20 acres and 10 horses, plus 44 acres in the next county
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by cyndi View Post

      How many HP? tips on shopping for used tractors? Is the year less important than how many hours it has? What are some good brands? What sort of regular maintenance is required? Are they really a maintenance money pit as my husband claims? (he has a Ph.D from MIT and is used to being the 'smartest guy in the room' so I have to approach everything with enough scientific evidence to win a debate!)
      I suggest a JD in the 6400 series...
      wonderful, gal friendly...owners manuals with complete maintenance instructions AND holds a resale value better than any other out there...so if in 10 yos you sell off you still have a lot of nice,desirable tractor under you

      Tamara in TN
      Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
      I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

      Comment


      • #4
        Diesel are lovingly easy in maintenance.
        Keep the routine work on schedule and you should not have a lot to do.

        (and I bet once the beast is in the barn, you will have to fend Hubby off with a stick. Driving one is a blast)

        Just one thing: I am not sure how far they are mandatory, I still see some without, but do, do, DO have a roll bar on the tractor!! Under certain circumstances a tractor can tip over and without the bar roll over. Many people have been killed that way. (I think in Germany it has been mandatory for well over 20 years!)
        Originally posted by BigMama1
        Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
        GNU Terry Prachett

        Comment


        • #5
          Get to know a dealership that has real tractors, and handles everything from large garden tractors to 250hp behemoths with all wheel drive. Talk to local farmers - real farmers, not other acreage owners, they can be helpful and may even have an undepowered (for their purposes) tractor they are willing to sell, and may even give you handling lessons. I would suggest something at least 35hp that has front wheel assist, and if you plan on lifting anything heavy with the FEL, you will need more than 35hp. Get something with a good PTO hp rating (it is always a few hp less than base hp) because you will want something to run a gyro mower with, rather than a silly belly mount mower with all its belts and chains that come off on rough terrain.

          Routine maintenance is the same as any vehicle, including the family car - change all filters at least once a year, change oil and oil filters as required (by hours or by how dirty the working conditions are), maintain belts, keep things greased, change hydraulic fluid as required and same for brakes. Everything costs more, particularly fluids because of the sheer volume - don't have my papers here but complete fluid change on my JD was around 500, including oil, hydraulics, brakes and anti-freeze and tires. Filters were extra but flushing all mechanical systems was part of the Green Light Maintenance package as was pick up and return of the tractor. Maintenance over the last 10 years has been probably 5K for routine but that includes everything I have done to the tractor over the 10 years, including replacing the top of the cab (1,000.00 for parts plus installation) flood lamps (50.00 each) some wiring fixed, new blower motor and fan switch..just like a car, things like lamps and switches go, and need replaced.

          Hours are more important, provided the beast hasnt been abused or over used and properly maintained. Proper brands will give you better service in the long run and longer life than the off-brands, including everyone's favourite Kubota - they have problems once you get to the larger stuff, and take a long test run with one if you think it may be fine - they ride funny and have odd control placements on some models.

          That long ramble said and done, buying a tractor is almost as personal as buying a car - it MUST be comfortable for the one doing the work, it must have certain amenities for certain people (radio with clock is great for those of us who spend hours in fields), a cab is a must in some climates whether for protection from heat, cold or just plain dirt - I could NOT survive winter without a cab because I spend hours in sub-zero temps removing snow. Hydrostatic drive is nice but not needed - I compromised and got the Powereverser on the JD - don't need to clutch going from forward to reverse, just push the lever from forward to stop to reverse - but still need to use the clutch to change gears up or down, but that isn't a huge deal, there were no automatic transmisions when I learned to drive.

          Aside from JD, Case-IH, Ford/NH and whatever major brands I missed, do check for Lamborghini dealers - they do make a nice reliable tractor, nearly bought one but it was too big (175HP) and I needed 80ish hp but we had the Lambo on trial for 2 weeks - too big for small jobs and too small for big jobs, but it sure was nice.
          Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

          Member: Incredible Invisbles

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Alagirl View Post

            Just one thing: I am not sure how far they are mandatory, I still see some without, but do, do, DO have a roll bar on the tractor!! Under certain circumstances a tractor can tip over and without the bar roll over. Many people have been killed that way. (I think in Germany it has been mandatory for well over 20 years!)
            ROP is mandatory in Canada for anything over 25hp.
            Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

            Member: Incredible Invisbles

            Comment


            • #7
              They are certainly not a money pit unless you buy too small.

              Mowing is pretty easy work for a tractor. We have both a finishing mower and brush hog that run off the rear PTO. Front end loaders are very handy to have.

              The terrain you are dealing with can make a big difference. We went from rolling hills to mountain type territory and that was wearing the old tractor out.

              If you're property is flat and you are mostly just mowing and carting some gravel around, 25 HP diesel would work. Keep in mind that HP is not just HP. A diesel engine will produce a lot more torque than a gas engine.

              If you've got hills then something in the 30-35 HP would probably work.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by HunttoLive View Post
                They are certainly not a money pit unless you buy too small.

                Mowing is pretty easy work for a tractor. We have both a finishing mower and brush hog that run off the rear PTO. Front end loaders are very handy to have.

                The terrain you are dealing with can make a big difference. We went from rolling hills to mountain type territory and that was wearing the old tractor out.

                If you're property is flat and you are mostly just mowing and carting some gravel around, 25 HP diesel would work. Keep in mind that HP is not just HP. A diesel engine will produce a lot more torque than a gas engine.

                If you've got hills then something in the 30-35 HP would probably work.
                We are flat as a pancake here! The only "hills" are the freeway overpasses! LOL! Great advice, please keep it coming!!

                Are the rollbars more important in hilly terrain? Can't really imagine a scenario where I would manage to flip one over just driving it around our flat fields...
                Donerail Farm
                www.donerailfarm.com
                http://donerailfarm.wordpress.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Please be sure to post a photo of your husband with a BIG GRIN
                  on his face as he plays with your new tractor. I am betting he will be racing you to the barn to play with it!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Poniesofmydreams View Post
                    Please be sure to post a photo of your husband with a BIG GRIN
                    on his face as he plays with your new tractor. I am betting he will be racing you to the barn to play with it!
                    Really, probably not...he would rather be driving a computer! But I will have tons of fun with it! Like pushing over dead trees, pushing downed trees to burn pile, spreading manure pile -- things we had to hire a lot of times, or just did not get done because there just wasn't ENOUGH work to justify hiring someone...
                    Donerail Farm
                    www.donerailfarm.com
                    http://donerailfarm.wordpress.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cyndi View Post

                      Are the rollbars more important in hilly terrain? Can't really imagine a scenario where I would manage to flip one over just driving it around our flat fields...
                      A ditch can do it.
                      don't skimp on that, it could safe your life!

                      It's like a helmet for riding...99% of the time you don't need it, but that 1% you will be glad you got it.
                      Originally posted by BigMama1
                      Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                      GNU Terry Prachett

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I gave my wife a JD4320 about six years ago for Mother's Day. It was a well appreciated gift!!!

                        For small acreage you need enough tractor for a medium duty FEL and that's going to mean something in the 23-28hp range. That range will also do a bush hog, spray rig, small manure spreader, etc. If it's for a person of limited physical strength then you want to add the various assist devices (like automated tranny), good hydraulics, and ensure decent ergonomics. This is likely going to argue for a Deere, or maybe a New Holland.

                        But shop around. For both features and price. Buying a tractor is not like buying a car or pickup. They are very long term investments and you want them to be right both operationally and financially.

                        G.
                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think ROPS have been mandatory on anything bigger than a lawn tractor since just after we bought our first tractor. Our old Massey didn't have one and I was always nervous on it. We do have hills and one time I was bush hogging up a hill when the rear wheel dropped into a woodchuck hole, scaring me half to death.

                          My dad's uncle was killed when his old tractor rolled over on him.

                          Here's Mr P, nuclear engineer, and two weeks post total hip replacement
                          http://picasaweb.google.com/carolp32...74814127031330

                          Demolition is so satisfying!
                          I wasn't always a Smurf
                          Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                          "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                          The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Cyndi,

                            if you do come over to see our fencing, I will happily talk to you about tractors. We have 2 - an old Ford 38hp, no power steering, 2 wheel drive, without a front loader and a New Holland 30HP, 4 wheel drive, power steering, with a front loader - there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both. We are also waiting for the delivery of a 1953 Ford Workmaster. If I had to just buy one - it would be the old Ford but with a front loader on it - which is what we are getting with the Workmaster.

                            I also have a fantastic, very reasonably priced tractor mechanic, who will take your tractor away, fix it and bring it back for about 30% of what the dealership in Dickinson would charge you.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I got a 23 hp Kubota BX 23. It's a million times more reliable than the gas-powered "garden tractors" (riding mowers). It's big enough to do most anything, but small enough to do tight turns and be easy to handle. I also opted for backhoe, loader, and mower attachments -- and it's really earned its keep!

                              The hp thing is confusing. My 23hp diesel is able to do much more work than a 23hp gas engine -- LOTS more torque! I mow, put out round bales, pull stumps, put in fencing, knock down smaller trees, grade, and snow plow.

                              I will warn you if you go to a tractor dealer, they may try to scare you into the biggest model in your price bracket. The NH dealer wanted me to buy a massive 30hp that cost $10,000 more and had no backhoe because he said the little diesel ones were "too small".

                              I bought mine new because it was my first diesel tractor, and I had no clue how to fix things. It's maybe 4-5 yrs old now, and I've been so happy with it. And I admit, it sits out in the rain and sometimes doesn't get its oil changed right on time.

                              If you get used, don't consider anything without a rollbar. Just don't do it. (Mine has fold-down rollbar for parking in a garage, but all new tractors must have them). I'd advise against the really old "tricycle" style tractors, as they aren't the most stable. If you don't know how to fix diesel or hydraulic things, you may be better off looking for a small new or slightly used model rather than a really old thing.

                              I personally would never buy a tractor that wasn't 4WD. If you have a choice in tires, never go with "turf" tires; always pick the off-road bar-tread ones.

                              Why not just look at the local new dealers and sit on a few ? See what you might like or dislike in a tractor. Then start narrowing your search.
                              Veterinarians for Equine Welfare

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by cyndi View Post
                                (he has a Ph.D from MIT and is used to being the 'smartest guy in the room' so I have to approach everything with enough scientific evidence to win a debate!)
                                I once knew one of those, an electrical engineer. I installed the running lights on his boat trailer because he was completely clueless as to how to accomplish the task. As a matter of fact, the thought of him running around unsupervised in that boat made me very thankful I rode horses for relaxation!

                                Tractors are very easy to maintain if you follow the recommended schedule and don't abuse them. Witness the fact that 20-30 years is considered "young" for a tractor.

                                If you decide on a diesel, make sure there is a competent diesel mechanic in your area, although routine service is not that hard to learn for someone that's willing to read -- and follow -- instructions!
                                The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                                Winston Churchill

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I bought a Kubota 26 hp diesel tractor with a front loader and back blade three years ago. I use it mostly for snow removal and to move hay, so it's very lightly used. When I was shopping for a tractor, I asked around, and the majority of people with whom I spoke had Kubotas, because of the local dealer's reputation.

                                  Since I'm doing this on my own, and have no mechanical skill whatsoever, this was a huge consideration. The dealer was fantastic, and they've patiently helped me learn how to use it, and also maintain it. I haven't had one minute of trouble with my tractor. There was only one day when I wished I'd bought a bigger tractor (snow, with three foot drifts!), but other than that it's been perfect for my needs.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by cyndi View Post
                                    Are the rollbars more important in hilly terrain? Can't really imagine a scenario where I would manage to flip one over just driving it around our flat fields...
                                    Rollbars come in handy if you get rearended by a driver on a cellphone or jammng out to their favorite tunes when you are just scooting down the road from field A to field B. We were at home and my Dad was on the tractor in the field just down the road. He was driving the tractor down the road towards home when some teenage fool came blasting around a curve and THEN through a straight away going way too fast and drove right into the back of him. The tractor was pushed into and through a medium size ditch, and it is truly by the grace of God that it did not flip or roll. My Dad managed to hold on and was miraculously OK (and so was the fool). The car was totaled, and so was the piece of equipment my Dad was pulling. I don't remember what it was. And No, the tractor did not have a rollbar. My Dad would have been crushed if he had not somehow kept the tractor upright.

                                    I was at home in my upstairs bedroom, and I actually heard the fool accelerate through the curve (from a dead stop at a stop sign). I also heard the crash. We think the driver had to be going 60 mph when he hit my father.

                                    This is also the reason I don't like to ride a horse on or even on the shoulder of the road. You can be doing everything right, but the driver of that huge vehicle accelerating towards you isn't paying attention.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Cyndi,
                                      I love my John Deere tractor.

                                      For your sized place, something in a 50-65 horsepower. With a front end loader and 8' bush hog. Roll bar is a very sensible thing to have or a cab tractor is great.

                                      I totally understand using the 7 step scientific method proving why said object is needed. I had to use that method with my father (a brilliant chemist with not a lick of common sense --also MIT).

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        A suggestion

                                        I am in the midst of evaluating tractors; different brands, size and new versus used......

                                        On the John Deere website you can configure a tractor and use the model help selector feature.....You answer a bunch questions about use, acres, terrain et.al.....It will suggest a model to consider.

                                        I am looking at Deere, New Holland and Kubota......I have twice as much land, with more to come and rolling, hilly terrain.......As someone posted, the best for me will likely be a JD 4320 or 4520

                                        Good Luck
                                        Berkley

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