Buying a Tractor

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Oshbrg, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. Oshbrg

    Oshbrg Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    I am new to this forum and have noticed that there is a lot of knowledgable people here, so maybe some of you can help me out. I have purchased 35 acres here in Wisconsin. Ground breaking for a new home will be this May. I will also be putting up a 30 x 60 shed along with a 36 x 24 barn this summer. The house will be built by a builder, but I am going to be building the shed, barn and any other buildings that I need in the future. The reason I mention all of this is the fact that I will probably be looking for some good suggestions on the out building layouts in the future. But right now I have a question about a tractor.

    The land I bought has slight rolling hills to it, but no real steep ones. I will be using the tractor for a "hobbie Farm" for lack of better words. I'm tired of the day to day grind of running a business, and hope to be spending less time at the office and more time on the farm. I will be growing crops on about 15-20 acres. Mainly corn and hay. I'm not trying to make a living from the farm... just supply
    myself with meat that I know went into it, and veggies that I get from a small garden. Thats why I call it a hobbie farm. Anyhow... A friends father-in-law has a 1953 Allis Chalmers CA wide front. Runs great, looks good and has two discs (one good, one for parts), a brush hog, cultivator, two blade plow, seven ft sickle bar, trip bucket, and a homemade snow plow for the front. Everything has been covered or is in the shed. The asking price is $4000.00. Personally, I think that sounds pretty fair, but what do you guys think. I do want to also find
    a one or two row corn picker and planter, along with a ground driven manure speader.

    So, do you think this tractor will do.. and is the price resonable?
    Any input would be great.
     
  2. tooltime

    tooltime Border Ruffian

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    The tractor itself is probably worth $1000-$1500, but you're getting quite a bit of stuff with it. It's a fair price, considering you wouldn't have to run around to auctions to pick up some of this equipment. Sure you could get by with it. I'm not real up on the old Allis tractors, but I think it has live PTO, and around 18 HP on the drawbar. Some other guys could help, but it has some kind of snap couple mount rather than a true 3-pt?

    It wouldn't be my choice of tractor for the one tractor on a homestead, but dreams have to square with the checkbook. Only thing I would be concerned with is that I think you'd be a bit underweight and underpowered on a square baler.

    If money was no object, I'd go for a bigger tractor and try to find a diesel and a bit more modern, stout hydraulics. I grew up with old Farmalls and Fords, so I might be somewhat biased. It's comparable to a Super C Farmall or an 8N Ford.

    On the building stuff, noone ever complained that there machine shed was too small. You could always use the extra space for hay storage. For standard pole shed construction, the wider you go makes those trusses more expensive.
     

  3. Ozarks_1

    Ozarks_1 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a fair price for the tractor and equipment. And, as was pointed out, you won't have to run around to farm auctions looking for equipment. That in itself can be a big plus.


    Suggestion: You may want to upgrade the trip bucket - install a hydraulic cylinder and control (plus lines, of course), eliminate the trip mechanism. With an upgraded bucket, you can make either install a set of forks that go into the bucket or a set that will interchange with the bucket. Forks + free pallets from your local source = a lot of jobs much easier to do.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Sounds a little expensive to me, or at least top dollar and an old Allis tractors might be hard to find parts for. It is a popular collector/restorer's tractor but as a day to day feild tractor it's day has come and gone. The real question is will the machine do the job? Probably not, a CA isn't exactly a power house at 26 hp. You're probably better off buying a bigger, easier to fix, tractor. Even rolling hills take power to run tillage implements. You'll find a gas tractor is an expensive tractor to feed too.
     
  5. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    to me the price is high. one thing no one has touched on about older tractors is the fact that todays gasoline and diesel lacks lubricity.when that tractor was made the gas had lead added to lubricate the valves ,unless the engine has had new valve seats installed there can be a lot of wear in this area.gas tractors are more expensive to run but i feel they do have a place as a second tractor.gas tractors can start better on cold days.diesel of today has had the sulfer removed and needs to be suplimented with oil ,we use any moter oil(not used) and add about an ounce per five gallons .helps lube the pump and the injectors . older ih, ford, allis and two cylinder john deeres can give lots of service for years to come. helps to have a good dealer near by
     
  6. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Boy, good thing you boys weren't around when I was farming 310 acres with an F20 and a B John Deere. Without being told I couldn't do it, I just went ahead and did it. Gas, no PS, no 3pt and under 20 HP. I would agree that the CA might not be ideal for a one-tractor operation, you can get by. If the guy has the bush hog for the CA, then he must have a 3 pt. installed. If not, a 3 pt. kit run you around $700.

    If you gave me a couple blank checks, I'd probably buy a couple tractors - an 85+ HP diesel (JD 4020, IH 826, Ford 5000) and a 35-50 HP utility tractor. Yes, modern tractors will have better hydraulics and diesels will be cheaper to run over time. I'm no expert, but I've never seen a tractor take less fuel even while working hard than a Major Diesel. But, it's your money, and if funds are limited ...

    As for the valve wear with unleaded gas, the lead in gas would build up on the valve and valve seat and cushion the impact of the valves seating. If you are really working the snot out of her all day every day, then you're going to get this recession without the cushioning of the lead. If not, you're more than likely going to be OK even with the soft valve seats. (Heck, she might already have had hardened valve seats put in.) You can buy some lead substitute additives if it would make you feel better or add a bit of 2-cycle oil to each tankful, if it would make you feel better, but don't overdo it.

    If you've got a bit of cash socked away and are only dealing with some hobby farming, you can have a couple miscues without sinking the ship. Noone likes to lose money, but if you find the CA won't get it done, you can get a bigger tractor. You might want to throw some weights on the front if you're plowing.

    As for the price being high, I've seen some guys go nuts bidding on small implements at auction, so the package deal isn't too bad.
     
  7. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    ah milkstool ,ford 5000 were never 85 plus!thats 7000 7710 country. ford major 5000 ran about 52 horse and the later 5000 were 72 horse .the lead on the valves rapidly wears out .hardened seats are the way to go with lead additives a second best have a gas major that is going to get new seats when i can get time to pop the head and gitrdun,meanwhile she will have to run with an additive. the main source of power will be our 6600 and 6710 fords .i can recall working 300 acres with 35 horse tractors, boy was that 50 horse tractor a god send!! mostly flat clay but some rocky hills as well!!miss our diesel major still ,was a good horse with small appetite!
     
  8. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I am also in position of maybe buying another tractor as gasoline engine in my '57 MH444 spun bearing. Too pricey to rebuild even if I can find parts and it needs other repairs. From what I've been reading, I may be able to sell it for parts to restorer for what I have in it. (relatively rare tractor), I have an old WD that runs but its geared horribly for utility use. I mean no creeper gear, but it has a silly hiway gear that wouldnt be safe to use whatever even if it had enough power. Hard to justify $$$$ for factory made newer tractor, no more than I really use a tractor, though I am still kicking myself for passing up a David Brown while back at auction with newly rebuilt diesel engine. Went for $2k. Around 45hp I would guess. That would have served me very well for long time. Lot more useful than the old '40s and '50s stuff.

    Been thinking of building my own. Been kinda eyeing frame and axles on friends old IHC schoolbus, but doubt he'd want to sell as bus body would then not be moveable (he wants it for storage). He bought the thing for the diesel engine to use in his one ton flatbed. I helped him install it and now bus just sitting and collecting junk inside. Shorten that frame to tractor size and use double transmission with an old straight six and it could make a nice heavy duty utility tractor (I have a couple belt drive govorners around). Can weld up 3pt and use hydraulic motor for pto. Probably could make a decent occasional use tractor for what I can sell the old 444 for. Plus rear axle on this bus has disc brakes. That would be really nice for maintenence purposes.

    As to this thread, I'd probably pass on the CA. Nice enough tractor but think there are better more modern tractors around for the money. You'll never regret having modern powerful hydraulics. Course for light use, it might do you just fine. Certainly simple enough mechanically, but also getting very old and no where as easy to get parts for as Ford 'N.

    Milkstool, I had an F12 when I lived in MI. Course I wasnt trying to farm with it.
     
  9. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Ford Major, You're right on the Ford 5000. My mistake. I think a 5000 diesel is a good value tractor to buy. They don't bring as much as some comparables around here.

    Hey, I didn't say it was easy farming that way, and I have no plans to give up my big tractors, but it can be done. I have an 861 Ford gas that I did a total restoration on and rebuilt her with hardened valve seats, but my '54 Super M has never had a valve job and I still run her regularly, but the hardest she works is grinding feed now.
     
  10. Ramon

    Ramon Active Member

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    For my two cents, I'll give you my story, and maybe that'll help you make your decision. When I bought my little farm, 12 acres, 8 acres pasture, 2 acres garden, I bought a Farmall Cub (9 hp). It had plow and harrow (hooked up to a drawbar) and I bought a 42" belly mower. Well, after I put on that mower, I never took it off because it was a huge pain.
    I only plowed with it once when I made the decision that I just didn't have the power I needed for what I was doing,both in terms of mowing and gardening. Of course, I was total greenhorn coming from a one bedroom apartment from San Francisco and the biggest tractor I had come across before that was a Sears lawn mower so that Cub looked huge.
    That being said though, I absolutely fell in love the the offset farmall design so I decided I wanted a Farmall Super A. I looked at a bunch of Super As and then discovered the magical "Fast Hitch" design. While they retrofit Super A's with Fast Hitches, they actually came on Farmall 100's originally and the 100 also has a bigger engine and still the offset. Well, I ended up buying a Farmall 100 with a Fast Hitch and just about every implement known to be made for it for about $5000.Over the last year, I sandblasted and restored all the equipment . I considered the 140, which is the same as a 100 but built later with some small improvements, but for some reason, I really wanted a tractor that was over 50 years old and ran like new, which is what I bought.
    Now the deal you listed for $4000 sounds very good IF the tractor is in as good a shape as you think. When was the last time the engine was rebuilt? Are there any leaks at all. For a medium size tractor, rebuilding an engine and steering can cost you upwards of $3000-4000 dollars if you outsource the whole effort, especially since parts aren't as common anymore although they are still available.
    After having worked the farm for about a year and a half now, I now realize that I absolutely have the best tractor in the world for gardening and cultivating, hauling firewood and medium sized loads, spreading seed, etc. However, as I look forward to the next 2-3 years, I realize that I would be best served with having a larger tractor so I could more easily run even a smaller square baler. I did an awfully large amount of research hoping that I could find some folks that ran a smaller baler off a Farmall 100 and most old farmers said that I could probably power a New Holland 67 or 69 Baler but it would be rough on the engine. My neighbor has an old Allis Chalmers that he bought new in 56 ( I don't know the number) but it has 35 horse and does everything he needs to do on his farm for the last 50+ years he's been running cattle and making hay. So I think in a few years I'll have to start working on the wife to let me get something like a Super MTA with a 3 point for baling, moving big bales and other more serious loading. Then I'll have the two tractors that'll last me until I can't farm anymore.
    If the tractor you have has 35 horse, then I think you might be able to do the job and you certainly would be getting your money's worth. Sure there are lots newer tractors that might have more power, but you pay for it and if they run into mechanical problems, it'll cost you an arm and a leg to fix em. Now with an old tractor that is mechanically sound, you can most often fix it yourself and believe me, these tractors will run forever. My other neighbor's Kubota certainly won't.
    Good luck,
    Ramon
     
  11. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Ramon,
    A 560 might be another tractor to take a look at.
     
  12. Ramon

    Ramon Active Member

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    Milkstoolcowboy,
    What do you like about the 560. When were they made and how much hp do they have? Your advice is always appreciated as I value your experience (especially since I have none ;-..but I'm learning)
    Thanks
    Ramon
     
  13. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Ramon,
    I'm not speaking against the Super M. I still have one, but it's a gas, narrow front, no live PTO, but mine has live hydraulics from the factory. I converted it to 12v. Now, if you get an M-TA, it will have live PTO.

    I had a 560 gas for a loader tractor, but traded it in for a 656 gas. They made 560s in the late-50s and early-60s, they had about 55 HP on the drawbar. A 560 will have power steering, live PTO and live hydraulics and a bit more HP and weight than a Super M. If I found a 560 diesel with wide front; that would make a tractor to move big bales with, pull a square baler and it'd be a real good loader tractor. I know of a few guys with 560 diesels who like em a lot. It's still going to have that 2-pt. fast hitch, though.

    I'm no expert on tractors, there's a lot of other guys who know them better.

    Of the tractors I've ever owned, the last one I'd let you take from me would be my JD 4020 diesel. For my money, best tractor ever made. 90 HP, easy on fuel even when you're working it hard. Mine is a 1972 synchro with factory cab. I bought it at auction in 1978. It had 1100 hours and I paid $13,000. I wouldn't sell it for $20,000 today. I have bigger tractors now, but that old girl never let me down. They are in such high demand that they're getting overpriced, but they're a good machine.

    That said, there are good tractors of every make. If you want to get an education on old iron and meet some guys who are walking encyclopedias, go over to Yesterdays Tractors: www.ytmag.com
     
  14. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Your ideal tractor would be equivelent a Ford 3910. It really doesn't matter if it is blue, red, green or orange. I do not think you got into the position to retire to the acreage and the new home and the building so that you could be aggravated or frustrated working on an unreliable tractor. Get something that you can feel comfortable using and not having to work on. Spend the money on a decent tractor and if you are an astute buyer you can always get your investment back should you decide to sell. This comes from a person that uses tractors to make a living. The window of opportunty for many tasks is sometimes only a couple of days. Having a machine that will function during this brief time can make the difference between a failure or success.
     
  15. tooltime

    tooltime Border Ruffian

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    Agman,
    Are you implying that others here don't farm and use tractors? I don't follow. If he is hobby farming, he might be looking at nights/weekends, and 15-20 acres isn't the same as the guy who has 3000 acres of corn and beans to pull out.

    The 3910 is a nice compact utility tractor, about 45 HP diesel, made in mid-1980s and can have 4WD or 2WD. You might want to use fluid in tires or weight it for loader work or handling big bales. I've seen them sell for anywhere from $6500 - $14,000 depending on 2 or 4WD, hours, tread on tires and overall condition.
     
  16. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I am not implying anything. Neither do I think he is a mechanic. I am suggesting that if he wants to farm even at a hobby level that he needs a reliable piece of equipment that he does not have to work on when planting or harvesting is his intent.
     
  17. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    Nice to see how a simple question can turn into a ****ing contest on whats the best/worst.
    Everyone has their favorites, and for farming twenty acres just about anything will do, the price sounds ok for all of that equipment included, but only if the tractor is in good shape, even new implements are worthless if the tractor is junk.
    Take somebody with you who really knows equipment before you buy it.
    Might save you lots in the long run.
    Good luck
     
  18. travlnusa

    travlnusa Well-Known Member

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    Some things for consideration:

    What kind of crops are you planning on growing? If you are thinking hay, do you want large or small bales? That will determine alot of what you want.

    Do you see yourself planting corn? If so, look at what harvesting equimpment you will need to run.

    If you are looking for something old, consider Case. LOTs of case dealers here in WI as they were build here. They are now Case/IH but still have old parts.

    As far as options, look for one with a loader with the tractor as trying to find one to match an older unit is harder to do.

    Live PTO is very nice (that means you can push the clutch in, and the PTO still spins).

    There are hundreds of models you can buy.
     
  19. Oshbrg

    Oshbrg Member

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    I really want to thank everyone for their input. Just a bit of update here... I will probably not have more than 10-15 acres of total crops. I'm not some much looking for retirement either.. I'm only 38 Time goes fast enough!! :haha: As far as how this tractor runs.... it runs great. Like I said earlier, it is a friends (good friends) father-in laws. It is accually at my friends farm right now and has been used mainly for cutting down weeds and such with the brush hog. As far as being able to work on it.... I used to build race cars... I think I can handle an old tractor... its those darn computerize machines that I don't like working on. I think I am going to buy the set up. I have thought about it a lot today, and figured... if I need more in a couple years I buy it then. With the building of a house and out buildings, cash is a bit short right now, so $4000 for this tractor with some trimmings will do me well I think for now. I also checked some pricing around here on other tractors in the area... maybe its just where I live, but there isn't a 8N, 9N or even a 2N that runs that is less than $4000 and nothing comes with those. If I find I need a bigger one in a few years, I can still have this little guy for small jobs and for a back up. Again thanks for all the help, and I hope I didn't start any trouble.. I am finding out that peoples preference on tractor brands is stronger than the old Chevy,Dodge,Ford arguments... and no I'm not telling you what one I have :D

    Mike
     
  20. Oshbrg

    Oshbrg Member

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    I forgot to mention... it does have a loader... trip bucket... but still a loader

    Mike