What kind of tractor to buy

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by deberosa, Dec 14, 2003.

  1. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    Hi,

    I have just purchased my 4.5 acre farm this fall and want to start a homestead. My question is what kind of tractor will I need - do I need one and how do I decide?

    My property is mostly flat - about 2 or 3 acres in forest. I need to be able to haul loads of firewood to the wood shed. It's just me and I work full time too. I have mostly mowed the property already with a push mower and string trimmer. I also already have a rear tine tiller that is almost new. I have a newer pickup, but it's only 2 wheel drive (didn't know I would be needing it to farm when I got it!). I have a large old barn, but very little fencing at this point so will be building lots of fence to start(that's another thread!). I want to garden in the one acre meadow and will definitely get chickens for the henhouse. I thought about getting a pony, or some animal that can pull a cart instead of a tractor - is that a good idea? Maybe getting a trailer for the truck to pull? I am not very mechanical, but have found that I can learn just about anything if I have to! One thing I can just not get the hang of is a wheelbarrow - they keep twisting out of my hands! I do have a large metal wagon and garden cart that I use instead of a wheelbarrow.

    Thanks for any advice!


    Debbie
     
  2. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    You might consider buying a good used riding mower. They can pull a small cart nicely. You get a tow-tractor and mower at the same time. Barring that, I would recommend a small low-boy trailer.

    I suspect the problem with your wheelbarrel is trying to control the weight on a single front wheel. You might find an old wheelbarrel of the same type and salvage the tire. Now have someone rearrange the front to where there are two wheels there. A fairly simply job. You just need a length of 1/2" rod to go through the same area as your current wheel and then spacers to hold the wheels slightly off of the front A-frame. You still have the flexibility of a wheelbarrel, but one with far better stability.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     

  3. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    I'm agree with Ken, or, get a 4 wheeler and put a winch on it. I love mine and do everything with it. If you see yourself doing hay down the road then get a tractor that is capable of doing that, but I don't think a large tractor is what you need, just a garden tractor and a cart (get a big cart/trailer-you won't be sorry).

    Carol K
     
  4. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I would get an ATV. Much cheaper than a tractor and almost as versatile. If you get to the point where you need a tractor, then you can move up.

    Get a trailer with your ATV and you'll be able to haul everything you need, though I have found I can pretty much get most things on the racks.

    Jena
     
  5. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    Thanks, I had not thought of a winch! Sounds like I need to add that to my toolbox.

    Debbie
     
  6. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    There IS NO substitute for a frontend loader on a tractor. Especially, when it comes to moving, hauling, picking up the frontend of your truck to change the oil, fix a flat, picking rocks out of a field and moving them over to a different location , and finally using it as a tie point when stretching fence wire on your new perimeter fence. Every state has at least one town with an equipment auction once amonth. Attend several of these auctions and develop a knowledge base for what used tractors are selling for. Pay special attention to the Buyers that attend each auction and befriend one of them as they are a walking Repository of knowledge and appraisial of BOTH value and condition of used equipment. You will not be sorry. Then, once your educated , you maybe able to find a used tractor locally without having to bid on one at the auction and you won't get screwed on either price or condition. Knowledge is Everything when it comes to buying used equipment........fordy :D :eek:
     
  7. SectorSteve

    SectorSteve Well-Known Member

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    You might want to look for an old Wheel Horse. I have a 1965 Model 855 that I just rebuilt, new 8hp engine, paint, new tires, etc. I also have a 32" mower deck and a 42" snow plow blade that goes on it. It also has a slot hitch and a sleeve hitch, so, I can pull a wagon, or hook a plow and a disc to it. Old Wheel Horses are almost indestructible (solid steel) and not that expensive, and there are alot of attachments you can hook up to then. When I was growing up, we had a 6hp that we used to plow the garden and snow. You would be suprised how much power they have.
     
  8. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    We love our 1985 Ford 1900, with Front End Loader, Three Point Hitch, PTO, 4WD, 30 Hp Diesel, only 590 Hours, with a 6' Brush Cutter. A real workhorse! Two years ago, we paid $7,000 CDN for the whole works (about $5,300 USD) plus we paid about $300 to have it painted.

    We love it, and use it much more than we thought we would - true with all tractors that I have had over the years. However, we have a Quarter Section (160 acres) and have more need for a small 30 hp tractor than you do.

    Highly recommend the Ford, 1900. And for a "smaller" tractor of about the same horsepower, the older John Deere, Model M gas tractor with three point hitch, though it wouldn't do too much with a loader on it.

    Alex

    [​IMG]

    "Tillie-Two-the-Tractor" 1985 Ford 1900, 30 Hp Diesel 4WD, w/Brush Cutter On Three Point Hitch (just after she got some fresh new paint)


    [​IMG]

    "Tillie-One-the-Tractor" 19?? John Deere Model M, 25 Hp Gas
     
  9. suthin1

    suthin1 New Member

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    there are plenty of Gray Market tractors available that are just what you need. most of them are Yanmar, which is the same, (basically)as john deer they are abundant, cheap and usually good shape. get a four wheel drive, add a front end loader, posthole auger, rotary cutter and box blade, you should be able to get one for the five to seven thousand dollar range. good luck
     
  10. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Alex that is one nice looking little Ford. I've read a few of your posts and am beginning to think BC has N Americas cheapest labour! I'd charge closer to 600 to paint it like that with decals etc. I agree a small tractor with a loader will make big jobs simple and they don't really drop in value. Check out http://www.agdealer.com for prices.
     
  11. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    Ross,

    Thanks, it is a very nice small tractor. The $300 paint was CDN (about $230 USD). And, yes labour rates are good. For instance, D-7 Cat with Piler, and/or dozer, with operator (good), including fuel, etc. $120 CDN (about $92 USD) per hour. 100 hp tractor, big disc, and good operator, with fuel $90 CDN ($69 USD) per hour. Those are not "negotiated" rates, that's what they wanted.

    Alex
     
  12. earthship

    earthship Well-Known Member

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    I have been using my neighbors Ford 9N off and on for the last year. I continue to ponder just what tractor to buy. We have 80 acres and need a real tractor rather than an ATV. What I will say is the Ford 9N has been a real useful tool to groom roads, dig post holes and do some brush hog work. It would probably be easier to have an independent PTO when using the brush hog. Alex, does your Ford 1900 have an independent PTO (probably). That is a fine looking tractor. While I really only care how they operate, I sure appreciate the looks of that guy ;-)

    Here is the Ford 9N at work ;-)



    [​IMG]
     
  13. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    We had a Ferguson 2085 and except for that PTO was a fine little tractor. Dealer support is the most important aspect of tractor ownership but Ford has the best after market parts supply followed by Massey and Deere.
     
  14. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    Here are some facts that most folks don't realize when making decisions about purchasing a tractor....(1)farm tractors are ...ok....but they have only ..ONE hydraulic pump(internally) to Power ALL external implements, i.e.:frontend loader, box blade with power cylinder on the ripper teeth, 3 pt. hookup , etc. Point being the MORE implements you have on your tractor the SLOWER their functionality Becomes. , (2) Most small Commercial tractors(diesels) will have a hyd. pump dedicated to the front end loader , exclusively, and ANOTHER hyd. pump for the 3 pt. lift and other implements which means they work alot Faster and alot stronger. (3) ALL small Commercial Tractor Frames are heavier and stronger than Most farm Tractors.....consequently they will last longer and take more abuse without damage than a small farm tractor. As an example :Ford models...230A, 340A , 445 , 530A , 540A , 545. The 230A, 340A, 530A , & 540A, were made from about 77 to about 84 , I think. The 445 is Still in production and the 545 is a Backhoe I thimk. The 340A (the model I had) has a 44 HP , 3 cylinder engine and weighed about 6,000 pounds naked. (4)Almost ALL Commercial tractors are Equiped with a Frontend loader as...Standard equipment. Which means that....when purchased Used that they will have a FE Loader. Most ALL farm tractors DONOT come equiped with a FE loader!!! Concluson.....You can BUY asmall commercial tractor for the same or less money as a farm tractor and it will be a stronger machine when you start pricing the addition of an After-market FE loader......fordy :D :eek:
     
  15. earthship

    earthship Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty sure there is no one tractor that can cover all the bases. A farm tractor like a Ford 8n/9n becomes a different tool with a front loader (less stable and more awkward). My neighbor has a Ford 555 back hoe that certainly has it's uses (probably not a good tool for 4 or 5 acres).

    Fordy - what tractor models are you recommending - I wasn't clear on this. I think it is good advice to go commercial if possible. Someone mentioned a good servicing dealer - the Ford 8n/9n's are EVERYWHERE and those old 4 banger gas engines are simple to work on - parts are readily available - I would like to know more about Alex's model. Diesel has got to be more reliable and more difficult to work on. I have farm diesel gasoline tank that reduces the price of fuel by about 20%. I think having a front loader really adds a strong "pair of hands" to the ranch and would love to have one. I bought a small John Deere early on when we moved on the ranch. It turned out to be too small for our needs. It had a front loader, but it was frightening to lift much weight with it as it easily got 'tippy'.

    BTW. I appreciate the discussion - there are several tractor threads, but they often are mired with experts rather than farmer/ranchers needing some novice information. Thanks.
     
  16. Is it time to jump in yet and give my opinion?

    Fordy, I've got to disagree with you about the number of hydraulic items on a tractor making for slower functionality. ONLY if you are using more than one of them at a time does it become any issue at all.

    Think of it as city water supply coming into a home, say supplying 10 gallons per minute.
    If you have 15 kitchen sinks, 20 showers, 30 stools, and fourteen washing machines it will not make any difference on what comes out of the water tap that is turned on. The flow goes to that one individual one and the rest have no bearing on the case if they are not also being used, granted there will be a very slight flow drop due to piping.

    Deberosa I'll disagree with most everyone else. I really don't think you need a tractor, atv, or anything else. The exception being to dig the post holes. Granted all of the toys are fun to play with, but after the posts are in, how much are you really going to NEED a tractor, atv, or other?

    Use your pickup to haul wood with if you can get to where it is.

    As far as getting the hang of a wheelbarrow, your description of it twisting from your hands indicates to me that it is a cheap lightweight wheelbarrow. Probably one on sale at good bargain prices.

    A contractors wheelbarrow is stiff and doesn't twist around. I've used both, and a cheap wheelbarrow is nearly worthless, and VERY difficult to control with a heavy load. If you don't want to use your pickup or get a trailer, I would get some kind of wagon to pull. There are some cheap ones on the market that would be of sufficient construction to work well for you.

    A loader on a tractor is wonderful, but how much lifting and loading would you do with one? Perhaps if you still want a tractor one with a 3 point hitch would work. For heavy lifting just get a crane attachment for less than $75. For dirt moving a slip attachment for a couple of hundred. Once your set there won't be much dirt work I doubt.
    A box blade would be good to smooth a driveway or fill in ruts.

    Still my opinion that you should just save your money. A few thousand dollars in an investment would give better return than a tractor setting gathering rust.
     
  17. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    The PTO has a shift lever, and the clutch is two position, it is described as a "Live" PTO. The painting of any tractor - properly (correct colors, decals, and good workmanship) - makes you feel great and probably makes you take better care of it. I think painting any tractor or other piece of equipment is one of the best things that can be done for it and for the operator (you, or hired - if you can find one to trust).

    The Ford 1900 is like a lot bigger tractor. I don't have the weight specifications infront of me right now, but the wheels are filled with calcium silicate. More than the weighted wheels, the tractor itself is heavy and strong. I recommend it. You can really work with it. Sadly mine does not have "power steering". Some do have power steering, to add it is expensive ($2,000), and NOT really required. When you get used to it, this tractor more or less "steers itself".

    It seems easy to work on. And, I haven't had to do anything, except the regular, oil, filter, grease. I had to change one hydraulic cylinder, easy. I have to blow out the radiator evry day. Its a great small tractor.

    Alex

    btw I think the 9N would be great - with a little paint. Eathship, thanks for posting the picture!
     
  18. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    earthship , ford, Massy & jdeere All....make small commercial tractors. From your post I would look for a Ford 445, 4x4 , with shuttle shift. Shuttle shift is essentially an automatic transmission with a lever on the steering column that simply flips up and down to go from forward to reverse. It , is, Extremely Both labor(for both operator and machine) and workload efficient and will save both time and money. The 445 will have around 70 hp diesel and weigh around 12,000 with 4x4 probably being alittle heavier. Agood place to find a 445 is at the Ritchey Brothers auction. I believe they have an auction site in\or around denver and usually 4 times ayear. You should beable to pick one up for 15k to 20k with less than a thousand hours on the clock. Keep in mind that these tractors will have an operational life of 4 to 5 thousand hours with regular maintenance. They will essentially last you a lifetime ...IF...you are selective in culling out tractors that are wornout and you are willing to pay alittle extra for atractor that has both low hours and good maintenance. .....Even a small farm tractor with a FE loader will sell New for around 18 to 20K and a 445 , 4x4 will have 3 times the workload capability as a small 40 horse socalled farm tractor. If, people really understood how OVER priced these farm tractors were , they would be putting their money into small commercial tractors.....just my opinion , .......fordy :D :eek:
     
  19. earthship

    earthship Well-Known Member

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    Alex WROTE:

    btw I think the 9N would be great - with a little paint. Eathship, thanks for posting the picture! "

    Alex - you are a funny guy! My neighbor and I recently rebuilt the top end of that 9n - it runs like a clock (now if it would just run like a tractor... LOL). You DO have a great looking tractor - the 'live' PTO is what I was referring to - the Ford 8n/9n's lack this and they tend to push you when you are running a brush hog. I don't necessarily disagree with "Unregistered's" comments about not needing a tractor with 4.5 acres - but hey what we need and what's fun are often two different things ;-) I can say on our 80 acres in Colorado where the grass grows tall and we are 7 miles of dirt road to the mail box - we NEED a tractor. A few weeks ago my main water pipe at the pitless broke and my neighbor came down and dug the 4' hole for access with his Ford 555 - saved about 6 to 8 hundred bucks that day ;-) We groom the roads (we have more than a mile of driveways to get to the dirt road. I could go on - but I'm sure you get the point. Nothing like cruising along our roads on that old, ugly 9n catching glimpes of Pike's Peak, the Wet Mountains and the beautiful Colorado skies ;-) After all this is COUNTRY Homesteading we are talking about here - no? :cool:
     
  20. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    The biggest problem with an industrial tractor is many use hydrostatic drive trannies. Great to drive but very pricey to fix. Not all indistrials are very different from thier Ag counterparts, my Ford 6600 was a gas industrial loader and the only real change was the front axle. I know gas tractors are easier to work on but diesels seldom need work if you pick a good one to start off. I have 5 diesels and 2 gas neither gas will run today without 3 or 4 hours work minimum, I could start any of the diesels and it's -10c at the moment.