Choosing a Tractor

Discuss lifestyle changes to better survive disasters. This category is for topics pertaining to being self reliant such as DIY, farming, alternative energy, autonomous solutions to water collection and waste removal, etc.

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Choosing a Tractor

Post by derajer » Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:39 am

I hope to purchase an acreage in the next couple of years or so, and when that happens I will need a tractor or similar machine.

What do you guys, especially those with personal experience, recommend for the survivalist's ideal 5-10 acre tractor?

It's no likely that I will be doing any plowing as I have found intensive raised beds, aquaponics, etc... to be a far better way to grow food that an acre of traditionally plowed, disced, etc... land. I will probably be doing dirt work, growing hay, some road maintenance, and all sort so miscellaneous tasks.

I am currently leaning towards older tractors. They are cheap, very reliable, simple to work on, and totally impervious to EMP. My current BOL has an Alli Chalmers D17 that has been great. I like the idea of a something like a Ford 8N, but loaders are rare for such tractors and while I don't necessarily require a loader it would be very convenient.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by arrowolf » Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:46 pm

I bought a brand new JD 2305 with a front loader and bush hog. Wish I had added a plow setup when I got it. But I can pick up attachments for it at Tractor Supply. Deos everything I need it to. It has a 3 cylinder Yanmar diesel and a 3 point hitch. The whole outfit cost around 13K.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by mr.squatch » Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:29 pm

Find an importer of Japanese tractors, there are many in the mid-west. I used to be one in Oklahoma. Buy a 3 cylinder Yanmar diesel 25hp. Half the money of a john deer, and a yanmar 2500 is the exact same machine, made in the same building as a jd. All parts are interchangeable. It'll pull a 5ft bushog, frontloaders are interchangeable as well. I mowed 10 acres for a year and a half in OK (so hot not much grows) on two tanks of fuel. Reliable, economical and strong as hell. You can also get a cheaper version in the 15 hp category that is two cylinder that's got a lot more torque but doesn't run as smooth and quiet. Good luck

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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by derajer » Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:53 pm

13k is a pretty serious payment on a piece of rural land, not to mention I hate to take on the additional debt of something like that. I can have a Ford 8N that I can work on with no special tools and has a standard 3-point hitch for 1-2K. While there is still the issue of the loader to deal with, it would provide everything else I need.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by Funk » Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:21 am

Seriously one 1 or 2k?! That seems really cheap. Hell I paid that for my riding mower. We looked into getting a small tractor and the 10k price tag and the fact we wouldn't use it much turned us off. For 2k or under sounds like a steal and I'd say jump on it.

Is it possible that being in Iowa gives you much better prices on used equipment or am I just not looking in the right places? I mean it's pretty agricultural here, but I wouldn't think I could find a working tractor let alone a decent one for under 6k. I don't shop around much so I'm probably wrong, but even with no attachments that sounds like you can't go wrong.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by arrowolf » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:35 am

I got a brand new outfit with a warranty because I didn't want to buy someone else's problems.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by derajer » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:38 am

That's a pretty common private party value for something like a D17, Ford 8N, etc... If you buy from a dealer you're probably gonna pay more like 2-3K. Generally these do not include implements, but it's not uncommon for a private party to include implements. Keep in mind that we're talking about tractors that are 30-60 years old, but they were built to last forever and appear to be meeting their goals. A lot of people buy them just to mow large lawns since they're so much cheaper than riding lawn mowers.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by dukman » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:35 am

I would have to agree with the old classic time-proven Ford series. They are cheap, I see them all the time on Craigslist for $1-2,000 - sometimes with the bucket! They are easy to work on. They are easy to rig up if SHTF and parts became scarce. Just make sure you have a repair guide and the needed tools. If you get the bucket, also make sure you add to your stash an extra pail or two of hydraulic fluid.

I have a friend that owns a couple acres of pasture land and has one. He uses it all the time around the ranch, including putting in fence posts, mowing the front pasture, digging ditches, moving hay, etc, etc. Just like any old thing, it will require maintenance from time to time, and rebuilds from time to time. But so will the new things. The difference can be measured in the pocket book.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by Kathy in FL » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:37 am

We have a kubota L3830 with a front loader and bush hog. Ours is a GST I think ... hubby is away or I'd ask him for sure. It definitely has 4WD. You can find the specs at http://www.deenimplement.com/kubota_G30-specs38.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

We got stuck once on our 40 acres and that was because it was our first season of ownership and we wound up with some "quick sand" around some water oaks that we didn't know about as we were clearing pockets of our acreage for the first time. Hasn't even come close to happening since. And I like the straddle on her ... I don't have to worry about it turning over like some of the older tractors had a tendency to do.

She's a workhorse. Not the biggest size but not the smallest either. And the front bucket is so easy to take on and off even I can do it without someone sighting it up for me. You go forward, pick up the bucket with the arms making sure the pens are in the right place, and then just push down the handles to lock it in place.

We use a Bush Hog brand mower however as they are the best and super easy to service. Hubby just uses a grinder to sharpen the blade himself as necessary.

This tractor is a dream. Our 40 is all wooded except the areas we have cleared ourselves. The road back to our place is one mile long sand, dirt, and grass (we own it so total acreage is 44 point something or other) and requires regular mowing. This tractor has made maintaining things very easy and it doesn't balk at taking out small trees up to a circumfrance of my wrist or a little bigger and turning them into mulch. It will also blow through established patches of palmetto with the power to shred them like confetti.

Its even got enough juice to dig up stumps of decent size and then haul the stump in the bucket to our burn area.

I don't know exactly what type of work you'll need your tractor for but if you are looking for work horses I can't say enough for the Kubota.

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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by 1984CJ » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:11 am

A Farmall Super C
or an International 200,230,240 or 130
Farmall Info
Ford Info
All of these are roughly equivalent to an 8n in Horsepower and plow rating (2 bottom plow)
However prior to 61 the Farmall International came with a 2 point hitch rather than the , now standard equip, Ford-Ferguson 3 pt hitch.

The internationals and Farmalls have a strong following like the Fords and good after market support.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by derajer » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:43 am

That living history farm site is pretty awesome. As for the Ford 8Ns, they have a lot of parts that are available in auto parts stores which is very helpful.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by dug » Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:40 pm

Growing up we had a Farmall Super A as our garden tractor. I wish we still had it, but around 1995 some years after we stopped planting 2 acres of crowder peas we sold it off since we weren't using it. It was just rusting away and we liked the tractor too much to let it die that way. We sold it for $1,200 and included every implement we had. That guy got a great deal.

The current tractor is a 1973 Massey Ferguson 165 diesel. Bought new in 1974 by my grandfather to be the main farming tractor since the Farmall was primarily for the garden. It's a bit beaten and leaks some character out of the power steering and around the fuel injectors but still reliable as can be. (MF gaskets are apparently legendarily iffy) It's handled anything we needed done on our 100 acres plus the 400 we used to have rights to work.

New can be very attractive and old is always worth checking over closely, but I wouldn't rule out used if I were you. The cost to benefit is pretty impressive.

Edit to add: My neighbor's nice modern JD with the air-conditioned cab just lost a water pump this week. "New" doesn't mean the same as "there won't be problems".

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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by arrowolf » Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:00 pm

dug wrote:Growing up we had a Farmall Super A as our garden tractor. I wish we still had it, but around 1995 some years after we stopped planting 2 acres of crowder peas we sold it off since we weren't using it. It was just rusting away and we liked the tractor too much to let it die that way. We sold it for $1,200 and included every implement we had. That guy got a great deal.

The current tractor is a 1973 Massey Ferguson 165 diesel. Bought new in 1974 by my grandfather to be the main farming tractor since the Farmall was primarily for the garden. It's a bit beaten and leaks some character out of the power steering and around the fuel injectors but still reliable as can be. (MF gaskets are apparently legendarily iffy) It's handled anything we needed done on our 100 acres plus the 400 we used to have rights to work.

New can be very attractive and old is always worth checking over closely, but I wouldn't rule out used if I were you. The cost to benefit is pretty impressive.

Edit to add: My neighbor's nice modern JD with the air-conditioned cab just lost a water pump this week. "New" doesn't mean the same as "there won't be problems".
No, but new means less likelihood of a problem for a time. An important consideration for a single gal down on the farm.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by derajer » Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:14 pm

arrowolf wrote:
dug wrote:Growing up we had a Farmall Super A as our garden tractor. I wish we still had it, but around 1995 some years after we stopped planting 2 acres of crowder peas we sold it off since we weren't using it. It was just rusting away and we liked the tractor too much to let it die that way. We sold it for $1,200 and included every implement we had. That guy got a great deal.

The current tractor is a 1973 Massey Ferguson 165 diesel. Bought new in 1974 by my grandfather to be the main farming tractor since the Farmall was primarily for the garden. It's a bit beaten and leaks some character out of the power steering and around the fuel injectors but still reliable as can be. (MF gaskets are apparently legendarily iffy) It's handled anything we needed done on our 100 acres plus the 400 we used to have rights to work.

New can be very attractive and old is always worth checking over closely, but I wouldn't rule out used if I were you. The cost to benefit is pretty impressive.

Edit to add: My neighbor's nice modern JD with the air-conditioned cab just lost a water pump this week. "New" doesn't mean the same as "there won't be problems".
No, but new means less likelihood of a problem for a time. An important consideration for a single gal down on the farm.
I disagree with that. Many old, even antique, tractors can be just as or more trouble free than new tractors. Older tractors tend to be extremely simple with very little to break. New tractors generally have all sorts of hydraulics, pumps, power-steering, complex transmissions, cup-holders, and all sorts of stuff that could potentially break. In some ways less is more. I highly doubt the kubota micro-wonders will still be going as strong as the antiques 25-30 year from now.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by jclaudii » Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:06 pm

I have to agree with derajer on this. My father is actually looking at getting a tractor with a loader on it and I picked up some info at the Kobota store. They look like great tractors and they will more than likely be great for the rest of his lifetime if he chooses to get one(he's 72). But he has two others an old Case something D and a Massey Fergerson. Both are standards full size Diesel and will continue to run long after he is gone. The newer CASE a late 70's model actually has more "problems" because of all the hydraulics, mainly the lift and power steering system that uses a hydraulic ram. The old MF is a tie-rod setup and has a slipper clutch if I'm not mistaken for the lift. Granted, it can't lift as much as she used to.

We have a few acres as well and I am looking for an old 8n, MF, or foriegn tractor to use as our brush hogging tractor around here. Craigslist is a great place to look to see if there are any within a tank of gas from you. I think for the short term, a used tractor will help you decide what you need in a tractor for the future maintenance of your property. Also, if you buy a older model like a 8n, mf, jd, case, etc, and you fix it up some, you just made money :)

Good luck with it.

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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by Kathy in FL » Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:09 pm

I disagree with that. Many old, even antique, tractors can be just as or more trouble free than new tractors. Older tractors tend to be extremely simple with very little to break. New tractors generally have all sorts of hydraulics, pumps, power-steering, complex transmissions, cup-holders, and all sorts of stuff that could potentially break. In some ways less is more. I highly doubt the kubota micro-wonders will still be going as strong as the antiques 25-30 year from now.
Maybe, maybe not. There are a lot less "antique" tractors than there used to be. Some do fall apart along the way despite good care. If not there would be a whole lot more of them around. Its just like with cars.

It depends on how well you maintain it, how available the parts are/aren't, and ultimately the cost of maintaining and replacing parts become. AND what kind of work you want to get out of them in the first place.

Get the tractor that will do what you need it to and then some and you won't have to worry about over working your engine, etc. If you don't have to constantly overwork your equipment it will be easier to maintain and last longer ... antique or no antique.

Overwork your equipment and you are going to eventually tear it up, I don't care how well you maintain it or how cheap the spare parts are. If your tractor isn't meant to pull stumps, climb inclines, or drag a plow through certain types of ground/soil then don't do it. And if you do it, don't cry when you find out you've broken your toy. $1000 or $10,000 or $100,000 ... broke is broke and its not worth nothing until you get it fixed. :wink:

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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by MI-1Honkey » Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:44 pm

We had an 8n with a loader for a while, very simple machine to work on. But with even a couple hundred pounds in the bucket, the lack of power steering makes driving very sketchy. Parts are easy to find. Implements for a two point hitch however, are fewer and farther between nowadays, pay extra for a three point if you have to. Also I found that a 12v conversion was necessary to reliably start it in the Michigan winters.

After that i bought a Farmall Cub to finish mow dad's 5 acres, took almost eight hours with a woods 59" belly mower. My brothers been mowing it for him this year with his big zero turn, takes him just under three hours, but he uses more gas than I did.

If I was to buy another, i would go with a diesel, and a three point hitch.

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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by derajer » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:42 pm

I definitely agree about diesels, when available they seem to last longer and perform better. I also agree with the 3-point hitch, I don't think you'll find anyone that would say otherwise. It will mostly just be for odd jobs.

I have no intention of mowing 5 acres, I for as much of my land as possible to produce for me, not just make extra work.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by phast12 » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:07 am

Another good option is the Massey Ferguson 135. Plenty of power for what you are talking about and parts for them are really easy to find. They also run forever if you take care of them, pretty much all the 100 series are great used tractors
(I own a 1964 MF 175)

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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by dug » Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:22 am

If you do choose to go the used route (and for those of us with older tractors) I thought I would share a good link:
http://www.ytmag.com/

Yesterday's Tractors is a great forum for getting advice; links to parts suppliers and basically all things related to old tractors. It can be very helpful. Their tips on buying a used tractor is short but has some good points: http://www.yesterdaystractors.com/cgi-bin/tips.pl

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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by arrowolf » Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:51 am

In the three years I've had mine, I've bought a battery and that's it as far as parts. It runs great, will cut my whole place (5 acres) in about 6 hours on one tank of diesel. I didn't need anything bigger than what I bought. I knew what I was gonna need. I got it all at one time rather than buy the tractor at one place then have to look around the country side for attachments. And around here in North Texas, used equipment is not a whole lot cheaper than buying new, cuz I looked. And I wasn' buying any oddball brand. Deere holds it's value.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by lailr » Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:53 pm

One of those old fords with the tricycle front wheels would probably be within your budget, just make sure to get a rollbar!

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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by Valarius » Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:59 pm

Depends on what you want to do with it. Ask around and see what's common in your area.

One of my friends has a tractor with the standard bulldozer plow in front, a backhoe, and a forklift. It's perfect for irrigation ditches, reparing wells, and the like. He said it would cost $25,000 for a brand-new set up exactly like that.
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Re: Choosing a Tractor

Post by Andy_Cannon » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:05 pm

If Kubota still makes it, a 4030. I think you can get a front rig for it. I have a big Kubota with a bush Hog. Best. Investment. ever.
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