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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    421
    Location
    East Central Mo
    Tractor
    TC40 16LA FEL w-QT & 758c BH

    Default 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    The 20-30-40 hp CUT is a marvelously flexible power tool. With the proper implements you can use it for plowing new ground, tilling and cultivating. You can cut and bale hay. You can use it as a power source for running everything from water pumps and generators through log splitters. You can mow with it. You can push snow or run a snow blower. You can make your own mulch and compost material with a chipper/shredder. You can grind grain with it. You can tow a wagon to move everything from gravel to bushel baskets filled with garden produce. You can excavate trenches for laying pipe or cable. The list is almost endless. You, or I, may not use it for all these things. But as long as we have the basic power unit, when/if the need arises all we have to do is add the proper implement.

    Of course, the issue of scale comes into play. You probably wouldn’t use a CUT to move 10,000 cubic yards of dirt for example. You could, but it’s just not sized for that. Which brings me to the issue of size. Many people may have a smaller parcel, 5 acres, 10 acres.

    The 2 wheel tractor will do everything I mentioned above, but just on a smaller scale. The 2 wheel tractor is made to the same standards as a “regular” tractor, just smaller. They have multi speed, geared transmissions and PTO. Just like the CUT, they have dozens of implements available. In addition, their initial cost, and ongoing maintenance/repair cost, is 1/3 to ¼ of a 4 wheel CUT. Of course, because of their smaller size they are much more maneuverable. They are also much safer on slopes. Again, they are “scaled” to the smaller property.

    The only true 2 wheel tractor I am familiar with made in the US was the Gravely and production ceased in 2002/2003. I understand there are many brands made in Europe, with the BCS being the biggest seller. Although familiar with the BCS, I have never personally used one. But I have used the Gravely and am posting a brief review below. Many 30-40 year old Gravelies are still in regular use and are available used. Also, parts are still fairly available. Since this thread was started at the suggestion of another TBNer (who has and uses the BCS) I am hoping that others may post on their experience with this type of tractor as well as pictures of their equipment. This thread is for “educational” purposes as many may simply not know about this type of equipment, or, may have seen it but don’t really understand what they are looking at. I know from other posts, that some compare them with Troybuilt (or other) tillers. Not the same thing at all. These are real “tractors.”

    JEH

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    421
    Location
    East Central Mo
    Tractor
    TC40 16LA FEL w-QT & 758c BH

    Default Re: 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    Gravely 6.6L manufactured 1966 (I am reviewing the 6.6L, rather than the 7.6L I also had because of its better torque and electric start – I used the 6.6L more).

    Weight was 400+ lbs as equipped. 4 sp trans (2F, 2R (the 7.6L had 8sp 4F, 4R)). Engine: single cylinder air cooled with pressurized lubrication, automotive type oil filter and, get this, a real oil pressure gauge. It had clutchless shuttle shift for reversing, and, the shuttle shift also functioned as the “brakes”-just start to change direction and it stopped immediately or held it on a hill. The front PTO drove many implements. PTO speed was controlled by the transmission speed. Mine had electric start activated by a foot button at the lower rear near the starter. However, the 7.6L would start on the first pull as long as you remembered the exact setting of choke & fuel for the temperature (otherwise, it was a chore). I also had duals which made it wider, more stable on hills and gave it excellent traction. Implements were attached by 4 bolts through the implement mount into the front of the tractor. Quick attach mounts were available but I didn’t have those (wish I had).

    What I liked most? The large amount of work it could do for its size and low cost (compared to a CUT) and the ease in working on it. What I liked least? The relatively small tires (4x8) – on smoother surfaces they were no problem, but it was easy to get stuck when dropping into a small gully (and it’s heavy to man handle in those conditions). There was no issue of traction though, that was great.

    Some specific tasks:
    Mowing: The finish mower was 40” and cut nice, was easy to mow under trees & bushes (the clutchless shuttle made it very easy). It would mow on a 30 degree slope (where I would be afraid to take a CUT). Control and maneuverability was very good to excellent (except when I was using the mowing sulky which allowed you to mow sitting down but made it much harder to turn tightly). Production? About 1 hour per acre for previously mowed areas relatively flat. The “brush” mower (30”) very heavy duty and would cut small sapplings.

    Plowing: The rotary plow created a very good seed bed on previously unused ground with no need for tilling prior to planting. However, the angle of the blades had to be adjusted just right or it would pull to one side. Also, when hitting roots or similar it could jerk badly. I have been told the rear mounted BCS rotary plow is much easier to handle and has a greater working depth – but haven’t used it myself.

    Tilling: The tiller works fine for weeding and similar. It is poor though in “breaking” new ground unless you till backing up, then the tines are going in reverse direction from the tractor. The working depth of the tiller (and the plow) was controlled by a separate set of metal wheels mounted to the front. While they worked great for transporting, they were sometimes a pain when reversing directions at the end of a row. Also, the working depth could be greater.

    Snow Removal: I used a 48” dozer blade mounted on the front. Although I had a Farmall with blade, I preferred using the Gravely. For snow up to 4”-6” it was easier and more convenient (don’t know how it would handle an 8”-10” fall as never had one-would probably work though). Last winter I had sold the Gravelies and used the NH TC40. Preferred the Gravely. Of course, if I were plowing a 1 acre parking lot, that would be a different story.

    I used them for other things, but these were the most common. The tractor has a ball hitch on the rear for attaching a riding sulky, cart, etc. Perhaps some other TBNers can relate their experience with these type of tractors, either the Gravely or some of the European brands such as BCS.
    JEH

  3. #3
    Veteran Member chim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    1,768
    Location
    Lancaster County, PA
    Tractor
    Kubota L3200, Ford 1210

    Default Re: 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    How about a 1-wheel tractor? The smallest tractor tested at the Nebraska Tractor Test facility was the "Choremaster B Gasoline". Back in 1950, the tiny tractor developed 1.47 & 0,77 HP @ 3600 RPM (belt & drawbar HP). It sported a 5.89 cubic inch one cylinder Clinton air-colled engine, had one forward gear and would travel between 1-3/4 to 2-2/3 MPH. It weighed in at a mere 123 pounds................chim

    Here's a pic of a Choremaster, although I'm not sure it's a B. There were other models.

    http://www.ytmag.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?ag17_060.jpg

  4. #4
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    3,373
    Location
    Goffs Corner, KY
    Tractor
    IH 2444

    Default Re: 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    Simplicity also made 2 wheel walk behind tractors. I spent many hours behind one as a youngster. Ever plow 3 acres with one ? Takes a long time but works well. Had front sickle bar, reat cultivator/middle buster, harrows, drag, 12 inch single gang plow, etc. Good tractor, neighbor had a Gravely and the simplicity would outpull the Gravely. Ours was bought in about 1957. and used until about 1990.



  5. #5

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    13
    Location
    South-central NH

    Default Re: 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    I have a 1948 (I think) L model. My uncle bought it originally and sold it to my dad in the sixties. I have been using it since I was old and big enough to start it (it is a manual start). The engine was rebuilt once by my brother. I use it for snow blowing, moving dirt with a plow, and brush hogging around the edge of our field. It is an incredible machine. I also have a sulky and set of reduction wheels for it. I have blown snow well over 3 feet deep with it and it simply chugs along.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    482
    Location
    West-Central CT
    Tractor
    Kubota L3130, LA723 Loader, BH90 Backhoe, Curtis Cab, || '82 Gravely 8199KT garden tractor

    Default Re: 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    Walk-behind Tractor and Attachments
    725
    BCS

    New Model 720 tractor ~$1600 new, no attachments

    Walk-behind Tractor and Attachments

    -Multi-use machine
    -Various attachments available
    -Very good design
    -Very good quality
    -All gear drive train
    -Good long-term value

    -Shifting can be improved
    -Being low to the ground requires long loading ramps
    -Some attachments can be difficult to attach/detach by one person
    -Higher price than most are accustom to

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION
    "Two-wheel tractors (also called walking or hand tractors) are used worldwide for small-scale farm, horticultural, industrial, landscaping and home use. Unlike the psuedo-professional equipment of the same physical size produced for the U.S. Market such as the DR® and Troy-Bilt®, European two-wheel tractors are built to standards of quality and durability expected of agricultural equipment. Like a 4-wheel farm tractor, these rugged two-wheel machines are designed to run many attachments with a single power source and give thousands of hours of service. Of the 30 or so companies manufacturing 2-wheel tractors in Europe, BCS is by far the largest. Based in Milan, Italy, BCS has been selling their equipment for over 50 years in 80 countries and has over 500 dealers in North America."
    (from Earth Tools web site)



    SPECIFICATIONS
    -BCS model 725 tractor, 2-wheel
    -Year ~1995
    - Kohler Magnum 8 gas engine
    -Speeds: 5 forward, 2 reverse (Hi/Low range)
    -Approximate speeds:
    Forward MPH: .6 1.24 1.5 3.0 7.4
    Reverse MPH: .77 1.85
    -Tires: bar tread, 17" diameter x 4.3" wide
    -BCS 20" rototiller attachment
    -BCS 24" snow blower attachment
    -BCS Chipper/shredder
    -BCS 36" grader blade, heavy duty
    -Quick attach PTO option
    -Wheel weights option
    -Tire chains option
    -Free wheel hubs option



    OVERALL PROS:
    This 2-wheel walk-behind tractor and attachments are designed for "commercial" daily use on small farms in Italy/Europe... and is readily available in the U.S.A. It's a proven line of equipment.

    I bought everything used except for the chipper/shredder. This ~1995 model 725 is similar to the current model 720 / 730. I paid about $1,500... about 1/2 of new price... for everything... the new chipper/shredder is $1,150... plus cost of PTO quick connect parts...

    I'm really impressed by the design and build quality... all-gear drive train... no belts or pulleys... cast iron... solid... drive train is warranted forever... including seals...

    This top-level design, build, and quality is certainly obvious when compared to the typical array of equipment marked to non-professional users... i.e. homeowners... Operating the equipment tells the story even better...

    Powered attachments connect via a robust power takeoff (PTO)... kinda like those on a farm tractor... mine has the optional "quick attach" feature so no tools are needed to change implements... otherwise there's 2 bolts/nuts to deal with...
    PTO drive to attachment engaged separately from wheel drive for operator convenience...
    PTO speed and direction is independent of wheel speed and direction. Attachments operate at top speed regardless of wheel speed....
    Some attachments are used on the "front" end... some on the "rear" end...
    Handlebars and all controls rotate 180 degrees to accomplish this...

    There's only 1 engine to maintain... and all attachments benefit if it's upgraded...
    I use this year round so there's no seasonal storage issues...

    Separate tractor and attachments takes less storage space than standalone machines... overall cost can be lower too... attachments are changed quickly with 2 studs and nuts (2-4 min) or in 30 - 60 seconds with optional quick hitch...

    The all-gear drive train uses little (~3-5%) engine horsepower... I understand some belt & pulley designs can take up to 15% of the engines power... typically at least 8%...

    Multiple forward(5) and reverse(2) speeds... fully powered both ways... heavy duty, automotive style cone clutch is hand operated... just clutch and shift to change speeds...

    Can upgrade the tractor and still use the same attachments... there are several model BCS tractors... 5 to 14 hp and $800 to $3800...
    Many many attachments and accessories are available...

    Low center of gravity...

    Handlebars can be offset up and down... and to both sides... easy to change and connection is solid...


    OVERALL CONS:
    Shifting is kinda "notchy"... not real smooth due to the shift lever position... this can stand improvement...

    Loading the tractor onto the bed of a pickup truck requires non-standard ramps incline... The tractor with implement is on the long and low side... making the backend bottom out with typical length/incline ramps...

    Attaching/detaching some implements can be a bit troublesome. Especially for 1 person. I have the hardest time detaching the chipper/shredder because I can not lift it and the PTO fit is quite snug making pulling the connection apart tough. The rototiller and snow blower are easy because I can lift them to guide onto/off of the PTO. Keeping the PTO connections cleaned and lubricated helps a lot.

    The controls might be a little confusing to a new operator. Especially because the handlebars rotate 180 degrees allowing some implements to be used on the "front" or "rear" of the tractor...

    Initial cost is higher than consumer-grade, psuedo-professional equipment... may be a barrier to purchasing... I purchased the used equipment package for about 1/2 cost of new...


    ROTOTILLER PROS:
    Breaks thru sod easily... 1-hand operation...
    Tills full depth at only 1/2 throttle... (efficient drive train & fast tine speed)
    Tine assembly rotates freely by hand for easy removal of stuff wrapped around them/shaft... tines on other tillers I've owned were not movable making cleaning difficult...
    Tractor handlebars easily offset to either side and up & down so your not walking on tilled soil...
    One model tiller is changeable from 20" to 26" width... different width tillers available...
    Low center of gravity and great traction makes tilling slopes feasible...
    Tiller portion rotates side-to-side automatically following ground contours...


    ROTOTILLER CONS:
    Some (not me) may consider fast tine speed a negative... "pulverizes" soil... I find this a plus because I can till using a faster ground speed...
    Tractor is kinda hard to turn 180 degrees (hairpin turn) when in full-time 2-wheel drive... same as most tillers... I can switch it to 1-wheel drive (optional hubs) to make turns easy... but traction is sacrificed... so I usually use 2-wheel drive... larger 8xx models have "brake steering" so this is not an issue...



    SNOW BLOWER PROS:
    This 1-stage throws snow farther than I ever expected... up over telephone pole lines... or horizontally ~35-45 feet... outperforms the several 2-stage snoblowers I've owned...
    Can handle almost full-height 18"), full-width(24") cut and throw it far... (some snows)...
    Stainless steel discharge chute really resists clogging... durable...
    Holder for chute clearing dowel...
    Remote discharge chute deflector control...
    Cast iron gear box...
    Hand adjustable auger height...
    Traction is great... unit is heavy enough and not deflected by the snow... 17" diameter, bar-tread tires...


    SNOW BLOWER CONS:
    Discharge chute only rotates 180 degrees... wish it went 220 degrees like many snow blowers... too many crank turns to go full 180...
    Overall length on tractor is on the long side...
    Forward/reverse shifting is not quick on mine... but current model tractors have "instant reverse"...
    Harder to maneuver than a standalone snow blower in tighter areas or where change of direction is frequent...



    CHIPPER/SHREDDER PROS:
    Heavy 37 pound flywheel... keeps up momentum under load...
    Shredding chamber has 28 "flails" or "hammers" swinging at 3500 RPM - that's 98,000 flail strikes every minute... flails are reversible for double the wear...
    Well built unit...
    8 horsepower is sufficient to power this...
    Chips up 3" diameter wood...
    Performs very very well... definitely better than the previous 8HP standalone chipper/shredder I owned...
    Attached to the tractor so the tractor transports it... a big plus...
    2 transport wheels & 2 stabilizing legs...
    Adjustable, heavy duty discharge opening...


    CHIPPER/SHREDDER CONS:
    Entire unit rotates freely side-to-side at the PTO connection so it "tips" when traveling over uneven ground... or when a sudden heavy load is put into the shredder...
    2 travel wheels are kinda small for traveling over rough terrain... traveling in reverse helps alleviate this...



    ATTACHMENTS available (varies by tractor model)
    Tillers - 18" to 38"
    Brush Mowers - 20" to 30"
    Cutter (Sickle) Bars - 30" to 61"
    Snow blowers - 20" to 28"
    Lawnmowers with Baggers22", 38"
    Chipper/Shredder (Min. 8hp)
    Dozer/Scraper Blade
    Mini-Trencher
    Power Sweeper
    Single Bottom Plow
    Hiller / Furrower
    Utility Trailers
    Hayrake / Tedder
    Round Hay Baler
    Reciprocating Spader
    Rotary Plows
    Flail Mowers
    Tool Bar / Cultivators
    Potato / Root Digger Plows
    Sprayers
    Front-Mount Dump Cart
    Plastic Mulch Layers
    Ridgers
    Mowing & Transport Sulky
    Adaptor to run belt driven equipment such as a generator



    ACCESSORIES available
    Quick Hitch Kit
    Standard Wheel Extensions
    Adjustable Wheel Extensions
    Tiller Transport Wheel
    PTO Extensions & Adapters
    Cast Iron Wheel Weight
    Barbell Wheel Weight Hangers
    Steel Crawler Tracks
    Steel Wheels
    Many Wheel & Tire Options
    'Free Wheel' Devices
    Cooling Air Screen
    Front Weights
    Sickle Bar Caster Wheels
    More!



    MORE INFORMATION
    BCS America

    The BCS Shop

    Earth Tools



    CLOSING REMARKS
    Would I buy this equipment again? Pay new prices?

    D E F I N A T E L Y ! ! !

    New or used, I'd rather buy top-quality BCS equipment once instead of the 4 other rototillers, 1 chipper/shredder, and the few snow blowers I've owned over the years.

    The range of other BCS and 3rd party attachments would have met my large yard and gardening jobs' requirements too... and possibly avoided me using other means with garden tractors and manual efforts...

    I wish I knew about BCS equipment years ago...


    Dave...

  7. #7
    Gold Member ZJ_HR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    412
    Location
    Croatia
    Tractor
    '02 Same Argon70 4WD, '81 Store 402 4WD

    Default Re: 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    I'm from other side of pond, and don't know what's available there.
    Here we have lot of brands, but most famous is Goldoni and his clones. Pretty good and reliable machines.
    BCS, SEP are known but not that popular. BCS is known as producer of excellent mowers, for communal or ag purposes.
    I had 2 walk behind tractors, and one of them was 8hp gas engine, Goldoni clone, produced locally. It had direct shaft and 4.00-8" wheels. Excellent machine for tilling.

    Now I have another locally produced walkbehind tractor, with equal engine, just different tranny. It is not as good for tilling, but is good for mowing purposes. It has 20% faster PTO speed, shuttle with 3 speeds, one fast (10mph) speed for road and differential with separate brakes.
    I have several attachments, and some of them are home built.

    If you have particular questions, feel free to ask. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

    On pic: tractor on 4.00-12" wheels with sickle bar mower 35"
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    3,373
    Location
    Goffs Corner, KY
    Tractor
    IH 2444

    Default Re: 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    Wow Dave ! a great writeup and looks like all the information anyone needs that is interested in a current prodution walk behind tractor. I would buy a BCS if I were buying a new walkbehind, I have heard good things about them.

    btw, Those are my Initials. Maybe I should sue them as I have had my initials longer than they have been using them [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  9. #9
    Gold Member ZJ_HR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    412
    Location
    Croatia
    Tractor
    '02 Same Argon70 4WD, '81 Store 402 4WD

    Default Re: 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    Tiller 14-24" and home made steel wheels.
    They weight about 50lbs each.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Gold Member ZJ_HR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    412
    Location
    Croatia
    Tractor
    '02 Same Argon70 4WD, '81 Store 402 4WD

    Default Re: 2 Wheel Tractors - Buying & Using

    Current project: 24" rotary mower in testing phase. Mower housing on smaller picture
    Attached Images Attached Images

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