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  1. #31
    Platinum Member
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    Apr 2000
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    800
    Location
    East Tennessee
    Tractor
    B2910 & BX23 (previously B2150 & B7100D)

    Default Re: Calling all Gearheads

    kiphorn,
    Here's my 2 cents worth.

    Live PTO: Regardless of which transmission you get, make sure you end up with a live PTO for your rotary mower work. You'll desire that feature greatly when you do your "back and forwards" mowing around the pond. I may be wrong, but it seems like a lot of the "under 30hp" gear drive tractors do not have live PTO.

    My Setup: I have a 16hp kubota gear drive (w/o live PTO) and a 24 hp Kubota hydrostatic tractor (both 4wd, which I strongly recommend). I bought the gear drive model first and was reasonably happy with it's performance, except I had a few areas like you that required back-and-forth mowing over the edge of a river bank. I knew that that kind of mowing would wear out the clutch very fast (continuously stopping and starting the tractor and rotary mower) so I shopped around until I found a good deal on the hydrostatic model.

    Now that I use both tractors regularly, I can say that when mowing, the hydrostatic model has the advantage when (1) I want to slow down for the turn-around at the end of each pass and (2) when I mow in a back-n-forth pattern. When mowing in a box pattern in the wide open areas, there isn't much difference. If I had to have only one tractor, I'd strongly prefer the hydrostatic model.

    For mowing 2-3 acres and keeping snow off of an 800' driveway, I feel that a 16hp Kubota B7100/B7300/B7400 HSD with FEL would probably be the minimum that you would want to do the job (no power steering though...). The 21hp B7500 HSD would be what I would recommend for long-term happiness, or anything larger that your budget would allow.

    Kelvin


  2. #32
    Super Star Member RoyJackson's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
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    18,618
    Location
    Bethel, Vermont
    Tractor
    John Deere 4400 MFWD, Deere 855D UTV, Z920A Zero Turn Mower and assorted implements

    Default Re: Calling all Gearheads

    "I knew that that kind of mowing would wear out the clutch very fast (continuously stopping and starting the tractor and rotary mower) "

    Why would you think that?
    Have you had to replace your clutch? As long as one doesn't "ride" the clutch, even a lot of stop and go won't wear one that much, or that rapidly. My dealer rarely has to replace a clutch unless the tractor belongs to a rental company or is used by several different operators (who could care less about longevity). One user tractors...go a long time between clutch replacements. Friend of mine with a gear Deere 850 has gone over 12 years going up and backing down a slope. Still the original clutch...
    These are pretty heavy duty clutches, even in smaller tractors.

    As far as the thread...gear or hydro: go for the deal that suits you the most. No matter which tranny, it'll do the job.

  3. #33
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Posts
    800
    Location
    East Tennessee
    Tractor
    B2910 & BX23 (previously B2150 & B7100D)

    Default Re: Calling all Gearheads

    Roy,
    Why would I think that "continuously stopping and starting the tractor and rotary mower" would wear the clutch out faster? I first need to re-assert that my statement applies only to tractors with non-live PTOs (typical of small compact tractors).

    My response to your question is, "Why not?". Unless I am missing something, it seems common sense that the more a friction wear item (such as dry-plate clutches and brakes) gets used the faster they wear out. And operation under heavy load conditions accelerates that wear.

    I guess that I relate it to the clutch wear on a truck. Stop-n-go city driving conditions will wear a clutch faster than highway driving. And a heavily loaded truck will wear the clutch out faster than an empty truck.

    I would also say that your local dealer doesn't have that many clutches replaced because (my guess...) most of the gear drive tractors are the larger type that have "live" or "2-stage" clutches which allow the operator to change gears without continuously stopping and starting the PTO driven equipment. And those that don't have live PTOs (like mine) probably don't use the tractor for "continuous starting and stopping of the tractor and PTO equipment" duties. Note that I have no problem using my gear drive tractor with a PTO driven rotary mower in open fields; I still prefer my hydrostat tractor though.

    Another issue for "back-and-forth" mowing with my gear drive tractor without live PTO (or 2-stage clutch): After depressing the clutch to change from a forward gear to a reverse gear (and vice-versa), I have to wait approximately 15-30 seconds (seems like several minutes) for the PTO driven mower to slow down enough for me to shift the transmission into the new gear (I don't like all of the grinding noises when I try to shift into the new gear too soon). With a hydrostatic transmission (and I assume the glide-shift/power-shift type transmissions) you can change directions easily and without stopping the 3-point equipment.

    Your friend's gear-drive JD 850 probably has a live PTO clutch in which case my statement doesn't apply. I don't know how the JD "70" series compares with the "50" series, but I have a sales brochure on the JD 670-1070 series, and the 670 (19.3hp)/770 (21.0hp) has a single stage dry clutch with non-live PTO, but they had optional 2-stage clutches with continuous live PTOs (standard equipment on the 4wd models). The 870 (28.7hp), 970 (35hp) and 1070 (40.9hp) all came equipped with 2-stage clutches and continuous live PTOs.

    I still stand by my statement that for "back-and-forth" mowing, a person will HIGHLY DESIRE a tractor with live PTO and/or a 2-stage clutch. However, I am still willing to learn...

    Kelvin

  4. #34
    Super Star Member RoyJackson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
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    18,618
    Location
    Bethel, Vermont
    Tractor
    John Deere 4400 MFWD, Deere 855D UTV, Z920A Zero Turn Mower and assorted implements

    Default Re: Calling all Gearheads

    "Why would I think that "continuously stopping and starting the tractor and rotary mower" would wear the clutch out faster? I first need to re-assert that my statement applies only to tractors with non-live PTOs (typical of small compact tractors)."

    My 670 has the single stage clutch, hence "non" live PTO. When I have to shift (my property demands a lot of back and forth mowing due to the slopes...although this is lessening somewhat due my increasing tolerance for minor slopes), I don't have to wait at all. The transmission shifts between a forward and reverse gear with no clashing whatsoever. I do have to wait a few seconds if I'm engaging the PTO lever. But that is only done when first starting the mowing operation, or if I take a break (at which time, I shut the tractor down).

    Granted, I'd rather have the live PTO or dual stage clutch (which was optional on the 670 mfwd models), but this has nothing to do with the longevity of the clutch. Since the clutch disengages the PTO (stopping the mower), I have to do a little more movement to cut the grass missed during the shifts. This is more of a technique to mow, by the way...living with the limitations of the design.
    If you have to wait 15 seconds or so to prevent gear clash during shifts, it sounds like your tranny is non-synchromesh, or the synchros have gone bad.

    In retrospect, I'd rather have the dual stage clutch...I'd also rather have purchased the 770 due to it's 4 more horsepower (at the PTO).

    As far as hydro vs. gear...didn't really come into the purchase decision at all. If there had been a Deere 755 (comparable power and size to the 670 model) setting in the dealer's lot...I'd be running a hydro today, maybe.
    I did talk to the dealer about longevity of these tractor components...his comment about clutch longevity was on the x70 series, 790 series and smaller 4xxx series tractors, not the bigger units.

    If I'd done the deal today...on a brand new tractor...I'd still probably go for the gear drive. I just don't think the hydro is worth the extra money (or the power loss). Teaching others to operate isn't a factor here at all.

    I would, however, go for the dual stage clutch...but, again, I don't see longevity being an issue.

    BTW, Kelvin, you were right...the 850 has an independent PTO.

  5. #35
    Platinum Member
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    Apr 2000
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    800
    Location
    East Tennessee
    Tractor
    B2910 & BX23 (previously B2150 & B7100D)

    Default Re: Calling all Gearheads

    According to my JD brochure, your 670 has a "sliding gear" transmission, which as you say results in easier shifting than an older style gear transmission. So it appears that with the way you describe your tractor operation, clutch wear with your gear transmission would be significantly less than the clutch wear on my gear transmission (since I have to wait until my PTO nearly stops turning before I can change gears). Stated otherwise, when mowing in "back-and-forth" movements with my gear drive I have to continually stop and start the mowing deck where you do not; thus, I feel there is a lot more clutch wear where you feel there is not. This whole converstaion is starting to make some sense to me now.

    Based upon all of this conversation, I am developing two biases, which may also be the bias of some of the people that post on this board. With regard to the compact tractors (<30hp), in comparing JD and kubota,

    (1) Kubota probably makes the best hydrostatic transmission, and
    (2) JD probably makes the best gear transmission.

    If this bias has validity, then
    (1) that would explain the high emphasis on hydrostatic transmissions by Kubota drivers,
    (2) the high de-emphasis on hydrostatic transmissions by non-Kubota drivers,
    (3) the high popularity of hydrostatic transmissions over gear drives in the Kubota lineup, and
    (4) the significantly less popularity of hydrostatic transmissions in the JD lineup (disclaimer: this is my assumption based upon limited information).

    I will add that I don't have any experience in the larger tractors and their specific features (I did spend quite a few hours in the seat of a MF 165 over 25 years ago, but never did any mowing with it...).

    Kelvin

  6. #36
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    436
    Location
    Mississippi
    Tractor
    Kubota M-4900

    Default Re: Calling all Gearheads

    Agreed, John. Everything is indeed relative. There are probably more 135s around here than any other single tractor model and if I had one I would be proud of it. If I had this one though I would be retrofitting it with p.s. for sure.

    This particular one has a serious problem. My neighbor hardly ever uses it for anything except to dig postholes. He has a new 80hp NH to do all the real work. I guess he just hates to part with the old 135.

    I remember an old IH we had when I was growing up that that had at least a round of slack in the steering wheel and I thought it handled like a cadillac![img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img][img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img]

    TBone

  7. #37
    Silver Member kiphorn's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
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    112
    Location
    Central PA
    Tractor
    TC 24D

    Default Re: Calling all Gearheads

    I've been busy with the new house and the family and haven't had an opportunity to respond to the many comments that were generated to my post.

    The hydro vs. gear debate continued with no clear winner. Many good points were thrown out in favor of either choice and I thank all that responded with their thoughts.

    MikePA's comment, brings up another question: <font color=blue> Kip, a third alternative is to get what you need/want but buy used. </font color=blue>

    I did some searches but really didn't find the answer I was looking for to the following question: How many hours on a tractor are too many?

    I realize that's a tough question, but I had to ask. I don't buy the line "It was owned by a liitle old lady who only cut her grass on Sunday." Were they hard hours or easy hours? Was the tractor serviced regularly or not? I'm sure there are a hundred and one questions that could be asked about used tractors.

    Hours being the easisest to get a handle on, what is the consensus on hours. Is 500 to many? I've looked at some regular contributers and they aren't racking up a ton of hours. Harv mentioned 60 hours in his post. I'd feel relatively comfortable buying a tractor with 60 hours on it, but my comfort level decreases proportionally as the hours increase.

    I asked my wife if we could put a card table in the dining room and use the beach chairs in the family room so that I could buy the tractor I want. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img][img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img] Her response wasn't very positive. I don't understand. Women just don't seem to get why we men need these tractors.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/hmm.gif[/img] (No offense to the female TBN'ers)


    Kip

  8. #38
    Super Member RobS's Avatar
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    Jun 2000
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    6,236
    Location
    SW Michigan
    Tractor
    John Deere 790

    Default Re: Calling all Gearheads

    Kip, my two cents on used/new from a similar situation three years ago...

    I started looking used but didn't want something too old/worn out. I knew I'd barely have time to use the tractor much less try to bring one back to life. I concentrated my search on tractors less than 5 years old and found them to be either beat or priced nearly what a new one was going for. I quickly concluded that for just a bit more money I could afford new and not have the worries of what the previous owner did or didn't do to the machine. Also got that new tractor warranty. I did save by getting the 790, one of Deere's "economy" models. Thus the gears, though if I had more money to spend I still would not have gone for HST. Maybe power-reverser [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  9. #39
    Platinum Member knucklehead's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    818
    Location
    Maine
    Tractor
    1979 Ford 1700

    Default Re: Calling all Gearheads

    Kip

    We're in a similar place as you. Started looking at older tractors, got all the way up to new ones; now we're in a cool off period of assessment. We have other things we want to do, too, and keep the debt down.

    We decided (this week [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]) to go for a single purpose tractor and have a smaller garden tractor for mowing around the house, etc.. That way we don't get into the Great Tire Dilemma, and we can concentrate on looking for more of a hulking behemoth than a dual purpose machine. It just makes things simpler. We're looking at garden tractors in the +/- $1500 range for older decent ones.

    About synch &amp; power reversers, here's my quick &amp; technically dirty view: with synchros, you still have to clutch &amp; nearly stop moving, but not wait for the internal gears to stop moving, so it's quicker when changing direction. Regarding direction, you also get the same speed in reverse for all gear/range combinations, so you have as many forward speeds as backward. The power reverser is sort of the same setup, speed selection-wise, but lets you change direction w/o physically clutching, as that is done via hydraulically modulated clutches (correct me, mechanics). You still have to use the clutch to stop. Obviously, the 'hydro is the true automatic.

    I'd go no less than the syncronized unit. In experience as well as other's opinions, the straight gear is better for operations where there are fewer direction changes, slow reverse speed isn't a nuisance, or for a patient person, like all of our honorable straight geared brothers out here. Us small tractor users make more direction changes (especially when we're shopping for that tractor [img]/w3tcompact/icons/grin.gif[/img]).

    Regarding hours, it's more a matter of maintenance. I withdrew a low offer on a fairly new tractor with less than 200 hours on it, because there are a few physical clues that point to careless use at the very least, and service records can't be found. I may go back if I get more information. A tractor with 1500-2000 hours wouldn't bother me if it had a good service history and proper use. And was priced right [img]/w3tcompact/icons/wink.gif[/img]. You also need to decide how much work you want to do yourself. I don't want to change a clutch or rebuild an engine on something I need to use regularly, but I will do most external work, like tune ups and parts replacement.

    Just my $0.02 - at this rate, you may save enough pennies for a new one!

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