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  1. #1
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    Simplicity 6512.5; Kubota L35

    Default Advice on tractor selection?

    Good mornin'!
    Relative newbie here, with a lot of ignorance. Could use some advise re selection of a mid-sized TLB; here's the situation:

    I'm about to retire from my day (office) job and start preparing to build house and barn, etc, out in the woods. I have 120 acres of hills and trees, and will have to start clearing building site as soon as I get equipment. Trees are mostly hardwood, predominantly white oaks, and up to 60+ feet tall; it's been 20 years since the last harvest. Once the construction clearing is done, I'll have as much work as I can handle clearing up blow-downs, doing TSI, and occasionally harvesting. I'm contemplating pushing over the trees in the potential building area, since the stumps will have to come out anyway. Logs will be either worked up on site for lumber or sold at roadside, depending on market and current needs

    Last tractor I had a close relationship with about 20 years ago was a 1940s widefront Super M with a front loader, so my practical experience is out of date.

    I'll be wanting 4WD w/ QD front loader, QD backhoe, and a good QD timber winch to swap places with the backhoe.
    I'm thinking around 40-50 HP. Dealers within 50 miles include kubota, Deere, and MF.

    Here's where ignorance and checkbook collide. By the time I price new, I seem to be over budget, with just the things I think I "know" I want.
    Lots of questions about other stuff that adds up, tho.

    I keep seeing references to optional additional hydraulics at mid and rear--how many hydraulic circuits do my proposed uses seem to call for, either as a new purchase or as a minimum in looking at used units?

    Do I appear to be in the ballpark re necessary HP, or should I look at 30-40 HP range equipment as well?

    If I'm looking at used equipment, say a tractor with loader but no backhoe, what do I need to either look for or plan to have added re rear hydraulics to operate backhoe?

    For this type of work am I better off with R-4 tires or regular ag tires?

    I will be lifting and stacking / moving logs frequently--should I look for a bucket to which prongs can be bolted, or look for a log loading replacement for the bucket?

    What am I still to ignorant about to even know to ask?

    Thanks, all.

  2. #2
    Elite Member Don87's Avatar
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    Massey Ferguson GC2400

    Default Re: Advice on tractor selection?

    You seem to be in the same stuation as MossFlowerWoods. Look him up and read his threads, it will help you immensely
    Don

    MF GC2400, FEL, 60in.MMM, 5ft. Cultivator, Single Bottom Plow, Bush Hog RTC48 tiller, MF 2360 front mount snowblower, 5ft backblade. BXpanded Piranha toothbar.

  3. #3
    Veteran Member
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    Success Missouri
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    Kubota L3800DT, L3750DT Shuttle

    Default Re: Advice on tractor selection?

    I'd hire a big machine to come in for the initial clearing. Other than that a 30-50 HP 4wd drive tractor will serve ya well.

    I'm on a large place here, logging, firewood, TSI, road work and mowing with two smaller Kubotas and have no complaints at all...
    Don
    Kubota L3750 Hydro Shuttle, 4wd, FEL; L3800 Gear drive, 4wd, FEL
    Husqvarna XP chainsaws 346xp X3, 357xp, 562xp, 359

  4. #4
    Elite Member
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    Bobcat CT225

    Default Re: Advice on tractor selection?

    Keep in mind that I am only three months or so ahead of you, but that being said, I have done a lot of reading here, and am good at remembering what other people have said. So maybe I can save you some searching. And if I say anything wrong, hopefully a more experienced member will correct me and we will both learn something.

    Quote Originally Posted by rustythread View Post
    Good mornin'!
    I have 120 acres of hills and trees, and will have to start clearing building site as soon as I get equipment.
    General consensus on TBN seems to be that, unless you just LOVE clearing land, hire someone with a bulldozer, or rent a bulldozer if you know how to operate one, for the initial clearing. What will take you weeks or months to chip away at with a tractor can be done in a day or an afternoon by a bulldozer.

    Here's where ignorance and checkbook collide. By the time I price new, I seem to be over budget, with just the things I think I "know" I want.
    Now that I am familiar with my tractor, and know what kind of questions to ask on TBN, I would be more confident buying used. If you have the cash or can access good financing, don't rule out used gear. Tractors and implements are very durable, and used stuff can still have a lot of life left in it as long as it hasn't been abused and damaged. That being said, I bought new because I wanted to be sure I wasn't getting a lemon, I wanted a warranty, and (most importantly) I didn't have the cash on hand. Zero percent financing is a heck of a motivator. Also, I really like being the first one to put a scratch or a ding in my equipment sometimes, and that was the case now. The next tractor I buy, if/when I buy one, I will seriously consider used, because I can see now that I could have gotten a LOT more value for my money that way. Live and learn...

    I keep seeing references to optional additional hydraulics at mid and rear--how many hydraulic circuits do my proposed uses seem to call for, either as a new purchase or as a minimum in looking at used units?
    Presumably, if you buy a TLB, it will have whatever hydraulics are necessary to run the backhoe. I believe that they typically run off the power beyond port, which is basically a single port that sends hydraulic fluid to an implement that will have its own valves and controls. When people talk about rear remotes, they are talking about ports on the back of the tractor that are controlled by levers on the tractor. The distinction between the two, as near as I can tell, is somewhat superficial. A power beyond port doesn't usually have any control on the tractor to turn it on or off. Remotes do. But remotes can (if the valve supports it) be put into "float" mode, which means hydraulic fluid flows through them continuously--in other words, they can act just like a power beyond port. If you had something like a hydraulic log splitter, which would have its own valve and lever to control the splitting wedge, I think that it would expect a power beyond-type port, or a remote that had a float position. For perspective, the standard set of rear remotes on my tractor (which I don't have, but I've read up on it) has two remotes, one with float and one without

    Getting back to your question, how many remotes do you need? I think it all depends on what you intend to do with your tractor. If you want to run a log splitter, a single remote with float mode (or power beyond) port would do. If you want to run hydraulic top and side links (top-n-tilt) then you need two remotes, probably one with float (the top link). If you want to run a box blade with hydraulic rippers, you need a single remote, but if you ALSO want to do top-n-tilt with it (a common setup), then you'd need a total of three remotes.

    If I'm looking at used equipment, say a tractor with loader but no backhoe, what do I need to either look for or plan to have added re rear hydraulics to operate backhoe?
    The answer to this question depends entirely on the tractor and backhoe that you intend to use, and I am honestly a little out of my depth here, but I think the most common setup is that the backhoe runs off of the power beyond port, or a remote operating in float mode.

    When considering the backhoe, one thing to keep in mind is whether the backhoe is 3-point-hitch mounted or whether it has a separate sub-frame. I have no personal experience here, but people on TBN say that the 3ph mounted backhoes are a little less stable than the sub-frame mounted ones. Another consideration is whether you have to remove the 3ph lift arms to install the backhoe or not, which some people find onerous if they are going back and forth between the two. Basically, how quickly can you remove the backhoe and install a 3ph implement, or vice versa?

    For this type of work am I better off with R-4 tires or regular ag tires?
    There are ample threads on TBN about tire choice. The main reason, IMO, people go with R4 is because ag tires will 100% chew up your yard even in the best conditions. If that is a concern, go with R4. Another consideration is that R4 tires do much better on asphalt or similar surfaces because they don't have raised lugs on the contact patch. Smoother ride and less wear on the tires. Basically, if you aren't worried about your lawn (and you didn't mention a mower, so maybe this is the case) and you don't plan to drive on tarmac very much, ag tires may be okay for you. One thing that ag tires bring to the game is that the wheels they are mounted on usually have adjustable width, which means you can widen the tractor's stance for more stability, or narrow it for more maneuverability. This is not the case with R4 or turf tires.

    Another way of thinking about it is that R4 are excellent general purpose tires, and will probably do you just fine unless you get into some really heavy pulling situations (deep mud, heavy plowing). Ag tires will give you that nth percent more pulling power, but with some down-sides.

    I will be lifting and stacking / moving logs frequently--should I look for a bucket to which prongs can be bolted, or look for a log loading replacement for the bucket?
    Most people that I see on here who put hooks on their bucket weld them on (or have them welded on). You can do that to any bucket, so don't worry about it. However, you should keep in mind that the lift capacity of many of these compact tractors is less than you might expect, and also it's easier than you might think to bend your bucket or lift arms by using the FEL as a crane. A center-mounted hook can bow in the roof of the bucket; a side-mounted hook can cause off-center force that bends the lift arms. Obviously, if you get a big enough tractor, it will do the work, but you should be sure before you go that route. I cut my own firewood for heat in the winter, and I know that a big log can easily get into the thousands of pounds range.

    Bear in mind that lift capacity of these tractors is heavily influenced by ballast. Without rear ballast, you won't be able to safely lift higher weights, even though the tractor's hydraulics and frame can take it. The tractor will become front-heavy and won't be safe to operate. In extreme cases, you will just lift the rear wheels of the ground when you try to lift the object. So you absolutely 100% need to be thinking about ballast if you are going to be doing heavy loader work... or really any loader work. Loaded tires and/or a cement-filled ballast box are common choices. If you end up buying a heavy-duty box blade or a tiller or something, that can be used as rear ballast too.

    Consider getting a grapple (and associated 3rd-function control and hydraulics) for your bucket, or even a dedicated grapple for your FEL if lifting/loading logs is in the picture. A bucket alone can't grab a log, right? If you will be moving brush piles, a grapple bucket is a common choice, but front forks are also reported to work well. Alternatively, a hydraulic thumb for the backhoe may be more your speed. It will give you more fine control than a front grapple, but of course you will have to switch back and forth from the front to the back set of controls to actually move the tractor from place to place.

    And one more thing: BUY A BIGGER TRACTOR THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED. You will take an absolute bath trading up in a year. Today, you have some things that you think you want to do with the tractor. The more you own and operate the tractor, the more things you are going to find that you want to do with it. It will cost you an extra few thousand dollars today to get the next tractor up in the line. I know that hurts, but it's going to hurt even more a year from now when you lose two or three times that much trading up. There's a balance to strike here, of course. That money could be spent on implements that you will use today! So don't go crazy. But if you are on the fence between a smaller tractor and a bigger one, you should almost always get the bigger one. The only time I think I would hesitate on that advice is if maneuverability is an issue. If you need to get into a lot of tight places (e.g. mowing around trees and buildings), maybe a smaller tractor would be better.

    I'll give you an example. I have about 3 acres of land. Honestly, I don't need a tractor much at all, but I wanted one to help make some work easier, to do some stuff by myself instead of hiring it out, and of course, for fun. So I started shopping the SCUT (sub-compact) range--Kubota BX, JD 1026, and so forth. But when I purchased, I ended up going to the CUT (compact) range--a CT225, the smallest CUT that Bobcat makes before they go to the SCUT range. When the dealer saw I was interested in the CT225, he tried to talk me up to a CT235 (same frame, bigger engine). I declined, but only because I had already gone one step up from what I thought was really appropriate. I have already gotten myself into some situations where I kind of wish I had a bigger bucket on my FEL--not that I bought the wrong tractor, mind you, because I like my payment where it is, but I'm glad I didn't get the tractor that was the "right size" for me, because I think it would quickly have turned out to be too small.

  5. #5
    Elite Member
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    Bobcat CT225

    Default Re: Advice on tractor selection?

    And one MORE thing: please, for goodness' sake, go to the Safety forum here and read, read, read. Read everything you can on tractor safety. These machines are designed to get work done. They are not dangerous when used properly, but they don't hold your hand either, and they will absolutely kill or maim you if you don't respect them.

  6. #6
    Elite Member Don87's Avatar
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    Massey Ferguson GC2400

    Default Re: Advice on tractor selection?

    Quote Originally Posted by joshuabardwell View Post
    Keep in mind that I am only three months or so ahead of you, but that being said, I have done a lot of reading here, and am good at remembering what other people have said. So maybe I can save you some searching. And if I say anything wrong, hopefully a more experienced member will correct me and we will both learn something.
    Very good writeup. About the only thing I would add is that the R4 tires will withstand a lot more punishment than Ag tires(thicker sidewalls). OP doesn't list a location though, that could make a difference in tire choice. OP mentions hills..........but IL. hills are a tad bit different than Wv. hills.
    Don

    MF GC2400, FEL, 60in.MMM, 5ft. Cultivator, Single Bottom Plow, Bush Hog RTC48 tiller, MF 2360 front mount snowblower, 5ft backblade. BXpanded Piranha toothbar.

  7. #7
    Silver Member Ron JD670's Avatar
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    for Cristmas 2011 found used Joh Deere 670 w/ 40 hrs and options

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rustythread
    Good mornin'!
    Relative newbie here, with a lot of ignorance. Could use some advise re selection of a mid-sized TLB; here's the situation:

    I'm about to retire from my day (office) job and start preparing to build house and barn, etc, out in the woods. I have 120 acres of hills and trees, and will have to start clearing building site as soon as I get equipment.......

    If I'm looking at used equipment, say a tractor with loader but no backhoe, what do I need to either look for or plan to have added re rear hydraulics to operate backhoe?

    .......

    Thanks, all.
    I would second the suggestion to get dozer to do the primary site prep. Also if you don't have access to some areas of your 120 acres you could have paths cut particularly up any hills of concern. It's nice to know you have a landing for turn around on a hill.

    take sometime to look for used equipment. I had the JD dealer refer me to an a fellow with a used tractor and only 40 hours plus most of the attachments I needed. Score! It might not pan out but it may be worth the look.

    Lastly there are great threads here on safe operation. Having a tractor will create new situations were things might not go as expected. I've started sketching things out days or weeks in advance and looking over TBN for do/ don'ts

    Best luck and wishes.

    RoN
    Ron JD 670
    Found used JD670 with 40 hrs barned with FEL, 5' Rake, 7' Blade, 9" X 3' Rankin Auger.
    Have added Box Blade, RM, Forks, plus some blood sweat and tears.

  8. #8
    Member
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    southern colony of the People's Democratic Republic of Chicago
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    Default Re: Advice on tractor selection?

    Appreciate all the advice and suggestions--keep 'em coming!

    the land is in southern Illinois, about 100 miles north of Paducah, 100 miles east of St Louis. 3 40A pieces in an "L" shape, divided diagonally in half by an intermittent creek with a tin whistle in it. Creek bed area floods in Jan-Feb about 3-6' deep and 100 yards wide. Not a problem re the building site, which is on the side nearer to the township road, but could get interesting if I get into it logging before it has dried out for the summer. Lots of rattlesnakes, but not enough in any one place to tax the FEL.

    I'm still at the pacing-things-off stage of site selection since the building site will be on the flat top of a long ridge, and I have a lot of choices about exact location

    Had a spot cleared by hired bulldozer about 25 years ago; none of the downed trees were salvageable for anything other than firewood, and un-piling them to cut was a major PITA. Too many pretty good trees on the future building site to want to trash them, so I plan to do it a piece at a time, cutting and yarding the logs in the process, as I need to get them out of the way for more clearing. I know it'll be slower, but am hoping that I can get it done right. Woodmizer bandsaw mill on order, for delivery in Oct or November if I can get a machine shed up by then; will probably sell most logs at roadside, and start cutting my own lumber when I get the space around the sawmill set up.
    Been going through some of the threads here, and will need to read 'em all before I'm done. I sure do appreciate all the expertise and experience here.
    Among the things it looks like I'm going to have to do is learn how to weld and become a good friend with the junkyard owner. I suspect a logging arch or two is/are in my future.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member
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    Default Re: Advice on tractor selection?

    Good reasons for not wanting a dozer in there.

    We have 400 acres, about 300 in timber. My brother is logging here full time right now and using our old 1984 L3750 kubota (45hp). I like my L3800 better because of the smaller size, I can snake logs through the woods easier, without too much trouble. The 3800 will get a really good work out this Fall when the temps cool off a bit, plan to take out some nice high dollar white oak and a bunch of firewood logs. Right now I'm mostly bush hoggin and road work with it. We also have a bandsaw mill that we built and saw some of the lumber we need, then sell the rest to the mills. Beats the **** out of working in an office!
    Don
    Kubota L3750 Hydro Shuttle, 4wd, FEL; L3800 Gear drive, 4wd, FEL
    Husqvarna XP chainsaws 346xp X3, 357xp, 562xp, 359

  10. #10
    Elite Member Piston's Avatar
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    Kubota L4610 and John Deere 410

    Default Re: Advice on tractor selection?

    Joshua,
    Excellent writeup! I would add though that you can still adjust the width of the R4 tires to get a wider/narrower stance.

    Rusty,
    I really like the sound of your project and I'm glad your looking to do most of it yourself! I'm in a similar situation with a lot less land. What model mill did you order? I have the LT15 with deisel but would love to throw down for the new LT35, just not in the cards right now.
    Kubota L4610 and John Deere 410 - WR Long 64" Grapple (best attachment ever!) QA front forks, rear forks, Brown 472 HD Rotary Mower, Land Pride RBT4096 hydro blade, Woods 7200 Power Rake, homemade 3 pt log splitter, Land Pride rake/blade combo, Land Pride HRL 3578 box blade (Hydro scarifiers), Shaver SC50 3 pt. Stumpgrinder, FitRiteHydraulics TnT, 6" Vermeer PTO Chipper (Hydro feed), Disc Plow, Ratchet Rake, LP HD25 Hydraulic PHD, Woodmizer LT15 portable sawmill
    Rear Remotes Install

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