Re: kubota b21 vs. b26 is it worth upgrading
I put about 1,800 hours on my B21 and drooled over B26's for a couple of years before upgrading to the B26. I wished I had done it as soon as the B26 came out rather than wasting time trying to justify the additional expense to myself. The B21 is a great machine but the B26 is far superior in every respect. If you are just doing work for yourself, the additional expense may take longer to recoup but if you do side work and want to get things done faster the B26 is definitely the way to go.
Wrt the thumb, I spent a year and a half after I got the B26 trying to justify that expense too and eventually bit the bullet. While the mechanical thumb is definitely better than no thumb it can't compare to the convenience and flexibility of a hydraulic one. The thumb and it's hydraulics are about a $2,000+ option on the B26 so if you can switch machines for $10,000 difference and the B26 already has the thumb it is really only $8,000. Having the SSQA on the front of the B26 is another big plus in terms of attachment flexibility on the front end and adding that capability to the B21 (which I did) will cost you $700 - $800 so now you are little over $7,000 difference. Keep in mind that although the horsepower jump from a B21 to a B26 is less than 25% the hydraulic strength of the loader and hoe is increased by 30% - 40% so you get a lot more bang for your buck.
Then there are the more subjective benefits and first and foremost among those is the seat. I spent more than one 10 - 12 hour day on the thinly padded metal seat on the B21 and I can assure you the first time you spend more than a couple of hours on the seat of a B26 your rear end and your back will thank you. The inching valves on the backhoe are a huge improvement and if you do a lot of digging near buildings they give you much better control. The other option that you can get with the B26 is quick attach buckets for the hoe too which if you dig in different types of ground or do trenches as well as small foundations is a big plus as you can switch hoe buckets in less than 10 minutes without tools versus 30 - 40 minutes with wrenches, hammer, drift and a grease gun on the B21.
The B21 can and will do everything the B26 does - eventually - but you will get it done faster with the B26 and your body will feel a lot better at the end of the day. I eventually sold my B26 and upgraded to an L45 this year because I just ran into too many situations where I needed to be able to lift and move skids that weighed a ton and I also wanted a little more backhoe reach.
To give you an idea how much power the B26 has I purchased the 66" light duty bucket for the B26 which in addition to the 6" additional width has a much wider bottom like a skid steer bucket. In order to fill my 7 ton dumping trailer to capacity I could put eleven buckets of dirt in it with the 66" bucket on the B26. I have the 72" 4-in-1 bucket on the front of my L45 and I added an additional 6" of steel to the top of it and the trailer is full to capacity after nine L45 buckets. The B26 is an excellent, tiny power house in my opinion and trounces the B21 in every area except price. Assuming you are not mortgaging your first born, buy the B26 - you won't regret it!