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  1. #1
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    Default Tractor virgin here, please be gentle

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

    I own a small landscaping business and am looking to extend my season. Right now I work from about April 1-Thanksgiving doing spring cleans, mowing, mulch, some hardscaping, bush trimming, and leaves in the fall. I get calls for bush hogging as well as garden tilling. I feel if I could get a machine to do these jobs I would fill a need as well as extending my season. It would be great to be able to use the machine as a finish mower as well so that I would not have to purchase a larger mower and could take on larger properties. Also a tractor with a FEL will help me with my mulch jobs and the ability to add numerous other implements would really save me some time and give me the ability to take on more work.

    The terrain in this area is everything from flat to rolling to can't even stand up on it. The brush I see is lots of multiflora rose, honeysuckle, blackberry brambles, wild grape vine, virginia creeper, pokeweed, as well as tall grass/weeds and small saplings. Brush cutting I get generally consists of clearing off overgrown lots (50'x100') hillsides (1-2ac) and some new building areas (~3acres). Any tilling done would be small family gardens the largest I have seen around here is about 100'x200'. The mower would have to provide a high quality cut at least close to what my commercial mowers put out. The mower is not 100% necessary but I don't like one trick ponies and commercial mowers are.

    I have done lots of reading and have even went to dealers and sat on some different models. I am not a brand loyal guy. I want the product that best suits my needs but I don't know exactly how to figure that out. I guess the best way would be to tell you some models I have looked at and tell you what I like about them and what I don't like and you tell me if you think they will work or tell me what I need to be looking at. I will say I have not narrowed it down to just these models. I know from this site and from my research there a many brands of tractors and many quality products out there.

    Ventrac4500/Steiner440: I like this tractor do to its ability on hills. My terrain is varied and the slope capabilities would be very nice. It has the ability to have a front mount finish mower, front mount rough cut mower, front end loader, and tiller. I have never used a tractor mounted brush mower. It may be my ignorance but I like the idea of the mower being in front of the tractor so you are riding over what you have cut instead of plowing through uncut vegetation pulling the mower behind. I don't like the price. At close to $19,000 for the tractor before any implements it would be a long time before it paid for itself. I also do not see any used models listed for sale in my area so that must mean they last a long time as I see them on trailers around here but people must just hang on to them.

    Mahindra Max28: Really like this little tractor. Sat on one at the local Hustler dealer when I was there buying blades and it just felt really solid. I felt comfortable on the operator platform and could easily reach all the controls. The mid mount mower is fabricated just like my mowers deck so it should take a beating. From the videos I've seen it provides a nice finished cut. At 22hp at PTO it should be able to handle a 4' medium duty brush cutter? I don't do much if any digging yet but the ability to add a back hoe at any time is nice.

    Branson: Never sat on one but seeing them advertised for $18,500 with a box blade, brush cutter, FEL and a 16' tandem axle trailer.

    Like I said I am not limited to just these tractors or just new tractors. I also will consider Kioti, kubota, John Deere, basically anything as long as it will do what I need. With that in mind I would also consider used. I have a few on craigslist around me but I am not a mechanic. I do basic maintenance and can change belts, put on a new alternator, swap out a bad part but when it comes to wrenching on the actual engine, transmission, stuff like that I would have to take it somewhere. Would a 2wd older tractor like one of these work for me?

    REDUCED!! 1974 Ford 2000 Tractor
    Massey Ferguson Tractor
    Massey Ferguson 150
    641 ford workmaster gas tractor
    YANMAR COMPACT TRACTOR

    If it would that would save me a good bit of money and pay for itself rather quickly. The problem I also wonder about is would still be able to buy implements and parts for older tractors? If there is any other info I have left out that you need to just ask and I will try to answer to the best of my ability. Thanks again.

  2. #2
    Elite Member TomSeller's Avatar
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    Default

    Parts for any of those older tractors should be available without much of an issue finding them. Mechanical condition is going to be key to determine. Sometimes the pretty ones are not good mechanically and you mostly have to see the things in person to get a good sense. The Yanmar is 4x4 so that offsets some of the potential traction problems you might have with a 2wd. Personally, I brush hog with a 2 wd 45 HP diesel without loader. I see you get calls on all types of brush. There was a guy on here that cuts with chains on his hog because he never knows what might be under the brush/grass.

  3. #3
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    Kubota L285

    Default

    I think the Mahindra Max-28 would fit you well. Its 1820#, plus 630# loader, and even another 500# attachment can be hauled on a typical landscape trailer with half ton truck.
    Things to consider:
    How much new work would it open up, $hundreds, or $thousands, or $10k+?
    Do you/how often do you rent tractor or skid steer
    Will it fit? Tractordata lists 54" wide, will that work with clients gates, walks, ect.
    Purchase price over life span, + commercial insurance on it, plus wear/tear/maintance vs new income generated from it
    If you could finish mulch, and hardscape contracts faster, would you bid more,
    Would you be the only or primary operator? Employees can do an amazing amount of stupid in no time, and the tractor allows them to do 10 times the stupid in the same amount of time.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member
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    Fanning Springs, Gilchirst County, North-Central Florida
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    Kubota Tractor Loader L3560 HST 37-hp / 5,400 pounds

    Default Re: Tractor virgin here, please be gentle

    No doubt a tractor would extend your season. However, with the requirements you have listed you are looking at quite an outlay on implements as well as a tractor. You may need a larger trailer.

    There is nothing wrong with a used tractor. For commercial use, where TIME is important, I would start the search at 36-hp 3,000 pounds and 4-WD. Less horsepower and you will not be able to use productively wide (6'-7') PTO implements, and you will be running the tractor too hard; more weight and you will rut turf. Four wheel drive is essential for pulling implements up slopes. When you start serious clearing you will not want a mid-PTO dragging through brush.

    ( I would not consider my kubota B3300SU large enough/heavy enough for the uses you have specified.)

    Few who contribute to T-B-N will dispute that FEL is the most useful accessory for a tractor; which suggests Hydrostatic Transmission (HST), 4-WD and R4 Industrial tires. For tearing out the climbing vines and blackberries a $299 Ratchet Rake on the bucket works very well. For removing Multiflora Rose and landscaping/planting a Bucket Spade is efficient and saves your back.

    Consider a Flail Mower as well as a Bush Hog/Rotary Cutter. Neither one is a Finish Mower. A Finish Mower would be a separate, additional purchase.

    I do not know how you could make a PTO tiller "pay" unless you till a lot of gardens. You may be better of renting a two-wheel tiller for small gardens. In my area it is difficult to get land owners to pay enough for this work. They generally have a tilling budget of $50. Would a Disc Harrow serve for "tilling" in your soil?

    A tractor, like a commercial mower, requires periodic shop time. Proximity of distributor for the tractor brand you buy should be a consideration.

    Ventrac/Steiner are great on hills but no good for the brute force applications you have listed. You mostly see them as all-purpose machines on golf links. They certainly excel on turf.

    You need the big rear wheels of a tractor with its 3-Pt. Hitch, which transfers implement weight to big rear wheels through Lower Links and to front wheels through the Top Link, for traction.

    I second paulharvey's observations on employee tractor operators as opposed to owner-operated.
    Last edited by jeff9366; 08-06-2013 at 02:13 PM.
    The word tractor was taken from Medieval Latin, being the agent noun of trahere "to pull, draw".




    Kubota B3300SU; no longer with me but still pulling in the community.

  5. #5
    Elite Member GManBart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tractor virgin here, please be gentle

    Do some reading in the threads about brush hogging for pay....many people charge far too little for the service. Brush hogging is harder on the machine than it seems, and new properties will lead to inevitable damage to the hog (and tactr) from hitting stumps and rocks you can't see. On your own property you can take your time, and miss some of them (and remove or mark when found)....that doesn't work well for paid jobs. You'll bust blades, stabilizer links, shear bolts, gearboxes, etc....not pretty.

  6. #6
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    Kubota L4610 & BX2230, Farmall Super M, Super A

    Default Re: Tractor virgin here, please be gentle

    I think Jeff's comments are spot on. The mowing requirement complicates things, though. Any tractor big enough to do the heavy work you've described is never going to be a substitute for a dedicated mower because of weight, maneuverability and quality of cut. Around here many of the landscapers do one of two things: a) keep an older, heavy tractor that can till, do some FEL chores, etc. They bring it in when needed; because older tractors are sometimes pretty reasonable, they can afford to let it sit the rest of time. b) find a newer, diesel 4x4, maybe even a small commercial-duty TLB like the kubota B26. Because the $$ are greater, they're looking for more and bigger projects to help pay for it. Either way, you want something that is big enough to do the work but still readily trailerable.

  7. #7
    Gold Member
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    2006 New Holland TC45A, 2011 Kubota L5740 HSTC-3

    Default Re: Tractor virgin here, please be gentle

    I am also a landscaper. I have a New Holland TC45A purchased in 2006. It fits my needs very well. In fact, I had a TC35 for a few years, but found it was a little underpowered for my needs. I traded it for the TC45 which is the same physical size, but with more horsepower.

    The TC45A can handle a backhoe fairly well. I use this a LOT when tearing out old landscape plants for renovation. I also have a grapple attachment on the bucket. The grapple attachment is BY FAR the best investment I ever made in attachments. It makes loading and unloading landscape debris so much easier.

    The TC45A is too big for a 16' trailer. I have a 24' gooseneck for this tractor.

    The overall width of my tractor with R4's is about 67", which fits on my trailer easily, and will fit in a 6' gate. The R4's don't tear up turf very much if you are careful.

    I also have a 74" tiller for this tractor. I use this for athletic field renovations. It is a bit much for this tractor, but I've done lots of football fields with this rig. However, I recently purchased a kubota L5740 which is 12 more horsepower for some of this work.

    So, my advise is, If you can handle something in the 40-45 hp range, that is no wider than about 70", that's what you should consider. And, a tractor is so much more versatile than a skid steer, but will not have the lift capacity.

    Lift capacity is another reason I bought the bigger tractor. We do a lot of sod work, and the TC45A can not lift a full pallet of sod. We have been able to get by for years like this, but it would be nice to have more lift capacity.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Tractor virgin here, please be gentle

    Thanks for all the advice so far.

    I'll keep looking and get some actual quotes from some area dealers so I know exactly what kind of money I am looking at spending.

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