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  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    31
    Location
    Southern Indiana
    Tractor
    Kubota L3400 HST

    Default Need Advice on Tractor Size

    Greetings to all from someone who knows next to nothing about the kinds of tractors you own and write about! I am impressed with your knowledge and eagerness to share information. I am writing with the hope you can advise me on what size of tractor to purchase.

    Last summer I bought 43 acres in southern Indiana. The acreage is essentially a forested hill with a few acres of open ground on top including a half-acre pond. I'm planning to purchase another 4 adjoining acres on top that is also open.

    Of the 47 acres, maybe there three (3) acres that are not flat. Everything else is on a slope. The elevation difference from the property line along the county road to the top is about 100 ft. So, the new tractor will hardly ever be working on level ground. I expect to use the tractor on weekends only.

    Some of the jobs I envision for the tractor include:

    1) Assisting with the cutting of firewood. I see the tractor dragging logs or carrying cut pieces in an FEL bucket. Some of that travel will have to be uphill. Not sure of the grades, but some are steep.

    2) Road maintenance. The roads rut out after heavy rains from the water flowing down hill. If I buy gravel, it will be dumped at the base of the hill and will need the tractor to carry it uphill.

    3) Some snow plowing, but not much. We don't get much snow here.

    4) Annual mowing of brush and heavy weeds. Probably no more than a few acres worth of mowing, but once again, very little is flat ground. I want to plant pine trees and will have to mow between them

    5) Maintenance around the pond. I am considering a future purchase of a back hoe attachment or something to dig out the roots of willows and cattails that infest the pond banks.

    6) Pulling a wagon. I have a picnic ground on top of the hill and since the road is so bad from washouts, I have visitors walk up the hill. I'd like to be able to haul them on a wagon pulled by the tractor.

    7) Ripping out old fence and cleaning up a old trash dump.

    I'm sure there are other tasks I haven't considered yet.

    The closest local dealers are JD and kubota, but I am willing to consider other makes.

    Thanks for reading this post and for offering your comments!

  2. #2
    Super Member Bob_Skurka's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    7,503

    Default Re: Need Advice on Tractor Size

    I would recommed a Power Trac machine, probably in the 30 to 40 hp range. I live on a ridge with a 60' elevation drop from the front of my property to the creek behind me. Most of the elevation change is in a narrow band on the property so I end up with a couple steep slopes that are basically unsafe for normal compact tractors. I do have a New Holland TC24 and a kubota B2910, both are fine machine, but not for the slopes. Sure, both go up and down them (down in 4wd and LOW range unless you want a really scarry ride followed by changing your shorts). A regular tractor is simply not make for working on side slopes. You can do it, I choose not to. I also have a small Ventrac for mowing, it is a slope machine capable of doing "figure 8s" and "U turns" on slopes that would flip over a garden tractor and roll it down the hillside.

    Seriously consider the Power Tracs. They are the only machine I can think of that is made in the size range you would need and the larger units are slope capable.


  3. #3
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,315

    Default Re: Need Advice on Tractor Size

    Commissioner,

    First, welcome to TBN!!

    A picture of the terrain is worth a thousand words. Can you post pics of the land in general as well as maybe a couple of your key problem areas (e.g. driveway).

    100' of elevation from front to back doesn't sound too bad but that will depend on the depth of your acreage. How far back do you go?

    A couple things come to mind in general for the tractor. I'll let the JD and kubota guru's help you pick models.

    4WD looks like it could be handy for traction going up but also for engine braking coming down the hills.

    Sounds like you've already made the correct decision on getting a FEL.

    Your initial needs for a BH seem limited. Personally, I've found it more cost effective to rent the services of someone local that has one, but my needs are nominal.

    I see a box blade and scraper blade coming in handy for the snow, driveway maintenance and general use.

    A brush-hog would seem appropriate for your mowing needs. Tractor size will probably dictate the mowers size.

    As a side note, you mentioned a wagon for hauling visitors but also mentioned carrying wood in the bucket. I'd propose your trailer/wagon selection be such that it can be used for hauling chunks of wood. The bucket doesn't carry much and tractors are slow. The lack of a wood hauling trailer will greatly reduce the efficiency of firewood processing. The trailer will also reduce # of trips and you won't be dragging the logs. These factors removed will help reduce wear on the roads/paths.

    Brian

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    31
    Location
    Southern Indiana
    Tractor
    Kubota L3400 HST

    Default Re: Need Advice on Tractor Size

    Thanks for the welcome, Brian!

    All I have now is an aerial photo of the property which doesn't really show much other than the distribution of forest to non-forested acreage. I'll see what I can do this weekend as far as taking photos.

    From the point of lowest elevation to the highest elevation is probably a little less than 1/8 mile. That makes an average grade of 15%. Some places are less, lots of places even steeper. Part of the property would make an awesome sledding hill if it weren't for rock outcrops.

  5. #5
    Veteran Member
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    Jul 2004
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    2,315

    Default Re: Need Advice on Tractor Size

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( Part of the property would make an awesome sledding hill if it weren't for rock outcrops. )</font>

    Hmmm. My parents always told me the "rock outcrops" were what made the sledding "awsome"... I wonder if they were really trying to tell me something.

    For the places that are steep, are they areas you intend to mow/brush-hog or just try to get up and down? I have some very steep areas and cut trails to traverse that section. I have absolutely no chance of going straight up and down. If you need to mow or otherwise, I'll concede to Bob Skurka's selection of the hill climbing machines over a more traditional design of tractor.

  6. #6
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    156
    Location
    Webster, NY
    Tractor
    Kubota 2410

    Default Re: Need Advice on Tractor Size

    For once I think I'm with Bob. Go look at a powertrac. I went to Tazewell and was impressed with the machine. When I'm on my hills I wish I had one. If I hit the lottery and can afford two machines, I'll buy one. But I still like my kubota better on the flats.

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    31
    Location
    Southern Indiana
    Tractor
    Kubota L3400 HST

    Default Re: Need Advice on Tractor Size

    Do you think the power trac has the necessary ground clearance for working in the woods and on uneven ground? The don't list specs on their website.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    108
    Location
    Newton, New Hampshire
    Tractor
    PT 425

    Default Re: Need Advice on Tractor Size

    Good morning Commish, and welcome to TBN...I have a PowerTrac 425, and while I haven't done woods work with it yet, I'm looking forward to taking it up to the 400 acres we have in Newry, Maine and cutting next years firewood.

    If you do a search for my posts you'll see that I am real high on the PT's. While my 425 is smaller than the diesel that Bob Shurka mentioned, its capabilities are amazing. Here in NH I have a tiny lot (1/5 acre ) and got the PT to excavate under my house so that I could put in a full foundation. We set the house back down two days ago. I removed over 300 yards of material from under it, and the tractor was everything I hoped it would be. On slopes it is amazing because of its extremely low center of gravity and its relatively wide footprint, and all of the PT's share those attributes.

    Regarding woods work, I expect the 425 to perform better than any tractor I've used previously...for two main reasons....firstly, it has an inside turning radius of 36" (the larger ones have a slightly larger radius, but they still turn on a dime compared to a conventional tractor). Secondly, all PT's, in addition to the articulating action when turning, oscillate. The two body sections rotate on uneven ground so that all four tires remain in contact with the ground and provide power. Furthermore, because of the wide tires and artriculating bodies, you'll cause next to no tractor relating damage to the forest floor.

    I've got to go to work, but I'll be happy to answer any other questions etc. later today....either here, or feel free to PM me.

    Happy tractoring....Tom

  9. #9
    Super Member Bob_Skurka's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
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    7,503

    Default Re: Need Advice on Tractor Size

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( Do you think the power trac has the necessary ground clearance for working in the woods and on uneven ground? The don't list specs on their website. )</font>


    As I don't own a PowerTrac, I think it might be best to get a PT owner who has a large machine to give you the final answer. However, I do own a similarly designed Ventrac 3000 which compares to the small PT180 and PT422. I've also had a PT422 on my property to play with during a fencing project this summer. The upshot is that the ground clearance capabilities of these types of machines is difficult to describe. Because the machines have oscillating bodies they are capable of climbing into and out of places that a conventional tractor would fear to tread. On rough ground on one slope, I've gotten the kubota and the NH stuck while trying to climb and been forced to back down in reverse. The same slope the Ventrac will not only climb it, it will pull a trailer up it while providing power to the mower deck and yet never having a wheel slip because all 4 are firmly planted on the ground. So my experience is yes it has ground clearance THAT IS ACTUALLY USEABLE while conventional tractors have THEORETICAL ground clearance.

  10. #10
    Elite Member rockyridgefarm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    4,455
    Location
    Road 4310
    Tractor
    Deere 4310 HST MFWD

    Default Re: Need Advice on Tractor Size

    I have very similar terrain and we were very squeamish with our last tractor... But both my wife and I are very pleased with the performance of our 4310. We have the R1s set out wide, and almost never have felt any concern with stability. It has great ground clearance and does amazing work.

    Many machines will let you adjust the wheel spacing to a wider stance with the AG type tires. That isn't the case with R4 Industrials. And some don't allow any wheel adjustment, even with R1s (which might be sign of a weaker axle design...)

    You can get different grades of R1s, some with thicker ply ratings and also in a wider version for better flotation. You can also have them foam filled, which would eliminate puncture problems, and add weight way down low for better stability.

    Oh, that is VERY important! Loaded tires will make the machine very stable...


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