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  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    Ford 3600

    Default Teaching a 14 year old to drive the tractor...

    First post, but longtime reader. Lots of wisdom conveyed through these forums and I would much rather learn from other's mistakes than my own.

    I'm a rookie and I just bought our first tractor, a nicely broken in Ford 3600. We'll use it mostly for bush hogging our 20 acres and other fun things as we acquire more attachments. After teaching myself to operate it safely (I've never owned a tractor), I want to teach my 14 year old son. Unlike a car, I can't sit in the passenger seat and grab the wheel when he's headed toward a cliff. I'm usually an advocate of the school of hard knocks as a great way to get an education, but too many stories of serious tractor injuries and my very tolerant wife will skin me alive if our boy gets anything more than a scratch while operating it. Any advice?


  2. #2
    Veteran Member RaydaKub's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Rochester, MN
    Kubota BX2230

    Default Re: Teaching a 14 year old to drive the tractor...

    My dad taught me to drive on our JD Model A and then on our "big" tractor (67hp); I was doing primary tillage when I was 8. I rode along with him for a long time before that though. Aptitude has a lot to do with it. When it was finally my time (tough to use that word for that age), he drove at least one round in the field to show me what to do. Then he had me drive 3 more rounds and gently made suggestions to what I could do to do it better or easier. We had some very large head lands in those days. But when doing the 3rd round, he didn't say a word and let me do it. Then we stopped and he jumped off and it was my show. I still am in awe at the trust he had in me.

    I don't know anything about the Ford 3600, but there's nothing like riding along to see how things work. A cab that makes sure you can't fall off is great peace of mind. Maybe try it w/o any implement behind first so if there's a fall (backwards), there's little consequence.

  3. #3
    Super Star Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Yanceyville, North Carolina
    Kubota L4400

    Default Re: Teaching a 14 year old to drive the tractor...

    Just my thoughts. If it were me, I would have your Son read the Operator's Manual up and down. The same principle as when one studies the DOT manual before testing for their Driver's License. Then stand beside him while he shows you all the steps in starting the tractor. Have him explain all the necessary levers that are used in operating the tractor and implements. After you are relatively sure of his confidence and YOURS, have him start the tractor, and after putting it in low gear, walk beside him in a level field and let him demonstrate his ability to you. Then, it will be only a matter of time before he will be experienced. BTW, if the ROPS are up, make sure that he has the seat belt fastened. We all had to learn in steps, and many of us are still learning. Best wishes to both of you.
    The PUPIL who does not surpass his Master, fails his Master.

  4. #4
    Elite Member CobyRupert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Washington County, NY
    JD 5075E

    Default Re: Teaching a 14 year old to drive the tractor...

    Problem is, when things go wrong the results aren't usually just a scatch. But as long as you/he goes slow and use patience. Good thing with tractors is that in low gear (and in wide open spaces) there's usually time to stop before something goes very wrong, easy to learn clutching, shifting, without damage, etc....
    -I'd start out w/ short tasks, like moving tractor from point A to B, long before moving onto running power equipment.
    -Be careful on hills or situations where one has to rely on brakes. The one thing scarier than pushing in the clutch and having the tractor take off is having that happen going backwards, hitched to a haywagon (I was about 13, little case Case VAC, no brakes).
    -Of course, be careful on side hills, especially when mowing. That unseen groundhog hole or rock/stump can change the pitch drastically.
    -Don't place yourself under or between pinchpoints where your safety relys on the hydraulics and 3 point hitches not failing.
    -Beware of loose clothing around spinning shafts, best to turn off PTO as a policy before dismounting. Also, those brush hogs stay spinning for a long time after pto is off.
    -Rule #1: Stop & think things through before proceding.
    JD5075E, Frontier RC2084 Rotary Cutter, Wallenstein FX65 Skidding Winch

  5. #5
    Elite Member bigtiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    central Iowa
    JD 2720

    Default Re: Teaching a 14 year old to drive the tractor...

    The progression form bicycle to riding lawn mower to AC WD45 pulling a spreader, plow or disk seemed all natural to me when I was 12. I bet your kid will be fine, just outlaw high gear to him for a while.

    Life is easier when you plow around the stumps.


  6. #6
    Gold Member landedakioti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    kubota L4060 hst


    I was 5yrs old when my grandfather hand me the key to the international 445 he stool on the three point hitch and told me what to do. He started me moving the tractors for him and parking them at the age 10 was when he let me work a hay field by myself . That was with a lot of tractor time. I have never rolled a tractor but my cousin did gathering sap. Into the river lucky he jump off the tractor before it went down a 40ft drop into the river . I would start him out in a flat field for a few years before you throw hills and a brush hog. I know my uncle'a arms where rip out of his sockets by the bailer because the hay got stuck and i heard the screaming from the other side of the field. Nothing worse they seeing a family member bleed to death.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    North Carolina
    Kubota BX2200

    Default Re: Teaching a 14 year old to drive the tractor...

    I started out as best I remember going to the barn to get the tractor and hooking up the implement Dad wanted to use. That is probably not wise, since backing up to an implement is sort of an advanced skill in many ways. I shouldn't say that maybe since I was doing it at an early age, but I swear I was better at it then than now.

    Anyway, if it has a ROPS, that would be a load off my mind, so I would make sure he knows the importance of a seat belt, and about all the ways a tractor can turn over. Just because a ROPS is there, that doesn't mean an overturned tractor is not to be avoided obviously, so explaining how to avoid it is important. My Dad didn't tell me any of that stuff, and we didn't have a ROPS.

    I'd take him out into a field and I'd put something in front of the tractor like a stick, and ask him to drive forward until he just touches it. Same for the rear. I find that many folks are calm as can be until they get near something else, and if they are headed toward it, they panic.

    Lots of times folks just want to know how to get going. When I am on a new tractor or any other vehicle, the first thing I try to learn is how to stop. I am also highly interested in how certain that action is to actually stop the piece. So I'd spend a descent amount of time on how to surely stop the tractor, the engine, the equipment. If a man can stop a piece of equipment, lots of the bad stuff that could happen won't.
    Which is bigger?: a) $100 per month since the Big Bang or b) the US National Debt.

  8. #8
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011


    I have driven tractor since could reach the pedals. I would not let someone inezperince run a tractor with a rotary cutter. I would teach him how to work all the controls and check the oil antifreeze etc. I would start your son out with letting him run the tractor in 2 or 3rd gear on level ground and get used to how to take off and stop with it. I do recommend that you make him shut it off before he gets off of it so he won't knock it in gear and get hurt.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Bancroft, Ontario

    Default Re: Teaching a 14 year old to drive the tractor...

    What experience has he had driving other vehicles/equipment? Dad taught me how to use a clutch when I was about 10 (back roads, station wagon).
    The next year he wound up driving 50miles (one way)to work each day. After supper it was my job to get the car of the day beside the 500gallon gasoline tank and crank until full, then put the car in the garage without any scratches. After a year of this, I got to be a pretty good judge of how much space it took to maneuver. Few years later we moved to the stix and bought a 9n with a snow blade. About this time I mastered backing up with both a trailer and wagon. By the time I was 15 I was plowing used car lots with our new MHF 30. It was just a case of seat time with my mind in gear.
    Take it easy, don't rush him and let him master the basics one at a time.

  10. #10
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Central, OK
    jd 1050 LS I3040H. CASE SC

    Default Re: Teaching a 14 year old to drive the tractor...

    Be sure to let him truly become comfortable with operating the tractor by itself without implements before you have him do any actual work. I remember the stress (fortunately no catastrophic accidents) when starting off too soom with production. It needs to be enjoyable during the early learning - not under a time table.
    LS I3040H w/ loader
    JD 1050 w/ loader and backhoe
    Case SC. 1952

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