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  1. #1
    New Member
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    Jan 2007
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    Central Texas

    Default Best Transmission for Sand

    Looking to take the plunge. I have 30 acs. in central Texas near Rockdale. The property is mostly wooded and situated in the Post Oak Savannah region. Soil is sandy loam, but top layer is fairly shallow. Beneath this is occasional clay, but mostly very fine sand, often several feet in depth. Some folks call this "sugar sand". For those not familiar, this stuff is exceptionally fine and acts like quicksand. Moist is best, but when dry, it's very loose and almost like liquid. Very easy to sink into if traction isn't maintained. When really wet, it's like jello. Right now, not looking to do a lot of mowing, but planning to clear some trails and move brush piles. I definitely plan on getting a brush grapple and expect to use it extensively. I'll also do some loader work spreading gravel for driveway and trails. Spoke with a dealer about their recommendations and they suggested that a gear/manual transmission would be best given soil conditions and type of activities described. I'm thinking that's because a gear tractor gives better control of traction since you can slip the clutch to help keep the tires from spinning. I'm sort of partial to the shuttle, but need something that's not going need to be babied or require lots of 4-letter words. Speed is not critical. I don't mind working a bit slower or taking smaller 'bites'. I'm retired and have time.

    Looking for opinions/experience with this sort of scenario. Do you agree that for these conditions, a gear tractor would be best? Will a shuttle work well? What about HST? I'm probably going to be in the 38-45 hp range. R4 tires. Haven't decided on a model yet, but primarily looking at LS, Branson, and Mahindra. Assuming relatively comparable performance/capability, price will likely be the biggest determining factor.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Super Member oosik's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
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    6,606
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    AMBER, WA
    Tractor
    Kubota M6040

    Default Re: Best Transmission for Sand

    LHB - welcome to TBN and the forum. Quite honestly - I don't see any transmission as being any better in your conditions than any other. I would purchase a tractor with the options, implements and type transmission you are most comfortable with.

    Actually - skill in operation and time/experience in any operating condition is probably going to trump(sic) whatever transmission you could have.

    I certainly would not make the type of transmission the go - no go factor on deciding your tractor.
    Ride hard or sit your butt on the porch

    "isn't it weird that in AMERICA, our flag & our culture offend so many people - but our benefits do not"

  3. #3
    Elite Member nybirdman's Avatar
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    north of upstate ny
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    Kubota L4240 HSTC,L3000DT

    Default Re: Best Transmission for Sand

    I would think tire choice would have more influence than transmission.HST would be my choice with R1 tires.R4 tires would be my last choice;large R3's (turfs) would give a larger foot print and float.We have one tractor in the family with large R3's and it always amazes me what it can do.

  4. #4
    Super Member oosik's Avatar
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    AMBER, WA
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    Kubota M6040

    Default Re: Best Transmission for Sand

    NYbirdman is right. Some big 'ol squishy type tire would probably be your best bet. Think flotation rather that transmission type.

    You might consider having radial ply tires put on the tractor. They are generally a wider footprint.
    Ride hard or sit your butt on the porch

    "isn't it weird that in AMERICA, our flag & our culture offend so many people - but our benefits do not"

  5. #5
    Veteran Member
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    Nov 2016
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    1,089
    Location
    Santa Cruz Mountains, Ca
    Tractor
    Branson 3725H

    Default Re: Best Transmission for Sand

    Whatever tire you get, run lower pressures. R4s have a wider flatter profile and will float on top more than R1s. R1s dig in.

    Slipping the clutch a lot will wear it out. Clutch replacements are expensive due to the labor of splitting the tractor.

    A lot of my soil is loose sandy loam. It has little traction. The HST works well- I can vary the speed/torque easily and do it without changing the rpm at the PTO, so the mower's always running at the correct speed. With HST you can start the tractor moving very gently, no matter what engine rpm. With a clutch you have to slip the clutch a lot to start gently, especially when the engine is at PTO rpm. For loader work an HST is going to be better- you can move the tractor an inch if that's all you need. Yes you can do that with a clutch but you're slipping the clutch again, and it takes more skill to do it than with an HST. I have that skill but the HST makes it so much easier.

    Newer Bransons have linked HST and throttle, which is kind of nice and provides an even gentler start.

  6. #6
    Bronze Member
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    Nov 2015
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    92
    Location
    Winnipeg
    Tractor
    JD 4200

    Default Re: Best Transmission for Sand

    I live in the sandylands area in southeastern Manitoba. Our property is pure beach sand with a thin layer of turf, no clay.
    I had a CUT with turf tires on and I really loved those tires. Easy on the surface and acceptable traction in the winter for snow clearing.
    I had to upgrade and sold little Jonny. Now I'm on R1 tires and have to be careful what I'm doing. If I put the bucket to the ground, I'm ending up with five holes and not only one from the bucket. The sideways traction on the R1 is way lower on snow compared to the turf tires.

    As long as the sand stays in its untouched, natural compacted state, it's not too bad. As soon as you loosen it up, it will never pack again is going to give trouble.

    I agree to the posters before, skills are more important than transmission choice.

    Sooner or later there will be a tractor on our property of that size you are looking at and it will have turf tires on again.

  7. #7
    Gold Member
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    Jan 2018
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    Belfast, Maine
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    Katie (Wife), Heather, Mariah, Alyson,Gianna, Kaelyn

    Default Re: Best Transmission for Sand

    Transmission choice has more to do with the engine size to ratio of the tractor, and what you do with the tractor.

    Because of emissions standards, where a 26 hp tractor engine and smaller does not need so stringent emissions, today you may find a 26 HP engine in larger framed tractors. As you get into bigger tractors with the same 26 hp, transmission choice becomes an issue. Hydrostatic transmissions rob horsepower that gear tractors do not. But if the tractor is over 26 hp and has emissions on it, this is not a problem.

    But gear versus hydro gets important when you get into loader versus field work. As a farmer I do a lot of field work so my tractor does circles all day long doing work. For this, a gear transmission is better. BUT I also have a gravel pit and do a poke of loader work. Because of that, in 2700 hours I have smoked my clutch and it needs to be replaced.

    I disagree on the cost of replacing it because I can get aftermarket clutch for $88. Considering the 2700 hours I have put on it, all the work it has accomplished in 19 years; what is $88??? But I do my own work, and while it seems difficult, splitting a tractor is pretty easy, it just seems daunting. So that decision is based on how much wrenching a person does.

    So unless you are haying fields, or doing row cropping...I think a hydro is a great tranny to get. The only other issue might be where a person needs to get every HP out of their tractor. Me...I need a gear transmission despite the gravel pit, but that is just my individual needs.

    I would suggest you get R1 tires though.

  8. #8
    Epic Contributor Egon's Avatar
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    Nova Scotia, Canada

    Default Re: Best Transmission for Sand

    Hydro & R4's if you got loader work.

    Does your dealer have lots of gear transmissions in stock that he'd like to move?
    Egon
    50 years behind the times
    Livin in a
    Worn out skin bag filled with rattlin bones

  9. #9
    Silver Member mikester's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
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    197
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    Canada
    Tractor
    M59 TLB

    Default Re: Best Transmission for Sand

    Quote Originally Posted by Egon View Post
    Hydro & R4's if you got loader work.

    Does your dealer have lots of gear transmissions in stock that he'd like to move?
    +1

    You won’t regret HST

  10. #10
    Super Member jeff9366's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
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    Fanning Springs, Gilchirst County, North-Central Florida
    Tractor
    Kubota Tractor Loader L3560 HST 37-hp / 5,400 pounds operating weight

    Default Re: Best Transmission for Sand

    Quote Originally Posted by LHB_Texas View Post
    I have 30 acres in central Texas near Rockdale. Right now, not looking to do a lot of mowing, but planning to clear some trails and move brush piles. I definitely plan on getting a brush grapple and expect to use it extensively. I'll also do some loader work spreading gravel for driveway and trails.

    The property is mostly wooded and situated in the Post Oak Savannah region. Soil is sandy loam, but top layer is fairly shallow. Beneath this is occasional clay, but mostly very fine sand. Some folks call this "sugar sand". Very easy to sink into if traction isn't maintained. When really wet, it's like jello.

    Spoke with a dealer about their recommendations and they suggested that a gear/manual transmission would be best given soil conditions and type of activities described. I'm thinking that's because a gear tractor gives better control of traction since you can slip the clutch to keep the tires from spinning. Speed is not critical. I don't mind working a bit slower or taking smaller 'bites'. I'm retired and have time.

    I'm going to be shopping the 38-45 hp range. R4 tires. Haven't decided on a model yet, but primarily looking at LS, Branson, and Mahindra. Assuming relatively comparable performance/capability, price will likely be the biggest determining factor.
    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979;5093168 QUOTE

    Slipping the clutch a lot will wear it out. Clutch replacements are expensive due to the labor of splitting the tractor.

    A lot of my soil is loose sandy loam. It has little traction. The HST works well- I can vary the speed/torque easily and do it without changing the rpm at the PTO, so the mower's always running at the correct speed. With HST you can start the tractor moving very gently, no matter what engine rpm. With a clutch you have to slip the clutch a lot to start gently, especially when the engine is at PTO rpm. For loader work an HST is going to be better- you can move the tractor an inch if that's all you need.
    We have Sugar Sand in nearby Levy County, Florida, thankfully twenty miles from where I operate my tractor.

    In terms of selecting your tractor transmission you need the ability to creep. Creep is one of the best features of HST transmissions, as ERICM979 points out. HST has no steps; HST is infinitely variable for speed and highest torque comes just as tractor commences to move. With a moderately experienced operator, the gentlest, most controllable of starts.

    Some ag tractors with shuttle shift have a creep function built in. You will have to inquire as you examine individual tractor models.

    You have stated a preference for R4 tires. With your Sugar Sand consider bulbous, low pressure, tractor radial tires. Tractor radials have a significantly larger tire 'patch' in contact with the ground/sand = more float. As low pressure radials have a larger tire patch on the ground, radials support heavy FEL loads better than R4/industrial tires. Again, FLOAT. Most 40+ horsepower tractors can be equipped with radials as a factory option but you may have to INSIST your dealer dig for the information.

    "Radial tires are more expensive but offer a smoother ride, have a longer tread life, and compact the soil less. Radials can also be run at lower air pressures, giving the tractor as much as 10-15% more traction while saving fuel and improving efficiency. And on pavement, the wear durability can be up to 33% better than with a bias ply tire."
    FULL ARTICLE: How To Choose the Right Tires for Your Tractor
    MORE: radial tractor tires vs. bias - Google Search


    My kubota dealer charges $1,200 for a clutch replacement.
    Last edited by jeff9366; 05-19-2018 at 10:18 AM.
    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.

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