Buying Advice Old utility tractor vs. newer compact tractor?

   #1  

mo1

Silver Member
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
138
Location
SW Missouri
Tractor
JD 5075E
Hello all, longtime listener but first-time caller...er, poster.

I recently had the luck to buy a house on a dozen mostly wooded acres in southwest MO not terribly far from Springfield. There is about a half acre of open lawn as well as about an acre of fenced-in paddock the current owner is using for keeping horses. The rest is wooded with 1-2 foot diameter oaks and mostly rolling but there's a bit of a draw where a wet-weather creek runs in part of it. The driveway is a concrete apron with a ~100 foot long gravel driveway. I am looking for a recommendation on a tractor for property maintenance. Here's roughly what I want to be able to do:

- Mow the lawn in a reasonable amount of time, which for me would be no more than about two hours. I'll get a guy with a good-sized cat to come in sometime and knock some trees over and smooth the grade to make about 2-3 acres of lawn in total. There aren't currently and shouldn't be a lot of obstacles to mow around. I am leaning towards getting something in the neighborhood of a 72-90" 3 point finish mower for this.

- Rough cut the fenced-in paddock and the ditches. The paddock will have a garden inside of it as well as berry bushes and fruit trees per my wife so there will be some obstacles. I'd get an inexpensive 5 to 6 foot rough-cut mower to do this as it would only need to be done a handful of times per year.

- Till up a garden. My Dad now has a 7-foot-wide 3-pt unit (King Kutter, I believe) that can till up a garden in about 10 minutes when hooked to the back of his JD 5083E. I'd much prefer to use something like that compared to the walk-behind tiller I used as a kid.

- Remove snow. There isn't a whole lot in SW MO but there are occasional big wet dumps and I have to be able to get to work without spending two hours shoveling if we get those big wet dumps. Not sure what would be the best way to attack this as I've never cleared snow with anything bigger than a shovel before and the driveway is part concrete and mostly gravel. I guess perhaps a blade would be the best way to go?

I am thinking something like a compact utility tractor in the 25-35 PTO HP range on turf or R4 tires would be what I am looking for. That should still be maneuverable but large enough to handle the kinds of implements I want to well. The only issue is that they generally start in the upper teens and most are well into the $20k range, and that is before I would even get any implements. There does not appear to be much of a used market for compact tractors either. I'd rather not have to spend that much money if I could avoid it. However the classifieds are littered with mid-60s to late-70s vintage smaller utility tractors like Ford 2000s/3000s, JD 1020s, Ford 2600s/3600s, and MF 135s selling for $3000-5000 which is much more reasonable in my book. What would you guys recommend?
 
   #2  

Will_C

Veteran Member
Joined
May 24, 2002
Messages
1,774
Location
Upstate N.Y.
Tractor
Kubota L3560, Toro 52" and 60" ZTRs, Kubota RTV 900
Well, you get what you pay for-a classic utility tractor will get your chores done-but there will be more maintenance, and it will not be as convenient to use-not all the comfort features of a new compact tractor (hydro transmission, power steering, etc.) Also, the older tractor will be heavier, which more be a consideration with mowing.

You did not mention if you want a FEL-again the newer tractor will probably have a quick attach FEL, which again may be a factor will the mowing.

You did mention the most appealing factor of a used utility tractor-the cost. Are you comfortable with service and repairs? there will be much more of this with a used tractor.

I have a compact tractor, and I would like to pick up a classic JD 430, 1010, etc. someday for a 2nd machine-but will never be without a late model compact.

Will
 
   #3  

deerseeker001

Super Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2011
Messages
7,873
Location
Central wisconsin
Tractor
International 2500a with Loader
Welcome,If you can find one in the 40-50 hp range with front-end loader that has been well maintained that is the way I would go.
 
   #4  

jeff9366

Super Star Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Messages
10,380
Location
Gilchirst County North-Central Florida
Tractor
Kubota Tractor Loader L3560 HST+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3,700 pounds bare tractor; 5,400 pounds operating weight ~~~~~~~~ 37 horsepower
Buy a good quality Zero Turn mower for your two to three acres of turf.

There is nothing wrong with a used, well maintained diesel powered tractor.

Some old tractors do not have power steering.

Generally speaking, used tractors with 2-WD will be much heavier than 4-WD tractors of 25-35 PTO HP.

How mechanically proficient are you? Used tractors, like used cars, require more maintenance.

Is your Dad close enough so you can borrow his tiller once each Spring?

You have not enumerated any ground engagement work that requires considerable power except for some snow plowing. No need for a Box Blade? Disc Harrow? Angle/Rear Blade? Landscape Rake?

What about firewood and/or skidding logs?

The single most useful tractor option is a Front End Loader.

Can you handle a stick shift in a car or truck? Geared tractors shift in the same manner. In contrast, Hydraustatic (HST) drive tractors are semi-automatic.

My Kubota 'Grand L' L3560 HST cost $27,500 new, including a number of options. It is my third and absolutely best tractor.
 
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   #5  

8N Ren

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2013
Messages
305
Location
Manitoba, Canada
Tractor
8N Ford
I use a 1950 8N Ford, all the repairs I've ever done with the purchase of 5 implements, 1 of which was brand new I haven't spent 7g's. If I need a loader I call my good bud from a mile up and he comes down, or I can use it myself, so he keeps telling me. If your farming 20- 40g's and way upwards makes sense so giver, IMHO if your not farming why would you go into debt to get a tractor. Some old iron is wicked easy to fix.
Just my 2 pennies
 
  
  • Thread Starter
#6  
OP
M

mo1

Silver Member
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
138
Location
SW Missouri
Tractor
JD 5075E
Buy a good quality Zero Turn mower for your two to three acres of turf.

There is nothing wrong with a used, well maintained diesel powered tractor.

Some old tractors do not have power steering.

Generally speaking, used tractors with 2-WD will be much heavier than 4-WD tractors of 25-35 PTO HP.

Yes, I saw that, they're generally 4000-ish pounds vs. maybe 3000 for a compact. Is that going to be a big deal with tearing up a lawn? We never mowed a lawn with am actual tractor when I was growing up. We used a little 42" deck riding lawnmower which took about 8 hours to cut the five acres of lawn we had. I'd not do that again!

How mechanically proficient are you? Used tractors, like used cars, require more maintenance.

Reasonably. I do the routine maintenance on my vehicles such as spark plugs, fluid changes, tire rotation, etc. I haven't ever really torn into one such as in rebuilding an engine or a tranny as the used cars I actually drove when growing up were mid-80s and later and all had EFI engines and electronically-controlled automatic transmissions. We didn't have to do much for repairs on my Dad's tractors either as he traded for newer, generally larger ones after about 10 years or so. I greased them, changed the filters, fluids, and a couple of batteries on them but that's it.

Is your Dad close enough so you can borrow his tiller once each Spring?

Yes, and he has a trailer to put it on too. :thumbsup:

You have not enumerated any ground engagement work that requires considerable power except for some snow plowing. No need for a Box Blade? Disc Harrow? Angle/Rear Blade? Landscape Rake?

I don't anticipate needing to do these kinds of things where I am. The only ground engagement things I can think of would be running the rototiller. Of course plans can change but I can't see where I'd need to do any sort of tillage or grading.

What about firewood and/or skidding logs?

Not likely to be an issue as we don't have any fireplaces despite being surrounded by trees. Any trees that I'd need to take down would just get chunked up into logs where they fell and we carry the logs out. That's what we've always done and it's not been that big of a deal.

The single most useful tractor option is a Front End Loader.

My Dad always had one on his tractors and they can be handy at times. It would be nice to have one but I don't think it's an absolute must-have with what work I intend to be doing, which is mainly mowing.

Can you handle a stick shift in a car or truck? Geared tractors shift in the same manner. In contrast, Hydraustatic (HST) drive tractors are semi-automatic.

I have no problems using the gear transmissions in any of my Dad's tractors I've used and they've all had gear transmissions, albeit they've all been synchronized. I've never used a unit with a hydro transmission.
 
   #7  

CalG

Elite Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2011
Messages
3,614
Location
vermont
Tractor
Hurlimann 435, Fordson E27n, Bolens HT-23, Kubota B7200
Considering your situation, and the fact that you are just starting out,

Get the old tractor and see how it goes. If you purchase a NEW compact, just taking delivery will cost you the same as the old tractor outright.

Then, As time goes on, as you see the need, You have a "trade in" ;-)

But you really should keep both!

See my info for a fun combination . Hands down, I use the garden tractor MOST and that's mostly pulling a trailer , the modern compact for most anything that needs "doing", and the big old iron for snow plowing and stuff that wants a bit of grunt fastened to it. (NOTE! I don't mow grass but a tiny spot, and for that I have way too much machine even without mounting the belly mower on the Bolens. So there is a big difference in our usage. )

2 cents

cheers
 
   #8  

jeff9366

Super Star Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Messages
10,380
Location
Gilchirst County North-Central Florida
Tractor
Kubota Tractor Loader L3560 HST+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3,700 pounds bare tractor; 5,400 pounds operating weight ~~~~~~~~ 37 horsepower
I run over lawns with my L3560, weighing 6,500 pounds, with R4 industrial tires, often, without problems. However, north Florida has exceptional drainage. We NEVER have mud.

With your experience it seems you can handle an older, geared, tractor both in terms of operation and maintenance.

JENKINSPH has a good points, perhaps a garden tractor will meet your needs.
 
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   #9  

texasjohn

Super Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2005
Messages
6,003
Location
Central Texas, Jarrell
Tractor
Kubota Grand L5030HSTC
You need a front end loader...everybody does...even if you think you don't...it makes your tractor at least twice as useful...and saves your back and much time.
 
   #10  

square1

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2014
Messages
1,281
Location
Michigan
Tractor
Ford 1700 4x4 w/ FEL
The thing you didn't mention was "time". How much of it do you have? If spare time is minimal, and mowing is your main tractor task, get a zero turn lawn mower, pay someone to till the garden and occasionally rough cut the paddock (or borrow Dad's tractor with or without Dad) ;) for the first couple few years. It will give you time to better assess your needs and maybe put a few more $$ together toward the purchase.

If free time is something you have sitting around in buckets looking for a place to be used, then consider an older tractor and all the fixings. It's a great way to use up time especially if there's no one cracking the whip to get a job done.
 
 
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