"I absolutely loved my old TC25D with hydrostat. It was so well built, so heavy-duty, and no matter what, it did anything and everything I ever asked of it. My fear was about the future availability of parts and service for a 20-year-old machine that was only getting older and older.
My search narrowed to either a JD-3039R or Boomer 54D. I actually liked a New Holland Boomer 40 with cab and loader I saw on the lot but it did not allow a belly mower to be installed, which is stupid of New Holland in my opinion. It turns out there is a huge gap in New Holland tractor sizes where you can and cannot install a belly mower on tractors with a cab.
Torn between the John Deere and New Holland, I finally settled on a 2017 54D when a corporate "demo" unit with 50 hours was made available with a significant cost reduction. If not for that, I probably would have gone with a 3039R, cab, loader, and 72-inch deck.
I was not after such a large and heavy tractor as the 54D, but once I saw I could get the 54D fully loaded and with more features for the same price as the John Deere, my mind was made up.
Now that the rationale is out of the way, let me say that this 54D is really gorgeous. And, I can say, having used a TC25D for almost 2 decades, this tractor is a true beast ! It is very heavy and very solid, much more so then the 3039R I was considering.
Inside the cloth cab with engine running the New Holland super-suite cab was really comfortable and really quiet. Going from an open frame tractor to closed and quiet cab takes a lot of getting used to. It is like you are in a bubble isolated from the outside world. This has it's pros and cons. I am much more afraid of hurting someone or something inside the cab because you are enclosed.
I got the AM/FM/CD/WX radio, mid-mount power take-off, dual winter heaters (one for the engine block and one for the hydro oil), 250TLA loader, front grill guard, swinging draw bar, and more I cannot recall right now. My first trip out around the property, I put in my "Brothers in Arms" CD, cranked up the stereo, turned on the A/C and was in awe....man, talk about cool.
The A/C was colder than 3 to 4 different John Deere models I tried on the same 90 degree sunny day, which I liked. Thus far when it hit 25 or so I was in my t-shirt and too warm with the heater on low. Talk about creature comforts ! No more heavy coat and gloves for me plowing snow!
It does not come with a rear windshield wiper and I find that the inside cab light is too dim to see the entire inside of the cab. I will be adding something to remedy that as it is just too dark.
Having all the transmission controls being electronic and not mechanical is really sweet. It is a simple rocker switch to go from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive, low-speed to high-speed, slow decay to fast decay, etc. It is really nice.
I still do not like how New Holland engages the rear differential lock. I wish they used a larger pedal and something more positive when engaged.
The CVT hydrostat is a real dream. At first I thought I was going to hate the F/R shift lever on the left side of the steering column and a single "go" pedal, but after just 10 minutes I fell in love with it. The more you mash down on the foot pedal, the faster you go and the RPM's keep climbing as needed. It is exactly like driving a car. Again, really sweet. I now shift from forward to reverse in a split second without any thought by just using my baby fingers on my left-hand and never taking my hand off the steering wheel.
The outside lighting is quite good. It has a pair of 50W halogen work lights in the front and a pair in the rear, both separately controlled, plus tractor grill mounted front headlights with low/high beam control. I thought in today's age that New Holland would have been using LED lights but I guess not. It's something I may look into changing. I may also add a long LED light bar between the two front work lights to turn it into Wrigley field at night.
After 2-3 weeks of owning it, it was time to take off the loader and cut almost 6 acres of grass around here. Because of the extreme weight of the tractor (~5,000 pounds) I found that the R4 tires and our soft clay did not go well together. I am sure if it were summer and hard ground, then things would be different, but we do not mow in the summer as the grass is usually dormant.
In the spring and fall, I need to cut once a week and these are the times the ground is soft and at times damp. I was leaving ruts in too many places too often.
I thus sold the 72-inch belly mower and got a zero-turn and am happy. Another reason for doing this was because if you make even one small mistake with a tractor of this size and weight and clip the deck or run over a hidden stump etc the tractor will never feel it and I would have done serious damage to that deck.
With a smaller tractor, even my old 25D, I used a 72-inch deck and I had no issues, but being in a sound proof chamber and mowing with an almost 3-ton tractor, it was damage waiting to happen.
The only other thing that concerned me was the cranking time it took this tractor to fire up, even on warm days. You have no control over whether the glo-plugs are activated (that is done by a control module that monitors several temperatures) and it usually takes from 3-5 seconds to start. Being concerned about this, I was very lucky to talk to another 54D owner and he informed me that his operated the same way. So, at least I knew there was nothing wrong with my engine etc.
As far as putting it to work, I am for the first time looking forward to going out in dead winter to plow snow! I have also used the loader to crawl up to and knock over six or seven 30-35 foot pear and maple trees with the engine still in idle! And today I managed to bury my wife's car trying to turn around on a 35-degree wet hill after getting the mail. The 54D pulled it out without any effort whatsoever. Again this tractor is one stout beast.
One thing I must say about the New Holland sales brochures and their online sales and support sites is that they are, without any question, the worst I have ever seen in my life. I found them to be 100% useless, especially compared to what I was give by John Deere, Kabota, etc. It was like all the important facts and details regarding the tractor and implements were a secret and everything was written by some 15-year-old kid who knew absolutely nothing about tractors. It was all a bunch of marketing buzz words and mumbo-jumbo thrown into a bunch of pages. Online technical information, comparisons, and exact models available are non-existent. New Holland really needs to get their act together in this area.
Luckily, I had a wonderful sales rep who took all the time needed for me to bug the hell out of him as I asked him dozens of questions week after week. I give my rep an A+ for all his hard work and willingness to get me everything I asked for.
Would I buy it again given what I know now? That is real tough to say because I wanted one tractor to do everything the way my 25D did. This is a very expensive tractor for using it with just a loader, straight 7-foot rear blade, and a rear box blade for maintaining a 1000-foot gravel road and 6 acres.
I guess I will see how winter goes and how much I get to use it come spring and summer time. Part of me thinks I should have gotten the smaller and lighter 3039R, but then part of me really loves riding around in this small tank.