Thursday, December 5, 2019

I am thinking of buying a tractor

The stars are starting to align.

The hunting camp is on forty acres and will benefit from more active management.

A significant percent of the camp is marsh or swamp as shown in the light green above. The snapshot is approximately 20 of the 40 acres, the majority of the portion that is not shown is under cultivation.

The top green area is primarily marsh, that is, wet grassland. At one time it had a decent stand of ash on it but the Emerald Ash Borer decimated them.

The lower green area is primarily swamp, that is, wet forested area. The dominant species is "soft" maple and many of them are "wolf" trees. The soft maple is easily 90% of the standing wood mass.

A wolf tree is an old (some would say senile) tree that hogs the sunlight. It is typically one of the mother trees. It came early and is usually of terrible form. That is, pioneer species, multiple trunks, short trunk, forked trunk, big shaded footprint.....

For many people, cutting down wolf trees is an agonizing decision. People who buy hunting camps, for instance, love trees. We want to believe that Mother Nature knows best.  We forget that Mother Nature is pedaling her ass on the street corner because others took advantage of her. She needs a hand up.

One action that makes harvesting wolf trees more palatable is if the wood can be salvaged, if only for firewood.

Sixty years old, fifty horse power, six speeds, two wheel drive, $2000
And that is where the tractor comes in. It is more than a quarter mile to the road.

Once the wolf trees are cut down and sunlight is hitting the ground, then an assortment of non-maples can be introduced. Candidates include Bald Cypress, Pecan, Bur Oak, Bitternut Hickory, Tupelo, assorted willow species, Sycamore, Nanny berry, Aronia, Ribes, Black Alder, White Pine, Persimmon, Honey Locust....

Do any of you out there have opinions regarding gas vs. diesel? 2WD vs 4WD? Old vs. new? My first semi-informed opinion is that anything after 1960 is likely to have a functional 3-point hitch. Diesel is twice as fuel efficient but if you only run the tractor 40 hours a year gas might be easier to start.


  1. 4x4 vs 2x4 is mostly the type of ground and useage. I had a Ford 4000 when I was working as a fairy manager in N.Y. from 78 - 88 and it did fine in the woods and hauling manure in hill country(2x4). Here in Alaska I ended up buying a new new Boland 4x4 Tc 30 with a loader. The loader works great for hauling cut and or split wood to the shed. I plow snow with a back blade and the bucket so the 4x4 is useful. The diesel TC30 is a pain for winter use as I'm off grid and have to start a generator to start the tractor below 20. The old 4000 was gas and started down to -20.

    1. I have the luxury of staying inside when it gets cold.

      My tolerance for cold has been dropping as I get older, but I consider anything above -5F as fine for outside work. It is more a matter of clothing "systems" than physical adaptation.

      I did go outside for a three mile walk when the wind-chill was in the -35F to -50F range. It was...brisk. Walking does not require much manual dexterity. Given my druthers, I will not be in the woods cutting firewood when the wind-chill is below -15F.

      But in Michigan, I have more options than folks in North Dakota, Montana and Alaska.

  2. Once you have a tractor you will wonder how you ever got along without it. 40 hours a year would probably be the least amount of time you would use it. Diesel would be the way to go. Also needs to have front end loader. 30 to 50 horsepower for what you are going to use it for.

  3. That was New Holand, this pad is easy to cause typod

  4. Look for something that hasn't been beaten like a rented mule. Used or new... Depends on your pocket. A used tractor in good condition is an investment. 40 hours a year??? Bwahahaha... Get a front end loader on it and 4WD. It's one of those 'i shoulda bought this years ago' tools.

  5. You said swamp.
    That was easy.

    Used, if you can find one that has 80% of its life left for 50% of the price of new.

    Factor your shopping time into the cost unless you LIKE shopping.

    Backhoe and front end loader.

    They make clamp on forklift tines for buckets...

  6. All good comments above. Front bucket, 4 wd, diesel, 3 point hitch and a PTO. Likely you will want to run an auger.

  7. 4WD, rear 540 PTO. a 3 pt hitch that isn't too worn out. Front bucket. Diesel will be nice, especially if it sits for long periods of time, as gas goes bad, diesel doesn't.

    Probably not less than 35 HP,

    A major brand, so you can get service and/or parts when needed. JD (expensive) Kubota, and (if they are in your area) Kioti are pretty good for the money. Lots of lightly used harry homeowner castoffs available with 4-6 hundred hours for sale around here. With care these tractors will go 5-6 times that number of hours.

  8. I'd be concerned about that particular unit; to me it is awfully cheap. Those old units run $4000 plus around here. I know people who have bought old tractors from that time and they are CONSTANTLY working on them. If you get something newer, it will cost more but be much less hassle, as well as have newer features - for example, you don't want a PTO where the implement will 'drive' the tractor (rotational inertia carries through to the wheels).
    You can usually get more capability for the price with a non-compact tractor since there is a demand and therefore a price premium for compact units.
    If you expect to clear brush or move snow or dirt, a bucket will be useful.
    Gas or diesel is personal choice. I'd go for gas since everything I have is gas. If you use stabilizer when you add gas, it will last for years. I use stabilizer in gas for everything but my car.

  9. I ended up going with a Kioti 2610 (24.5 hp). Opted for front end loader and separate forks (Danuser), I use the fork lift a LOT and the dedicated forks are much better to use than bolt-on forks on the bucket. I think that you find than the newer tractors have a lot higher capacity hydraulic systems as well - my Kioti has nearly double the capacity of the "corresponding" old Ford 8N. Kubotas and Kiotis seem to hold their value - resale is usually fast and at a good price for the seller. Hard to go wrong.

  10. You already have your best choice in the 'family'. Get a Kubota 4WD compact tractor. I have had many different 2WD tractors and the 4WD makes me wonder how I did without it. Kubotas are very powerful for their size and highly maneuverable. Front end loader with detachable bucket (for forks) is a must. 35 hp range, 3-cyl. diesel is a perfect size for what you describe, and you can get them reasonably, but rarely cheap as they are very high quality tractors - i.e., dependable. You can power a 6 ft mower or 5 ft brush hog with no problems.

  11. 4x4 definitely. Check out LS tractors if you have a dealer near you. 5 year warranty. You will end up using it more than 40hrs a year. I hae had mine for about 6 yrs and it is very well built and cheaper than John Deere and New Hollands by far.

  12. 4WD for sure! Loader for sure. Gasoline is more than frustrating in implements that are not used regularly, and getting gas all over your hands while cleaning crud out of a carburetor is no fun when the tractor should be working. We have had very little trouble with Diesel.You can add a heat exchanger to keep your fuel warm on cold days so the fuel doesn't gel up in the filter. The new Kubotas, and probably other brands have a exhaust particulate filter that has to be blown out occasionally. The manual says to speed the engine up, and that wasn't getting it done. It should say "balls to the wall." That has been the only trouble we have had in using our Kubota. We got by for years with a 2WD Kubota with differential lock. We pulled a lot of wood out with that, but you do that by standing on the lock and running wide open when going uphill. 4WD is much safer. Choose the brand that has the best parts and service department nearby.


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