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tractor suggestions

 
Posts: 37
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We've been using a Gravely walk-behind tractor for the past several years.  1968 L8 SuperConvertible.  Love it.  Works at about the same pace I do, and with a brush hog, 4-foot plow, rotary plow, and little trailer, it does most of the things we need.  But at 6.6 hp, it's a bit on the anemic side.  And even with dual wheels, it struggles to get anywhere with a loaded trailer (firewood).  Suggestions for an "upgrade"?  We've got 5 somewhat hilly, rocky, semi-woody acres in Rhode Island.  Things I'd like to do with it - disc harrow the pasture, post hole auger, brush hog, pull a trailer, mowing deck, plow the garden, plow a little snow.  Probably a bucket for the front.  Thoughts on the old Ford 8N or similar?  Of course it depends on the tractor, but will I spend all of my time fixing the tractor?  2WD or 4WD?  Farmall Cub?  Budget under $15K including (at least some) implements.
 
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Hello Frank,

Given your list, I would go with a smaller compact utility tractor.  It will effortlessly do every job you just mentioned quite easily, might still be maneuverable for the woods and are plentiful and reliable.  If maneuverability in the woods is paramount, consider a subcompact tractor.  I owned one for 13 years and I still marvel at just how much work that machine will do.

There are plenty of manufacturers, but the two most common ones are Kubota and John Deere.  Both brands have essentially the same specs.  I went with JD because it fit me better—I am tall and the Kubota sitting position was cramped, though there has been some work on that lately.

I suggest that you don’t get too worked up about hp ratings.  The 24hp on these little machines is plenty to work with.

I hope this helps and please keep us updated,

Eric
 
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I second what Eric said.

a 15k budget will get you way more than you need, so be careful to buy enough tractor but not TOO much.  TOO much just costs you more fuel every time you use it.  

For that price range, you can get newer 4wd compact or sub compact.  I wouldn't go new, but just old enough to avoid the crazy diesel emission standards--too many things to go wrong $$$.  Too much older and the hydraulics are not nearly as strong--I bought too old and there are things I can't do that the newer version of my tractor can. The 4wd gives you the traction equal to an extra 20 hp (a 30 hp 4wd will do things you need at least 50 hp in 2wd)

Think about if you ever may want to move big round bales, whether for feed or cheap mulch/compost.  That takes a bigger tractor.  

DEFINITELY a loader bucket on the front!! It is the single biggest productivity booster I ever bought for the farm.

Which brand?? That depends on the dealer--face it, you WILL break things and need parts and probably service at some point even if you usually DIY.  Pick the one that has the better support after the sale.  Go visit the parts dept, ask around.  There are sleazy dealers just like used cars.  Way more important than saving a hundred bucks on the purchase is whether you can get the part you need in a day or if you have to wait weeks and whether the dealer is 15 minutes away or 3 hours.
 
Eric Hanson
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Frank,

I forgot to add, the front end loader will almost certainly be the single most used implement you can put on the tractor.  I use mine for a vast and seemingly unending list of applications.  Mostly, it becomes a sort of power wheelbarrow.  It may even replace or at least compliment your trailer.  Most loaders are a quick attach variety, but in 15 years of owning one, I have never needed to take mine off.  Sometimes for mowing I will remove the bucket which is a piece of cake to take on and off.

Also, these smaller tractors are made to be first rate mowers, being able to operate a variety of mowers.  A mid mount mower is the easiest to operate, but can (depending on the model) be tricky to attach and remove.  The rear mowers hook up easily enough (I operated one for years) but are not as easy to operate.

I could easily go on and on but these small tractors are great investments.  Further, they are almost always a 4wd and for a small tractor you definitely want 4wd.

Once again, good Luck and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask—I love talking tractors!

Eric
 
Frank Spezzano
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R Scott wrote:

For that price range, you can get newer 4wd compact or sub compact.  I wouldn't go new, but just old enough to avoid the crazy diesel emission standards--too many things to go wrong $$$.  Too much older and the hydraulics are not nearly as strong--I bought too old and there are things I can't do that the newer version of my tractor can.



Eric and R, Good advice.  Thanks.  Given R's quote, is there a sweet spot in time before crazy emissions, but with good hydraulics?
 
Eric Hanson
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Frank,

I will speak from the JD side of things as that is what I am familiar with.  Other manufacturers will have a similar scheme operating.

JD has a series 1,2,3, and 4.  These have the emissions controls on them (maybe not the 1 series as I think anything under 25hp is not restricted).  The series before that, 2x20, 3x20, 4x20 did not have the emissions control and were very good tractors.

At present I have a JD 2038r and I absolutely love it.  It has emissions controls, but honestly I have had no problems, despite horror stories.  There is a lot of anxiety about these, I have not had problems with it.

Eric
 
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I will third everything Eric and R said, adding only that you might consider as a factor how close the dealer is.  You will need to visit for parts/oil/filters etc..., and if you do need to get it in for maintenance or repairs, they typically charge a lot to haul it in for you if you (or a nice neighbor) don’t have the equipment to bring it in yourself.  
 
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Frank, do not listen to these guys. Buy a modern walk behind 2 wheel like the Grillo or BCS. Something about twice as powerful as your old Gravely. $15,000? Add a handful of implements and you keep $5,000 in your pocket.
 
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My $0.02 ....maybe best to follow James' advise.  Tractors are awesome, but can be expensive to maintain.  I have a JD790 (circa 2002) 4WD and absolutely love it.
I wouldn't recommend it for your property though, as it has a narrow wheelbase and is not well suited for hilly or uneven ground.

Also, beware PTO post hole diggers - I've heard that they do not perform well in rocky soil as they don't have a reverse for when they catch on a rock. Given your property description, that's bound to happen, a lot.

As far as moving firewood & snow, you might consider getting a quad with a plow ...they are good for about 6" of snow. You can attach a cart for moving firewood.
 
R Scott
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For John Deere, it was the early 2000's that took a big bump up in hydraulics, and mid 2010's that went full emissions clampdown (I am sure they will get better with time, but all the early emission diesels have been less fuel efficient from my observations).  You can look up the specs for almost any tractor at tractordata.com  Very useful for finding and comparing specs. I don't know the other brands, but it seemed to be pretty similar across the board, so a low hour 2005-2010 is probably a good ballpark. Check the web for any common complaints about the model you are looking at.

And James is not wrong, a new 2wheel tractor will do everything you do now better.  But a tractor does a lot of different stuff you can't do now but doesn't help some of the old machines shortcomings.
 
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A loader is important but so is the PTO.
You probably know that tractors like the 8N don't have a live PTO.
Stop the tractor and the PTO stops.
Many of the very old tractors don't.
I think the Allis Chalmers WD was one of the first to have a live PTO.
I like them because the frames are separate from the engine/trany
and the folks on the forum are very helpful when it comes to fixing this old iron.
 
Eric Hanson
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Frank,

I wanted to address the shortcomings of the emissions controls.  For my part and my experience of operating one for about two years, I have not had any problems whatsoever with the emissions controls.  Probably the single biggest drawback is that it did cost money.

I rigorously check and record my fuel consumption with each fill-up.  My old subcompact JD2305 with no emissions controls burned about 2/3 gallon/hr.  This was in contrast to a riding mower that burned a little over 1 gallon/hr.  My new, much larger JD2038r with emissions controls burns about .6 gallons/hour.  I was shocked, my bigger tractor actually burns less fuel than my smaller tractor, and that is with the emissions control to boot.

The moral here is that I would not be too put off by the emissions controls.  By all means, buy what you think is appropriate, but for my part, I just haven’t seen the emissions controls cause any problems.

Eric
 
Frank Spezzano
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Artie Scott wrote:I will third everything Eric and R said, adding only that you might consider as a factor how close the dealer is.    



Absolutely.
 
Eric Hanson
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Frank,

I love talking tractors so just for the fun of it I will go ahead and tell you the reasons I went with JD over Kubota.  This decision was made in 2005 and reflects design at that time.  I don’t know how the Kubota has changed since, but I believe there have been some changes.

Reason #1.  
I am a tall person at 6’3” and my legs need someplace to go, preferably in an outstretched position.  The JD tractors have a little twin pedal setup for the hydrostatic control.  These are located such that my right leg stretches forward and the toes nicely, comfortably reach the controls just right.  Kubota on the other hand has a treadle pedal situated much closer to the seat.  Basically my thigh would be horizontal and my knee would bend 90 degrees.   My leg could never stretch out and I would get awfully cramped sitting in that position for long periods of time.

Reason #2
Direct related to reason #1, with my calf in an essentially vertical position, my knee would be pushed up rather high, high enough that it would rub against the steering wheel!  Definitely not a great operating position.  This reason right here essentially killed of the smaller Kubota’s as an option.

Reason #3

On the Kubota (and most manufacturers for that matter), the loader control is a stick that originates from the loader itself.  It protrudes horizontally from the top of the loader.  This means that you have a stick blocking access from the right side of the tractor.  On the JD, the loader control is a part of the tractor itself and protrudes upwards from either the floor or the right hand rear wheel hub control area.  In either case, the loader stick is vertical and does not block access from the right hand side.  As a bonus, I like to ride with my hand on the loader control to adjust the loader/bucket as I travel.  It is nice because I can essentially rest my arms weight on the control and use a forwards-backwards or left-right to adjust the loader.  If I rested my arm weight on the loader control of the Kubota, the loader would promptly raise up.

I have not sat on a Kubota for some time, but some up-to-date pictures suggest that these controls may have been moved to the JD standard position.  I should add here that JD has a 3E budget series of tractors that, much to my consternation, has a loader control based on the loader itself and not as a part of the tractor so they have a stick pointing out and blocking the right hand access!  I was interested in the 3E series until I saw that feature.

Frank,  I hope you can see that these 3 features are essentially aesthetic/ergonomic in nature.  These are not features that show up in a typical brochure comparison.  I loved the way JD integrated these features and I was always happy with the operation of my JD tractor.  My new JD tractor is even better.  If Kubota has in fact changed these features, a relatively minor change, then the JD and Kubota become almost identical.  One last, almost trivial feature in favor of the JD, JD likes to have yellow seats, and Kubota black.  Why does this matter?  I once sat down on a Kubota seat that had been sitting in the hot afternoon sun for hours.  When I sat down I nearly burned my backside right through my jeans!  I literally leapt out of the seat!  JD yellow stays cool even in the worst heat.

I am NOT trying to persuade you or anyone to buy JD over any other brands.  I am solely pointing out what moved me in the direction of JD over the very similar Kubota.

I hope this helps and if I can help further, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Eric
 
Frank Spezzano
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Eric Hanson wrote:
Frank,  I hope you can see that these 3 features are essentially aesthetic/ergonomic in nature.  These are not features that show up in a typical brochure comparison.  



All helpful, Eric.  Thanks.  At 5'8" (and shrinking), the pedal setup seems less important for me, but the handle position is of consequence.  As is the seat color.  I don't like a scorched backside any better than the next guy.  

There's been a lot of good points made by several people, but Artie and James have me re-thinking the entire proposition when they mentioned a new(er) BCS or Grillo walk-behind.  My Gravely with rotary plow tills the garden and digs holes for planting saplings.  With the 4' snow plow, I plow the driveway.  With the brush hog/mower deck I'm good for mowing.  I sure would like a fence post auger, but as someone mentioned, with my rocky terrain, and it is VERY rocky, a power auger probably isn't a good idea.  (Which is why I've put all current fence posts in with a manual auger.)  I can see the bucket on a JD/Kubota tractor being handy for any number of things.  But from my perspective, mostly for moving large rocks in/on dry stone walls.  And hauling firewood.  A new BCS or Grillo would be nice, but wouldn't add much to what I need with the exception of more hp, mostly to pull a loaded wagon.  For the disc harrow, I'll need to buy that implement either way.  Either for the Gravely or a new tractor.  So at the end of the day, is it worth the investment for the added hauling capability that a loader bucket would provide?  Probably not yet.
 
James Whitelaw
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For material handling for my BCS I am looking at the CAEB “Minicargo” power barrow for about $1,600. Supposedly loves hills, 1,000 lb capacity, has brakes. Earth tools has a 700 lb version they make that also looks good. Basically gives you a powered 4-wheel drive walk-behind dump cart that can follow a deer trail.
 
Eric Hanson
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Frank,

I understand all the concerns you have and I do not take the cost lightly.  But having owned a subcompact tractor for 13 years, I just can’t convey how immensely productive even the smallest tractors are.  I would be absolutely wiped out long before my tractor ever could.  It is really hard to explain just how useful a loader is until you actually have one.

Don’t get me wrong, the two wheel tractors are extremely useful little machines.  What I was thinking was that your best bet would be to keep the 2 wheel tractor for smaller projects and use the 4 wheel tractor for the big projects.

I eventually sold my subcompact tractor to my neighbor and he thinks that it is amazingly useful.  If you could find a used subcompact tractor I am sure that you would get many years of productive use.

In the end, this is entirely your choice so do what you think is appropriate.  After having a tractor, I can’t imagine not having one.  Even the smallest are just that useful.

Do what you think is best and please keep us updated on your decision!

Eric
 
Frank Spezzano
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James Whitelaw wrote:For material handling for my BCS I am looking at the CAEB “Minicargo” power barrow for about $1,600. Supposedly loves hills, 1,000 lb capacity, has brakes. Basically gives you a powered 4-wheel drive walk-behind dump cart that can follow a deer trail.


I admit, James, that power barrow looks fantastic.  (If you like walk-behind tractors, which I do.)  You got me looking for one made for my Gravely.  They made them years ago.  

Much as I love the Gravely, and the idea of the walk-behind, I think Eric has a good point about the general usefulness of a compact tractor.  Not that you can't do a ton with a BCS, or my Gravely.  You can.  But looking at the price tag on the BCS tractor plus implements, for me, that money would be better spent on a compact diesel tractor.  It's like someone said elsewhere in the thread, by spending a little more, you get a lot more capability.  

 
Eric Hanson
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Frank,

Just to do some basic price comparisons, I checked the specs on two JD tractors.  The 1025r is a subcompact tractor and the 2025r is the very smallest compact tractors.  They are almost identical in every respect.  They have the same hp ratings at 24 gross and 18 PTO (which is where it really matters).  They run on the same engine and operate all the same implements.  For rough cutters they are both rated for a 4’ model, though they can swing a 5’ if you really, really wanted (I personally would not recommend it).  They operate the same loader.  The 2025r will lift about 200 pounds more than the 1025r at the 3 point hitch (about 850 to 680 pounds).  I really don’t know what you will do with that extra 200 pounds though as they still run the same implements.

The most obvious difference is the rear tire.  The 1025r looks like an overgrown riding lawn mower (and many use it exactly for this purpose) and has a smallish rear tire.  The 2025r looks like the kid brother of a larger tractor and has a rear tire about twice the diameter of the 1025r.  This might give you a smoother ride over rough terrain, and the tractor has overall better ground clearance, but not by huge margins.

The price difference is about $2k, and only you can decide if the slightly larger tractor is worth the extra 2k.  I owned an earlier version of the 1025r for 13 years and it was amazing.  Even though I love my new tractor, it was hard to let the old one go.  Fortunately, I sold it to my neighbor across the street so I still have visiting rights.

Frank, just to be clear, I am using JD as the standard spec here because that is what I am familiar with.  I am not trying to sway you to JD, and there are many other manufacturers with very similar products.  They really only differ on some relatively small details, like the loader control and hydrostatic controls that I detailed earlier.  These details may or may not matter to you.  And of course a huge, intangible factor is the dealer.  Is he close by?  Is he trustworthy and reliable?  You get the idea.

I am making this post because if you do decide to go the 4 wheel tractor route, I thought I could offer some perspective having actually owned one.  Looks are deceiving with the subcompact tractors.  They may look small but they punch way above their weight.  I could make several threads detailing their impressive performance.  My neighbor who owns my old tractor loves it and can barely believe it’s capabilities.  

Ultimately the decision about 2 vs. 4 wheel tractors is yours and yours alone.  They are not cheap, but their performance is unrivaled.  Obviously, you know my thoughts.  I will gladly answer any questions you may have, but as I love talking tractors, I just had to put this out there.

I hope this helps,

Eric
 
James Whitelaw
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Can’t argue that a used jd like has been described by Eric both fits in your budget, and has more capability, when looking at horse power, hydraulic bucket etc.  My thinking is sometimes equipment with increased horsepower etc is purchased by a homesteader with a few projects in mind that require that horsepower, lifting capability around the place, ends up parked a good bit of the time unless the owner comes up with projects in order to get seat time on their tractor. So the analysis of my situation is I really don’t need that heavy lift or push capability most of the time, so for now I can’t justify the increased cost that would give me the increased “capability & performance”

As to implements,I think the walk behinds get a raw deal in comparison. First, I have not pointed out that I have been arguing the merits of a new, warranted walk behind with specific new implements fitting within your $15,000 budget against the recommendation of a used 4-wheel and no implements discussed. In my case interestingly $15,000 is around my current budget of which I spent less than half so far for my tractor, 32” brush mower and a handful of drag implements. Remaining in my plans are a flail mower and power harrow, so add less than $3,000 brings me to less than $10,000. Adding a variety of some more drag implements and that CAEB power harrow mentioned earlier takes us to $12,000. The remaining likely will go to planting and spreading implements. One thing to point out regarding the implements made by Rinaldi, Aldo Biagioli, Del Moreno are very high quality implements, not junk. One reason I think the smaller PTO implement get a bad shake price wise is comparing a 30 inch druse mower to a 60 inch brush mower you might expect it to be half the price, but the expensive bits to these is the connectors and gearing, so economies of scale do not favor the smaller implement, even though it is of comparable quality.

For hauling stones or heavy bags I’m thinking of building a sled I can drag behind that I can drag heavy stuff around on. Post hole I lean towards renting either a tow behind or powered walk behind like the Toro. Frank, for your post hole digging in your rocky soil, I suggest talk up the local rental place and see what they recommend as surely other customers have had the same problem. Perhaps one of the larger powered units can be fitted with a drill suited better for your task. As far as a power harrow for your Gravely, call Joel at Earth Tools. They may make an adapter that mates to your Gravely. You can also find people who have constructed their own homemade harrows.

In my opinion some of the disadvantages of the 2305 and similar, at least for me are; more expensive, larger, hence requires more storage space, requires more gas or diesel hauled into and stored on my place, more complicated and expensive to fix, too large to fit in a lot of places or trails that exist on my place. Dangerous on hills (tipping). I should also point out problems are not unknown with the 2305 (link to thread about  transmission & PTO issues on some of the 2305’s).

In our case, assuming we need more power and lifting capability in the future and it’s justified financially, the 2305 or similar is definitely high on my list, but so is possibly a trackhoe or backhoe or a skid steer. For moving large heavy loads around on a trailer (such as my walk-behind) I’m flirting with getting an electric UTV. These run in the $12,000 brand new and you can see a 1,000 lb tow capacity. A note about used, I’ve consistently compared new walk behind equipment to used, you can find the BCS for sale for less than new. I’m considering seeking an older model that I could fit with a sulky and maybe upgrade the engine to something like the 12 hp Honda. For our planned big dig root cellar cum sunken earth ship style greenhouse, my plans is after all the plans are fleshed out we’ll hire a big bulldozer and ace operator to come in an do the job, one and done, in half a day. We then get in building of our foundation (different thread to come) in prep for the metal culvert to be delivered and set in the trench. Once it’s in place a lot of back filling can be done with just pushing the sand around with my walk behind as the work progresses on the big greenhouse south facing wall. Maybe after that is done we get the heavy equipment back in to cover the culvert.
0C37B9C6-1384-40E0-9474-E6E1AF13D9DE.jpeg
BCS with tracks
BCS with tracks
 
Eric Hanson
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James,

I love your BCS (it is a BCS right) that you have there.  At times I have considered one for tight places, but I was put off by how much a 2 wheel tractor cost compared to my 2305.  Specifically I remembered looking at a 2 wheel bush hog that was smaller than my 4’ bush hog yet cost more.  I think you will love the flail mower.  I had a 48” BEFCO flail mower for my 2305 and it was amazing.  

Regarding the tranny, I only had one single isolated incident with the transmission and it was at least partially my fault.  I started seeing hydraulic fluid on my garage floor, kept adding more, but the leaks continued.  I had it hauled off to the dealership, fearing thousands in repair.  The bill was well under $100.  When I went to pick it up they handed me what looked like an O-ring, but made of grass.  While rough cutting I bumped the PTO selector to both mid and rear position.  The mid PTO wound up stray pieces of grass onto the PTO shaft and ground out the O ring.  Actually the grass was doing a halfway decent job of acting like a real O ring.  It did keep the transmission fluid from just pouring out onto the ground.  After that point I made absolutely certain I never had the PTO selector in the wrong place again.

Aside from that one issue, I had no problems with the transmission over a 13 year period and my neighbor has had no problems in the last two years.  I would call it pretty bulletproof.

Ultimately only Frank can decide which option is best.  He does presently have a 2 wheel tractor that provides good service.  For my money (and this is my opinion and feel free to disagree) a 4 wheel tractor costs a bit more but is fantastically useful.  Aside from that solitary issue with the PTO, I never had a single part on the tractor actually break or need maintenance (aside from oil changes and such which I do myself, but that is true on any machine).  It is just that great a little tractor.

I gotta say though that your BCS on tracks looks awesome!

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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Frank,

I wanted to address some other concerns raised on this thread regarding a 4 wheel tractor.  As far as storage, I parked mine outside for most of the time I owned it and it was no worse for wear.  I typically performed the standard maintenance (oil change mostly) once per year.  Aside from the bizarre PTO incident, nothing ever broke.  And I mean nothing in 13 years of ownership.  I was (and continues to be) extremely reliable.  I kept rigorous track of my fuel consumption and it was reliably at about 2/3 gallons per hour.  It went up to almost 3/4 gallons per hour when I was mowing my grass.  Basically I filled up the tank (4.5 gallons out of a 5 gallon tank) about once per month or so.  I usually keep two 5 gallon cans each filled with 4.5 gallons on hand.  I only go get diesel about twice per summer or so.  Maybe 3 times a year.

Basically it was just an extremely reliable, surprisingly powerful and highly fuel efficient machine.  If I had less acreage (I have 9 acres) I probably would have just kept the 2305.  It was just that good a machine.

I know that you have a LOT of information in this thread and two diametrically opposed viewpoints.  I don’t want to sound like I am trying to make your decision for you, I am really not.  But based on my experience of having a subcompact tractor, I would never have gone back.  I would imagine that if you kept your 2 wheel tractor and acquired a subcompact you would have a fantastic range of tools available to you.

Again, I hope this helps and please keep us updated on your thoughts.  I love talking tractors.

Eric
 
James Whitelaw
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To be clear, the pic of the tracked BCS isn’t mine, just a image off Pinterest. I have the 853 With loaded tires. This unit has the cone clutch which is about $2,000 less than the new hydrostatic clutch model that just came out. I have the Del Morino 32” brush mower that costs new less than $1,500;

Steel-reinforced aluminum gearbox cases; hardened steel gears and ball bearings in oil bath. Input shaft housings are designed with an oscillating swivel so that deck “floats”, or follows the contour of the ground, independent of the tractor axle. Cut material comes out under a reinforced rubber flap in the rear of mower.

 
Eric Hanson
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James,

My mistake, but too bad, I really love the look of that BCS on tracks!

When I was contemplating a 2 wheel tractor I drooled over the idea of an 853.  

I really do think that you will love the flail mower.  When I got my BEFCO flail mower it quickly became my favorite mower.  It can mow lawn grass, tall pasture grass, weeds & brambles and even woody debris.  It left everything looking like a manicured lawn.  In my grassy acreage I maintain some walking trails and the flail mower was absolutely perfect!  I could cut thick pasture grass and leave it looking like a finished lawn.  In some ways it was better than a typical finish mower.  When a typical finish mower mows through tall, thick and especially wet grass, it sometimes leaves the grass “pinched” where the blades intersect.  A flail mower mows perfectly flat, always.

Since I sold my tractor I have been without a flail mower.  I plan to buy one with a hydraulic offset so that I can really mow along the side of a hedgerow without getting a face full of thorns and branches.

Again, if you get a flail mower you might want to sell your bush hog as you may never want or need another mower again.  They are that good.

Eric
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:

Basically it was just an extremely reliable, surprisingly powerful and highly fuel efficient machine.  



Just chiming in with the same opinion.  In the photo below, the JD4010 (2005) is only 18 hp, but the gearing and diesel engine make it quite a workhorse.  Minimal maintenance on that in that machine in ~15 years of ownership (bought new).  The Kubota is 32 hp and with a wider wheelbase is better for mowing over bumpy terrain and pulling large loads.   Note one thing in the photo-- the relative distance of the loader bucket from the front wheels for the JD versus the Kubota.  It's something I didn't even realize until using the Kubota a bit but the closer proximity of bucket to the front wheels on the Deere make it a more stable experience when lifting heavy loads.  The Kubota is fine due to its extra power, but it's easier to get its rear wheels to rise off the ground if the load in the bucket is too heavy.  
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Tractor comparison
Tractor comparison
 
James Whitelaw
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I love the idea of the tracks. The BCS has so many wheel options and specialty wheels that allow harvesting grass on hillsides or mow wet areas, but the tracks hold a special attraction for me. I remember seeing a video of someone bombing around in deep snow on a BCS fitted with tracks dragging a sled grooming the trail.
 
Frank Spezzano
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Eric Hanson wrote:
I am making this post because if you do decide to go the 4 wheel tractor route, I thought I could offer some perspective having actually owned one.  Looks are deceiving with the subcompact tractors.  They may look small but they punch way above their weight.  



All valuable info and insight, Eric.  Thanks.
 
Eric Hanson
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John,

I remember the old 4010.  People who owned it tended to love it.  It did occupy a strange position in that it was ostensibly in the small compact tractor category, but the contemporary 2210 (forerunner to the 2305) subcompact was actually more powerful.

It did have a few features the 2210 lacked, such as a position hitch on the 3 point.  That tractor has not been made since around 2005 (or so). I do wonder what those little tractors are doing today.  John, as you pointed out, one does not need a huge amount of hp to make a tractor extremely useful.  I did things with my 2305 that it probably should not have been able to be done.  In particular, I used the tractor to lift up a bunch of fallen logs (which it did effortlessly) and then haul them out of my woods.

Nice tractor talk!

Eric
 
Frank Spezzano
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James Whitelaw wrote:My thinking is sometimes equipment with increased horsepower etc is purchased by a homesteader with a few projects in mind that require that horsepower, lifting capability around the place, ends up parked a good bit of the time unless the owner comes up with projects in order to get seat time on their tractor. So the analysis of my situation is I really don’t need that heavy lift or push capability most of the time, so for now I can’t justify the increased cost that would give me the increased “capability & performance”



This is a good point, James.  And needs to be part of my calculation.  
 
Frank Spezzano
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Eric Hanson wrote:

My mistake, but too bad, I really love the look of that BCS on tracks!



I second Eric's sentiment on the tracks.
 
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A random thought about 4-wheel tractors

There are a LOT of people who get attracted to compact tractors so they can put a backhoe on it.  I know that I dreamed of putting a little backhoe on my old 2305–I could either get a JD version or one of several 3rd party hoes.

Tempting though it was, I really had to ask what I was going to do this for.  A backhoe is great for digging deep holes and trenches, but you really pay for that.  As I remember, the backhoe itself is about $6k, not including the hydraulics.  For that amount of money I would have to use it a LOT before it was worth it.  I just don’t dig that much and what digging I do can be done with a shovel or bucket.  I do know people who bought the backhoe and never use it.

In my opinion, if you really, really want to dig, a small trackhoe is a much better option and these can be rented much more easily than purchasing outright.

I just thought I would add my $.02,

Eric
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Frank Spezzano wrote:We've been using a Gravely walk-behind tractor for the past several years.    But at 6.6 hp, it's a bit on the anemic side.   We've got 5 somewhat hilly, rocky, semi-woody acres in Rhode Island.  Things I'd like to do with it - disc harrow the pasture, post hole auger, brush hog, pull a trailer, mowing deck, plow the garden, plow a little snow.  Probably a bucket for the front.   2WD or 4WD?  Budget under $15K including (at least some) implements.



Frank, A few of the folks here reference John Deere.  Not a bad choice, but the cost is high for the green paint.  For the past 40 years the compact John Deere tractors are made by Yanmar.  In our recent times due to tariffs and other costs, John Deere now 'assembles' these tractors like kits.  Yanmar supplies the engine, frame and hydraulics while JD puts wheels, cabs, etc.  In fact, Yanmar and John Deere are both very close to Augusta-GA where much of this activity takes place.

With all this said, should you look at a John Deere, also think looking at a Yanmar.  In general, you'll save 1/3rd in purchase costs, new or used or fully refurbished going back to the early 1980s to the 2000s with a UTDA model.  UTDA dealers are mostly in the southeast USA and ship anywhere in the lower 48 states.  These come with a fully 1yr warranty backing the total restore.

Also, Yanmar made Cub Cadet tractors all thru the 2000s.  

Why Yanmar?  They are the first company back in the early 1900s to commercially produce diesel engines and then tractors.  When folks think of Yanmar, they mainly think of diesel engines in boating or Navy ship engines.  They are more than just that.
JD-Yanmar-on-the-same-assembly-line.jpg
Yanmar tractors
Yanmar tractors
 
Eric Hanson
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Brian makes a totally fair point about Yanmar Diesel engines.  A refurbished or used Yanmar tractor has real potential to be a very useful tractor and potentially can save you a bundle.

It is easier to go and buy a new model from a dealer lot, but if you keep your eyes open and look around, then you might well be able to find a great deal.

And just for reference sake, I am using JD specs simply because that is what I know.  Kubota has many fans as do New Holland, Bobcats and an increasingly large number of manufacturers.

Choose as you see is best and good luck!

Eric
 
Frank Spezzano
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Eric Hanson wrote:Brian makes a totally fair point about Yanmar Diesel engines.  A refurbished or used Yanmar tractor has real potential to be a very useful tractor and potentially can save you a bundle.



Eric, I've decided to hold off on the 4-wheel tractor for the moment, although the discussion/info regarding JD, Kubota, Yanmar, etc. has been invaluable.  I've got a neighbor with medium to large JD and Kubota tractors who's agreed to help me out with disc harrow/seeding this spring.  That's big.  The other issue being my Gravely L8 is anemic on power when pulling a loaded wagon.  James has me looking for a power barrow for the Gravely to compensate for that.  Also keeping my eyes out for a Gravely Commercial 12 walk-behind.  Same attachments, double the hp.  That will have to do for the moment.  Next year?  Maybe.  When I figure out how to add a photo, I'll put up a picture of the Gravely.  Chained dual wheels.  Looks like a squat, little wharthog.
 
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Frank Spezzano wrote:

Eric Hanson wrote: When I figure out how to add a photo, I'll put up a picture of the Gravely.  Chained dual wheels.  Looks like a squat, little wharthog.



Gravely 12 Walk-Behind info

https://www.gravelymanuals.com/docs/walkers/index.html

 
Eric Hanson
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Frank,

By all means, if you can borrow a 4 wheel tractor while you save money, look for deals, consider options etc. that is a great option.  Out of curiosity, how much is your 2 wheel tractor going to set you back?

At any rate, good Luck, and if you don’t mind, I would love to see what it looks like if you don’t mind sending a picture.

Eric
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:Frank,

By all means, if you can borrow a 4 wheel tractor while you save money, look for deals, consider options etc. that is a great option.  Out of curiosity, how much is your 2 wheel tractor going to set you back?

At any rate, good Luck, and if you don’t mind, I would love to see what it looks like if you don’t mind sending a picture.

Eric



He can make the Gravely into a 4-wheeled tractor and seat too.  

This is the upgrade model he is looking for.




Back in 2011, Yanmar made it's 1-millionth diesel walk-behind tractor.

gravely-walk-behind-tractor-Commercial-12-w.jpg
[Thumbnail for gravely-walk-behind-tractor-Commercial-12-w.jpg]
 
Frank Spezzano
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Eric Hanson wrote:Frank,

Out of curiosity, how much is your 2 wheel tractor going to set you back?



Eric,  I believe I can get one in good condition for $1500 or less.  There seem to be a few floating around my area in New England.  The power barrow may be hard to find.  
 
Frank Spezzano
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Brian Maverick wrote:
He can make the Gravely into a 4-wheeled tractor and seat too.  




Funny thing about the sulky, Brian.  I've got one, but use it as little as possible.  Only when I need to pull something that requires the attachment point on the sulky.  I like a lot of things about my Gravely walk behind, but one of the best things is that it keeps me moving.  I'm in my 50's now, and I hope to keep walking behind my Gravely for another few decades.  We'll see.

I had no idea about the Yanmar walk behind.  I've seen the BCS and Grillo, and the David Bradley and some others on the vintage side, but not that one.  I like the wheels on that Yanmar.  My Gravely L8 setup is pretty good now in snow and mud with the dual wheels, and all wheels being chained, but those Yanmar wheels look pretty effective for sloppy/hilly terrain.
 
Eric Hanson
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Frank,

Do you know if diesel was an option for the 2-wheel tractors you were looking at?  I know BCS and Grillo had Diesel engines available not that long ago.  I have not seen one in a while which I think is too bad.  I am a real fan of Diesel engines as they are far more powerful (meaning have more torque for a given HP rating) than gas engines, and they are much more efficient as well.

I think, but don’t know that recent emissions standards have made Diesel engines impractical on small machines.  I thought that engines under 25 hp were exempt (a lot of tractor manufacturers have a wide variety of 24hp tractors) but I may be wrong.

I look forward to seeing how your new tractor works out.

Eric
 
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