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Considering a fel tractor, need advice  RSS feed

 
Jared Steffy
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Hey, first post after reading many very informative discussions here and looking for some good advice!

My wife and I live on 2.5 hilly acres, about 1/3 is wooded and hoping to have 1/2 acre of permanent garden beds. We buy around 20 yards of mulch every spring and take as many wood chips as is delivered, usually 2 truckloads. We have no need for a tiller, but often wonder what life would be like with a fel. Oh, we also heat with wood so moving logs to the splitter and the splits to the house is accomplished with our cub cadet garden tractor 3204 with around 275 hours on it and a simple dump trailer. Our neighbor offered to mow our property soon after settling on the house, and now we just pay him to continue mowing. So no real immediate mowing needs. Plowing snow is another task that I would like to address, either myself or just paying someone to do it for us..

I'm pretty sure the cc has some life left in it, and I was throwing around the idea of getting a johnny bucket sr, but fear the bucket would lose most of it's value when the cadet dies? Stopped at a kubota dealer today and got a quote for a bx18-- with a fel and mower deck for 13,700 or 240/month with insurance. Should I try to sell the cc and bite the bullet with the bx, or ride out the life of the cc and make due with what I have?
I've also looked at the bcs walk behind, but given that I'm not planning on tilling, doesn't seem to make sense?

Thanks for any advice you can offer!
 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Do you have a pickup? These are awesome for unloading mulch: http://www.harborfreight.com/truck-bed-cargo-unloader-60800.html They can help you get by a lot easier. Also let you load the truck with the FEL and dump like a mini dumptruck.

The bucket on the CC is a bad idea--they just aren't built heavy enough.

A FEL and mower deck do not actually work together very well, so make sure both are easy to remove. A rear brush hog is more useful for most people, especially if you are keeping the CC.

A rear blade will deal with a fair bit of snow for cheap, the bucket will handle it if it is deeper.

It is a really useful tool, but expensive. Check craigslist to get an idea about used prices in the area. New has advantages, especially when they are offering zero percent financing, but used can save you a bunch.
 
Jared Steffy
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Thanks for your insights R Scott. We don't have a pick up unfortunately, any ideas for a prius lol.
I guts were telling me the JB would be an unfavorable move.. Our property does not have one level spot on it,
and sheds are scattered all over the place, so I need something nimble to navigate around with.

What about fuel usage on a cc vs a bx kubota, would I see significant savings over time with the diesel?

Are you referring to the rear blade for the tractor right?

The zero financing is a huge plus for me, I really don't want to have to do any repairs and don't want surprises either.
Fels seem to really hold there value as well, as used ones around here are $$$ as well. Seems like new is the best way
to go?

Would a compact bx serve all of my needs, or am i looking at needing something more down the road?
Thanks!

 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Diesel definitely saves on fuel (although you spend much of it back on oil).

I can't say if that is enough tractor for you or not. I have an old JD 955--it is 600 lb rated loader and 900 lb 3 pt. I can hit the limit of the bucket pretty quick, but if I pace myself I can do 95% of what I need to do around here. There are times I wish I had enough tractor to move large round bales or large logs.

If you don't have a pickup, you will want a trailer sized for the tractor. Use it just like the cart and the cc now, but upsized to do it in fewer trips. One you can load while chocked then hook up to the tractor (a drawbar on the threepoint helps avoid cranking a jack). A utility trailer or wagon with that harbor freight unloader will really speed things up.
 
Jared Steffy
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Great ideas, thanks. The beauty of that harbor freight unloader is that you can convert any trailer to a dump trailer, does it hold up pretty well?
Need to make some decisions!
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I don't think it would hope up to rock's very long, but no problem for mulch and compost. I bought it for one job expecting disposable, but have been pleasantly surprised.
 
Dan Grubbs
Posts: 542
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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I would really advise anyone to buy the next size tractor up than they think they'll need. I've met many, many who have purchased a tractor (whether new or used) who lament they didn't buy a big enough one. Our needs evolve and it's been my observations that if we're not careful we can buy equipment and machinery that won't evolve with us. Here have been my conclusions to a tractor, shoudl one feel they need one to maintain their property and do the jobs needed to create their own paradise:

1 - I choose diesel over gas, not even close
2 - I chose 4WD (I also chose ag tires rather than turf tires)
3 - I chose power steering (espeically if you need nimble movements)
4 - I'm fully convinced that a FEL is more than worth the money

These are just my findings over the last 1 1/2 years of coverting my 10 acres into a food forest.

Best of luck!
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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I bought one of those truck bed unloaders years ago. I used it mostly with dry manures and composts.
As things get heavier it has a harder time unloading , the cloth will actually pull out from under the load.
I had a plastic truck bed liner which helped , it is slippery. Not sure how well it would work on metal.
I still have it, used it to unload tons of stuff.

If you had a heavy tarp or canvas and a way to pull it out you could do the same thing without the purchase.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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The cloth will pull out from the load if the load "locked" around the wheel wells. If you overload the truck, you may have to scoop out the wheel wells first, or at least break them free.

Dan brought up several good points.

4wd is worth an extra 25% in HP or more--as in you can do as much work with a 40 hp 4wd as a 50 hp 2wd, and it is a bigger difference in compact utilities.

Ag tires are worth the same over R4 and more over turf.

Make sure you buy a loader with enough lift to dump it where you want--over the top of fences or gates, into pickups or dumptrucks, building you compost pile as big as you want it, etc.
 
Ann Torrence
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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I am very interested in this topic, been jonesing for a tractor since we started here 2 years ago. Now I am considering a skidsteer instead, wondering if there's any input on that option.

Needed implements: auger, FEL, forklift (to bring apple bins to the crush pad, lift IBCs of juice, etc), possibly an orchard sprayer, rough mowing. Thinking about an ATV pulled mower and sprayer and the skidsteer. Managing in the interim by hiring out the augering, borrowing a friend's FEL, and a backpack sprayer. That isn't going to cut it when the fruit starts to come in.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Skidsteers are awesome for moving stuff in tight areas or around the place. Getting one to handle full IBC's or bins is going to be BIG. Very few will work out in a field very well--they compact and tear up the ground, limited traction, no ground clearance.
 
Ardilla Esch
pollinator
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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Ann Torrence wrote:Needed implements: auger, FEL, forklift (to bring apple bins to the crush pad, lift IBCs of juice, etc), ...


Full IBCs weigh about a ton. That means a fairly large tractor or skid steer. Be aware that the lifting capacity of most FELs/skid steers decreases with height (there should be a chart in the owner's manual). i.e. my Kubota L3200 will lift 900+ pounds off the ground but decreases to about 600-700 pounds at the highest reach of the FEL. Also, working the machine at the very limits of its capacity on a regular basis could cause trouble. If you really need to lift full IBCs regularly, get a machine that can easily do it.

If you get a regular tractor, have them put on universal skid steer style quick attach brackets. That way you can remove the bucket and put on forks (or vice versa) in less than a minute with no tools. It also opens up options on which buckets and pallet forks you can use.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Full IBC's weigh a ton (literally) and put the load further out on the forks than many are rated for (most ratings are listed for a bucket with the weight closer). You need at least 2500 lbs rated 2 feet out on the forks, and that leaves no extra comfort/safety margin.
 
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