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Contributed Article

Talk of the Town:
Best Tractor?

This recent discussion on the Tractor Talk discussion board here at the on-line magazine drew quite a bit of response. We see the question of "Which tractor is best for me?" asked quite often. We thought you might find the responses interesting. As always, the names of the people participating in the discussion have been left out - we did not request their permission to reprint their names in this article. However you can find this discussion in it's entirety in the Tractor Talk archives.

The discussion started out with the following post:

"We just bought a little 4+acre in Western Washington. We need to a tractor to prep and mow/maintain the property. I have 2 horses to do most of the "mowing". But, I need a tractor. My father is an old farmer/construction man (who loves JD's) but says a Ford is best for our needs. Its about a 2% grade with a bit of a swell to it. I want a front-loader (for snow and poop) with a disk and maybe a box scraper. I've been looking around, but I'm not sure what to look/ask for. I don't want to get taken advantage of (I'm female). What's the best older tractor and can I expect to pay more than $4000 for one (my budget is tight)? Any advice about where to look and how much to pay?"

What followed are some very interesting replies:

" You've probably noticed that brand loyalty is strong in the old-tractor world. My particular loyalty is to Fords. There's nothing worng with JD at all, they're fine machines.

But a JD in the price and size class you are considering will probably lack the most important feature on a "using" tractor, and that's a standard ASAE 3-point hitch. All Ford have these as standard. This alone is a compelling argument for a Ford - the ability to switch implements quickly and easily, and to buy new implements which will fit.

I would suggest that a loader (which may appear to be a wonderful work-saver) will not be of much benefit to you in your application and in the size of tractor you are considering. Unless you have drive-in stalls and dozens of horses, the advantages of a loader for manure handling are pretty minor. I keep a couple of horses myself and would not bother with a loader tractor - quicker and easier to just pick up their stalls into a dump wagon.

A loader makes the tractor harder to drive, and it limits manouverability with any other implement - it's always there.

In your situation I would be looking for a Ford 8N, with a back blade, box blade, carry-all paltform and crane pole. I'd be expecting to pay between $2750 and $3500 for one in good mechanical shape. Cosmetic appearance matters little to function, pay for it what you feel its worth."

" I'll throw my hat in with both of ya' on this one. Loaders are nice if you use them, but if their use is occasional then they are kind of in the way. I haven't been in a barn with stalls for a few years, but it would seem to me that a dump bucket on the 3 point would be quite useful for hauling manure."

" I think you men have given sound advice about the loader. I had one, best thing I ever did was take it off. I use a slip bucket on 3-pt to scoop and move. Can put it on and take it off very quickly. "

" In my area everybody wants a loader, so tractors with loaders go for a least $5000. (A previous responder) ...is right about the 3 pt. hitch. Fergusons and Massey-Fergusons will also have 3 pt. hitch. The Ferguson 30 is roughly equivalent to the 8N. I wouldn't limit myself to 8Ns; for just a little more money you can often find a 1953 or later Ford (called "NAA", "Jubilee", or "600 series") that also gives you the convenience of hydraulics that work while the clutch is pushed in (this is particulary nice when you're pushing snow with a back blade).

Depending on how much snow you get, (A previous responder) ...is probably right about the loader. There are a lot of light weight, 2WD tractors (like the 8N) out there with loaders, but they can be as much of a hinderance as a help. You need a LOT of weight on the back end to get any traction, and the weight of the loader wears out the front end. They make it hard to do repairs, and limit your maneuverability. I have a 600 with a loader and, exept for moving snow and digging from a stockpile, it mostly functions as a powered wheelbarrow. A farm tractor with a loader just doesn't have the traction and digging ability of tracked construction equipment. "

" The suggestions by the others are all good. I'm also a Ford man. Have 6 of them. Would suggest looking for a 660 or 860 Ford. Both have live hydralics and PTO. I like my 8Ns and 2N but for mowing there two light and the mower stops every time you step on the clutch. The 660 and 860 have double clutch plates so that you can push half way down and stop the tractor and still keep the mower running. Push the clutch all the way down and the mower stops. "

" I think an Oliver 77 would be good live power cheap plenty of pulling power what else do you need? "

" I've been in the farming business for 67 years and in my expert opinion FarmAll is where it's at. It's a trustworthy machine from the tires strait up to the assboards. Damn fine machine. Nuff Said! "

" If you plan on making sharp turns while mowing, get a narrow front but I suggest a wide front for snow and manure handling, about the Ford, they run from 1200 to 3500, my neighbor has a Ferguson, same accsessories as ford, same size, just more rare but you might be able to find something like it for really cheap, its a good runner. "

" Ford. 8N's are a darn good tractor and hard to beat for the money. However, the lack of live hydraulics is a pain. I also would not get one with a loader, it makes them too hard to steer and get traction, and most of the N's with loaders have really long arms to the bucket making them real hard to manuveur(?) in tight spaces. It also wears out the front end. If you insist on a loader, but a 600, 800 series or even a 2000/3000 if you can find one for your price (doubtful, but possible). You can't go wrong with Fords for reliabilty, easy of getting parts, etc. "

" I would cast a vote for a Massey Ferguson 135. This is a modern tractor with power steering, diesel, hydraulics, etc. You should be able to find one around $3K to $3.5K. They can handle a loader and the other extras you mentioned. This tractor is much more modern than the others mentioned to you in previous notices. "

" Massey-Ferguson 135's are good all-round chore tractors. In my neighborhood (SE Tenn.)even the very rough ones may go for around 3500; if in good condition, from 4500 to 5500; excellent condition will bring 7000+. I got mine for 4800, no power steering, but in near excellent shape. It has done everything I've asked it to do. MF's are popular tractors in this part of the country. "

" I agree the MF 135 is a great little tractor, and I sure would buy one (good one) in your price range. Here in Indiana they're running around 5000 to 6000, good ones, bad ones for a little less. "

" Best you start going to some Auction Sales where there selling tractors. But be careful there are some bummers out there. "

" You've already gotten a lot of good advice on tractor features (ditto on the loader advice!). Here's one more consideration--what kind of dealers/parts stores are nearby? If you are going to use the tractor for real work, it nice to have parts availability within a short drive. You especially appreciate this when you've got limited time to work a field, clean the barn, etc. and the water pump, generator, starter, etc. goes out and you can't wait a week to finish. This is another plus for Ford, JD, IH, and MF, and often a negative for brands that no longer exist. "

" I see you're getting a lot of advice on makes and modeles. I've owned many makes and ages of tractor's. My advice is buy somthing you can get parts and service for. Many older tractor's don't have power steering or good hydraulics, your're going to have to buy something from at least the mid to late 50's to get the 2 things I mentioned. A wide front is also a must, those little Ford's you heard about are to lite for loader work. unless you get into the newer ones. I owned 4000,&,5000 Fords they are excellent - good brakes and fuel economy. Many older tractor's also have poor brakes. The worst loader I ever ran was on a JD G hand cluth, no power steering, poor hydraulics, narrow front. Had a simalar deal with a Farmall M which I still own, a JD A and a Farmall M for pulling but for all around use. There is usually a dealer around for some of the newer ones. You will also want a 3-point hitch good luck "

" (Regarding message above) Do you know what your talking about? JD's hand clutch was the best and you don't need a 3 point. I got along without them doing the same stuff farming 360 acres. My advice is a JD 60 or an Oliver 77. "

" Where are you in Washington? You should consider buying a tractor in Canada and trucking it home. You are looking at almost 2 for 1 dollars. If you go to the classifieds here in Yesterday's Tractors you'll see a good example. There is a Super 88 with a rebuilt motor, and a full hydraulic front end loader. Asking $3000 Canadian, that's about $1,800 US. How can you loose? Another place to look is the Little Nickle on the net, and www.buyandsell.com. Look at the Capitol Press newspaper that you can get in Lynden or Bow-Edison. Hope that helps. "

" I agree with you guys in one respect. A loader on a Ford or any other small light tractor is more trouble than it is worth. But a loader on a real tractor like an Farmall M or Oliver 77 is a handy item to have. A good loader (fully hydraulic) on a good tractor will the all the things you guys are trying to do with several implements and a 3 point. A good front loader on a real tractor is a mans best helper. Unless you like doing things the hard way. "

Summary

The most recommended tractor? Well it seems like everyone has a different opinion and there are some obvious brand loyalties here. The most common theme in this discussion is to be sure and buy one strong enough to do the jobs you intend to use it for. Figure out what implements you plan on using, then calculate your horsepower requirements and make sure the tractor model you select has the weight and power to do the work. Also be sure that parts are readily available, and that someone in your local area can service it if you don't plan on maintaining it yourself.

This article was written using messages from the Tractor Talk Discussion Board.

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