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Re: 4 cylinder vs 3 cylinder
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Sean in PA
There were improvements, but it's hard to say how "big" they were. The 3 cylinder, besides being a little heavier, also had a more powerful hydraulic system for the 3 point lift, 2500 psi on the 3 cylinder vs. 2000 psi on the 4 cylinders, so it could lift a bit more weight.
The 4 cylinder 2000 models had 3 transmission options, a 4 speed which always had trans driven PTO, a 5 speed which always had live PTO and the 10 speed (Select-O-Speed or S-O-S) which had independent PTO. The 4 and 5 speeds were both too fast, even in first gear, for roto-tiller or snow blower type work. The S-O-S was best for any work that needed constant PTO speed at slower wheel speeds.
The 3 cylinder had 4 transmission options, the same basic 4 speed as the 4 cylinder had with trans driven PTO only, a 6 speed and an 8 speed manual which could both be had with trans or live PTO, and the 10 speed S-O-S which again had independent PTO. The 6 and 8 speed manual transmissions had slower first gears than the 4 or 5 speed on the 4 cylinder so they were more suitable for low speed PTO work, but they had more gears overall so they still had higher speeds available.
So it really depends on what options each specific tractor has and what you need to use it for. If I was looking at a 4 cylinder with a 5 speed vs. a 3 cylinder with a 4 speed, I would go with the 4 cylinder and the 5 speed to get the live PTO. Most folks would probably argue as to which specific set of transmission and PTO options is the "best", but most would probably choose the 3 cylinder, with either the 8 speed and live PTO or the S-O-S and independent PTO. While some would argue that the "best" 2000 was really a 3000 since they are basically the same tractor as the 3 cylinder 2000 with the 3000 tweaked for a few more hp.
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