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That is a pretty wide open question which will have a million good answers. So I'll just share my experience. With similar reasoning, I decided I needed a backhoe. My neighbor and a friend of his had just picked up an old 202 Massey Ferguson with front end loader and backhoe. Their plan was to fix it up and sell it, so naturally I tried it out and made them a deal.
It is a late 1950's model, gas engine and because of it's age and the fact that it's an industrial tractor, it's been well used. I replace pins/hoses when necessary and have learned to compensate for it's sloppiness. I have done many many projects with it and it's been indespensible. It's old, it's ugly, it has some leaks and it needs mechanical attention every son often but it does what I need it to. The tractor does have a 3pt hitch but the backhoe has it's own frame. I have heard it said that 3pt hitch backhoes can be pretty hard on the 3pt.
It can dig down as far as 12' (according to the literature I have) but I've never needed a hole that deep. I think it would be pretty slow going at that depth. The tractor is a 37hp and there is a front mounted hydraulic pump to run the hoe and the loader. It has plenty of grunt for digging, it would probably flip a car over but not pick it up, never tried but might be fun. The front end loader has more lifting power. Something newer/bigger with a cab would be nice but for now it does a lot of work for me that I wouldn't bother to hire out, it simply wouldn't get done.
This post was edited by Inno at 07:48:08 02/18/13.
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