I would part company with many here and since you expressed a fondness for the hand cranks, I would go with an early A hand crank. I grew up on farm and when I was small we had a late model A with electric start, a mag pump and a loader for a WD Allis that my Dad modified for the A. Along with that we had a R and an 830. These were the tractors of my youngest days and although the R and the 830 went to trade on a D21 Allis in the mid 60s we kept the A until the early 70's.
In 1987 I decided I needed a tractor of my ownest own and bought a 1938 unstyled A at an auction. The rear tires were mismatched, the pto shaft was broken off, she shot flame out the left side of the exhaust manifold due a leaking gasket and worn mating surfaces but I bought for $250 and feel deeply, hopelessly in love with her.
Having little experience with old JDs outside of youthful memories, I had no experience with handstarters or with the idea of all fuel. But she would start with a minimum of effort and I can't tell you how much enjoyment I got out of playing and learning with her. Although I now own several tractors, the old A is still pretty much as she was when I bought her. I think about fixing her up, but I still kind of like her as she is for what she represnts to me and for the fact she is still in her working clothes.
Technically, every one is correct when they say that you should make sure you get one with good rubber, good tin, mechanically sound and with all the options like hydraulics, lights and so on and if you can do that at a reasonable price, by all means do so. But there is a lot to be said for getting a running ugly duckling like I did. Learning the tricks of hand starting, making small repairs and just playing with it will give you a vast amount of pleasure. Your first tractor should be a love affair as mine was and you will never regret it.
This post was edited by NoDakInMN at 06:18:10 01/20/13.
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