Compact tractors

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by R.J., Aug 28, 2010.

  1. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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    HST transmissions are good for where you need very incremental speed control - garden tractors, combines and other harvesters (corn, beans, etc), etc. - very popular.

    However, on the higher HP machines, the HST tends to use a lot of hydraulic fluid. We sold it by the barrel during harvest season (I used to be a tractor mech - worked my way through college in John Deere dealerships). You may notice that if you some Costcos sell a lot of hydraulic fluid - that is because a lot of compact tractors now have HSTs.

    An HST can also be jerky - especially with larger machines - because of the weight of the machine.

    For a farm tractor where you are just going at a steady speed such as during plowing, discing, etc., most farmers prefer a geared tractor as it is more fuel efficient and puts more power down to the ground.

    For a compact home tractor an HST would be good as you generally are not out plowing hundreds of acres, you are moving around the yard or small acreages, moving back and forth, and so on - the ability to almost instantly incrementally moderate speed without changing gears is helpful, as is the ability to change direction easily (although a lot of geared tractors come with a feature to do this too).

    Generally you are not too concerned about fuel efficiency with a home compact tractor either as you a 10 to 20% difference doesn't mean hundreds of gallons in one season like it does for a farmer with large acreages.
  2. FPGT72

    FPGT72 Long timer

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    I agree, with "little" tractors I think it really is the way to go. Even on the larger mowers they come with "cruise control" so you don't have to keep your foot on the peddle the entire time. If you are mowing and you REALLY do need that 60 or 72" deck you are going straight for a long time. One lap around my back yard is about 1/2 mile. And this year it is all getting mowed as we are not bailing anymore. With the 650 you put it in the gear you want and just go. With the hydro machines keeping that pressure on the foot is a real pain in the butt.

    But for me mowing is only a small part of what this machine is going to be doing.

    It was just another choice out there when tractor shopping.
  3. adam_c_eckhardt

    adam_c_eckhardt halfway there

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    Figured out a way to move my chicken coop! Who needs a set of forks?
    [​IMG]
  4. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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    Okay, I haven't read the whole thread (yet), and I am a member of TractorByNet (have been for years, since before I bought my BCS 2 wheel tractor) - but I will ask for some opinions nonetheless.

    I do know a little about tractors (used to be a tractor mech and I have actually have an AS degree in tractor tech), but I haven't messed with them in decades since I got out of college - so I am not up to date on current makes and models.

    I have a bias towards John Deere, having worked my way through college working on them, and having grown up on a farm where most of our tractors were green. But I know some of the other brands are good too and I don't want to limit myself.

    I currently have about 20 acres - it might get reduced to about 10 as I am trying to sell some of it (the part that is steep and not very useful to me) to a neighbor who wants to keep that part forested (which I support).

    Mostly I want to clean up some brush and keep it knocked down. Most of the acreage is forested, with a lot of underbrush. I am keeping most of the tall conifers (some recently thinned and a lot of brush cleared). The acreage nearest the house is mostly not so steep but now has some stumps and ruts and holes and such from the thinning. I need to dig up some of the stumps, clear more brush, put the brush in the existing slash piles, burn the slash piles, cut up the leftover logs (hardwood, split logs, short logs, etc.) for firewood and haul the wood out of the forest and to my house for use in my woodstove.

    I also want to somewhat landscape the land in the thinned areas and keep any brush knocked down. That area is about 3 to 4 acres. I want to make it look somewhat like a park, but not with a lawn/grass.

    I have a number of embankments where I want to place granite boulders fro 2 to 4 feet in diameter - in all, maybe 300 to 500 feet of these embankments, most of them along my driveway. I also want to do some ditch work, putting large ballast rock (2 to 6 inch rock) along the ditch along the private road for our neighborhood - this is about 300 to 500 feet of ditch. I also want to do some landscaping and large plant/tree planting along the same road to provide a privacy barrier - again 300 to 500 feet.

    Finally I want to terrace some land off one side of my house.

    Some of this I will do this summer when I rent a dozer to come through and smooth out the uneven terrain the loggers left behind (never believe a logger when he says he won't leave big ruts - get it in the contract) and to knock down some maples/alders/etc. in an area that was not thinned.

    Finally, once I get all this done, I will probably repeat this in about 5 years when I retire and sell this place - I will buy some wooded land further out, have it thinned, some areas cleared, build a house/shop and do some more landscaping.

    So I anticipate I will be using this tractor more than a few times.

    I want a 4x4 tractor with a FEL that can lift the boulders - i.e., at least lift more than 1000 pounds and preferably 2000 pounds. Ditto with the 3 point hitch. So sub-compacts that can only lift 500 pounds or less are not suitable.

    I want a hydraulic system that can handle this, so probably something closer to 20 to 30 GPM than under 10 GPM.

    A live PTO at least, preferably an independent PTO. A front or mid PTO to drive attachments on the front - I would really like to have a flail mower I can put in front of the tractor instead of behind.

    Tractor should have tall enough wheels/tires and ground clearance to go over rough terrain. I would prefer to have wheels that can be reversed for a wider stance - even better would be the capability to put duals on the rear. Additionally, I want the ability to put weights on the wheels, weights on the 3PH and weights on the front, to balance things out depending on what I am doing - especially when something is loaded on the front.

    I am thinking a large compact tractor, or small utility/farm tractor, in the ~30 to 40 HP range weighing about 3000 to 4000 pounds.

    I want the attachments to be relatively easy to remove - there may be times when I want to remove the FEL. Eventually I would want a backhoe also, and I want that to come off and go back on fairly easily. I know many JD attachments are fairly easy to take off and put back on.

    I want an auger for digging deep holes (for planting trees/etc.). I want to have a grapple bucket and I am thinking a grappler would be nice on the front too.
  5. Piston

    Piston Been here awhile

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    Adam,
    I remember a while back, in your house building thread, you were pretty decided on the other style of grapple. I'm glad you ended up going with the open bottom grapple from WR Long. Are you happy with it? Did you go with the 64"?

    I still use mine almost every single time I start up the tractor. I almost never have the bucket on, although I did use the bucket for the first time in a long time last week.


    CodeMonkee,
    The best way I've thought of regarding sizing of tractors, is forget about the tractor for a bit, and think about what implements you'll need to use, then figure out what size implements you'll want to use, and from there it's easy to figure the PTO hp, or lift capacity requirements you'll need. Also, certain implements require certain pressure and flow from the hydraulics, so think about that as well.

    Once you know how much power you'll need to run the implements you'll want, you can easily narrow down a few different tractors to take a look at.

    In general though, your in the ballpark with you 30-40hp thoughts, although you won't be lifting 2,000lbs in the bucket with a 30hp tractor, so your lift capacity may be your deciding factor.

    What type of implements do you see yourself needing to buy/rent? My largest power demand is by far the stumpgrinder, then probably a 6" chipper. I have 39pto hp and really wish I had closer to 60+ for the stumpgrinder, but for everything else 50 or so would be really nice to have.

    Whatever you get, save room in your budget for that grapple, there is no better tool for woods work than a grapple.
  6. adam_c_eckhardt

    adam_c_eckhardt halfway there

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    It's funny you brought that up. I am so glad I went with this style- it just works for everything I want to do. (Including being easily rigged with a couple of 2x4s to make forks). I know you won't believe me, but as I was using it the other day I thought "Piston was right!"

    Love the tractor- got us through a rough winter. Needs a service now.
  7. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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    So I have begun shopping for a not so compact tractor - something in the Kubota L series 40+ HP range.

    Used of course. which won't be easy as most used Kubotas or Kiotis are smaller with less HP.

    As I stated, I need something to lift 2K pounds, and so on.

    I did notice that Kubota now makes a "half-track":

    [​IMG]

    Of course, this is nothing new. People have been putting tracks similar to these on wheeled tractors for decades.

    My thought is that if I ever really need something like that (because of the terrain) then I have the option of adding it (mattracks, et. al.) later and I don't have to buy a crawler or tracked skid steer or something like that.

    Of course it wouldn't be cheap - just the opposite. But it would probably be less expensive and more versatile than buying a crawler or even a skid steer.
  8. kobudo28

    kobudo28 Banned

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    I've seen your tractor, I wouldn't call it compact. :D
  9. TwilightZone

    TwilightZone Long timer

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    >"I want a 4x4 tractor with a FEL that can lift the boulders - i.e., at least lift more than 1000 pounds and preferably 2000 pounds."

    Get a used full-sized backhoe then.
    It's one thing if a tractor can maybe 'lift' the bucket with 2000 lbs,
    but it's another thing to actually 'move' the load around.

    I (sigh) had a ranch, 4 tractors.
    One was an ancient JD400 backhoe.

    Massey 185 stuck up to the front of the hood in a swamp.
    Massey 245 stuck up to the frame (yes, it tried to rescue the 185).

    Got the JD400 out.. pulled both of the
    tractors out with the hoe. No sweat. Amazing power.
  10. adam_c_eckhardt

    adam_c_eckhardt halfway there

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    Feels tiny compared to what I grew used to!
  11. FPGT72

    FPGT72 Long timer

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    It is all relative....and what you want to do.

    I have a JD model 70 with a factory wide front end that I guess is pretty desirable.

    I wanted to get a finish mower that would make quicker work of my fields now that we are not bailing any longer. Someone suggested that I get a real big one and pull it behind the biggest machine I have....the 70. Ahh, not unless I buy stock in Standard oil...that thing drinks the gas like crazy.

    So I could do it faster and use 20 gallons of gas, or do it slower and use less then 1....the little diesels are so thrifty...even the old 1980's vintage JD650.

    To me and what I need to do the 70 is a big machine. But sometimes that little guy is what you need.
  12. Piston

    Piston Been here awhile

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    The Kubota L series are all still compact tractors. You won't be lifting 2k lbs with any of the L series tractors, or more than likely, any other model in this frame size. If it's important to you to routinely lift 2k lbs, your gonna have to go up to the utility sized tractors, something like the Kubota M series or Deere 5 series. You won't be able to get the HST tranny in these, but it's not necessary anyways, not if you at least get the hydraulic shift transmission.

    Remember too, that your thinking about adding a grapple (excellent choice by the way :D). Those grapples will weigh around 500lbs, which is at least twice the weight of your bucket, so when you start looking at "specs" of loader lift capacity, remember to subtract an extra 200-300lbs off your lift capacity, due to the lost capability from the weight of your grapple.

    I have an L series tractor, and it does 80-90% of what I need to do, but it won't lift some of the larger logs I need to move.


    For that, you need something bigger. This is what I use.
    [​IMG]
  13. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

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    Funny thing is the JD johnny popper gas an fuel do use a lot of gas. However, a JD 720D is one of the most fuel efficient tractors ever made.

    Rod
  14. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

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    I've got a L3830 which I use all the time and works good for me, but it won't lift much. Can't remember the spec, but I'm guessing around 1200lbs and if you don't have a lot of weight hanging off the back, the only thing you're going to lift are the rear tires.

    I also have a small JD 315 skid steer that will easily out lift the tractor.
  15. MudWalker

    MudWalker Long timer

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    Can anyone here say good or bad about the Mahindra Tractor.

    I'm considering this one 3016 HST.

    [​IMG]

    According to mfgr info, it lifts more and claims to be a heavier duty unit than the similar sized competition.......I've looked orange, yellow, green, blue and now red and it's fun!:evil
  16. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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    Yes, thanks.

    On further thought I probably would not be picking up 2K# rocks, but rather probably 1000 or less. I want the extra lifting capacity to have some margin of safety and workload.

    One neighbor just got a load of gravel and some fairly large boulders 4 to 5 feet across - thinking they are well over 2K#. I know he won't be able to lift them with his compact tractor which I think is a B-something Kubota, or around that size.

    Other neighbor just ordered an L3800 HST with loader and mower. He got the 5 series loader which is only 1500# capacity.

    I would like to find a deal on an L series or about that size with both loader and backhoe. I recognize that the backhoe would be very useful for what I want to do - especially lifting a large rock and placing it somewhere. I have at least several hundred feet of sloping embankments I want to put large rocks on, and I may also build some terraces. Lifting and placing that rock by hand is out of the question, using a loader would be clumsy and time consuming, with final placement probably being done by hand as the loader would lack the precision of the backhoe.

    That said, I looked at my finances and I decided to hold off until next year. So far I spent $14K this year on property improvements, I will soon spend another $7K in a month or so, and the year isn't half over yet. Probably get a flail mower for the BCS too. So the only way I can really get the tractor I want, used or new, is a loan. Kubota has 0% loans on new tractors, but I don't want the additional debt and payments at this point, so I will hold off for a while.

    I will make do with the 2 wheel tractor this year. It can't lift things, or pull them, but it can mow, till and push a little dirt. Mostly this year I want to get the slash piles burnt and use a dozer to level the ruts caused by logging and to clear some additional brush. Next year I can mess with the rock.

    As for the HST vs. gears - for what I will be doing, I would prefer the HST. I will be doing a lot of moving stuff around, speeding up and slowing down, going back and forth, the kind of tasks that an HST is better for.
  17. Piston

    Piston Been here awhile

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    Sounds like an L45 or L48 would fit the bill perfectly for what you want to do. The dedicated TLB's (tractor/loader/backhoe) have more hydraulic pressure and flow, which of course translates to more lift/dig capacity. They also have stronger/beefier frames and weigh quite a bit more as well.

    The only two disadvantages that I see, is you can't take the front end loader off (really not a big deal) and you lose some PTO hp since more engine power goes to the hydraulic pump, vs PTO.
  18. Piston

    Piston Been here awhile

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    I have never actually used a Mahindra, but a friend of mine has a smaller one and loves it. I've read a lot about them, so no personal experience, but I am pretty sure the equivalent size Mahindra (to my L series) would lift more weight with the loader.

    All in all, the new tractors are all extremely comparable in specs, the more expensive tractors have more refined systems (like Kubota and Deere's HST system) but you pay for it. Kubota, Deere, NH, Kioti, Mahindra, Case, LS, and others, are so close that the major difference is the color. You really can't go wrong with any of them.
  19. FPGT72

    FPGT72 Long timer

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    Guy that lives behind me has one....I looked at them when I was buying, but really only to say I looked. He has not had good luck with his.

    Engine has been good but the loader and really all the hydraulic stuff has just been a nightmare. Last thing that went was the controls for the loader...the loader was down and would not go back up....made the machine pretty usless till he got it fixed.

    That is the only one that I really know about. Could be great tractors and he got a not so good one, but the tractor is a big expense for me and I know I am going to be hard on the machine....I wanted one with a good proven track record.

  20. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

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    My L3830 will not pick up a full bucket of gravel. It will pick up about 3/4 bucket full. It's a 6' bucket, but I can't remember the the cubic foot capacity, it's not very deep.

    A customer of mine works on Mahindras for a local dealer. He always has plenty of work to do, but I can't give you any specifics. I do know the older Mahindras are all pink now.:D