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Thinking about a real (old) tractor for my new land

Sentinelist

Active Member
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Location
North Texas
Thread starter #1
Awesome, didn't even know this area of TTS existed. Great seeing others enjoying mowing pasture like I do... except it's with a little JD I got off Craigslist with a 48" deck. It takes nearly a full day every 2 weeks to mow my property (4 acres, 3 is pasture, all flat, natural grassy/weedy), including weed-eating around the house, structures and fences, and I'd like to cut that time in half. I'm looking at something old, interesting, and reliable like a diesel MF or Ford 800N with a 60"+ brush hog. Not sure what kind for the hog, and I'm new at all of this. Just moved from the suburbs last winter and loving it, but still trying to find a way to properly manage everything. I'm hunting Craigslist on maybe a $5k budget. What would you do?
 

SnowDrift

Radical Right Wing Extremist
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#2
I have a suggestion. Invest in some animals - they'll keep that pasture mowed down and you'll have most of your weekends back. The upside is that you can eat your lawn mower on occasion and feed yourself. You can fence that ground, put up a little shed and you'll be money ahead if you've got a $5k budget.
 

Will L.

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Boulder City Nv
#3
I helped a friend that moved to Utah make a big mower a couple decades ago. He picked up 9 old push mowers. We welded them into a 1 piece unit 5 in front row, 4 staggering offset in back row.

We drilled and bolted the neighboring wheels hubs together with two 1/4" bolts each, so the blades would all turns and took off the rubber tires from all the wheels except the outside 2 in front and in back for turning.

Welded a tow bar onto it, and a little receiver onto his 3 wheeler (yeah, remember those!) and it worked great for years. Even his wife said it was fun to mow there 3 acre back yard.

The animals idea does seem to make more sense though. Auto grass trimmer turned dinner. Mmm
 

schiker

Well-Known Member
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Location
Pendleton, SC
#4
Match the width of mower to a minimum of overall or outside rear wheel width. Wider is even better once you get use to it.

IF all you are going to do with it is mow about anything will work. Try and get power steering but a good tight manual steer isn't too bad mowing unless a lot of turning. Some models with lots of turns lock to lock are fairly easy to steer. Resale on power steering is much better. So of course test drive anything in all gears and do some tight turns / figure 8's etc without anything attached to rear lift.

$5000 should buy a good range of tractor in the era of 6-8 forward gears and 2 reverse gears (hi/lo transmissions). Might can find a deal for a little less or with some attachments included at 5K. And they are fine for mowing, scraping, using a disk etc in forward direction. If you want to till or cut some heavier stuff in reverse they are too fast for me and have to idle down due to only 2 reverse gear options. Kind of a pain if you are scraping and have to back up far. You can still do stuff and I can do a lot with my '72 Ford 2000 (8F/2R).

But my next small utility will have at least an 8F 4R transmission or a shuttle shift 8F/8R or more. Having more slow gears in reverse lets you back up into weeds. And the slow gears lets you use tillers better. Just all around more versatile IMO.

Shuttle shift tractors are more desirable and the next era of tractor. And the price usually goes up considerably. Anything better than the 8F/2R around here start in the 6/8K range. Shuttle shift are more and still compete with almost new tractors. Of course depending on condition and brand.

Its crazy how much people want for old iron in good condition but sometimes the old iron if the right model, with a good transmission, and some hydraulic outlets are still great tractors. They can work sometimes better than the new stuff IMO. The latest 45 ish hp basic Deere utilities are 9F and 3R and IMO are a step backwards in utility for me.

When you get more serious about it and have some models in mind post back and see what others think. There are lots of options out there.
 

btfarm

330,000 Worth and counting
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Staff #6
I'd be more inclined to go to a larger JD with 60" finish deck like a late 90s or early 2000s 445/465 and mow the whole thing once a week at around 4" tall in a few (3) hours. I mow about 5 acres with a JD X540 (54" deck) and do it on alternate days of about 1-1/2 hrs for the 2+ acre house yard and just onder 2 hrs for the 3 acres barnyard.
 

Sentinelist

Active Member
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Location
North Texas
Thread starter #7
I have a suggestion. Invest in some animals - they'll keep that pasture mowed down and you'll have most of your weekends back. The upside is that you can eat your lawn mower on occasion and feed yourself. You can fence that ground, put up a little shed and you'll be money ahead if you've got a $5k budget.
Outstanding suggestion, and I should have mentioned that we just did this. As of a couple weeks ago, we became alpaca ranchers. I have 10 boys grazing in the back pasture now (alpacas are effing awesome), and I'm making plans to get the fencing shored up to let them graze most of the rest by year-end (this has been one of my latest priorities, Leroy, lol). In fact, I may have posted too early because just this morning my wife mentioned that she thought the grass was now being kept down now when we weren't expecting them to put much of a dent in it. Need another week to see. Here's hoping! Even if it may be killing my recent pining for a tractor...

I'd be more inclined to go to a larger JD with 60" finish deck like a late 90s or early 2000s 445/465 and mow the whole thing once a week at around 4" tall in a few (3) hours. I mow about 5 acres with a JD X540 (54" deck) and do it on alternate days of about 1-1/2 hrs for the 2+ acre house yard and just onder 2 hrs for the 3 acres barnyard.
That's kinda what I was thinking- a 60" finisher might be about right, if I were able to mow faster. If you're familiar with the smaller JD lawn tractors, I cut on the 3 setting at about 10% throttle to make a clean run. Pretty slow. While I love mowing and enjoy cruising around with some tunes and a beer enjoying some quiet time, I gotta find ways to let it not cut into my weekend and time with family as much. Perhaps animals may be the cure to all this (even if that means acquiring another head of ten once the other half of my pasture is ready). But we'd really have to be in a hard SHTF scenario before we ate alpacas... :p More land and I'd have done cattle.
 

schiker

Well-Known Member
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Location
Pendleton, SC
#8
Sorry about that on second thought 3 acre clean pasture isn't all that big for a full size old tractor like you mentioned. For some reason I was thinking 5 arces of grass in which case you might like an old farm tractor about 35 hp. It also depends what all you will do with it in the coming years. It is amazing how handy a small tractor is with a few attachments.

A BIG riding mower could do 3 acres and leave a cleaner cut than typical bushhog. Then again I usually leave pasture type grass a little taller than a riding mower can adjust up to. Our heat will kill too short of grass and a little taller retards weed growth. A little 25-30 hp tractor could use a 60" finish mower easy for that job and be able to have a few attachments. I use to do about 4 acres of clean pasture grass with a Ford 1710 (27 ish HP iirc) and Woods finish mower from the 3 pt hitch. A little tractor like that would melt away a lot of stress. I liked it a lot. It was a fun little machine. Probably a little more than $5000 combo though . Compact and/or small tractors are usually more expensive than older bigger framed machines of comparable HP.

If you're familiar with the smaller JD lawn tractors, I cut on the 3 setting at about 10% throttle to make a clean run.
Not sure of your model but 10% throttle seems low. If its air cooled its probably suppose to be max throttle. I hardly ever cut at that low of throttle at least not for long. I think its better to get the blade tip speed up and move more air through a small engine. Its easier on the engine. IMO you should not bog down or low rpm an air cooled engine.

It kind of amazes me how much gas my ~ lawn mower uses (20 hp Briggs and Stratton with 54" deck). I can cut way more grass with my '72 diesel Ford tractor with 5 ft bush hog type mower on the same amount of fuel.
 

Sentinelist

Active Member
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Location
North Texas
Thread starter #9
Thanks, yeah it would come in handy for a lot more around the ranch, like stretching fence wire with (re: recent fencing efforts), moving dirt around for gardening, dragging heavy stuff, etc. I have a 2007-ish JD LA140 with a 22hp Kohler aircooled V-twin gasser and 48" deck. It's enough horsepower for what I do now and I have a couple little trailers to move stuff around. It's good times but a bigger tractor would be great. I've also noticed that it does seem thirsty- takes about 5 gal. to mow just 3 acres. It seems any more throttle (maybe I'm at 25% really) and it's unnecessary as it's not cleanly cutting through the dense grass if I go faster, and becomes too loud for hours on end. A lower rpm (and I would suspect quieter) diesel would be more efficient I'm thinking.
 

btfarm

330,000 Worth and counting
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Staff #10
You should be running full power for finish mowing to get a clean cut and cooling. I use the Ford2000 loader tractor with 6' 3 point mower for the pasture grass. That's great if you have grazing livestock but not for a fine finish.
 

schiker

Well-Known Member
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560
Location
Pendleton, SC
#11
It seems any more throttle (maybe I'm at 25% really) and it's unnecessary as it's not cleanly cutting through the dense grass if I go faster, and becomes too loud for hours on end
You can't rev up independent of travel speed? If its choking on grass clippings lift the discharge deflector when safe to do so. I use a bungee cord to hold my deflector/ discharge shield up most all the time. If I am somewhere I am worried about throwing something I let it back down. It helps throw the grass out farther and spread it more so it doesn't windrow so bad when the grass is tall.

Yeah, my riding mower is loud. I probably should wear ear muffs or ear plugs.
 

btfarm

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Staff #12
Just bought another one tonight. GX345 JD with a 54 deck. Need to put a machine on the cabin property 3 acres until I sell it. After that I'll use it as a backup to the JD x540. Could have used it a couple of weeks ago when the pto clutch died in the middle of mowing.
 

Sentinelist

Active Member
Messages
143
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Location
North Texas
Thread starter #13
Good tips, especially that bungee idea. I will typically lift the deflector with the tip of my boot to let it 'air out' when needed, but out in the open it really should be open. Rigging that up this wknd...

Alright! Time to hit up the guns forum next.
 

SnowDrift

Radical Right Wing Extremist
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#14
You can't rev up independent of travel speed? If its choking on grass clippings lift the discharge deflector when safe to do so. I use a bungee cord to hold my deflector/ discharge shield up most all the time. If I am somewhere I am worried about throwing something I let it back down. It helps throw the grass out farther and spread it more so it doesn't windrow so bad when the grass is tall.

Yeah, my riding mower is loud. I probably should wear ear muffs or ear plugs.
First thing to come off my JD 345 was that stupid deflector shield. It's been on the top shelf in the garage ever since. I just don't throw debris at cars or kids. Second thing was the seat switch so I can actually mow the ditches. I didn't buy the mower so I could only mow a portion of the yard. Those things are fine if a person mows the same grass every other day and all is flat. I always wear ear plugs.
 

btfarm

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Staff #15
I've got the deflectors able to be hooked up or left down on mine too. Learned a couple of expensive lessons about having it always up or removed. Never met a seat switch that didn't get jumpered out.
 

Sentinelist

Active Member
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Location
North Texas
Thread starter #16
Effing seat switch with the ditches... yes. Disabling that this weekend before I mow again. I probably look like a crazy guy moving my arms and legs about to maintain weight on the seat while trying to continue forward momentum, especially if I've left the deck too low, get stuck on the overhang, and have to rock the thing back out and up.

Rigging up the deflector and wearing ear plugs from now on to try higher RPMs. Earbuds don't cut it.
 

schiker

Well-Known Member
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Location
Pendleton, SC
#17
If you are patient there are some decent deals out there. I think this one would be a good one for you if you were local.

Maybe a scam though as its a pretty decent deal IMO (IF all is mechanically sound and just looks bad from being in weather).

http://greenville.craigslist.org/grd/5120513585.html

Tractor, Ford 1720 4X4 - $5500 (Union, SC)
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Ford tractor 1720 4X4
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5' bush hog
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