Used tractor question

bryguy

Old Mossy Horns
So I am in the market for a used tractor. I see prices all over the place. Looking the best value for a tractor and bush hog. Looking at older Massey furgesons fords, John deere and kubotas. Any particular models to stay away from? Will go with an older tractor. What would be ‘low’ hours on a tractor that is say 20 years old or so?


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Papa_Smurf

Ten Pointer
Contributor
i'd say 1000 hours is pretty low for a 20 year old tractor.

That said, it shouldn't be hard to find on with less than 1000 hours at that age. A lot of people have tractors and use them less than 50 hours per year.
 

FireDuck401

Eight Pointer
Contributor
How hard do you plan on working it?

I love 70s model Ford tractors. A 3600 does the majority of my food plot prep. We’ve got a larger New Holland for pulling the drill and when we need the bucket.
But I love that old Ford.
And we can still service/work on the Ford.
 

nccatfisher

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
So I am in the market for a used tractor. I see prices all over the place. Looking the best value for a tractor and bush hog. Looking at older Massey furgesons fords, John deere and kubotas. Any particular models to stay away from? Will go with an older tractor. What would be ‘low’ hours on a tractor that is say 20 years old or so?


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Be careful what you do buy. Do your research and check models closely of all those you mentioned there are some they imported or were made fairly early on especially when all were dabbling in compact and sub compact stuff that parts are almost or impossible to get. Even though they are brand name. Most were made by other companies and they just stuck their name on them. Many you can figure out who actually made them and get parts for them that way but you are talking about engine and driveline components. If you find one that needs sheet metal or such and is priced exceptionally low those are the ones to watch. Usually someone has run up against the brick wall of not being able to find the parts to to finish them out.
 

wcjones

Twelve Pointer
Contributor
I am also a fan of the older fords. We have a gas 4000 and a diesel 4000. the gas 4000 was the only tractor we had for 20 years on 15 acres running about 10 cows. No telling how many hours it has on it, weve rebuilt the engine on it twice and she has plenty of leaks but everytime you go to crank it up it starts.
 

surveyor

Eight Pointer
I've used old Massey's and Kubotas.

I've had more issues with attachments than the tractors themselves.

IF YOU MAINTAIN IT, IT WILL LAST. <--- big capital letters, there.

Keep the radiator clear, keep your tires inflated, grease the fittings, etc etc etc. Either will serve you well.
 

sky hawk

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
I use mine only for personal use around the house and food plots. Nothing that generates income. I have put right at 100 hours per year on mine, and I would say that's light-moderate use. So for a 20 year old tractor, I'd say anything under 2,000 hours is on the lighter side. Under 1,000 is barely used for that age. Of course it's all relative.
 

Eric Revo

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
I'd rather have a 1000 hour 20 year old tractor than most 1000 hour 2 year old tractors, 1000 hours of menial labor sure beats a 1000 hours of skidding logs in most cases.
 

nccatfisher

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
I'd rather have a 1000 hour 20 year old tractor than most 1000 hour 2 year old tractors, 1000 hours of menial labor sure beats a 1000 hours of skidding logs in most cases.
I would much rather have a 1k hour 20 year old tractor. Emissions is quite the nightmare on many of the new ones. They still don't have the bugs worked out yet. Most you see back in the shop for warranty issues are emissions related. You don't have emissions equipment on 20 year old tractors.
 

bryguy

Old Mossy Horns
It will be used on my farm to bush hog, drag the path and some miscellaneous chores that pop up.


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Deerherder

Eight Pointer
You will often find better deals on the smallest “ag” tractor versus the largest “compact” tractor in a manufacturer’s line up. For instance, in the ~15-20 year old age band the 5100-5400 series of JD tractors work well & are less expensive than the 4600 series of Compact utility tractors, but are geared transmissions instead of hydro.

Take a look at tractorhouse.com, fastline.com & machinerypete.com to get an idea of pricing. Tractor data.com will also be a big help to you in comparing models from one manufacturer to another. That site lists things like horsepower, lift capacity, weight, etc.

Winter & early spring are peak season for farm auctions. Keep an eye out for those in your area. You can get a good deal at those sometimes. However, that is buy at your own risk!

Things to look for on used tractors:

1. Tire wear, tractor tires are expensive! Make sure the rims are not rusted too. Some people add weight to the tires by using fluid in the tires & some of the stuff used to do that in the past was caustic.

2. On diesel tractors there is a vent tube near the operators station. A little exhaust or smoke from that is ok, but a lot of smoke is a sign of an engine wearing out. You’ll hear this referred to as “blow by”.

3. The engine oil & transmission/hydraulic fluid should not be “milky” in appearance & they shouldn’t have any metal flakes in them either. If it’s milky looking or you see metal flakes, it’s a bad sign; look for another machine.

4. A little black smoke at start up of an older tractor is ok, that’s just excess fuel. Blue smoke indicates that it’s burning oil, white smoke means there’s a coolant leak. Both of those situations are likely to be indicators of
expensive repairs in the near future.

5. Check the steering & raise lower function of the hydraulics. Slow steering if it has power steering or jerky raising of the rock shaft may be indications of hydraulic pump problems.

Note: most tractors require weight on the arms to lower the 3 point hitch. That hydro cylinder for the rear hitch is usually single acting meaning it will pick something up using its power, but lowering is a function of gravity. So, if it doesn’t lower on its own if no implement is attached, that’s not necessarily a bad sign. If it has a loader, those cylinders generally exert force in both directions.

6. Exhaust manifold. It will definitely be rusty, but it should not have a hole in it or be leaking.

The items listed above are just off the top of my head & are no means exhaustive. However, the mechanical health of the machine is way more important than the paint condition, a few dents, or condition of the seat.

Finally, no matter what you buy, it is going to break down at some point or you are going to break it. Make sure there is a dealer that is reasonably close by so you can get parts and/or service relatively easily. Be cautious about buying anything from Long, Farmtrac, Allis Chalmers, Oliver, White, or other defunct manufacturers because parts may be difficult or impossible to find.
 
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timber

Ten Pointer
John deere or ford would be good choices far as resale and parts. Plus the older models are easier to work on if you have a problem. I would have no problem with 2k to 3k hours on a diesel if you know person you are buying from and had been serviced.
 

bigten

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
My concern with buying pretty much anything is location of nearest dealer, with that being ease of getting replacement parts. I've looked at a lot of tractors over the last two years, and ended up focusing my search to a John Deere as we have a local dealer at which I know the employees. Ended up finding a 4120 with a loader and backhoe attachment local with 820 hours on it, JD built and prior to DEF built JD engine. I've needed just a few minor parts and it's nice to not have to drive an hour plus to get them. I'm now 15 minutes away from the dealer since they moved from <5 mins away.
 

Trappertod

Six Pointer
Stay away from Farmtrac...Getting those parts is a nightmare.

We just bought an old JD, I love the old tractors. The JD we found was made in Iowa I think? It's US made anyway, I would not be scared of a Ford either, farmed with 2000 and 3000 ford all my life. I would not be afraid much of any old tractors as long as they are running good and not leaking anything too bad. My experience with the Massey has not been favorable as all that I have farmed with has leaked hydraulic fluid like a sieve. Repair it and in less than a year it was leaking again. Lots of them around though, so for the right money I might would take the gamble again. As another poster says, stay with an "ag" tractor, not the compact plastic toys they sell today.
 

JayDB

Eight Pointer
I suppose it depends on what you are doing with it/implement size/weight, etc., but my advice is go bigger than what you think you need.

My Mahindra is 16 years old. It has around 700 hours.
 

nccatfisher

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Say what you want about "ag" tractors. I had a 2440 JD I bought new in '80. Excellent tractor, great service, I also bought a loader with the tractor. All the problems which were few I ever had was with the loader. Which BTW was obsolete 10 years ago. Being able to fabricate about anything I wanted and having a lathe and a mill here I kept it going but I wasn't real happy with Deere about that. But I had long quit doing farming and a tractor that size isn't easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

It set here more than it ran, I sold it two years ago with a whopping 680 actual hours on it. I bought a Kubota 38 HP and it isn't a sub compact, it is their L series. No plastic, but there isn't many days that I am not on it. I have put 300 hours on it in a little less than 2 years. I do stuff now that I used to put off forever. I can haul it anywhere I want even with the backhoe on it and it weighs about half what my old tractor did so I am one happy camper I don't have a full sized "ag" tractor anymore.

As for HST you can buy them brand new with HST or geared transmissions, your choice. I would venture to say the majority of folks on here that do feed patches and bush hog don't need "ag" tractors either.
 

billyf

Button Buck
I bought a used JD 2940 with 6000+ hrs about 17 years ago. I use it to farm 20 acres of land . It was completely submerged during Mathew. It now has 7000+ hrs and runs great. There are many used Diesel tractors with 10000+ hrs (all original motor) that are used every day in farming. If you take care of your tractor your grand children will be able to use it.
 

Deerherder

Eight Pointer
In the 45-55 or so HP range you have a lot of choices. I was trying to point out in my post that in that particular horsepower range there is an overlap between the largest “compact”/landscaper/homeowner tractors and the ag series. The 4 series & 5 series Deere’s out that much different in power, but can be configured very differently and priced very differently. Depending on what you want to do with them, one may be better than the other.

I think the L series Kubota is a nice tractor too.

For JD, as that’s what I’ve been around, I would recommend anything from a 60’s 70’s vintage 820 or 830 to the newer 5045-5065 series.

Case 295,395,495’s could also work.

Ford’s 3 & 4,000 series machines are great chore tractors and I think the New Holland Workmaster series of ~50 hp is a good value as well compared to JD.

Go to tractorhouse.com or fastline and search the 40-60 hp range and you’ll have an idea of what’s out there.
 

nccatfisher

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
As a side note and take this just from my experience. My tractor came with R-1 tires on it (ag tires) I made the terrible mistake of changing tires and wheels and going to R-4 tires (industrial) even loaded in mud they won't pull a greasy string out of a cats ass. DO NOT make the same mistake I did. If given the same chance I was do not go with R-4 tires if you will be in areas with red clay. They have since come out with R-14 tires which is somewhat of a trade off of the two and look like they would be a pretty good alternative.

Had I not had both type tires on the same tractor I would not have believed the difference but I ran the R-1 tires a few months so I knew what it would pull with various implements in both 2 and 4 wheel drive. I would love to go with the R-14 tires but unless I would get lucky enough to find someone as dumb as I was wanting a set of the R-4s I don't see that happening anytime soon.
 

Deerherder

Eight Pointer
I bought a used JD 2940 with 6000+ hrs about 17 years ago. I use it to farm 20 acres of land . It was completely submerged during Mathew. It now has 7000+ hrs and runs great. There are many used Diesel tractors with 10000+ hrs (all original motor) that are used every day in farming. If you take care of your tractor your grand children will be able to use it.
This is what Matthew did to us.

Like you, full fluid changes & one new clutch and all 3 run perfectly today. (Thank you East Coast/Quality Equipment!!!)
 

Attachments

pattersonj11

Old Mossy Horns
There was a light tower in our work yard for a while with 37,000 hours. It fired right up but used a little oil. That’s the highest hours I’ve seen on an engine
 

pattersonj11

Old Mossy Horns
As a side note and take this just from my experience. My tractor came with R-1 tires on it (ag tires) I made the terrible mistake of changing tires and wheels and going to R-4 tires (industrial) even loaded in mud they won't pull a greasy string out of a cats ass. DO NOT make the same mistake I did. If given the same chance I was do not go with R-4 tires if you will be in areas with red clay. They have since come out with R-14 tires which is somewhat of a trade off of the two and look like they would be a pretty good alternative.

Had I not had both type tires on the same tractor I would not have believed the difference but I ran the R-1 tires a few months so I knew what it would pull with various implements in both 2 and 4 wheel drive. I would love to go with the R-14 tires but unless I would get lucky enough to find someone as dumb as I was wanting a set of the R-4s I don't see that happening anytime soon.
Those R4s are excellent in grass and yards for the small tractors. But you like bigguns.


Saw where they did some testing on tread patterns....the turf tires actually pulled hardest in every condition they tested outside of a plowed field. That was interesting.
 

ellwoodjake

Eight Pointer
Massey 135 diesel/ They made millions of them. plenty of aftermarket parts still available, those 3 cylinder perkins engines run forever and they don't even breath hard when pulling a 5 foot bushhog. I love my MF
 

bag12day

Spike
Contributor
Massey 135 is excellent and we used 2 farming bacca growing up and they are indestructible, but now I'm lazy and I have 2 identical 2630 Kubotas that do anything I want to do on my little farm. Plant about 15-20 acres of food plots and various mowing chores here and up north in Virginia on a lease. I have a 4 and 5 foot bush hogs and run a 5 foot offset disk harrow that I can load on a 16 equip trailer and pull where ever I need it.
 

bwfarms

Eight Pointer
Low hours is subjective and depends on how the tractor was worked, maintenance, and what type of clutch. 2500 or less is low houred and 10,000 is high houred but a lot of guys have no problem buying 12-15k hour tractors. Averaging 200-300 hours per year is a good rule of thumb for low use. I won't hesitate to buy a 6000 hour tractor. Old tractors with really low hours make me skeptical. It's easy to install a new hourmeter, they rollover, or they don't work. Seals can be in poor shape from not regularly working. I periodically run the AC in my tractors in the winter.

A loader tractor for example, I'd rather have a 4000 hr wet clutch over a 2000 hour dry clutch.

I have a MF 35, the predecessor to the 135, stays hooked up to a 6' bush hog for cleanup mowing. It's okay but I wouldn't want to do field work on one all day. The ability to have engine or ground speed and reverse pto is nice. I feed it a little oil and away we go. Wear ear protection, you sit right at the exhaust and mine is loud as hell with a muffler. My straight piped Major and 65A is quieter. Why the difference? A 4 cylinder is quieter than a 3. I prefer my cylinders to be even and I'm partial to the 6s :)

You'll have to elaborate your budget, acres, and size of implements (have or want) before I can steer you the best tractor that fits your needs. In my mind a MX Maxxum is the best all around tractor :)
 

bryguy

Old Mossy Horns
Price wise honestly I don’t have one. If it is the right tractor, I would go up to 8k on just the tractor. I would like a bucket and loader, but they are not necessary. I will be bush hogging on a 176 acres. My farmer that I lease to takes care of the big stuff and around the fields and such, so my mowing would be trails, shooting lanes and areas I like to keep knocked down. I would also like a blade to keep my paths leveled out and in good shape.


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bryguy

Old Mossy Horns
Opinion on a 1986 John Deere 850 with less then 1000 hours? Being sold at a dealership......


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bwfarms

Eight Pointer
Opinion on a 1986 John Deere 850 with less then 1000 hours? Being sold at a dealership......


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You will be severely disappointed if you're expecting to do any real work with it. Dad has a Ford 1320 which is similar, it's a glorified lawnmower. Really limited with what you can use; 4' rotary mower or a 60" finish mower. Probably need weights out front to balance the tractor when lifting. Certainly will bust shear pins or slip the clutch when trying to cut brush.

Dad found all it was good for was using a rear discharge finish mower or 5' blade. We tried out a 5' rotary mower on plain grass (not much stems) and kept shearing pins. It doesn't have the weight to pull things that are stuck fairly well. We tried using it to pull an old 6' cultipacker that sunk in the ground. Dad tried and tried all he did was spin the tires and wheelies.

Literally it's a yard tractor. The 135 will do circles on that Deere.
 
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