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 06-03-2002, 08:22 Post: 39268
TimB



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 Compact 101 How big is too big

Hi,

Very sorry for the *long* post but new member here, looking for some sizing and "Compact Tractor 101" advice. My wife and I are planning to take over and build a new home on a piece of (ex-farm) property in her family. There will be a lot of work to put it in and maintain it the condition we'd like and we'd certainly have to have some type of tractor to assist.

Details - roughly 25 acres total, 10 in woods, the rest in fields. (Actually currently still being farmed along with an adjacent 15 acres by a neighbor for feed crops including corn). Several small ponds/wet areas that come and go based on weather. No terribly steep slopes that we'd need to work with. (The steep stuff's in the woods).

My inlaws use an old Ford NAA with a 5 or 6 foot 3ph Woods for field mowing on this and other property and some garden plowing/disking tasks now. However we would need our own equipment to take on the jobs we foresee. I'm thinking of of 3 basic "windows" to do the work involved.

Stage 1-Basic caretaking now - mostly field mowing - especially when it is no longer under cultivation.

Stage 2-"Heavy" landscaping over several years as we re-work the property. Converting old cornfields to lawn, orchard etc.,. Lot of fence rows need re-newed, tree planting, terracing, cutting a (1000 foot) driveway, pond cleanup/maintenance, brush-hogging. Foundation excavation for various outbuildings as time goes by.

Stage 3-Maintenance of the "finished" property. We'd end up with probably 4-5 acres in "lawn", a couple in orchards, a couple in gardens. (Partly for my wife's herb business) and the rest would be basic field mowing as we slowly re-forest certain areas, and some basic path maintenance/clean up in the woods. And not to be forgotten, snow removal and other maintenance on that 1000 feet of driveway. (SW PA)

I was originally thinking to get an small, older tractor, say a Farmall Super A/C/100/200 sized tractor. I like the simplicity, ease of maintenance, the heritage, and to be honest, the price - especially compared to a new compact. However the more I've read and thought through the "job descriptions" the more I've become convinced that would be the wrong horse for this course. Certainly it sounds like between FWD, more sophisticated PTOs, the hydraulic systems, power steering, manuverability, safety systems, quick-attach attachments etc., the modern compacts sound like a better fit. Probably want an FEL, post-hole digger, brush hog and some sort of "finish" mower. Would like a hoe but don't know about that considering the cost.

So finally my questions-

First - given all the rambling above - would I be asking too much of a "small" compact (say a TC29/33 or equiv.) or should I look more towards a "big" compact (TC40/JD4700 etc.) Is a bigger compact that's heavy enough for the landscaping too heavy for decent lawn work down the road? (Since the property is now a "clean sheet of paper", I'm free to avoid too many tight areas that might be overly cramped for a bigger tractor. Ditto the storage sizing.)

I won't say price is no object but if I can swallow 15K-16K for a smaller unit with basic attachments, 22K-24K isn't all that much worse. More important to get the right horse. Or am I asking too much of any one machine?

Second - since the most complicated tractor I've ever run is that old NAA and the mower - is there a good "primer" out there that would cover learning to use a new compact with all these wonderful but complex systems and accessories like FELs?

Third - what about hydrostatic with this type of use? My personal taste runs to basic gear trannys, but my wife would certainly prefer hydro, and it sound like that may be an advantage also in much FEL work. Again, I'm not familiar with running that level of equipment yet.

So whats the advice from the "seasoned" crowd out there?

Many thanks for your patience!
Tim






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 06-03-2002, 09:15 Post: 39271
DavidJ



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 Compact 101 How big is too big

From the sounds of it, you've got your head around what's going to be required in this venture. I'm sure you'll get lots of advice on this subject, so I'll begin with mine.
From all the things you describe I would be comfortable with something in the the TC-33D/JD4310 range. It'll be large enough to handle the amount of "landscaping" you have indicated. You wouldn't be able to push it as hard as you could the larger machines but then, doing it yourself it's ok to go a bit slower. The reason I recommend this size is that, once you finish the heavy work, the majority of the work you'll do is mowing and/or snow removal and the smaller size will be better for that type of work yet large enough to handle the attachments.

As for using the machine and all it's newfangled equipment. You shouldn't have a problem figuring it out and using it.

I would definitely go for the Hydro. To me it makes a big difference in the operation of the tractor, especially mowing around obstacles, and it certainly impacts the WAF (Wife Approval Factor).






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 06-03-2002, 10:47 Post: 39274
BillMullens

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 Compact 101 How big is too big

You won't have any trouble learning to use the modern tractors, but you'll definitely appreciate the newer convieniences. I have a standard tranny TC29 that I finish mow and landscape with; if it wasn't for the finish mowing, I'd like to have a frame size bigger. Though the compact size is an advantage working in the woods, too. Have you considered a 29/33 size (basically the same size as 9/2/8N) with turf tires for mowing and some landscaping, and a bigger tractor (NAA or 800 series Ford for example) with ag tires for the heavier pulling and brush cutting?
Bill






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 06-03-2002, 12:19 Post: 39278
TimB



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 Compact 101 How big is too big

Actually I was wondering about doing the opposite. Something like a TC40-size as the swiss-army knife and maybe getting a dedicated mower (on the lines of a ZTR front mower) for the "good" lawn.

I am concerned that the weight of a TC40 et al (especially with extra ballast, be it filled tires, wheel weights, the FEL or some combination of these) would be too much for mowing on "finished" areas. On the other hand the substantial difference in the FEL capacities between the smaller machines and the bigger end make me wonder if I'd be pushing a smaller tractor too hard for some of the earth-moving work.

I would not mind at all finding a legit excuse for an old John Deere or Farmall though.

Thanks for the info.
Tim






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 06-03-2002, 14:33 Post: 39279
TC33
2002-06-03 00:00:00
Post: 39279
 Compact 101 How big is too big

Go for the TC 33 with Super Steer.. add the turf tires and your set... it is like a super sized lawn mower and will do all the other jobs for you..






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 06-03-2002, 16:52 Post: 39281
dsg

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 Compact 101 How big is too big

TimB,
You're going to be doing some heavy earth moving if you are putting in a 1000' drive. I've built a 1000' road on my property, and do a little earth moving/Construction off & on with my JD4700. I have alot of time on my hands so taking my time is not a problem but I still couldn't imagine doing it with a smaller machine than the JD 45,46,4700 frame size. I also finish mow 2 1/2 acres around the house with the 4700, however I do not drive on the leachfield when the ground is not frozen. If, once all your heavy work is complete and all you will be doing is finish mowing and lite duty work on your property you can always sell the larger machine (for not much less than you paid for it) ((good resale value)) and buy a NEW smaller machine
with less attachments and be ahead of the game.

David






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 06-04-2002, 06:40 Post: 39296
Art White



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 Compact 101 How big is too big

I'd like to have a dollar for every customer we have taken in trade a ford 8n or farmall A or the likes of and the people have been very happy with the L-3010 Kubota. You don't gain enough in horsepower or weight when you get that size chassis to make much difference as far as attachments you can use.






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 06-04-2002, 07:09 Post: 39298
TomG

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 Compact 101 How big is too big

I have a couple of comments about size. The first is that the decision isn't as complex as it seems. Most of the size question is a tradeoff with the time required to do 'power work'--big and small do most of the same jobs. One approach is to decide the primary role of the tractor and then find one that will do the work in an acceptable time. Tractors sort of evolve into their roles. A tractor of any size will grab some bigger and smaller jobs outside its primary role. However, there always will be roles for small engine stuff and for contractors. Any size tractor will find its uses. Different sizes mostly change the mix of small engines and contractors it takes to get all the work done.

However, there are a couple of exceptions to this notion since every tractor does have practical limitations. Even with ballasting, a loader and a 3ph will only safely lift so much. If there is a need to move pallets of building material around, a small tractor just may not be able to lift some of them. If codes require trenching to a particular depth, the backhoe for a small tractor may not go that deep.

Iíd keep in mind that tractor and implement size go together. Usually trading tractor size means trading implements as well. If a tractorís primary role is finish mowing, and an especially high quality lawn is desired, then a small compact with a mid-mower probably would do the best job. As noted, a small tractor will do bigger jobs. However, a loader and mid-mower cannot be mounted simultaneously on some tractors. Thatís a lot of swapping MMMís and loaders if mowing and loader work alternates.






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 06-04-2002, 10:27 Post: 39305
LenK



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 Compact 101 How big is too big

I bought a new TC40D last summer to use around the yard. I have 10 acres: 1 acre is pond, four acres mowed lawn and 5 acres woods. My TC40D has heavy duty front end loader with tooth bar. I have several attachments, including a 6 foot landscape box that I added two removable 160# weights to for ballast. I grade my 400' driveway, clean edges of my pond, clear brush, remove trees, plow driveways (Michigan winters) etc.

I do have a separate mower (61" Grasshopper) that does a great job mowing. Personally, if I was doing it over again I would buy exactly the same tractor and mower. I can do a good job mowing (and fast - mow 4 acres in 2 hours) and still have the power and equipment for everything else.

Although I miss my old Ferguson T020, I have to admit feeling that the TC40D is the best thing I have ever bought in my life.






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 06-04-2002, 12:04 Post: 39306
BKColeman



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 Compact 101 How big is too big

TimB,
I think you're right on the money with a TC40D and a ZTR later on. I'm very much in the same situation as you, new house on land that I'm improving. We bought 12 acres for our dream house, about 4 that is old pasture we're turning to lawn, 6.5 is wooded pasture we're turning to horse pasture, and the rest completely wooded. I bought a TC40D and have been most happy with it. It has the power to do all of the clearing and with SuperSteer, it is manuverable enough to mow.

I'm finish mowing with it right now and the yard looks great. In a couple of years I hope my yard has that golf course look to it and then I'll buy a ZTR mower for it, maybe. But I certainly don't have any complaints with it now. It looks as good as the neighbor's on his JD riding mower. I would agree to look at the large frame compacts for the work you have. If you're leaning toward NH, keep SuperSteer in mind.

--Brad






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