Yes, the older models held up really well and are very easy to work on. I currently have an old Ford 3000 from 68. I can rebuild the engine for $400 as long as I don’t have to mess with the crank. You can buy any part you need for it with no problem. I am looking at buying a larger new tractor simply because it is not large enough to some of the things I want to do, but it is a real workhorse for it’s size. It runs around 38 HP at the PTO.
130hrs is practically new. I have a 2012 open station LS 4041H that had 70hours on it when I bought it in 2013 and I paid 20K for it. Mine is tier 3, I think the XR is tier 4, but I’d have to look it up. It’s been a great tractor. That cab tractor with forks for 19,500, someone got a great deal IMO. I think that tractor was about 30K new. Hydrostatic drive is great for loader work. They loose a little pto power, but the ability to drive as slowly as the power will handle makes up for it.
I believe LS makes New Holland’s boomer series, they are just cheaper without the New Holland decals. They also have a different loader than the boomers, lower lift height with higher lift capacity, if I remember correctly. I lift some big logs for my sawmill with mine. I wouldn’t be afraid to buy an LS, lots of tractor for the money.
I’d consider LS, except that the “dealers” in my area are sole proprietors selling from home, and they’re not really young either. Not sure how much parts/service support I’d get now, much less in a few years when they probably call it quits.
Kubota dealer rents new tractors to local vineyards for harvest, then sells them “new” with 100-200 hours on them and a discount, so I’ll see what I can get.
Here you would pay nearly the same for a new as a 1-200 hour tractor. The Used are at a premium in Florida. We have the same issue with LS here. I really didn’t mean to insinuate they are a bad tractor. I don’t think they are. Just taking care of them and a good dealer system is very hard to find.
Yeah, I think that for the much lower price the cheaper tractors like LS are probably fine, as long as you have good support and reasonable expectations. In my area, the only dealers with real support and a stock of parts are Kubota, NH and JD. I would love the chance to check out a MF, Kioti, etc. dealer, but they’re too far away to easily get anything in a hurry.
They hint toward it, but don’t say out loud that people are avoiding Tier 4 diesel engines.
I’ve had great luck with my Kubota L3800 so far. Only gets 30-50 hours of work each year but has been reliable. Would buy another without hesitation
I have heard anecdotes of people choosing older tech diesels for some time now, but this may be the first I’ve seen it spoken of in the press. Not surprised, some of the manufactures (JD and others) have made it even harder to work on your own machine than the car makers lately. Perhaps this will be a wakeup call to them…
That’s a nice thought Steve, but I doubt it will happen. I suspect tractor manufacturers like producing tractors which only specialists can work on, as long as all manufacturers are under the same rules. That brings in a larger piece of the pie to the dealer network. More profitable dealers mean the manufacturer can squeeze them harder. More expensive repairs for farmers mean they will trade equipment sooner - also good for the manufacturer.
John Deere grabbed so much of the market share early on because their equipment was reliable and they made them simple so that just about any farmer could work on them with the tools on hand.
Those days are long gone.
Just like manufacturing, farming has traditionally required a continual increase in size to remain competitive. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, just saying what is.
Like manufacturing, when the margins are small, you have to produce more faster with less labor. That means big machinery to farm lots and lots of acres really fast. Those guys don’t care so much about working on their own equipment. The name of the game to stay in business is always bigger and faster. It means not trying to work on old smaller equipment to keep it running.
I read an article the other day about a dairy farmer family in NY struggling to make ends meet. They were even on food stamps. The article blamed it on low milk prices (Milk prices are low, as people are drinking more substitute milk products like almond and soy juice.) But the real issue was the folks in the article only farmed like 300 acres and had something like 60 head of dairy cows. That’s not enough volume to make it in a low margin industry.
It’s economically driven. Assuming a fair return to the farmer of $50/ac profit, someone farming 300 acres only makes $15K. The farmer farming 2000 acres makes $100K at the same margin. “Small” farmers like that, who want to work on their own equipment, will eventually be out of the game. Or if they can make it to retirement, their acreage will be swallowed up by larger farmers.
It’s the same thing in just about any low margin industry. I remember talking once with a commercial ZTR mower salesman. I asked why the new commercial ZTRs don’t have grease zerks for the brearing housings which run the blades. He told me owners don’t want to have to grease the mowers. The owners can’t make any money if their help is standing around greasing equipment. They want their help on the mowers cutting grass as fast as they can. That’s why new commercial mowers will cut at 15 mph. More volume - faster.
It’s the same thing in machining. The equipment is always bigger and faster. If you own a machine shop and want to stay in business making widgets. You have to make the widgets faster and faster. If you’ve ever witnessed how fast some of these machines move, it’s mind boggling. They push the feed rates so hard the life of the cutters is sometimes measured in minutes. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many cutters they go through if they can get 20% more production out the door.
Here’s a vid on the manufacturing mindset. Most farmers aren’t as brash as the guy in the video, but most farmers recognize the principle.
Not defending anything, just pointing out that’s what it takes to keep the +7bil. people in goods and services to the level we’re at today.
You are probably right @Olpea, it wont change the mindset at JD or any of the other larger players anytime soon. However in the long run it may. When some of the older machines start edging up in price and cutting into new sales, we will see. It is similar to the 70’s, when the big three auto makers didn’t take the Japanese threat seriously, and Toyota and Honda were able to capture a large chunk of that market. Not exactly the same issues but similar in terms of customer abuse,
I can only hope you are right. In KC there is a head remanufacturer that does a lot of business restoring older diesel engine heads for independent truckers. The truckers don’t want to go to the 4 tier engines, so they just keep rebuilding their old ones.
I know exactly how that guy is pushing for more speed and production. As you know Mark, I grow 3/4 acre of bell peppers which I have the market for every one I produce and 5x more. I am always looking for a better way to produce more and higher quality peppers with less input in time, fertilizer, and chemicals. I think you do the same because the people who want your peaches, my peppers, will get those things if they need them. I want them to get it from me. That’s why I spend the late nights researching, thinking, and planning, it’s why I push my suppliers to have the latest and greatest, and why I spend money to educate myself on the latest thinking around my crop. As commercial growers we have to.
One of the reasons we find most vehicles so difficult to work on is the computer controls necessary to meet ridiculous air quality standards, especially for the limited ag market. The people who rail against big farms also set impossible standards that only the big farmers can meet. An example of unintended consequenecs.
Well said Phil. I’m sure you’ve looked at the new FSMA rules. I was talking to a friend the other day who said some farms hire one full time person whose only job is to make sure the farm is in compliance with the FSMA rules.
Re: computer controls
I have my orchard tractor made about year 2000. No computer on board. I plan to drive that one till I can’t get parts, or until me, or it, dies - whatever comes first.
Interesting article. I have a John Deere 2040 (post #1), built in 1981 in Germany, and it’s been pretty reliable, other than when the water pump went out and caused the fan to impale itself in the radiator (post 148). Thankfully I was able to repair it myself without too much trouble.
I replaced the oil, filter, and both circular air filters last year, which was pretty easy. The air filters aren’t cheap, but I’m glad the parts (all JD) are still available. I had to drive about 40 miles to a dealer, but that’s not too bad. We’re 20 miles from anything here anyways.
The hydraulic fluid (and filter) will probably need to be replaced at some point, not looking forward to that, that’s a lot of fluid to drain and replace.
I did have an issue starting it a couple years ago when it got down in the teens, but that was remedied by plugging in the block heater for an hour. Started right up after that, no big deal. Still have the same batteries in it that were in it when I bought it four years ago. So glad I’m not at the mercy of electronic controls.
Granted I only use it maybe ten times a year- one day each for plowing and disking, a couple days for grading or spreading gravel and the rest bush hogging.
I don’t see a lot of newer rigs around here, either. Folks seem to like the older ones better. Of course, there isn’t much big scale farming going on, so there prob no need for newer equipment. My neighbor has a newish compact Mahindra, and he seems to have quite a bit of problems with it. But that may something to do with the brand, and not the controls.
I like mine just the way it is, and one thing that I look forward to when I get on it is hearing that old 3 cylinder fire up and the throaty ‘blom-blom-blom’ exhaust note.
I have a Mahindra M75. I had a 2555 and it was a lemon. They have me what I owed when I traded it on my M75 since they had tons of problems with that model.
The M75 has been very good. The motor is phenomenal. My neighbor has a 60 horse Kubota and has expressed how he wished he had my Mahindra motor. Good thing I’m friends with the owner where I bought the Mahindra though.
The warning switch’s are a real PITA. They are the only trouble I’ve had. Pressure switches going bad, water in fuel switch. Service light. And every switch and light makes it beep. I’ve fixed them all myself and they haven’t been pricy at all but they are the most annoying things ever! It drives me crazy.
I’m very happy with the tractor. All the transmission, suspension, and hydraulics are pretty old school and I like that. They just don’t break. But boy they can keep all the electronic stuff…
My tractor (Massey 4225) has been pretty problem free (2500 hrs.) but last Nov. the injector pump went out. Removing the injector pump requires removing the water pump. But when I tried to remove the water pump, there was a frozen bolt holding it on. The bolt wouldn’t move for nothing. It was a long bolt which went through the water pump, the timing cover, the timing case, and finally into the block. Heat and penetrating oil did nothing. It was too far away from where the bolt was stuck.
I cut/chiseled the head of the bolt off to get the water pump off. Then welded a nut on the frozen bolt and tried again. Still just wanted to twist the bolt and wouldn’t break loose. Tried all the tricks (tapping on the bolt, etc.)
So had to remove the timing cover and the timing case - the whole front end. Timing gears, everything. Finally I was able to weld a new nut on the frozen bolt. I heated the bolt till it almost melted, let it air cool, and it squeaked out.
I was sure I’d have to drill the bolt out, but I didn’t have to.
Here is a pic with the front of the engine gone and a bunch of paper towels/rags stuffed in all the holes.
It quit and we had to leave it parked in mud (fun stuff ).
I’ve never taken the front of a diesel motor apart before. Putting it back together, it was really hard to get the timing gears correct, because the motor has to be at exactly top dead center of the compression stroke on the number one piston. I used an indicator with a rod down in the fuel injector hole to measure the piston height. Here are the gears back on and lined up.
I finally got it all back together, then figured out the starter solenoid went bad. So I am once again waiting on parts.
I still haven’t built a fire in this thing. It’s all back together except for the starter solenoid I’m waiting on. I’m having some trouble getting all the fuel lines primed with the hand pump. I have all the nuts loose on the fuel lines and thought I’d crank the motor a little bit to see if I can get them primed that way.
The fuel pump cost me about a grand to get rebuilt. Perkins engines are good, but the parts are very expensive.
My closest dealer is about that far away, but I never drive. It’s cheaper just to have them UPS it. All the dealers will do it. The UPS charges are cheaper than I can drive it.
It’s generally recommended to replace hydraulic fluid and filters about every 500 hours. It’s generally fairly easy to replace. You may need a few gaskets, if you have to clean some screens, but maybe not. Your operator manual will tell you how to do it.
Sounds like you use OEM parts/fluids. That’s always safe. In case you want to save some money, you can use non-oem hydraulic oil. Just make sure it’s good quality compatible stuff. Don’t use cheap oils from Tractor Supply. I use Champion 4000 universal hydraulic fluid when I can get it.
I feel for you regarding that repair, looks and sounds like a bear to do. I’m so glad I didn’t have to tear a lot out to do my repair. A lot of tedious work, but not too difficult. The water pump looked like the original, but it wasn’t too hard to get it off. I used the original pulley because it was okay, and I didn’t want to buy a new one for about $150. So, I had to have a neighbor with a press to get the pulley off, and then push it back on to the new WP. Overall, my total costs were about $450- water pump, radiator, fan, two hoses and coolant.
Yah, getting those timing gears together are a bit important! I did a timing belt change on my 2003 Accord V6 last spring, and it was a bear to do. The car had about 185k miles on it and needed changed. You basically have to tear just about everything off the left side of the engine to do it. At first, I didn’t want to attempt it because if it’s done wrong you can end up with a big boat anchor. But, after watching a few videos on YouTube, I thought I could do it. The hardest part of the job was getting that crank bolt off, it’s torqued on really tight, and I had to use a special weighted socket and an air impact gun to get it off. You have to change the belt, water pump, two small pulleys and a hydraulic tensioner. It took me almost two weeks because I did the work outside in the open and it was raining quite a bit. I also had to replace an engine mount, too. I was very deliberate putting that new belt back on. It’s a dual cam engine, so those cams and the crank had to be at TDC. I marked those points on the old belt and transferred them to the new one.
After I had got everything put back together and the battery hooked up, I had to crank it up. Talk about a “pucker” moment! There was a little squeak at start up, but it ran like a champ. My wife drives it to work every week day, and it’s still going good. Honda makes great engines, but their trannies, not so much.
Anyway, I got it done, and maybe saved myself $1000 if a dealer or mechanic did it. @Steve333 and I corresponded thru PM’s, he was a big help and encourager. Many thanks to him! The TB kit was about $160, mount was $30, coolant was about $35, so I saved about $800, besides my own labor, of course.
Regarding the filters, I might try that next time. But, I like the drive over there. I want to use oem filters, but fluids, not necessary. I asked them about their hydraulic fluid, it’s called Hygard, and it costs $70 for a 5 gallon jug! They were really pushing it on me, but I know there’s other fluids out there that will do the job. It just has to meet J-14 standards. I noticed Tractor Supply has some fluids with that standard, and glad they got rid of that old 303 fluid they carried.
I got the oem tranny filter, it came with a new gasket. The air filters were about $60 for both of them, not cheap, oil filter was about $8. For oil, I used Shell Rotella T4 15w-40 diesel oil. Seems to work okay, the tractor doesn’t seem to burn any oil.
I know what you mean. This tractor had 3 crank bolts to remove. They were eye busters to get off.
Congrats on the Accord. Glad Steve could help you. He does know a lot about auto mechanics.
I may have mentioned it before, but if you plan to do a lot of work on your tractor, you might consider trying to find a shop manual for it. I found a used shop manual for my tractor on ebay. I wouldn’t consider trying to tear into it without it. They give you all kinds of details which would be hard to find elsewhere (torque values, etc.).