Tractors are just cool, plain and simple. Nothing quite embodies the spirit of the American farm like a jolly, rumbling tractor. The puttery, “flap, flap” of the smokestack, the larger than life tires…the bright colors; Farmall Red, Allis Chalmers Orange, John Deer Green…a tractor is the perfect combination of whimsy, nostalgia and power.
For much of rural America, the tractor symbolizes much more than a bucolic fancy. It is the center of their livelihood. The hub of the farm and the muscle that drives the many implements or hauls the heavy loads.
But is a tractor practical for your farm?
You may just simply want one. They’re handy to have and they can be fun to work on/restore. (That is if you’re not rushing to get a crop in.)
But buying a tractor for a fun project may not be the most lucrative thing to do if you’re trying to start a small farm. Money is tight when you start a new business. Here are a few questions that you might want to consider before buying a tractor.
Does your farm venture rely on the work of a tractor every season? For example, will you be selling hay from your property every summer?
If your tractor is not a seasonal need, (for example do you just need it to prepare land once, maybe you’re planting a perennial crop or an orchard.) Renting equipment, bartering with a neighbor who owns a tractor, or hiring someone might be a good alternative.
Do you know your way around an engine? Are you willing to learn? Do you know someone that can help you if something breaks? Are you able to carry out tractor maintenance? Oil changes etc.?
Is a tractor worth the investment?
When it comes to the work of a tractor there are a few options. You can invest in a new tractor. Some of these tractors are equipped with state of the art conveniences; computer systems; even air conditioning! The best part is that everything is in tip top shape…a new tractor is reliable and should be for several years. In short, nothing is broken…yet. A tractor like this for a small to mid-size farm will run you about 18,000 to 25,000, approximately.
A used, basic tractor with a hydraulic bucket, a live PTO and a three point hitch can be had for around $4000-$8000.
If your price range is in the $1000 – $2000 you’re probably going to be compromising one or more widely needed options a farm tractor should have. For example, our Farmall H does not have a bucket, nor a 3 point hitch but can be found for about $1200.
If you buy a tractor in this price range, it will probably be an older model, probably around the 1950s.
The positive is that tractors are made of steel, they’re heavy duty so they last and for the most part, they have uncomplicated engines. On older tractors, the parts are straight forward, there’s no advanced electrical components to break or that require diagnostic equipment to diagnose.
On the negative, Buying a used tractor almost guarantees that something will need to be replaced, fixed or updated. You can take tractors to repair shops, but the parts and labor can quickly out weigh the cost of the tractor.
But don’t be intimidated. We’re blessed in that Zach knows his way around an engine and most metal things. But I’ve learned a lot since we got our tractor. In fact, it occurred to me to write this post the other night as I was up to my elbows in tractor grease trying to help Zach fish the gear pin through the new PTO gear on our Allis Chalmers.
You Tube videos are amazing resources
There are tractor forums to ask questions on things you’re having problems
A manual goes a long way in simply learning how one part interconnects with the next.
Before you call, know the maker, model and year of your tractor. Example: Allis Chalers, WD 45, 1951
If you live in a farming community you may have a tractor “junk yard” in your area.
E-bay is a great place to find parts
Steiner’s Tractor Parts. They have a catalog they will send you and also a website.
Check back to read my post on buying implements…coming soon!
(This post has not been sponsored.)