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Go Back   BHM Forum > Self-Reliance & Preparedness > Hands-on > Tractors

Tractors Big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones, buying, using, fixing...you get the idea.

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  #1  
Old 04-17-2008, 05:03 PM
bookwormom bookwormom is offline
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Default tractor for steep hillsides

I mentioned here and there that our place consists of nothing but steep little hills with a couple of places not quite so bad. we need a tractor for bush hogging the pastures once a year, disking, pulling out logs etc. Our little tractor is just overextended, it takes forever. we have 10 acres open, the rest is wooded and brush. lWhat tractor would you recommend for a setting like that.?
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  #2  
Old 04-17-2008, 10:26 PM
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

We have the same problem. I'm more concerned with skidding logs for our mill, so I can build my abominations ;D

We have a nice chunk of land, but only about 10-15 acred are cleared. We didn't plan on making a business of farming or livestock, so hilly woods were our concern. We got a bull ATV and I couldn't be happier. It goes everywhere I want it to and is not top-heavy like a tractor. A tractor would have tipped in some of the places I can go with that little devil. It's a 550 cc (they make them bigger now) and has a winch on the front. My mill can't handle anything longer than 16 foot, so logs are no longer than that. The big disadvantage is that there's no PTO, I have seen pull behind mowers with their own engines - I think DR makes one. We have their big brush mower and I'm really happy with that, though it cost an arm and a leg.

Regards,
Pat
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  #3  
Old 04-18-2008, 06:50 PM
bookwormom bookwormom is offline
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

do you mean that walk behind brush cutter? I have been hankering for one for years, but hubby was belly aching about the price so we never got one. what all can you do with a ATV? We never got one, sort of prejudiced , all sunday they make a lot of noise around here, driving through the woods. But I guess I never thought of it as a tool.
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Old 04-18-2008, 07:23 PM
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

I've seen some nice old walk-behind brush cutters going at auction for a decent price. DR's brush cutter is pricey, but it works great. My wife wanted us to get one, but the price put me off. We finally got one and I can't imagine getting along without it. It was about 3 grand brand new and has a 17 hp Kawasaki engine. They also make a pull-behind brush mower - depends on how much stuff you need to do. With the little agreage we have cleared, a walk behind is adequate. If you can get by with that, it will save you the price of another tractor and brush hog.

Yeah, ATV's are a toy for kids nowdays. But they also see a lot of use on the farms around here, and from what I've seen they get a lot of use with ranching. There are two different types out there - stripped down, light weight models made for going fast and racing, and larger, heavier models for work. We have one of the latter. We bought it used and it runs great. Hunters use them a lot too. Our neighbor told us to wait till hunting season was over and then start watching - people look to unload them or upgrade. During hunting season they go for top dollar.

Our ATV is an automatic. I would have preferred a standard - less gizmos to depend on, but the automatic was for sale at the right price. We also use it to tug around a trailer for hauling materials and equipment to the other end of the property, fetching lumber from the drying yard to project sites, hauling plants and trees out to planting site. It's not a big trailer - maybe 4x6, but I can load everything up for a job and haul it to the location, ditch the trailer and use the ATV to run back and forth between the house and work site (for the tools I forgot ;D ).

There are times I wish I had a tractor, but we have a friend with a small Jinma and we swap work back and forth. His has a post hole digger we've used more than once. I'm thinking about getting him to plow the back field and trying some grain. It's a small enough eare I could handle it manually, but tilling that much ground would be best done by a tractor.

Once again, we didn't get one of those lightweight speed demons. We have a heavy, 550 cc ox. In it's last life it was used for running trails, but now it's a work machine.

Regards,
Pat
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  #5  
Old 04-18-2008, 10:31 PM
Drawbar Drawbar is offline
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by bookwormom
I mentioned here and there that our place consists of nothing but steep little hills with a couple of places not quite so bad. we need a tractor for bush hogging the pastures once a year, disking, pulling out logs etc. Our little tractor is just overextended, it takes forever. we have 10 acres open, the rest is wooded and brush. lWhat tractor would you recommend for a setting like that.?
There are a few things you can do to modify a tractor to make it work better on steep grades. One of the things I did on my 2500 Series Kubota, was to invert the rear wheels. That is put the rear wheel so they dish out instead of in. This is okay according to Kubota and really gives the tractor a wider stance. About 9-12 inches actually which makes a HUGE difference.

What you do not want to do is also invert the front wheels. I did this as well, and found out the bump-steer was ferocious. It was so bad I went 50 feet, backed up and put the front wheels back to the way they were. Yeah it was that bad.

Another thing you do not want to do is put dual tires on smaller tractors. There was a guy on www.mytractorforum.com who did this and 5 hours after springing for new rims and tires, he proceeded to snap his rear axle. This was after several of us told him not to; that it would be way too much for the axle. He claimed it was the only way to stabilize his tractor, but I disagree.

Inverting your rear wheels does wondersfor stability, but you do pay for it somewhat in other areas. If you do a lot of row-cropping, obviously your tires should track with your front tires. It may also contribute to poor performance in snow too, where your front wheels track in fresh snow along with your back wheels as well. I live in Maine and found that by the time this is an issue, the snow is 3 feet deep anyway, and its just too deep to log in snow that deep anyway.

Here is a picture of my machine. Its not very big, but its very capable even on steep terrain. If you look close you can see where the rear wheels are wider then the front wheels. The difference even surprised me. So try inverting your wheels, it should work for you.

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  #6  
Old 04-19-2008, 01:20 AM
DaleK DaleK is offline
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

Doesn't matter an awful lot as long as it's got a good factory ROPS and seatbelt (you can buy them for most older tractors that didn't originally have them), MFWD makes it a lot nicer for steering, keep the wheels wide and properly ballasted, and make sure the tractor is big enough to hold the equipment back.

This is what I use for cutting hay now.

Used to use the same discbine on a tractor 40 hp smaller (the one in the picture is 124), it worked but on the hills around here it was too light to hold the discbine. Coming down hill backwards jacknifed got old after the 5th or 6th time.
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  #7  
Old 04-19-2008, 10:11 AM
Drawbar Drawbar is offline
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

DaleK, I am surprised you don't go with a articulated tractor. I was doing some bulldozer stumping for a farmer around here and it was on steep grades. I asked him how in the world he hayed/ cut corn on such steep land and he said the secret was an articulated tractor.

By turning the wheel at just the right time you can spread the distance of the wheels and gain extra stance and thus stability. Knowing when and where to do that is the key to working some really steep ground.

On our farm, we don't have an articulated tractor either. We use a 4255 John Deere tractor for most of our heavy work. At times we add dual tires, but that is for traction, or flotation more then stability.

Its funny too the different names for things in different parts of the country. Where I live (Maine)we call what you call a discbine, a haybine.


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  #8  
Old 04-20-2008, 01:12 AM
DaleK DaleK is offline
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

Drawbar a haybine here has a sicklebar and guards, discbine has disks with knives on instead. Lot less knives to break and change, takes more hp, REALLY expensive if you hit a stump so you need to know your fields.

Articulated would be nice someday but I can't really justify owning a reliable one on only 1100 acres.
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  #9  
Old 04-20-2008, 08:54 AM
Drawbar Drawbar is offline
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaleK
Drawbar a haybine here has a sicklebar and guards, discbine has disks with knives on instead. Lot less knives to break and change, takes more hp, REALLY expensive if you hit a stump so you need to know your fields.

Articulated would be nice someday but I can't really justify owning a reliable one on only 1100 acres.
Yeah what you call a discbine is what we call a haybine, and yes I've replaced the gears that go to the rotating knives more times then I care to remember.

Still that was cheap compared to putting a rock through the chopper of our sileage chopper. An ATV trail next to the woods had kicked up a rock and went through the knives. The total cost was 40,000 dollars.

I am not sure how many acres we harvest every year. It changes because we do a lot of custom chopping too. So far the 4255 John Deere has been doing good, but I think we are looking at a new Caterpillar, one of those tractors with rubber lags. If that's the case, we won't get an articulated tractor.

Being dairy farmers and living in dairy farm country, we don't do any grain harvesting or anything. We don't even do much hay any more. Its mostly haylage and sileage just because its so much faster. With this new trend, I think we would be better off investing our money into trucks. We typically have three trucks going, but when you load them in 6 minutes time, it seems you are always waiting for them. Seems silly to invest in an articulated tractor when that's not a farm issue right now.

This is that silage chopper that had a rock go through it, causing 40,000 dollars damage.

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  #10  
Old 04-22-2008, 12:50 AM
DaleK DaleK is offline
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

Used to be a few NH SP harvesters around here but the dealer sucks, I think there are only JDs left now. We only have 80-100 acres of corn silage for the dairy cows, a neighbour does it with a Dion pull type harvester for us. Our hay all goes in as baleage, we can get as much done in a day with two of us as anybody around us can with twice as many people with haylage.
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  #11  
Old 02-19-2009, 03:14 AM
rdbrumfield rdbrumfield is offline
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

I have a JD 5300 and I take it about anywhere I want. I do however widen out the front and back tires as far as I can. It sure makes a difference in ride comfort that way too. I do a lot of bush hog mowing on pipeline right of ways in the northwest. go up and down hills you can't see the bottom of for the brush.
One thing I did is put a hyd winch right up in the loader frame. That is most likely the best little ornament I have ever put on a tractor. Seems as I use it every time I get on it.

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  #12  
Old 02-19-2009, 02:19 PM
MooseToo MooseToo is offline
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

in much of europe farms are tiny compared to commercial u.s. farms - often similar in size to what we'd consider a small homestead - in addition, many european farms are in very hilly terrain, again, similar to our homesteads -
for years their solution has been two-wheel walk-behind tractors - you can do a search for b.c.s. tractors and see the type used in europe - virtually any implement you require is available up to and including hay balers - diesel power is also available - and for flat-ground operation a riding sulkey makes things quite easy -
be prepared for sticker shock when looking at new units - but, compared to the cost of a new 4wd tractor, they are a bargain - especially if that new tractor will not safely work your steep ground -
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  #13  
Old 02-20-2009, 01:02 AM
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Default Re: tractor for steep hillsides

With your type of land I would opt for a crawler tractor some of the nor tracks new are a reasonable price or look for a used one.
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Old 06-29-2009, 12:44 AM
Cuznguido Cuznguido is offline
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I am fairly familiar with Kentucky and "steep" can be a fairly subjective term. Some parts of Ky are lots steeper than others, but I have an International 464 which some people call a "utility". With a careful operator they are pretty stable and are an excellent tractor. I use mine for lots of stuff besides what would be considered farming, and my wife and a couple of fiends have expressed concern over some of the places they have seen this tractor used, but I like to think if it felt dangerous I wouldn't do it. That should give you some idea of how stable it is. You can find them fairly easily and they are not too expensive, but then I buy everything used.
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:39 PM
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I grew up on a southern illinois hill farm.. Dad had a ford 8 n for that very reason.. the front wheels on a 8n are adjustable for width for cultivators and he reversed the back ones and filled em up with water/antifreeze.. I guess they have foam for that now days.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:20 AM
bopperman Male bopperman is offline
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We have a combination of level river valley coupled with very steep and treacherous hills. I bought a used Satoh Beaver 4WD for climbing the hills to reach my plateaus up top . I reversed both front and rear wheels on the Beaver and it did not really make much of a difference in steering but really helped with stability. The little mitsubishi diesel will mow rake,and bale at about 1/10th the cost of using my big Ford even if I could get it up the hills which I can't. I got the Beaver for $3200 used with an Allied loader mounted on it and only 1277 hours . For a 19 horse tractor it is amazing.
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:15 PM
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Depending on the terrain of the land, and brush/stuff you have to deal with, a combination of implements may be the best answer.

The walk behind brush hog may be a good choice for some areas. And the thing is once gone over with that implement, you may be able to re sell the walk behind.

Several compact tractor forums that may have good reading for you are.
And they have info on a lot of other implements, mowers, and applications.
mytractor.com
tractorbynet.com
greentractortalk.com

Good luck
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Old 03-16-2013, 04:59 PM
Doninalaska Doninalaska is offline
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Here is a Chinese product made for hillsides that can be used as a walk-behind or remote control. I once saw a demonstration (I think by Honda) of a remote-control tractor that looked a lot like a large 4-wheeler. They said you could sit at the bottom of the hill sipping tea while you mowed or cut brush on a steep hillside. It had a cage on it, si if it rolled, you just let it go. It also had 4-wheel steering for a very short turning radius. this one has tracks--but it is cheap!

http://www.ecvv.com/product/3289125.html
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