Thursday, September 29, 2011

Old Equipment

I was talking to a farmer friend earlier this week and we were commenting on all the new, shiny equipment we've been seeing moving up and down the roads lately. With cash grain prices at record highs, a lot of farmers with grain in their portfolio have taken the opportunity to update and in some cases upgrade their equipment. When I asked him when he expected to be upgrading his ancient fleet and associated implements of husbandry so he could start doing things right he laughed out loud. His comment was that he'd been doing it wrong for so long that he wasn't sure he'd know how to get anything done if he had to do it the right way with the proper tools and equipment for the job.

I understand his thought completely. At this point, a new tractor, at least to me, is one who's vintage is later than mine. More than once I've overheard people say,"He sure has made a nice farm out of that. And he sure must like antique farm equipment." Well, no not so much actually. But at least in part, running old, depreciated stuff is what has allowed us to go out and "make nice farms". Maybe in my next life I'll get to run new equipment. I sure hope so, but if not I'll have lots of practice from this life at fixing old stuff.

Running old equipment comes with a price, and that price is unanticipated break downs. There is literally always something waiting in the wings. To be fair, some of what's waiting could happen with a new tractor. About a week after replacing the starter on our aging Kubota loader tractor I had a flat tire. The tire was starting to wear pretty badly but it still had considerable life in it, so I elected to put a tube in it rather than replace the tire with a new one. At some point between reinstalling the tire and today, one of the wheel lugs (not the nut, the entire lug) snapped off and fell out. When this happens it throws the entire wheel out of balance and the lug nuts loosen themselves off over time. Often the first clue that something is amiss is when the tire falls off completely because all the lug nuts are gone. Fortunately I caught it during the wobbly phase, so it ought to be a quick fix in the morning. Next in line tomorrow afternoon is replacing a gearbox bearing on one of the rotary cutters.


SmartAlex said...

We treat our tractors more like cars at our house. Some (silly) people still treat them like old farm equipment. It can be difficult to transition from a life lived with old beatup, battle torn, simple equipment that owes you nothing and can be fixed with a whack from a hammer to the new expensive stuff with all the buttons and gadgets.

For two nights in a row after our Rock Day, I had nightmares that I peeled the front tire off Tim's big tractor. That's not hard to do with a ton of rocks in the loader on the terrain we were dealing with. And it would have led to a lOOOOng walk of shame back to the house.

Jason said...

I can't imagine paying between fifty and a hundred thousand dollars for a new loader tractor and then taking it out to do what I need to do with it WITHOUT having nightmares every single night.

You nailed one of the biggest bonuses of running well used equipment. When a branch rakes its way across the paint job or a rock makes its way up into the undercarriage I shrug my shoulders and keep drivin' as opposed to stopping to have a quiet nervous breakdown.

We're looking at new cars right now to replace our old Tahoe and we've been renting various vehicles to try them out. So far, I've high centered several of them while driving around the farm which immediately nixes them for both of us ! I simply can't fathom hooking an old chain onto a brand new vehicle to pull it out of the mud.

Bif said...

I've been meaning to ask... what sort of tractor would you recommend for women that don't have a lot of tractor-y knowledge and don't really want to spend 40% or more time getting it fixed? 8 acre property, tractor would mostly be bush hogging (wicked slope in the back field, by the way) and occasional minor grading, I think...

Any suggestions?

Jason said...

I'd say it mostly depends on how much money you wish to spend, but for that application on that size property I'd think a slightly used 4wd JD 5205 or something of the like would be very appropriate. You could pull a heavy duty rotary cutter in anything up to 8 feet wide and it would be big enough to actually do the job when it came to grading the driveway, etc.

Regardless of size or, honestly, age, all farm tractors operate in much the same way. First time tractor buyers are often afraid of size and many/most choose a tractor a couple of sizes smaller than necessary to really get the job done well. There isn't much difference in price between an oversized garden tractor and a (far better built) 40-50 hp farm tractor. As such, I'd choose the farm tractor every time.

Hope that helps !

Bif said...

It does indeed. Thanks!

harvest said...

Its really great buddy from last week I am using this Farm Equipment and I am getting 100% result ...Thank you