How To Buy A Tractor - The Second ListsteemCreated with Sketch.

in homesteading •  11 months ago

Please read the first article here to get the story of my learning curve from my previous tractor purchases. I'm no expert, I'm just a guy who does stuff. My special power is making mistakes that cost me time or money and then, after paying the price of admission, learning from my mistakes and making better decisions. It's really a continuous improvement loop these days. I've learned to PLAN - DO - CHECK - ACT! I hope that I can help you not make the same mistake that I have, but this is just my opinion!


One slight correction, after I found a picture it sparked my memory (hey it was more than 10 years and a literal lifetime ago) that it did indeed have a PTO with the 3 point lift but the 3-point lift was broken and on that particular tractor, it required breaking the tractor down in 2 to attempt to fix the pump that would keep the arms up. They were notorious for breaking.

Ford 8N color.jpgThis is my first "bargain" 8N purchase. It did have fenders but they were taken off and came to me loose.

Garden 2007 001.jpg The "Massey", as it was referred to, was a great help around the farm. Mixed horse manure for composting, carried loads of soil to the garden, lifted trees and carried firewood, but it was 2 wheel drive and it was heavy, which was NOT a good combination for the field. It was especially limited by the fact that the PTO and 3 point lift didn't work properly.


If you recall, my first list was pretty simple: "I want an Ford 8N." It was only based on my short experience with brush hogging with a Ford 8N with an ORC (over running clutch). Once I moved to NW PA, having parted ways with the MF Industrial 202 (pictured above), I began to get a better idea of what I wanted a tractor for. So I began my second list.

  1. Must be $3,500.00 or less. Why? Because that's what I had available at the time.
  2. Must have a loader. This one was very important to me. A loader is an exponential labor multiplier. The Bear Lake house (our first house in NW PA) had a "garbage pile" out back. Fairly common for a lot of old places unfortunately, and I wanted a loader to scoop and clean it. The magnitude of the pile will be discussed in some future post I'm sure.
  3. Must have a live PTO. I needed a PTO that could and would operate independently from the rest of the tractor's drive train.
  4. Must be a Ford or New Holland. Why? Plentiful parts and I'm a Ford guy.
  5. Must be in good used shape. Why? See point 1.
  6. Would like it to be diesel. (not a must)
  7. Would like it to be 4WD. (not a must)

So, as you can see, a little more thought from my experience with the top two tractors had made it into my list.


I'd love to say that I met all of the criteria, but I didn't. First of all, finding a tractor with a loader for $3,500.00 that was in good shape, a Ford or New Holland, with a live PTO and diesel was just not realistic. I'll talk about that in a second, but first you need to know I began to rationalize and compromise on things. Listen, if there is one piece of advice I have it's be honest in your needs, tailor your list to those needs and then stick to it. Learn and do what I did not.

My purchase was a '54 Ford Jubilee. You saw pictures in the first post. It was gas, it had a live PTO, it didn't have a loader, but it was in decent shape and came at the bargain price of $1,600.00.


IMG_20130908_184753_144.jpg 54 Ford Jubilee. I still own this tractor, just because I like it, not because it meets all my needs.


The reason I bought it is because I had my eye on a loader that was for this tractor (or an 8N variant) and I knew I could get a good deal on it. So I bought it with the intent buying the loader and attaching it and setting it up. I always like a good project anyway.

I got the loader for $300.00! It didn't have the pump but that wasn't a big deal. Here are some pictures of the loader and the process of installing it:


IMG_20130908_185240_832.jpg $300.00 loader. Boy was it heavy, that bucket was an add-on from the original bucket. Did I say it was heavy?


IMG_20130921_190342_713.jpg There was a loader that loaded this loader (if that makes sense) but I didn't have a loader to pull it off so I had to use the tractor to pull it back JUST far enough on the trailer and still be able to hook it up.


IMG_20131010_163057_030.jpg The loader on the tractor. What's that in the back you say? I'll show you in a few pictures.


It worked great for picking apples and lifting really light things up. I would lift really HEAVY things up too, but there was a problem when it did.


The thing that wasn't a must on my list was the most important thing. First, to be honest, the tractor wasn't really made for a loader. The loader was too heavy. In fact it was so heavy that it front loaded the tires. (Guess what, no power steering, THAT better be on the next list!) It was hard to steer and it didn't have any traction on the rear wheels. When I tried to push the loader into the pile of dirt/trash, it would skid out the first 2 inches of soil and just stop. It didn't even dig in because they were basically floating on the rear tires. 2-wheel drive wasn't cutting it at all!


So I did what I do best... improvise!

IMG_20131010_163109_575.jpg Some chains, a blue barrel, a drawbar on the 3 Pt. Lift... and then the magic ingredient...

IMG_20131010_163118_633.jpgBricks. Lots of really heavy bricks. I went to a craigslist house that had them for free and picked up a bunch. I still build stuff with them


Now it was DOUBLY heavy, even harder to steer and still didn't work too well. No traction, no power steering, and the gas powered engine was feeling like it was working harder to move this behemoth around. After getting it stuck in the snow bank while plowing, the tractor couldn't even be pulled out because of where it was. When my buddy with his F-350 4x4 tried pulling it out he almost put the truck into a ditch. It sat there until spring.

That's when I promptly pulled the loader off and sold it and put the tractor back to what it was intended to be.

Now I had a new list... but that's for the next post. Stick with me, once I get to my last (and current) tractor purchase, which I'm STILL tickled about 3 years later) I'll help YOU put your list together and explain some things to watch out for.

God bless and carry on. Don't get side tracked from your goals! Keep pushing and GROW WHERE YOU ARE!

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