Monday, February 02, 2009

What Good is a Farm Without a Tractor?

That is a question that I asked on the Epi-Log a while ago. At the time I was just getting a tractor for our farm and I really didn't ever have to find out what life on the farm would be like without a tractor. But, now I am going to find out ... through personal experience! Yep, our tractor is officially broke and as of yesterday it is officially off of the farm. We are now going to assess the tractor and then figure out what step is next.

The worst of it all is that I was just really beginning to get the full winter potential out of the tractor because of the bale spear we bought. That spear really helped with the winter chores and would have been even more helpful as we transition from winter to spring. It is just so much easier to lift a bale off the ground and haul it rather than dragging it through the mud with our Expedition.

Anyways, this is what I know is wrong ... the engine is stuck ... really good. We have taken the pan off and checked underneath and now that the tractor is off the farm (it is at my cousin's where we can work on it inside) we are going to be able to really tear into and hopefully find a problem. If all goes well it won't be the worst case scenario and it will be something that can be fixed for less than $1,500. But, it could be really bad!

So, this is what I have come up with for possible solutions:
  • The engine is stuck, but things are torn up so much that we can do a partial rebuild and not spend our lives away.
  • The engine is stuck really bad and isn't worth fixing so we find another Farmall 450 engine and put it in the tractor. There are a couple other engine options we could look for also (400, M, etc.)
  • The engine is stuck really bad and isn't worth fixing so we find another Farmall 450 tractor. Preferablly we find a narrow front tractor with a drawbar. That way it may cost a bit less and then we can swap over the wide front, three-point, and the loader. Eventually selling off our current tractor bit by bit.
  • The engine is stuck really bad and isn't worth fixing so we borrow my dad's Minneapolis Moline M5 and pray that the loader and thee-point can be cobbled to fit it. I would have to swap the hydraulics ever time I wanted to use the three-point or loader, but it could work. There is a little bit of mechanical work still to do on the M5 though.
  • And finally, the engine is stuck really bad and isn't worth fixing so we cut bait and run ... errr ... we just by a completely different tractor. In buying a new tractor we piece out the current Farmall 450 and sell everything by the part. The wide front, three-point, and loader are all worth more by themselves than the complete tractor would be.
So, there you have it. Tractor problems abound on our farm. I will keep you updated on life without a tractor, but for now I have to jump in the SUV and go take a bale to the cows...

9 comments:

BlueGate said...

Not sure if you already know about them, but you might check with Pollards over at Oakley. They have a tractor salvage where you might find some parts you are looking for.

Jena said...

We put $7000 in to our JD 4010 last summer. We were saving for a new tractor in case ours broke during hay season and what do ya know... it broke during hay season. While it was split we had just about everything replaced so (knock on wood) we shouldn't have to worry for awhile.

I would suggest that if they (or you) have to take it all apart you might as well fix a lot while you're at it, if possible. It would be a waste of time to take it back apart later for something small.

Rich said...

If you already have a 3-point bale spear, a simple round bale mover (similar to this one:
http://www.oldinc.com/balebuster.htm)
could be built by mounting a drawbar to a salvaged axle, adding some brackets for the lower mounts of the bale spear on the axle, and then adding some sort of hand winch or come-along.

Ethan Book said...

Blue Gate - Thanks for the tip on Pollards. I'll have to check with them.

Jena - If we do a rebuild or partial, or even take the engine out we will redo the clutch, the TA, and everything else. If we went to that trouble I want it to run like it did 50 years ago!

Rich - Thanks for that tip...

Mama Podkayne said...

RIght there with you. Our Ford broke down in the driveway plowing snow last week. Similar questions abound, though a mechanic friend told us we are now the proud owners of a life sized tractor shaped boat anchor.

DB300 said...

If you fix it now in the long run you will know what you have instead of getting something you don't know the history of. There are a lot of places to get engine parts like www.valu-bilt.com or salvage yards. If you are going to use a loader stay away from a narrow front tractor not as stable as a wide front.

crzykbdplyr said...

www.waltstractors.com

Its a good place. I bought the rebuild parts for my MF250 from them, and they were very courteous, knowledgeable and helpful on the phone. It looks like they have parts for your model of tractor as well, as I summarily checked (although the parts for yours are a bit more expensive than mine were)

The prices you'll pay for some wrench time yourself on your tractor, make fixing it worthwhile since you then know its history and condition intimately, instead of buying the unknown - plus its alot cheaper to rebuild yours than it would be to go out and purchase another used tractor, and take the chance of having to fix something in a year anyway.

PS: I saw fully reconditioned motors for your tractor on their site, but if you can get away with it, I would try to fix yours instead, depending on what's wrong, it might save you quite a bit of money.

inadvertent farmer said...

I ask myself that exact question every time I clean out the stable from the camel...ughhh I need a tractor! Kim

Anonymous said...

That's why when I start my farm I'll most likely be working with a team of horses. You don't have to find hard to replace parts for them and they give back to the land with their manure as fertilizer. I just think it is much more profitable. I realize this isn't for everyone and their needs though and wish you luck in fixing your tractor.

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