Buying a tractor
Monday, 20 July 2009
Buying a tractor, new or used, could be a significant investment.
If you are about to purchase your first tractor the sheer amount of information can be confusing.
Your first consideration when looking for a tractor is the weather in your area, and the kind of land you have: is it flat, hilly or rolling. Next on the list, based on your budget , you will need to decide if you require special features – such as four-wheel drive.
Tractor power is measured in horsepower and while it is good to know the horsepower of a tractor, it doesn’t really tell you what it can do.
Higher horsepower doesn’t necessarily mean more useable power. Power Take Off (PTO) is the other number you’ll see for a tractor – an indication of the ‘useable’ power the tractor has to have to operate implements. The PTO connects the tractor’s engine to the implement through a rotating shaft at the rear of the tractor.
Transmission choices for your tractor are much the same as on your car. Gear-driven or ‘manual’ transmissions use mechanical systems.
Hydrostatic or ‘automatic’ transmissions use a hydraulic-based system. As you move up in horsepower range, gear-driven transmissions are the most common, as they are the most efficient and reliable for heavy-duty work.
There are three basic categories of gear-type transmissions: Non-synchronized is an economical, reliable choice for mowing or plowing; Partially synchronized is smoother and more flexible than non-synchronized; in Fully synchronized transmission, you can shift gears without stopping the tractor or clutching.
Hydrostatic transmission is usually more expensive. However, it’s the most user-friendly, with instant direction and unlimited speed changes.
At the back of the tractor is a three-point hitch or linkage, and has three mounting points for implements. A Category 0 three-point hitch is for tractors with up to 20 horsepower, Category 1 is for tractors with 20 to 50 horsepower, while Category 2 is for tractors with 50 to 90 horsepower.
Tyres are one of the very important parts to look at when buying a tractor. There are three types of tyres suitable for utility tractors: R1 (ag or bar tread) tyres provide the best traction, but can cause the most ground damage; R3 (turf tread) tyres with less aggressive tread are meant for jobs like mowing and have the least traction; R4 (industrial-tread) tyres have excellent traction, and are softer on turf than R1’s.