This page is designed to pass on some basic information as well as lessons that I've learned over the years that may prove informative and educational to some but possibly trivial to others. If you find any information helpful or if you have any questions about operating a tractor or specific implement please e-mail or call me (509-389-8191) and I'll see if I can be of assistance to you. If you're interested in watching some very helpful videos on Tractors or Implements then here's a link to a great site called EverythingAttachments. This site has proven very helpful even to myself and has videos of how to use hundreds of implements.
1. Purchasing a Tractor? Consider the following.....
The size of your property is a consideration but not the major factor in the tractor size purchased. Many people believe they only need a small 20 hp tractor because they only have 5-10 acres. Within a couple of years they find themselves going back to the dealer and upgrading to a larger one because they realize their misjudgment or they find that their needs have increased. AND tractors have the same or worse trade-in value as cars....little to none. Tractors operate on engine hours running time rather than miles driven so also consider how much use it will get. Most basic homeowners are lucky to accumulate 50-100 hrs per year. I've accumulated over 6000 hrs in 8 years between personal and business use. My trade-in value would be extremely minimum due to the hours in such a short period. The major factor in choosing a tractor will be the amount of work performed and the implements needed to perform the tasks. Most homeowners purchase a tractor for simple tasks such as mowing or moving dirt, bark, rock, etc with the front end loader. Obviously with a small 20-30 hp tractor the implements will be small as well, requiring a bit of time to complete a task of any size. And...most will end up purchasing more and more implements after they realize their value. Typically after one purchases an abundance of implements they start finding more and more new tasks to complete, accumulating more and more hours on the meter and the realization of the need for a bigger tractor sets in because the tasks start getting bigger. My John Deere 3520 is a 37 hp and is great for most tasks I perform both at home at on the job. It's performed well for me over the last 7 years but in 2015 I finally had to upgrade to a larger 66 hp John Deere 4066R because as I stated earlier...jobs started getting bigger. Also consider the ease or difficulty in attaching and/or removing various implements. The front end loader for example. Does it require removing and aligning multiple pins to take on and off or is it modern tractor with "the flip of a lever" such as my John Deere. I looked at four major tractor brands before purchasing my tractor. The John Deere was chosen not only for it's Name and Reputation but for the extreme ease of removing the entire front loader arm system with a few simple steps with the hydraulics and the flip of two levers. No pins, no hassle. The implements available for the front loader arms should be just as easy to attach and remove although these are typically held secure with pins. The John Deere "iMatch" and "AutoHitch" are also a great inventions and huge time savers in attaching and removing (John Deere and Frontier) implements on the rear of the tractor's 3-point system. Both devices attach directly to the 3-point system and allow you to back up and attach almost all atachments available for your tractor. The AutoHitch has an extra feature that connects to the tractors's PTO. Once attached you simply back up the the implement, set a lever to lock the PTO drive to the implement and drive away. I'm sure other tractor manufacturers have attachments of the same sort, just with another name so definitly look into that. They're real time and knuckle savers.
In the end, I personally recommend purchasing a tractor one size larger than you initially believe you'll need but the cost is the obvious major factor here. Such as myself, I one day hope to purchase the John Deere 3720 (with enclosed cab for climate control of course) which is a 43 hp tractor. Good luck when and if you decide to purchase that tractor.
Maintenance cannot be overstated or overdone on a tractor. It's not like a car that's driven on paved roads and garaged for the most part with computers to tell you when the oil needs changed. They do however have computers today to alert you of certain thing which we'll discuss later. Now, consider the conditions the tractor is typically used in. Dirt, dust & mud, grass, manure (equine & cattle), snow. etc. Most components are exposed to these conditions and weather and need constant maintenance to prevent constant repair. Regular oil changes and lube of certain components will keep your tractor working hard for you for a long time. Neglect it and it'll let you know at the most inopportune time....when your in the middle of a job with no one around to help or no way to get it back to a suitable area to repair it. House calls aren't cheap either and you don't see too many tractors being towed to the tractor dealer for repairs. It's usually the dealer coming out ot service it on site or hauling a trailer to bring it back to their shop. Either way...get ready to dig in to your Christmas funds to pay for the repair.
Major maintenance issues are (1) Oil & Filter Changes, (2) Fuel Filter Changes (3) Air Filter changes (3) Lubrication and more. Always follow the manufacturers recommended maintenance schedule. This will vary by manufacture and from tractor to tractor depending on horse power, residential or commercial use.
(1) OIL - The typical oil used in a diesel tractor is 15W-40 for summer operations and 5W-30 for winter. Synthetic oils are also available although they cost a bit more. I personally use synthetic oil due to the amount of work my tractor performs. I personally replace my tractor oil and filter after every 150 hours of use.
(2) FUEL - Since most tractors are diesel powered (3 cylinder typical) you'll need to replace the fuel filter more frequently than a typical gas powered engine. Diesel is known as a "dirty' fuel compared to gas because it's bascially a bi-product of gas and has more "contaminants" remaining in it. This is not a bad thing since the basic difference between a diesel engine and a gasoline engine is that in a diesel engine, the fuel is sprayed into the combustion chambers through fuel injector nozzles just when the air in each chamber has been placed under such great pressure that it’s hot enough to ignite the fuel spontaneously. Therefore known as a combustion engine which can basically burn diesel, veggie oil, peanut oil and certain other oils. FYI; The inventor of the diesel engine (Rudolf Diesel) designed the original one to run on Peanut oil. Diesel is also known to hold water and therefore has a water filter in addition to the fuel filter. The water filter typically has a valve on the bottom that you simply turn to open to release any water accumulated. A good idea is to always run a diesel additive for the following reasons;
■Cleans dirty injectors and prevents injector sticking.
■Boosts cetane — engines run smoother with less power lag and faster cold starts
■Boosts power — reduces need for downshifting during high-load conditions
■Improves fuel economy — fuel savings exceed cost of additive
■Maximum fuel lubrication — protects pumps and injectors from accelerated wear
■Stabilizes stored fuel
■Prevents thermal/oxidative breakdown of diesel fuel — protects against sludge formation
that plugs fuel-filters and injectors
(3) Air Filter(s) - Most tractors today will have two filters. My John Deere 3520 has a Air Filter System that includes an oiled filter with a secondary dry filter that sets over it. The dry filter collects the major "larger" contaminants allowing the oiled filter to catch the remaining finer particles. It is imperative that these filters be cleaned and/or replaced regularly. The outer dry filter can be cleaned by blowing out with compressed air (after each use is optimal) until it's white again. Once you can no longer clean the dry filter out until it return white then it's time to replace it. The inner oiled filter on my JD 2520 is blue. Once the blue fades, typically dark gray or black it's time to replace it as well. Always check your air filters after every use, especially after mowing, front loader work or operating in dusty environements. (4) Lubrication - All tractors have grease fittings also known as Zerk Fittings for greasing certain components to prevent metal-on-metal wear. These should be inspected and greased on a regular basis as per your tractor manufacturer recommendations. When greasing, always grease until you see old grease comming out of the greased component ususally at the ends. Wipe off any excess grease from the component and zerk fitting to prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime on the grease. (5) Radiator Screen - Although the radiatior is maintenance free for the most part it will most likely have a dust screen in front to keep dust, grass and other debree from clogging up the radiator coils. It's important to keep this screen clean by simply removing it from the two hooks holding it in place and shaking it off. If you notice your temperature gauge rising while mowing, plowing snow or working in dusty conditions then it's most likely the screen getting clogged.
NOTE: These are 6 of the more well known additives that can be purchased at several local outlets. Individual research and trial is required to determine which product is best for your needs.
Please remember all the men and women who have served, those currently serving and those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Great Country!
3. The Anatomy of a Tractor
Here I will attempt to familiarize you with the anatomy of a tractor. Although this may seem simple or common sense to many, if you're not familiar with your tractor it can be difficult and frustrating when operating one or even trying to describe a part of function to let's say...the dealer parts associate or mechanic. Most parts of a tractor are typically known by common names but many of the newer tractors of today, with many more operating parts and computers (yes, computerized just like today's new cars) will have parts unknown. Therefore I cannot list and discuss every part possible on a tractor. I will however focus on the most common ones that you will likely put your hands on day to day. My end goal in this section, as well as the following section on Operating a Tractor is to include pictures and video.
Mark 11:24 - Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."