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Hey everyone, it's another tractor post. I see this forum growing in popularity!

So my wife, kids and I bought a place a few months ago. We're looking at getting a tractor that would be useful around the place. Your advice is much needed!

The Job
So we own 12 rural acres in Minnesota. It's surrounded by tilled farm land, typically corn, soybeans and hay-fields. Anything fenced is 8 foot tall woven wire fencing. We have:
  • 3.0 acre pasture (Fenced, High Ground, Grass & Clover)
  • 3.0 acre pasture (Fenced, Low Ground, Creek)
  • 1.5 acre Woods (Fenced, Creek)
  • 0.5 acre Garden (Fenced) - Not all garden yet, getting there
  • 1.0 acre planted mature pine trees
  • 3.0 acres remaining is the house, small barn and some woods

We have chickens but will be expanding livestock. I won't be producing hay, but will likely be buying it. If a tractor can support moving around large round bales, great. Otherwise, I'll buy small square bales. Livestock:
  • Meat Goats (just to eat brush in woods)
  • Feeder Steer or "Baby Beef" Setup
  • Hogs

Here's a list of tasks I'd like this tractor to do. We can't have it all, so I listed them in order.
  1. Front end loader (light work)
  2. Rough mowing
  3. Driveway grading
  4. Garden work, maybe a tiller
  5. Post hole auger & wood splitter
  6. Snow Removal (I have another option here)
I certainly won't be doing any raking, bailing, etc...

The Options
I'm looking for something cheap, definitely under $5,000 and preferably under $3,000. No John Deeres (don't ask why, haha). In my area, I've been finding a lot of these:
  • Farmall M / Super M
  • Farmall H / Super H
  • Ford 8N (looks crazy with a loader)
  • Allis C
  • Allis CA
  • Allis B

What do you guys think? I definitely want a front-end-loader, 3 pt and a PTO. While a live PTO would be nice, I don't think my budget supports that. If I had a transmission PTO, I'd certainly need an overrunning coupler or something along those lines. I don't need power steering, I'm still young enough to fight the steering wheel!

Educate me!
 

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Texian
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The Job
So we own 12 rural acres in Minnesota. It's surrounded by tilled farm land, typically corn, soybeans and hay-fields. Anything fenced is 8 foot tall woven wire fencing. We have:
  • 3.0 acre pasture (Fenced, High Ground, Grass & Clover)
  • 3.0 acre pasture (Fenced, Low Ground, Creek)
  • 1.5 acre Woods (Fenced, Creek)
  • 0.5 acre Garden (Fenced) - Not all garden yet, getting there
  • 1.0 acre planted mature pine trees
  • 3.0 acres remaining is the house, small barn and some woods

We have chickens but will be expanding livestock. I won't be producing hay, but will likely be buying it. If a tractor can support moving around large round bales, great. Otherwise, I'll buy small square bales. Livestock:
  • Meat Goats (just to eat brush in woods)
  • Feeder Steer or "Baby Beef" Setup
  • Hogs

Here's a list of tasks I'd like this tractor to do. We can't have it all, so I listed them in order.
  1. Front end loader (light work)
  2. Rough mowing
  3. Driveway grading
  4. Garden work, maybe a tiller
  5. Post hole auger & wood splitter
  6. Snow Removal (I have another option here)
I certainly won't be doing any raking, bailing, etc...

The Options
I'm looking for something cheap, definitely under $5,000 and preferably under $3,000. No John Deeres (don't ask why, haha). In my area, I've been finding a lot of these:
  • Farmall M / Super M
  • Farmall H / Super H
  • Ford 8N (looks crazy with a loader)
  • Allis C
  • Allis CA
  • Allis B

What do you guys think? I definitely want a front-end-loader, 3 pt and a PTO. While a live PTO would be nice, I don't think my budget supports that. If I had a transmission PTO, I'd certainly need an overrunning coupler or something along those lines. I don't need power steering, I'm still young enough to fight the steering wheel!

Educate me!
Why do you want a front end loader so much? They add a level of complexity and expense that such a small place may not require. Are you planning on moving that much dirt? I'll point out that they're a PITA in confined areas. You can always rent one for a day or two.
There are attachments that will fit a 3 point hitch like a blade or a slip scraper that are good for grading. A dirt scoop (they are reversible) and a blade will substitute for a front end loader.
I'd also recommend some kind of platform or carryall that attaches to the 3 point hitch for carrying people/tools.
There are 3 point hitch attachments for picking up and carrying round bales. You want to make sure that you have enough tractor to carry one.
I suggest going with small bales since you won't have too much livestock and a round bale may rot before very much is eaten. You may also want to have a hay feeder to keep down spoilage.
Post hole diggers are nice, but I don't know that your acreage will justify the expense. If you have to replace a lot of the existing posts, perhaps it is worth it. Otherwise, I'd go with a manual one. You may be able to rent one from a Home Depot or someplace similar.
A small flatbed trailer that attaches to the drawbar might be a good idea if you plan to haul your own hay.
A shredder is nice, but your livestock should keep the grass down.

This link is to a guy in Virginia that uses a couple of small Fords on his property. http://www.myfordtractors.com/usingit.shtml
 

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Jack of all trades?
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8 foot fence?!? Will you be raising deer?

It sounds like you have done a lot of homework on your own.

In this part of Texas, Tractors under 50 HP with a 3pt and PTO command a premium. Most are $4,000 and up. Alternatively, Farmall H's and 8N's sell for under $1000 all the time.

I found a used post hole digger for $100 that needed u-joints. I'd never buy a new one unless I planned on 1000+ holes.

A tiller is expensive to buy, expensive to maintain, and not that useful - MOST tractors won't drive slow enough (creeper gear needed). Some people have success using a "forward rotation" tiller and just leave the tractor in neutral and let the tiller push it along, using the brakes to control forward speed. For the same reason, most 3pt snow-blowers are also worthless.

I use a loader enough that's it tough to live life without one. The attachments Marcus posted & listed combined will do most of what a loader will do, in addition to buying a 3pt "boom pole" with a winch and you can do about 90% of what a loader can do.

ANYTHING Deere is overpriced.
International 340, 350, 404, 450, 460, 504, 560 and 544 are preferred.
Massey 35, 135, 235, 245 is nifty little unit.
Allis D-15 (Series II) or D-17

I don't care much for Ford 2N, 8N & 9N... and Ferguson (TO-20, TO-30) tractors.

 

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Allis and Massey are generally pretty good tractors. Fords, I would run from. IMO they are underpowered and geared way to high. I've known several folks who have had them and none really cared for them.
I have a Duetz (air cooled) that's been in the family since the 70's. It has 4 speeds (Lo and Hi range) and will go from very slow to about 20mph for what little road use it would need. 3pt hitch and live PTO.
I also agree a grader blade, pond bucket, and boom pole will do most of what most folks will need. A loader is nice for certain task that nothing else will perform. Also be aware that hauler heavy loads on a front end loader will cause heavy wear and early failure of the front end of most tractors.
BTW, I love the sounds of your property.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Why do you want a front end loader so much? They add a level of complexity and expense that such a small place may not require. Are you planning on moving that much dirt? I'll point out that they're a PITA in confined areas. You can always rent one for a day or two.
There are attachments that will fit a 3 point hitch like a blade or a slip scraper that are good for grading. A dirt scoop (they are reversible) and a blade will substitute for a front end loader.
I'd also recommend some kind of platform or carryall that attaches to the 3 point hitch for carrying people/tools.
There are 3 point hitch attachments for picking up and carrying round bales. You want to make sure that you have enough tractor to carry one.
I suggest going with small bales since you won't have too much livestock and a round bale may rot before very much is eaten. You may also want to have a hay feeder to keep down spoilage.
Post hole diggers are nice, but I don't know that your acreage will justify the expense. If you have to replace a lot of the existing posts, perhaps it is worth it. Otherwise, I'd go with a manual one. You may be able to rent one from a Home Depot or someplace similar.
A small flatbed trailer that attaches to the drawbar might be a good idea if you plan to haul your own hay.
A shredder is nice, but your livestock should keep the grass down.

This link is to a guy in Virginia that uses a couple of small Fords on his property. http://www.myfordtractors.com/usingit.shtml
I think your response on the front end loader is pretty beneficial. Often times, we just assume we need one! We really won't be moving much dirt at all. I could see a boom pole coming in handy. I do have 8ft fencing that needs some replacement. A boom pole might do nice yanking those up.

Ill definitely use small square bales.

I may rent a post hole Auger. I have about 50 posts to replace.

I will check out the Ford guy.

8 foot fence?!? Will you be raising deer?

It sounds like you have done a lot of homework on your own.

In this part of Texas, Tractors under 50 HP with a 3pt and PTO command a premium. Most are $4,000 and up. Alternatively, Farmall H's and 8N's sell for under $1000 all the time.

I found a used post hole digger for $100 that needed u-joints. I'd never buy a new one unless I planned on 1000+ holes.

A tiller is expensive to buy, expensive to maintain, and not that useful - MOST tractors won't drive slow enough (creeper gear needed). Some people have success using a "forward rotation" tiller and just leave the tractor in neutral and let the tiller push it along, using the brakes to control forward speed. For the same reason, most 3pt snow-blowers are also worthless.

I use a loader enough that's it tough to live life without one. The attachments Marcus posted & listed combined will do most of what a loader will do, in addition to buying a 3pt "boom pole" with a winch and you can do about 90% of what a loader can do.

ANYTHING Deere is overpriced.
International 340, 350, 404, 450, 460, 504, 560 and 544 are preferred.
Massey 35, 135, 235, 245 is nifty little unit.
Allis D-15 (Series II) or D-17

I don't care much for Ford 2N, 8N & 9N... and Ferguson (TO-20, TO-30) tractors.

The place used to be an elk Farm. I wouldn't mind having deer or other cervids, but more room would be nice. They're pretty low maintenance.

For $1,000 8n I could drive down there and get one haha.

What are you using the loader for?

I agree on overpriced Deere.

Allis and Massey are generally pretty good tractors. Fords, I would run from. IMO they are underpowered and geared way to high. I've known several folks who have had them and none really cared for them.
I have a Duetz (air cooled) that's been in the family since the 70's. It has 4 speeds (Lo and Hi range) and will go from very slow to about 20mph for what little road use it would need. 3pt hitch and live PTO.
I also agree a grader blade, pond bucket, and boom pole will do most of what most folks will need. A loader is nice for certain task that nothing else will perform. Also be aware that hauler heavy loads on a front end loader will cause heavy wear and early failure of the front end of most tractors.
BTW, I love the sounds of your property.
Thanks for the info. I've never seen a boom pole before (and I insure farms). I'll have to look around!
 

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Years ago when we had a Ford 4000 diesel, with a front end loader, that front end loader got me out of mud problems a few times while plowing, was a real plus to have. I did borrow discs a few times and it's amazing how good of a job it does prepping for planting, actually, just as good as a rototiller and at a lot less cost and upkeep. We paid $5,000 for that 1964 tractor in the 1980's, the main reason we sold it was that it had a Select-O-speed or something like that, transmission, which though it worked great, I believe getting parts for it might be harder to do as time goes on. Four speed manuals with Hi and Lo range are hard to beat, so is having a diesel engine, but they will increase the cost considerably. Cold weather could be an issue for starting them as well, unless they are kept inside a warm garage.
 

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An auger is an expense that is too much for me... Have you considered metal T posts? A lot of work driving them in but do-able... I put up a new 4 strand barb wire fence back in late winter, about 2000ft. I had a few days of sore shoulders... lol.

I agree with the others about a front end loader. I have one but bale my own round bales and run a lot more cattle than you plan to. For the livestock you plan to run square bales are the best bet.

I remember the photo’s of your place, looks good. I’d recommend only buying what you need as you go. No need to buy a lot of equipment up front only to find you don’t need it later. You’re out in farming county, in a pinch hire out a neighbor and his equipment for a day or two a year.

No bigger than your property is I'd go slow... figure out what you really need as you go. This summer and fall... hire out bush hogging or dirt moving. By spring you'll have a much better idea of what your tractor and equipment requirements really are. For 12 acres... maybe a shovel, wheel barrow and a good deck mower is all you need. I'm not being critical, just suggesting caution... :)
 

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The reason for my advice… A few years ago a life long friend bought 17 acres, similar to your situation, similar reasoning, same part of the country. To save $4k on the price (against my advice) he gave up an early 60’s IH diesel (60hp range) w/bush hog, w/box blade, w/gang disk etc.

His reasoning… sound… to much tractor for the property. My reasoning, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth! 4K! come on!

He thought his deck mower from his suburban home could handle the grass (not running livestock on 14 acres of grass). Now he’s gone out and spent $15K on a JD 4WD mini tractor and assorted…

Don’t rush… In farm country you already have all the equipment you would ever need for 12 acres, your neighbors, just go slow and figure it out as you go along.
 

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RockyMountainCanadian
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Front end loaders are way over rated, and weak,
The Ford "N" series tractors have pretty tall gears and that makes them a bit of a pain.
A 3 point hitch is almost a necessity on a small acreage tractor, Green paint is expensive and the good tractors are pretty cumbersome.
Ideally find something that is pretty common to your area.
 

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Texian
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I may rent a post hole Auger. I have about 50 posts to replace.

The place used to be an elk Farm. I wouldn't mind having deer or other cervids, but more room would be nice. They're pretty low maintenance.

Thanks for the info. I've never seen a boom pole before (and I insure farms). I'll have to look around!
We had an A frame for our tractor, but I bet we didn't use it more than a handful of times in 15 years. It's good for lifting heavy stuff, but we had two old logging chains that came with the place. One was about 15' long with a single hook and the other was about 20' long with two hooks. We'd drag stuff we wanted moved. The links were about 4" and the long one took two people to carry it. You could hook it around what needed moving and hook or bolt it to the tractor drawbar. BTW, you may want to get an extra old drawbar just for pulling heavy stuff.

An auger is an expense that is too much for me... Have you considered metal T posts? A lot of work driving them in but do-able... I put up a new 4 strand barb wire fence back in late winter, about 2000ft. I had a few days of sore shoulders... lol.

I'd recommend only buying what you need as you go. No need to buy a lot of equipment up front only to find you don't need it later. You're out in farming county, in a pinch hire out a neighbor and his equipment for a day or two a year.

No bigger than your property is I'd go slow... figure out what you really need as you go. This summer and fall... hire out bush hogging or dirt moving. By spring you'll have a much better idea of what your tractor and equipment requirements really are. For 12 acres... maybe a shovel, wheel barrow and a good deck mower is all you need. I'm not being critical, just suggesting caution... :)
Very sound advice from cotton. Very sound advice.

The only reason we had a post hole digger was that it came with the place when we bought it.

I started to mention T posts, but I didn't understand the reasoning for the 8' fence. Now that I do, I agree with cotton about using them. There are manual T post drivers that will allow you to drive posts in a couple of minutes. Since you already have the fence up, you'll also need someone to help by pushing the fence out while you're driving the posts. T post clips and a clip bender are required. Down here in Texas, most people put 2 or 3 T posts between every wood or pipe post. So you'll need a wood/pipe post every 75-100' with T posts every 25' in between. Terrain is what dictates how and where you must use wood/pipe posts in most cases since going up or down or doglegging requires stouter posts.

I am assuming the 8' fence is net wire like in the image or rather two layers of it. One layer is enough for cattle with one or two strands of barbed wire on top. You put the barbed wire to keep cattle from reaching over the net wire and eventually pushing it down. You'll need barbed wire fence spacers between your posts to hold up the barbed wire.

Your fence H's and your L's (corners) need to be either pipe or crossties set in concrete since they take most of the strain of the fence. I'm not talking landscape crossties either but real railroad crossties.

When you buy a place, you're getting the last owner's implementation of his vision. One of the things you got with your place was a very expensive fence. If I was in your place, I would slowly re-purpose that extra layer of net fence and use it as replacement fencing on the bottom layer as needed. Then I would put up two strands of barbed wire in its place. The good news is you'll probably never have to buy any net wire and barbed wire is cheap by comparison.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Tons of good advice from folks!

As far as the fencing, it's 8ft woven wire on 5" treated posts about every 8 feet. If I had to build it new, it wouldn't be what it is. But I'll probably maintain it as it is.

I could definitely see adding barbed wire though!
 

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Not having a FEL would be a major issue, for me, but in a situation like yours it might only be a minor inconvenience at times. Unloading/loading things on trucks and trailers would be the biggest issue for me but many people only rarely do that anyways. At that price point and size a FEL will have some limitations too, as others have mentioned, might be a very good idea to skip.

There are often easy ways to get around things like this, for instance;

... I could see a boom pole coming in handy. I do have 8ft fencing that needs some replacement. A boom pole might do nice yanking those up.
For pulling posts without a FEL, just grab an old tire rim and set it against the base of the post, run a chain to the bottom of the post over the rim, pull with truck or tractor. Rinse, repeat. With a helper (standing well outside the line of bight) it can sometimes be nearly as fast as a loader. Of course a jack-all works too.

There are similar ways of accomplishing most tasks.

Property sounds great btw, I like fences :)
 

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Jack of all trades?
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For $1,000 8n I could drive down there and get one haha.
No body wants them - they are only good for mowing & horse arena work. My F-I-L has a Ferguson TO-20 with a loader on it, and it's OK but the 3 point is worthless (up & down only - no in between). I think he gave $2500 with a fresh engine and crappy tires.

I have bought running Farmall C's and H's for under $500 around here. M's got for $800 if decent.

For pulling posts without a FEL, just grab an old tire rim and set it against the base of the post (standing vertically), run a chain to the bottom of the post over the rim, pull with truck or tractor.
An old local man here in Texas uses a large (32"? 34"?) rim and pulls up mesquite trees this way (with a PTO driven winch)
 

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RockyMountainCanadian
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I would lean toward an IH letter series for dependability and reparability.

even if you had to add a three point style hitch, for most stuff you don't need draft sensing anyway.
 

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random gibberish
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If I were looking for a tractor, I'd be looking for an older diesel around 50hp with live hydraulics, live PTO, and a two stage clutch. A FEL is a really nice bonus, but not a necessity. You can pull posts with a hi-lift jack. I would not buy a Ford 8n/9n for any reason.

My uncle has a 5 or 6 foot PTO drive tiller that gets a lot of use in the spring behind a Massey 165 diesel. If you're going to put in a lot of garden, you won't find an easier way to till at the start of the season. If you're only putting in a small garden, just buy a high quality walk behind tiller.
 

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I started to mention T posts, but I didn't understand the reasoning for the 8' fence. Now that I do, I agree with cotton about using them. There are manual T post drivers that will allow you to drive posts in a couple of minutes. Since you already have the fence up, you'll also need someone to help by pushing the fence out while you're driving the posts. T post clips and a clip bender are required.
Sort of funny after I finished the fence last winter my friend up north with the 17 acres sent me "The Clip Bender" you can get one from Tractor supply… http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/clip-bender or Amazon.

It's the best thing since sliced bread if you use T Posts. It's not an intuitive tool so if you're not handy, watch the youtube video demonstrations (google them). I'm always replacing a fence post somewhere. This tool is in my fence bucket! :congrat:

Also, last winter I was building a new fence through old timber, marketable timber. You don't want nails of any type in marketable trees. Yet every 100 to 150ft there was a sourwood or some other useless tree I could anchor to. I had to zig zag a bit but a nice beach or white oak is worth big $$$.
 

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I've farmed with and without tractors. Currently without and it'll probably stay that way as we are flat broke and likely to stay broke. Back in the day when I did have a tractor the most used and useful implement I had was a front end loader. I liked to make compost in ten ton lots, to spread masses of organic matter all over the garden and a loader was a blessing. For more than ten years I ran a plant nursery and had to move and mix tons of potting mix. I got bark by the 40 cubic yard load and bark forks on the loader could move it around in an afternoon. I got 40 cubic yard loads of manure from the local dairies (one year 17 loads), could never have moved it if not for the loader.
Like all farm tools it depends on what you are doing, the methods you use, the lay of the land and the budget you have. If I could have any piece of machinery here it'd be a front end loader , I know from experience how far it would go to make up for my disabilities.
 

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Texian
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Sort of funny after I finished the fence last winter my friend up north with the 17 acres sent me "The Clip Bender" you can get one from Tractor supply… http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/clip-bender or Amazon.

It's the best thing since sliced bread if you use T Posts. It's not an intuitive tool so if you're not handy, watch the youtube video demonstrations (google them). I'm always replacing a fence post somewhere. This tool is in my fence bucket! :congrat:
Back when I was in high school, our FFA chapter sold this T post tool that pulled the fence tight around the T post so the clips would be easy to attach. It also came with a little metal bar with a hole in it for twisting the clips tight. I've never seen it anywhere else and it was a simple yet very effective tool.
All it consisted of was a square metal tube with a notch cut in one end to fit on the T post. There was a collar with 2 metal rods attached. The rods had hooks on the end to pull against the wire. The tube had serrations on one side that would catch and hold the collar. All you did was adjust the collar on the serrations to pull the fence about halfway to the back of the T post then push down the tube down to horizontal and attach the clips. The little metal bar was small enough the fit between the mesh when tightening the clips. It only took 15-20 seconds per clip. When you let off on the tube, the fence was real tight against the T post.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Back when I was in high school, our FFA chapter sold this T post tool that pulled the fence tight around the T post so the clips would be easy to attach. It also came with a little metal bar with a hole in it for twisting the clips tight. I've never seen it anywhere else and it was a simple yet very effective tool.
All it consisted of was a square metal tube with a notch cut in one end to fit on the T post. There was a collar with 2 metal rods attached. The rods had hooks on the end to pull against the wire. The tube had serrations on one side that would catch and hold the collar. All you did was adjust the collar on the serrations to pull the fence about halfway to the back of the T post then push down the tube down to horizontal and attach the clips. The little metal bar was small enough the fit between the mesh when tightening the clips. It only took 15-20 seconds per clip. When you let off on the tube, the fence was real tight against the T post.
I would love to find one of those!
 

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Have you considered a skid steer? I was looking for a small tractor a few year ago and landed on a Bobcat skid steer. Does everything I want. I have a 8N with a loader that I would give away but no one wants it. Anyway, buy bigger that what you want because you will regret getting something that won't work good for you.
 
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