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RockyMountainCanadian
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Maybe the ideal homestead tractor is somewhat different than the ideal post collapse tractor.

Post collapse Simplicity is king in the long run. less luxuries means less things to fail or if they fail can they be disengaged to allow the use of the machine until repairs can be found or made. Will one broken hose bring your spring planting to a halt. or can you shut off the hydraulic pump for instance and keep pulling your cultivator.

Just a little food for thought.
 

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For simplicity, I would probably go with an old JD A or B model. That is what I learned on. Not much to break and easy enough to fix. I would want one of the later models with 3pt hitch an live pto. Makes life much easier.
 

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RockyMountainCanadian
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A Deere 50 or 60 (models that grew out of the B & A ) had live pto and could have live hydraulics. John Deere horizontal 2 cylinders all used the same PTO clutch discs, of course the higher HP tractors had more Disc s.
 

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There are several factors I would consider to be very important in choosing a tractor for shtf.

Parts! Are there plentiful parts available for your model in your area or alternatively are many of the parts interchangeable with other models or even types of machine. Any tractor that is not definitively common to the area would not be considered for tshtf unless I were to spend a ton of money on spare parts or a parts machine in entirety. We have the luxury of being able to have multiples but that is not going to be practical for many, obviously.

Fuel. There are a few ways to go here but either having fuel stored up in bulk, the ability to make more yourself, or something that you think might be available in your area after the shtf for sale or barter. Whichever way you go it is certainly something to take into account when picking a machine.

Gas is a pretty simple way to go, it is common in smaller sized machines, can be supplemented with ethanol/methanol that can be produced easily by low-tech means, and conversion to propane is not too difficult, they also start easy in cold weather.

Diesel engines are more reliable, last longer, and are more efficient (there are exceptions of course but this really does overwhelmingly prove to be true). Older models require NO electronics (or even electricity) to run. Biodiesel can be made and/or various oils can be burned instead of the real stuff (of course this usually comes with caveats). Diesel engines can be relatively easily supplemented with propane (caveats).

I would not even consider a diesel that needs electricity to operate for a true shtf machine, just because other solid options are out there, however if someone wanted to there are usually only a few parts. For a gas, it is very worth it to have a spare set of ignition parts imo. Even if your charging system is out of operation a freshly charged battery will go for a long time (trust me we have done it:rolleyes:)

Electric controlled hydraulics are evil.
Digital instrument panels are evil.

Technology can cost much more than it saves, I have seen someone with a $250 000 tractor out of commission for weeks due to the "luxurious air ride seat" not working. Eventually the operator was sitting on a pail in a quarter million dollar tractor:mad: I have also seen a brand new baler sit until all the guy's hay was rained on due to the baler being unable to function without the computer and the dealer having "issues":rolleyes: The list is endless but these are examples of things that were picked as an option and the owner paid thousands of dollars for, only to have it bite them in the behind. Plus, this is today with a functioning society and a machine with warranty.

So, there is lots to consider but my picks for myself are unsurprisingly the same as in the "homestead" category. An older gas tractor like the W-6 that can be crank started easily on one hand. A completely mechanical diesel on the other that can run without any electrical whatsoever if required, like the 4020 (pre- electrical kill switch). Both of these tractors are VERY common in my area and we have multiples, if not then I would find something else.
 

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The 50 and 60 series JDs were good tractors as well. I had forgot about them

The old tricycle fronts ends were so easy to mow hay with. They would turn on a dime.
 

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After the SHTF ... Think horse or ox ... or you ... (SORRY)

Just the way I see it...
 

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A lot of people say to forget about a tractor or similar machinery in a shtf scenario but I just don't get it. Absolutely, I feel one should plan for not having it but in the end why settle for that? Everyone has manual labour to fall back on (unless they get injured) so once that is figured out why not work on keeping the same abilities we have today?

For my situation, animals can easily be put to work for me and I take that option rather seriously, but then again it doesn't cost me. If it did then I might rely even more heavily on machinery.

Realistically, we use machinery almost not at all in the garden (many of our plots have never seen a rototiller or machine) and not all that much otherwise, we could easily transition to none if required. I just have a hard time envisioning the scenario that would require that, certainly not very likely. Noise gets brought up and I agree that's a concern but one that depends very much on how many people are around and what their relationship to you is, if the possibility of not being able to run a machine at all is high then imo you don't have a very good location for survival :dunno: Fuel is an issue but one that is easily dealt with. I just don't get why I would ever be unable to use machines if I found it preferable.
 

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RockyMountainCanadian
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
People spent their entire lives trying to get machinery to work not that long ago, to avoid the toil of animal power and especially human power. In a eat only what you grow situation the current just enough mind set would have to change, planting excess, in case of poor yield or crop failure. The climate that I live in has a very short growing season and every day counts. A friend of ours wife considers her self a gardening expert, and she likes to give people tips on what and how to garden, a lot of her advice is theory and when she tries her book methods she learns that our area is not so bookish, this year she decided to mulch. well mulch works great if you are in slug production and like weeds growing out of your mulch. she built up her own soil from sand (cause they live in an old riverbed) and compost. She doesn't have a job, but she can't grow enough food to live on (mostly because she knows everything already). My wife's garden grows really well, because she actually knows what she is doing, but the soil here in her garden is what nature provided, with composted plant and manure added, it is high in clay and requires tillage, both to break it up and to get the temperature up in the spring. lots of people have tried raised beds and no till methods in this area and unless they build their own soil they end up going back to tillage. A family could scrape by doing the work by hand or they could flourish with the use of machinery.

Draft animals would definitely become part of the plan, but I am too old to put up with the antics of a "spring hot" team of drafts trying to till the garden each spring.

Some climates and soils lend themselves nicely to no till or hand till methods,
Cowboyhermit lives in the same province as I do , he is a long way north and east, and surprise his growing season is about a month longer than ours , even longer if you count the increase in day light hours in spring and early summer. the soil there is way different and more conducive to no till practices.

the whole point of this long winded post is that you need to know your own areas requirements and your own goals, we operate 50 + year old tractors now in a healthy robust economy by choice.
 

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Jack of all trades?
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People who have never been the actual ones using a team of horses to farm with seem to have a romantic idea of what it's like. You can't learn to farm with horses just by watching the Amish do it - they make it look easy. Your learning curve may not be so gentle. I have had folks tell me that just because they taught a horse to drag a log with a rope from the saddle horn that they will be successful animal farmers. Sigh....

People would have never made the move from horses/mules/oxen to machinery unless it meant a BETTER standard of living for them... which it does. My grandfather ***NEVER*** took anything that even resembled a "vacation" until after farm mechanization took place. The difference between the two is really that dramatic.

There is simply no good reason to going back to farm ("non-hobby") with animals. NONE....unless maybe you have 20 kids that can do all the work for you, but I would guarantee they would wish you would simply "buy a tractor already!" as well.

Back on topic...

"Post Collpase", you say? It only needs to last until the fuel is gone. I have a '49 Farmall that's 65 years old and will last who knows how many more. The old stuff is simple, there's tons of it still around to get parts from, and it'll last so many more years anyway.
 

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Rest In Peace
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I have farmed with tractors and with horses. I saw no difference in the amount of work that I DID, only the amount of work that I GOT DONE. With a big enough tractor and equipment, one man can farm hundreds of acres. One man and a team of horses can reasonably farm maybe 80 acres, with most of that not being plowed each year, some in permanent pasture and some in woods and maybe 30 acres in grains each year.

That said, the animal versus tractor power thing is not an issue, if you have any experience with the two of them. For most farming, tractors are the right answer. But for some things, horses are a better answer, notably cultivating tobacco and certain vegetable crops.

In some circumstances doing logging, horses do excel, if it is YOUR woods that you don't want destroyed by log skidders. Doing it with horses will take longer. Much longer. But the results can be very good indeed, in the long term. You can selectively cut and harvest trees without damaging the rest, making for more long term profitability, if you know how to manage a woods for timber stand improvement, versus cutting "all marketable timber" as the logger's contracts say.

Making use of horses productively requires an entirely different mindset and lifestyle. Even with those, most farm work can be done faster and cheaper today with tractors IN OUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES. That could change if some major catastrophe occurred. Like, if the price of petroleum fuels became unaffordable, or unavailable due to war or other reasons. Not as likely as some might imagine, I think, but it could be a consideration.

If horse farming is to work the whole farm must be integrated to the practice. It is NOT as simple as changing from one tractor brand to another. The farm operation must provide the animal feed and do so at a profit. Typically, this means there will not be any continuous corn operations, but what was once called combination farming, with integral livestock and field crops that each support each other. It means getting away from a lot of chemicals and doing a lot of cultivation. It means crop rotations and maintaining healthy soil with actual live bacteria and worms in it, and soil amendments added as needed.

Not one in 100 of today's farmers has a clue what that means. But the local Amish statistically pay more income taxes per acre than conventional farmers. Maybe that just means they are honest? Or, maybe it means they actually make money at it.
 

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Good topic.

To really answer the questions, you need to make some assumptions about the nature of the catastrophe.

With plenty of money, I would suggest having tractors that would run on multiple fuel sources. Some fuels sources make no sense if you would never encounter them in large amounts in your area.

Tractor fuels:
Diesel
Kerosene
Gasoline
Ethanol
Methanol
Drip oil
Heating oil
Propane / LP
Natural Gas
Methane
Biodiesel
Wood charcoal

Possibly others.

Some of these fuels are easily available, others require special considerations, such as the wood charcoal. But if all other fuels were unavailable, a charcoal burning tractor would be a good one to have.

I ditto the commonality of parts things. Don't buy a tractor (and rely on it) that had low production numbers. It can be deceptive-- there were some 60,000 John Deere model G tractors built, but in three very different series, and several subseries. 300,000 model B tractors built, in at least four major subseries, with multiple minor subseries. Some of the parts interchange between subseries, and some do not.

If you have the money to do so, i suggest buying a well-restored tractor of a common model, and then buying as many ugly parts tractors, running, or not, for as cheap as you can, to have around. Remember that tires are a consideration. Be prepared to repair and/or replace tires as time goes on.

Whatever kind of tractor you buy, get common wear-out parts, especially like fan belts, spark plugs, spark plug wires, etc. etc. and preferably have brand new ignition components (if applicable) in an ammo box to protect against EMP or nuclear disasters, if that is part of your prep scenario.

Some good tractor models to consider:
*these models are good for in the US. In other countries, go with what's popular and reliable in your area.

John Deere:
A, B, M series, 40, 50, 60, 70, 420, 520, 620, 720, 430, 530, 630, 730, 4010, 2510, 2520, 3020, 4020, 1530, 2030, 2630, 4240, 4440, 4250, 4450, 2150, 2350, 2550, 2750, 2950, 350C, 450C

International (and Farmall): Cub, A, Super A, 100, 130, 140. Super C, 200, 230, 240. H, Super H, 300. M, Super M, 400, 450. 706, 806, 404. TD-9. 966, 1066

Caterpillar: D2, D3 D4, D5, D6 series up through about 1970.

Ford: 8N, Fordson Major, Power Major, Super Major, 2000, 4000, 5000, 4600, 7000, 8000, 8600.

Allis Chalmers: (grudgingly) WD, WD-45, B, C, CA, G. More enthusiastically, D-14, D-15, D-17, 170, 180, 190 series, 175, 185, HD5, HD6, HD7, HD9, HD10, HD11, HD14, HD15, HD16.

Cletrac: AG/AD, BG/BD, HG.

Oliver: 70, 80, 66, 77, 88, Super 55, Super 66, Super 77, Super 88, 550, 770, 880, 1600, 1800, 1900, 1550, 1650, 1750, 1850, 1950, 1555, 1655, 1755, 1855, 1955, AG/AD, BG/BD, HG, OC-3, OC-4, OC-6, OC-9, OC-12.

Massey Harris:
Pony, 33, 44

Ferguson: All models

Massey Ferguson: 35, 50, 65, 135, 150, 165, 175, 180, 2** series and 3** series

Minneapolis Moline (may be hard to find parts for, but they are tough and basic) Most models are good, but finding parts will be hard unless you live in an area where they are popular.

White: 2-85, 2-105

David Brown: 880, 885, 990, 995

Case: Use only if popular in your area. VC, VAC, SC, DC, 730, 830, 930

Deutz and SAME: Not bad tractors, very simple air-cooled diesels, but you will not be able to get parts unless you keep parts tractors handy. SAME Minitaurus 60 is a phenomenal-performing old tractor if you can get several for parts.

Kubota: High production models only

Yanmar: High production models only.


Stay away from any tractors built by Iseki, or any made in China or eastern Europe. (unless you live there).
 

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tractors will be a "save it for when you REALLY need it" type post-SHTF device .... you'll be needing it to break new ground and spring plowing .... I wouldn't count on a tractor for farming the current modern way .... lots and lots of manual labor post-SHTF ...
 

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This is what my neighbor across the road's pre-SHTF tractor looks like, the same as his post-SHTF tractor. I have a feeling he'll be making mucho dinero post-SHTF, busting sod & cultivating large vegetable gardens.
 

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a steam engine tractor with steering.a disk plow and a drawn plow for it..in which the parts can be made for them..but only if you have the needed metal parts for it.and a blacksmith shop..and of course a horse drawn plow and horse's..i consider both situations the best 2 routes to take.especially when it's finally safe to out and search for more ,well needed metals..
 

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This is what my neighbor across the road's pre-SHTF tractor looks like, the same as his post-SHTF tractor. I have a feeling he'll be making mucho dinero post-SHTF, busting sod & cultivating large vegetable gardens.
Around me, horses are rarely used for ground cultivation but loggers use them for getting their logs out of the woods. Very little ground damage compared to fueled equipment.
 

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Metal will be widely, widely, available. We're awash in steel we don't need, and a lot of it won't fulfil its intended use post-apocalypse anyway.

Steam tractors are an option, if you have the money to buy one and restore or maintain it. Boilers of steam engines are very dangerous, just so you know. Especially if they're over 100 years old. . . .

You want tractors for all the jobs that just make way more sense to use them for. Horses can do a lot, but if you can use the tractor for some things, you'll be better off.

I would say, look for ways to make or store plenty of fuel for your tractor--that's the ticket. Some fuels store better than others-- gasoline being one of the worst for storage.
 

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RockyMountainCanadian
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The OEM s are even preparing older equipment owners to learn to build their own parts or at least find other sources for them with their ridicules parts pricing.

I really don't see the need to move back to the dark ages if the SHTF, people invented mechanized farming when horses were the power source, now we KNOW that mechanization works, surely someone will be wise enough to keep some of it functional, I know I will if I am still alive.
 

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The OEM s are even preparing older equipment owners to learn to build their own parts or at least find other sources for them with their ridicules parts pricing.

I really don't see the need to move back to the dark ages if the SHTF, people invented mechanized farming when horses were the power source, now we KNOW that mechanization works, surely someone will be wise enough to keep some of it functional, I know I will if I am still alive.
One would think ... but I'm not sure ...

As I watch the folks in todays world ...I'm just not seeing it ...:(
 

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Jimoutside,

When we bought the farm, it came with a 1963 Oliver 550 that was pretty raggedy. We traded it in on a new 1975 Oliver 550 and got one of the last 3 made. It was a great little 35HP tractor. The only things I can ever recall replacing on it were the brakes and the battery. We did go through a set of front tires, but that was due to mesquite thorns. We ended up selling it for nearly twice what we gave for it new after owning it for 12 years and putting 2500 hours on it.

I would lean more towards a diesel rather than a gas engine due to the simpler, heavier engine, but your climate may dictate otherwise.

I used a Kubota L39TLB at work, and I was disappointed in the overall cheapness of the thing. Too much of it was lightweight or plastic, and the hydraulic lines to the backhoe were run in a very poor way. It just didn't hold up near as well as the 550, nor was I impressed by the digital instrument cluster on the right side.
 
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