July 2, 2015

Farm Tractor

A little over a month ago, I told you about the demise of our walk-behind tractor. Not being able to find parts was a problem, and that got us discussing simplifying our workload as we get older. Dan didn't call it "The Beast" for nothing.  

Long story short, this -


It's a Ford 861, which was not only in our price range, but actually started right up and ran when Dan went to look at it.

One thing that helped with the "which one do we get" decision was a book by the Brown brothers, Your First Tractor: Purchase, Operation and Service. It gives pointers on what to look for, what to avoid, and discusses different makes and models from a repair point of view. For example, some years saw specific problems in either design or manufacturing which were later corrected, or not.

Another useful resource is a website called TractorData.com. It has sections for both farm tractors and lawn tractors, giving specifics for almost every make and model out there. For example, ours is here.

Dan haggled down the price a bit and even got delivery thrown in for free. Even though it is in better shape than everything else he's looked at, it still needs some work.

Dan had to replace some parts for the life and stabilizer bars. The lift
lifts the implement off the ground for transport, and the stabilizer bars
keep the implement in line while in use rather than bouncing around.

Fords are common tractors here (old ones anyway), so parts will hopefully be fairly easy to find. If not, there are several sites that offer parts due to hobbyists enthusiasm for restoring old tractors and keeping them running.

Secretly, I think Dan would still rather have a draft horse, although that option is neither feasible nor realistic for us. If he can convert this gasoline tractor to a wood gasifier, it has the potential to be quite a mechanical work horse for us. Not only in terms of field work and pulling things (like maybe we can now make some portable animal housing on skids), but also the power take off (PTO).



All manner of equipment can be powered from this: saw mills, mixers, post hole diggers, log splitter, you name it. It's just a matter of being able to find it.

Finding the attachments and implements will be the challenge. We live in an area where the most common use for farm tractors is either mowing or brush hogging. Still, it's not completely uncommon for someone to be selling off daddy's or granddaddy's old tractor and equipment. As long as they aren't selling them as antiques, vintage, or collectors items, prices can be pretty fair. Time will tell on that one.

So there you have it. Dan even thinks I can learn to operate it. Me, one of the original non-mechanical, hand tool only, ex-flower children? We'll have to see about that.

Farm Tractor © July 2015 by Leigh

33 comments:

  1. Oh go on Leigh, it will be fun.

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  2. Hello Leigh, I think it is wonderful that you found a good working tractor. Even these older models can be quite expensive. We only have an acre, but our dream is so similar to yours and we love our little place in the country. I think having a tractor would be wonderful. I can see it being great for plowing snow in the winter, not to mention old fashioned hay rides. Having a family get together that included a hay ride would be an event to remember for everyone:)
    Happy gardening!
    Connie :)

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    1. Connie, I haven't even thought about hay rides. Our little granddaughters would love that! Now I have to add a wagon to my tractor wish list. :)

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  3. An 861 is about the best choice of tractor out there especially if it is the only tractor you have. My 861 is a diesel but looks to be the same year. Live PTO and external hydraulics can't be beat. For most all around work on the farm I use my 8N more than the 861 BUT the important stuff almost requires a live PTO so if I had only one to choose from it would be the 861.

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    1. PP, that makes me feel like we definitely got the right one! We originally looked at smaller tractors because our acreage is so small, but I'm glad we got this one. Dan's working on tuning it up and replacing things like gaskets, etc. The gasifier will be this winter's project!

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  4. There's a huge flea market in Murphy, N. C. that I go to sometimes. Let me know exactly what parts you need and I will photograph anything that looks like it might be right and send you contact info for the seller. There is also a huge farm machinery dealer nearby.

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    1. Harry, I didn't know about that flea market, thanks! We need to get a realistic wish list, and then anything you come across would be a big help!

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  5. the old ones keep up with the new ones in my experience! Check out my blog today and see what I mean! I doubt you'll regret your purchase, it'll make so many jobs easier. You need a front end loader now!

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    1. Kev, Dan would love a front end loader! Ones that came with that were considerably out of our price range, unfortunately.

      Your hay post made me amazingly happy. There's just something about seeing all that grass being put to good use. It kills me to watch folks only mow around here. All that critter food going to waste.

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  6. Martin has his Kubuto and has been getting attachments for it over the year his latest being the forks he as been storing all our winter wood on pallets and now he can move the pallets when needed, he loves his little tractor I still havent had a go on it, I am happy with the quad.
    I think most men hanker over a tractor, ours runs on diesel so he buys red diesel for it which is a lot cheaper and is for agricultural equipment

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    1. Dan deliberated about gasoline versus diesel, but in the end we got what was available! Forks would be a great addition. It's great to eventually find those attachments, isn't it?

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  7. RMan had the same problem with the stabilizer - and also had to make a plan ;) The price of tractor attachments is wicked, isn't it!!

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    1. It's terrible! So thankful for the occasional used one. Just have to keep looking. :)

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  8. Nice buy Leigh. We were given a 1958 Fordson Major in need of repair many years ago. David spent a good year sourcing parts and getting it up and running.It's a bit of a monster for our two acres but it's part of the family now!

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    1. Even two acres needs a little help! I'm guessing you couldn't imagine being without it now.

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  9. Congratulations! You are going to love the work a tractor can do.

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  10. Good for you guys! If I can learn to operate a stick drive zero turn radius lawn mower you can learn to operate that tractor. You'll be an old pro before you know it.

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    1. LOL. It would definitely be a help for me to be able to operate it too.

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  11. Leigh,

    Great investment buying an older solid tractor like the one you purchased. These babies will last you a lifetime, and will be around beyond your years. I think you'll enjoy driving it if you can get Dan away from it, LOL!!!!

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    1. Sandy, that's exactly right. The older ones are definitely more sturdy and easier to fix. And no plastic parts!

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  12. Congratulations on your great find! I hope you get many years of great use out of it. :D

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  13. Oh, what you will find is the speed that you get things done will blow your mind. AND he won't be dog tired at the end!
    Yea!

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    1. And that, is exactly the point! :0

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  14. Leigh, I'm so happy you found a suitable tractor. I think you'll like that old Ford. One of the nice things about that vintage, and especially that vintage Ford, is that nearly all the maintenance and repair work can be done with a small set of common sized tools. No custom tools, odd sizes or $200 specialty tools to install a $25 part I will say that if Dan's not already a decent welder, he will find that a handy skill as you find and fix the attachments you'll use to get your 'tractor work' done.

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    1. Mark, excellent point! Dan does weld, although he laments that his work doesn't look "professional", in his eyes anyway. It's a great skill to have.

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  15. Hi Leigh, I am glad that you were able to find a tractor and hope you can find the parts you need easily. My little place would not be large enough for a tractor but we had a tractor growing up on the farm. I am sure yous will enjoy yours. Nancy

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  16. You are going to love your tractor!!! We have HUGE tractors here on the ranch and just recently got an itty-bitty one for the almond orchard...as so as I saw it I fell in LOVE...CUTE! I can't wait for the end of the season so I can get my hands on it and chop the weeds in my fruit orchard, work in some organic compost and smooth out the rough spots: Yahoo!

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    1. oops...fast fingers..."as SOON as I saw it...

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    2. And some of them are so huge! Sounds like your small one will be perfect for the orchard. :)

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