May 15, 2014

A 2-Wheel Tractor & A Thank You

First, our newest homestead acquisition

1967 Simplicity Model W Walking Tractor, once sold by Montgomery Ward.
Shown with plow attachment, ours has a Briggs & Stratton 8 hp engine.

We have been looking for one of these for years! Not specifically this make or model (1967 Simplicity Model W Walking Tractor), but we have been wanting a 2-wheel (AKA walk-behind or walking) tractor. Finally, all things worked together: price, funds, location, availability, and in good working order! The bonus was that it came with quite a few implements and original owners manuals.

For photos from old ads, click here.
For original catalog product description, click here.

2-wheel tractors were once commonly used and commonly available; they still are in other parts of the world. They are the perfect working tractor for small acreage like ours, and especially for some of the small spaces we want to use for growing (see "The Lawn Has Got To Go").

We found ours on Craigslist. For $1000 it included a rotary snow thrower, snow plow, scraper blade, cultivator, garden tiller, rotary lawn mower, wheel weights, and two turn plows. Of course we have no use for the snow thrower, but Dan found that the snow plow was excellent for pushing piles of wood chip mulch around. The mower is pretty rusted out, but we wouldn't use that anyway. Of the two turn plows, one was an old one which didn't even go with this tractor (different hitch). The one that did go with it was missing a part, the coulter.

The coulter was missing so Dan made his own from a saw blade.

The coulter is the round disc you see in the above photo. It makes a vertical cut in the soil ahead of the plowshare. Not all plows have coulters, it's benefit being a cleaner cut by the plowshare. The coulter also loosens the soil, allowing the plow to undercut the furrow made by the coulter. Dan made this one from a table saw blade. It works but the challenge is mounting it to the bracket so the blade will turn (something he's still tweaking).

So how does it do?

This is where my winter wheat was growing.

The next step is to break the large clumps into smaller loose ones. For this we need a disc harrow, which didn't come with the tractor. Sometimes these come up on Craigslist, but with a little internet searching, we found a suitable one we were able to order from Sears (can you believe it?).

Brinly-Hardy Disk Harrow. Can even be used with an ATV!

This one has a sleeve hitch, which Dan can adapt. For extra weight, cinder blocks fit in the bracket on top. We got free shipping to an area Sears store and we should have it within the week!

Interested in more information? For a really good article on gardening with a walk-behind tractor, see Garden Tractor Gardening at End Times Report (thanks Matt).

Now the thank you. A tractor of any sort has seemed impossible to us because even used ones are expensive. Like so many others, we struggle paycheck to paycheck, forever trying to be good stewards of the little money we have. Dan's lost his job a couple of times and while it was reassuring to see our level of preparedness, those times didn't leave us any better off financially. I could have put a "tip jar" on my side bar, or a donation link, but I opted to earn it. Most of the money to buy our new-to-us walk-behind tractor came from royalties from my book. If you purchased a copy, you helped us buy this tractor! For that, I give you my most heartfelt thanks. I determined that all the money I earn will be invested in our homestead. Thank you so much for being a part of that.


Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

What an exciting purchase. I look forward to hearing if it meets your expectations and what you use it for.

Dani said...

Oh, that walk behind tractor with implements looks wonderful :) RMan has just been through his first land cultivation in order to grow oat hay for the alpacas, and he was short of the disc harrow.

Congrats Leigh - it sounds like your book is selling well - so happy for you - you deserve it :)

Anonymous said...

You have purchased a good one which is very much useful for gardening!

Unknown said...

More boy's toys, or do you get to play. Well done with the book sales. Im off to buy it so you can buy something else.

Leigh said...

Fiona, it's primary use will be preparing soil for growing grain, hay, or pasture, up to an acre. The other implements will be very handy as well; for example, our dirt and gravel driveway is getting very worn down in the tire tracks leaving a growing ridge of hard dirt down the middle. Pretty soon our vehicles will bottom out if we don't level it LOL

Dani, thank you! Book sales are nearing 1000! It's hard to believe. We're right there with you on hay growing for the animals. I hope implements are easier to find in South Africa than they are here.

Weekend-Windup, thank you!

Lynda, I think it's too big for me to want to try (just a hand tool gal at heart). Dan really had to muscle it in getting that small area plowed. Hit a rock or a root with the plow blade and it could throw you flying head over heels!

Unknown said...

Too funny, it would take a US tornado to throw me. Im usually the work horse around here. I got your book but it wont arrive till June. Boo Hoo. AUD23 - not sure how much of that you get.

Unknown said...

OK I am completely jealous! I'm not comfortable driving our "big" tractor and have been looking for a reasonably priced walk behind for a while. When I do run across one, the price is always out of my budget range.

Leigh said...

Lynda, LOL. I confess I'm not a power tool person. :)

Thank you for buying my book! I hope you'll consider doing a review. If you bought it through a non-Amazon site, then I'll get about $1 US for it. No, not much, but I never figured to make a fortune, but I am thankful for what it does earn. Still, better to get it into the hands of folks as an encouragement and homestead resource.

Luci, I hear you! If you can find something with all the controls on the handle bars, Dan said that would be easiest to operate. This one isn't set up that way so that when the gear engages, it does so with a kick. David Bradley was one make we looked at, a little smaller with less horse power, but probably easier to handle.

Carl Belken said...

After watching Michigan Snow Pony's video on your book and web site, just had to come visit.:) I so enjoy your blog, have started with your first entries, and to read your blog is like reading the best book you have found in forever. Thank you for sharing you folks story and all the really good info. you have here. I feel as if I'd just won the lottery!

Mrs. Thundercloud47

Sandy Livesay said...


Congratulations on your book sales, and congratulations on finding the two wheel tractor you've wanted.

It's so wonderful when you find deals on items needed for the homestead. We try to save money but when you have a homestead, animals, or kids it's hard to keep that money secure. Therefore, we live paycheck to paycheck, and it feels good to earn money, which is set aside for specific projects or tools needed to accomplish goals.

tpals said...

Aw, I've got a warm fuzzy feeling for helping pay for your tractor. :) Honestly though, your book is good value and worth buying. I know you put a lot of work into it.

DFW said...

Yeah Leigh! I am so happy for you & for the success of your book.

Mark said...

Wonderful!! I'm so happy your book has done so well and that you were able to get the walk behind tractor. I remember dad having an older one (maybe late 40s/early 50s vintage) as a pre-teen. I'll have to see if it's still around.

Leigh said...

Mrs. Thundercloud47, hello and welcome! Thank you so much for your kind words, you made my day!

Sandy, thanks! I so agree about earning and saving. It makes those purchases so very appreciated. Both Dan and I are very grateful for the tractor.

Tpals, I appreciate that. And an especial thank you to you for buying a copy of my book!

DFW, thanks!

Mark, thank you so much. It would be great if you could find your dad's, especially if it's still running. If you do, please blog about it!

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

I had never heard of one before but that looks like a wonderful piece of equipment to own! I am glad your book has done so well. Nancy

ravenous-reader-book-reviews said...

Congrats on your new farm-hand! And more so, congrats on your book sales. Mine is breaking in quite nicely, and my husband is reading it now.

Hopefully, really, really (really, it's getting closer and closer now) soon I'll be blogging about our own dream.

Soooo happy for you!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the new tractor Leigh. That truly is a beautiful machine with lots of functionality. I look forward to reading more about your adventures with it.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new tractor! Looks like the perfect tool for you & Dan, and I am incredibly jealous & happy for you. Can't wait to see you guys put it to work.

Leigh said...

Thank you Nancy! I'd never heard of two-wheel tractors either, until I started reading other homestead blogs.

Tuesday, that is so exciting! Fingers crossed for you!

Matt, thank you! Dan is anxious for the disc harrow to come (and I'm anxious to get that little section planted.)

Sue, thanks! So many times we've lamented not having a tractor for a number of things. It's true a four wheel tractor might have more versatility, but this is really the best option for our little place.

Anonymous said...

How exciting!!! I am so happy for you guys! That is really going to be a good workhorse, and help you get further along in your plans. Thanks for the link to the website about garden tractor farming too, great resource!

Cdngardengirl said...

I used to have a Simplicity walking tractor, and it included different discs and a spring harrow.
Only problem I had with it is when the motor ages and you work on even a small slope, it's a beast to have to push back up hill. Hope you're on flat land lol

Gretchen said...

We've been researching walking tractors and found this site:

Love your site. Just bought your book today. Thank you for writing it.

Leigh said...

Stephanie, and I was glad to see you get some much needed homestead equipment too!

Gloria, another reason to let Dan handle that while I do other things, LOL. I appreciate the tidbit. :)

Gretchen, thank you for mentioning the Earth Tools site. I've had it bookmarked for awhile because we were thinking we'd have to buy new. BCS has a really good reputation and occasionally they come up around here on craigslist, though not as often as Gravely. I'd love to have one of their sickle bar mowers for hay!

Cathy T said...

Congrats on the tractor. I just got your book Friday (through Amazon...not sure if that is good or bad for you...hope it is good). Great read. We have just 1.5 acres. Have been here for 7 years and, due to finances, haven't done much but have plans to slowly but sure get a large garden, maybe chickens and goats or sheep. Like you, we are empty nesters and we are not getting younger. But we will do what we can. Luckily our grown kids live close and will help when they can.

Unknown said...

That's wonderful
How much does it cost one to acquire that beautiful technology

Leigh said...

Unknown, they don't make them in the US, so they are expensive. New would cost anywhere between $2000 - $5000; used anywhere from $500 on up.