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Man, this is a great site and community. I've already learned a lot reading through some of the posts.

My question: What do I need, how little can I spend, and what is this newbe overlooking?

Background: We just purchased a 14 acre, 200 year old grist mill site in central NC (mill is gone). We're more than a little excited. The old homesite is open 2 acres (needs bush hogging and a lot of work to get back to being enjoyable), 4 acre pond (greenbriar/shitshow at banks at homesite), and the rest is mature hardwoods/bottomland. We'll be putting up a modest home in the next year. I got some quotes on bushhog and understory clearing on the homesite and pond bank and it was too expensive to justify... then looked at renting a bobcat/bushhog and doing it myself, also expensive... so I'm considering moving up the tractor purchase (was going delay for awhile). We just bought 14 acres and are building a house... so we're tight on disposable income right now.

I think I can get something that will work for around $4,000, but would like some advice on my thoughts here:
1 > small/light enough to mow and navigate though the woods without too much clearing (so I don't have to buy 2).
2 > powerful enough to bushhog and drag logs, scrap the driveway, move dirt, land clearing work, etc. Am I trying to do too much with one tractor?
3 > From reading other posts, old tractors can be expensive to find replacement parts. How important is this? I've read that some have had tractors for 30 years without any replacements needed?
4 > There are a fair amount of estate auctions (farm equipment), is this a good option to get a deal, or is craigslist just as good? Anything to look out for?
5 > Is 17 HP enough? Front loader strongly recommended (pricey)?

What am I not thinking about?

Thanks in advance!!!
 

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Caractacus Potts
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also educate yourself before you go look at anything, you know, if you answer an ad on craigslist for a JD755, go online and read everything you can about it, that way when you get there to look at it you have a heads up on it
 

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Hi dsconnor,
I second what sixbales has advised. Also,I would not think of having a tractor for the work you have planned without a front end loader.
Do not think that you can buy a tractor now and find a loader later. "This only happens in the movies". There are far more people looking for one than there are selling one. If you are lucky to match one up with your tractor, it will cost you more than buying a tractor with one.
There are many good used tractors on the market. Run them by the members when you find a deal. Someone on the forum will be able to give you the pros and cons on that model. Happy hunting!
 

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Lots good 2WD tractor in 25-35 hp and price range... check out tractorhouse.com get some ideas,equipment auctions farm sales etc. watch for.
 

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I am new to tractors as well myself. I resisted buying one for years. I just could not justify the prices asked for them. In the end, I picked up a 1962 IH B-414 diesel. This thing is like a little tank. It is small enough to go most places I need to but large enough to handle attachments with ease. It came with a 7 foot back blade and a loader. I paid 3k for it and it was the best 3k I ever spent.


There is nothing fancy about this machine at all. It is 2wd, No power steering, no cab, no heat or AC not radio, hell it doesn't even have a cup holder, and it is certainly not pretty, BUT it works great.

One thing to look out for is maintenance. Also be sure the loader bucket is hydrolic dump and not a catch release. Also a differential lock is handy to have with 2wd. I use this to slow snow in the winter, bush hog my 10 acre field, grade my 500 meter lane way and clean the poop and such out of the winter paddock. It has never let me down.
 

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From what I've read, each foot of brush hog width requires 5-6 hp to operate. I picked up a 1955 Ford 860 with back blade & brush hog. Toughest thing is finding quality parts.
 

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I used to have a '48 Farmall Cub. Getting parts for that was about the same as my 2003 NH TC30. The parts are out there, unless maybe it is an unusual brand or a foreign unusual brand! A good manual is important- teaches you what you are looking for and the names of the parts you need. Makes going on line to look much easier!
Good luck. 4wd is nice. I used to use chains year round on my cub and wheel weights. It was slower than my current tractor- but I plowed, mowed with a sickle bar, plowed and harrowed the garden, pushed gravel, plowed snow. 2wd been around much longer than 4 wd.
Good luck.
 

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I just bought my own land and have been clearing it. I purchased an old Case 211B with a loader. The tractor would be worthless without the loader. That being said, Whatever you buy make sure it has a 3 point, PTO and the potential to put a loader on it. I am currently in the market for a post hole digger and a back blade. (hard to level stuff with the bucket, but doable)
 
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There's a lot of good advise offered above. I grew up with a ford/ferguson 9N (about 20 hp) and given time, could do almost anything with 3 pt hitch attachments. At a purchase price of $4K you should expect a tractor (28-38hp) perhaps late 60's/early 70's with good tires that has been maintained rather than run into the ground. 12volt system vs. 6volt is a darn good idea unless you are a glutton for punishment. Have a long talk with your budget about the need of a loader. AgriCenter sells some big 3 pt hitch buckets. Rust at the valve stems on rims are a sign of doom. I bought my Current '68 Ford 2000 on Craig's list.
 
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