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View Full Version : Is it time for a tractor?


tslandscaping
09-27-2008, 12:27 AM
I have had a small landscaping business for several years and lately I have been becoming more and more serious about purchasing a tractor.

I have been spending $200-$400 a week on labor costs that could be, for the most part, replaced with the purchase of a tractor. I also frequently rent equipment to do tasks that a tractor could do.

I will be using for many things:

1. Moving material (stone, mulch, plants, dirt etc.)

2. Digging out patio and retaining wall footings.

3. Drainage lines.

I have decided that I definitely want to get a bucket in the front and a backhoe.

My other problem is money, I know that I could save up enough cash to purchase the tractor in about a year but I do not want to miss out on all of the money that I could make in a year with that tractor.

So here are my questions:

1. Is a small subcompact tractor the best tool for me? I have been looking at the Massey Ferguson GC2610.

1. Is it silly to buy a tractor new? (I am leaning towards new because of the 0% financing.)

2. What would be a sufficient amount of horsepower for the tasks I have in mind?

3. I do not have a trailer that can haul a tractor. I am however looking in to buying a large 6 or 7 ton dump trailer with loading ramps. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

Bull
09-27-2008, 09:08 AM
Well if you are serious about your business and depending on what type of landscaping you primarily focus on then I would say that you are ready for some type of equipment be it a tractor, mini x or skidsteer. There are so many choices and options when it comes to implements but lets assume that you have your mind made up on the tractor. I also started out renting a tractor for jobs but quickly realized that taking it back to the rental store rather than letting it sit on the job site on rainy days and getting charged for it made no sense. There comes a point when your frequency of need dictates that it is time to buy rather than rent. Of course this now places all of the maintenance back on you but at least it is available when you need it and this gives you so much more flexibility. As for horse power I would go between the 30 and 40 hp range. Even with 40 hp you will still find times that the machine may be challenged but it should do 95% of what you ask it to. As for the brand I would not consider anything other than a Kubota and by all means make sure you get a 4x4. The hydro transmission works well for the type of work we do and it is easier on the operator as well. If you do not have a dump truck then the dump trailer is a good option as you will definitely be hauling material either to or away from the job site. Just make sure you have a sufficient truck to pull it with and trailer brakes installed. Let us know what you decide.

JimmyStew
09-27-2008, 03:15 PM
Buy new over used. When I went shopping for a tractor last spring, I found that most used tractors less than 10 years old were selling for 80% to 90% of new. Factor in financing/purchasing promotions, warranty and the fact that you aren't buying potentially unknown problems and new is the best option. Also consider that a tractor (assuming you buy a good, reputable brand and not some Korean/Chinese import) will last about forever if you treat it well (and if you don't it will still last darn near forever).

procut
09-28-2008, 12:00 AM
Good points made so far. A decent new four wheel drive tractor with loader and backhoe in the 35hp range will run you about 20K minimum. Good point by jimmy, it seems guys with used tractors that are not super old want within a few thousand dollars of a new one. So between financing and warranty, it makes sense to buy new.

I second the thought on a hydro, not only are they nicer but a negligent employee can tear out a $3000 clutch in one afternoon, while you can't really hurt a hydro.

If you feel you have enough work to justify it, I wouldn't be afraid to make the investment. Good luck!

TPendagast
09-28-2008, 12:10 AM
Kubota L35 comes to mind.
But Kioti makes a better more cost affordable tractor in the 42 hp range, Kioti also has easier on/off and foot room for the operator (kubota makes you climb over stuf and it gets annoying)

John deere makes an excellent tractor in this range was well.

I would get a hydraulic quick-tach for the bucket like a skid steer has as you will have bucket and forks on and off all the time.

IF you are buying a new tractor consider a third valve attachment as you may want to run attachments such as a clam shell bucket or a bucket with a claw attachment for picking up loose debris like brush etc.

Also consider a grading blade attachment for the back and/or a landscape rake for the back.

Look at the new holland superboom tractor too.

Also factor in buying a new tractor for cost of storage, insurance and maintenance.

Ive been thinking of a 45 hp tractor and a snow blower attachment on the back with a bucket on the front....the ultimate in snow removal!

White Gardens
09-29-2008, 10:39 AM
I would go with a mini-skid of some sort. The multitude of attachments for them can make any job easier. Also, if you've made it this long without a machine then a mini might just be the extra muscle you need. I'm currently looking for a mini after renting different machines this year. I figure that I can at the minimum buy a machine, and a mini ex attachment, and go rent any other attachments if the need arises.

They're smaller, easier to maintain, and also cheaper to maintain especially if you buy used. I just feel it to be more of an all-around machine over a skid steer.

The only major draw-back I have seen is the weight capacity for moving pallets, but you can always split your pallets if you need to and most places I get supplies from don't mind splitting them up. Upside is though if you have the extra cash you can buy the pallet mover attachment that will lift close to two tons.

Like the sig states.

TPendagast
09-29-2008, 11:03 AM
Tractors are alot more popular than you think.

You have a loader and a digger on the same mahine and their ground speed is almost always faster than a skid steer.

A good one has 4x4 and they do not tear up as much ground and can get over stuff a skidsteer does not do.

These days the compact tractor market has all the quick attah components of the skid steer.

Also if you mount a harley rake to the back of the tractor and drive it forward or even backward it is actually much faster than a skid steer.

Dont get me wrong, I live skidsteers, I have logged over 10,000 hours operating skidsteers, I actually wore one out (nothing wrong with the whole machine or anything specific, maintenance tech just said everything was wore out)

But the compact tractor has come a long way, and instead of having two machine on a property, you need only one.

stuvecorp
09-29-2008, 08:51 PM
I'd argue that the skid is better but that is just me. Good luck.

TPendagast
09-30-2008, 01:43 AM
well its always nice to have a dedicated machine, but think of it this way, if you needed to do osmeloading and some digging would you want to buy two machines that were not simultaneously working, or buy one that worked most of the time.

Same thing, think about being solo, do you want to rent one tractor for $300 per day with a backhoe and a loader, or do you want to rent two machines for the day, a skid steer for $250 and a trackhoe for $275?

When it comes to spreading top soil and using a harley rake Id run circles around a skid steer with a tractor, when it comes to tight spaces and
alot of loader functions, Id kill a tractor with the productivity of a skid.

If you can keep two machines running a mini ex and a skid, then you can out produce two or three tractors any day.

The thing is keeping those machines running, if its an on again off again thing, or wide open spaces, your multi function machine will start to shine.

Sunscaper
09-30-2008, 07:09 AM
Sounds like you are ready for one. Most tractors cannot lift a pallett more than 1500lbs though. If you want to get into sod, pavers, wallstone consider a skid or ctl. Tractors are cheaper to buy and maintain buy beyond that I see no benefit to them over a skid/ ctl set up. Also you will not be able to load larger tandem and above trucks limiting you greatly on some larger more profitable jobs. Tractors are cute and all I like running them but I think the restrict you way too much as far as versatility.

stuvecorp
09-30-2008, 12:12 PM
[QUOTE=TPendagast;2535443]When it comes to spreading top soil and using a harley rake Id run circles around a skid steer with a tractor, when it comes to tight spaces and
alot of loader functions, Id kill a tractor with the productivity of a skid.QUOTE]

I will agree that raking with a tractor is better but that is it, A skid is way faster for spreading dirt. If you are doing hardscaping the tractor is worthless, to hard to maneuver.

TPendagast
10-01-2008, 02:47 AM
hmmm yea, hardscaping is better with skid.... I have hardly found a good skid to load larger trucks with... we had an 873 bobcat back in the day with the extend-a-boom feature that give it that extra little rise to barely get up there, but heckm even a case 70XT wont load a tri axle... you would need a 95xt to do that and you are looking at a machine at that point that costs around 90k.

Most small to medium skids will not lift a pallet either.


By the time you invest in a decent skidsteer that wiil hadle you rock and sod pallets you have spent ALOT more than you would on a compact tractor, so if you went with a TRACTOR in THAT price range you are looking at a john deere 110 that will load a tri axel 100 times better than any skid on the market and out dig any min ex ive seen with rubber tracks.

Now does a JD 110 fit on most residential landscape jobs? NO!
Can you pull it with a pick up? NO!

So Capability is way up but usability is way down.

Mst of my hardscape supplies will put the pallets of paver or stone where I want it with a spider, depending on how much sod I order I can get the delvery guy to do the same thing for turf.

Skids are really pricey, they tear up exisitng landscape much easier than a tractor and they should lift more and dump higher and driver faster for the price you pay for them.

Currently I new holland and john deere skid steers and kubota and new holland tractors.

IF the 2 speed skidsteers came out with a 3 speed skid, ID like them better.

I often have to get down the road faster in snow removal situations and the tractor becomes king in this situation, ground speed AND a bucket and snow blower than dont have to be switched out.

ON emore thing about skids, maintenance! shheeeesh nuff said.


I just think for a solo guy who has one machine, and it isnt running 8 hours a day, the tractor will work out better.

Larger company with employees ad a dedicated operator running that thing, skid will work better.

TPnTX
10-01-2008, 08:48 AM
someone already mentioned a Kubota. I agree to the extent that the hydrostatic is a must. One pedal forward another for reverse. The ease and benefit of that cannot be overstated for a tractor. So if one on the others offers the same type, then who knows.

I have a small kubota with a fel B7500hst. I bought it initially just to work my property. Now I use it all the time for business. I could easily replace it with a skidstreer. Don't get me wrong for a small tractor it is a excellent and has been a great asset. To go any bigger wouldn't be practical. I'd couldn't image having to to negotiate the maneuvers with a large tractor. I'd have to have a skid.

As far as the backhoe? You just have to ask how often you need one. I don't see that implement driving my decision.

lwcmattlifter
10-01-2008, 09:16 AM
I don't know if you have a Kioti dealer in your area but I would seriously consider one before you make a decision. They cost less than JD and Kubota and in my opinion are built better that both of the above. The Kioti backhoes are extremely tough and very easy to maneuver. Whatever brand you end up buying, make sure you get a subframe mounted hoe not a 3pt mount. 3pt hoes put a lot pressure on the rear axle and trans case.

On another note, the new bobcat tractors are made by Kioti.

stuvecorp
10-02-2008, 01:01 AM
hmmm yea, hardscaping is better with skid.... I have hardly found a good skid to load larger trucks with... we had an 873 bobcat back in the day with the extend-a-boom feature that give it that extra little rise to barely get up there, but heckm even a case 70XT wont load a tri axle... you would need a 95xt to do that and you are looking at a machine at that point that costs around 90k.

Most small to medium skids will not lift a pallet either.


By the time you invest in a decent skidsteer that wiil hadle you rock and sod pallets you have spent ALOT more than you would on a compact tractor, so if you went with a TRACTOR in THAT price range you are looking at a john deere 110 that will load a tri axel 100 times better than any skid on the market and out dig any min ex ive seen with rubber tracks.

Now does a JD 110 fit on most residential landscape jobs? NO!
Can you pull it with a pick up? NO!

So Capability is way up but usability is way down.

Mst of my hardscape supplies will put the pallets of paver or stone where I want it with a spider, depending on how much sod I order I can get the delvery guy to do the same thing for turf.

Skids are really pricey, they tear up exisitng landscape much easier than a tractor and they should lift more and dump higher and driver faster for the price you pay for them.

Currently I new holland and john deere skid steers and kubota and new holland tractors.

IF the 2 speed skidsteers came out with a 3 speed skid, ID like them better.

I often have to get down the road faster in snow removal situations and the tractor becomes king in this situation, ground speed AND a bucket and snow blower than dont have to be switched out.

ON emore thing about skids, maintenance! shheeeesh nuff said.


I just think for a solo guy who has one machine, and it isnt running 8 hours a day, the tractor will work out better.

Larger company with employees ad a dedicated operator running that thing, skid will work better.

Okay, most of this is bs. 90 grand for a skid? Maintenance costs that are high?

From my experience, the skid has been a big part of my success. The deal here is to spend the least on one machine and be able to do alot. I load quads and tris with my 70Xt and offload double stacked pallets from semis. It does get too big for some sites and yes sometimes it will tear up the sod. There are good deals on skids so you may be able to buy alot for less money then the tractor.

sven1277
10-05-2008, 06:54 PM
Tough ques to answer. All mentioned machines have their pros and cons. I use my Kubota b7610 compact tractor for aerating, spraying lawns, and spreading large quant of lime. It's perfect for these tasks because it is smaller and doesn't tear the turf. I also have a bucket, york rake, rotadairon, and angle blade and heated cab for it for plowing sidewalks. It's great for many things including small jobsites. My ASV sr70 does the bulk of the work from moving large amounts of dirt, moving pallets, clearing brush, harley raking( I prefer skid to tractor, I have more control for finish grading with it) The 4in1 bucket was a great purchase and allows me to do a lot with one attachment. More control and heavier means easier to move rocks, grading etc. Definately can tear lawn. Finally, I have a 7500lb mini ex with hyd thumb. Easier for trenching, wall footings, pulling out boulders when digging out for a patio, stumping, clearing brush, building rock walls, grading, etc.
Imo, having dedicated machines gives you the greatest flexibility especially when you have a breakdown. However, When I need to move dirt and dig a trench, I have to trailer 2 machines to the jobsite. Not to mention upkeep. Having 1 machine, you will be compromising. I would suggest a tractor 30-40hp range if you want the ability of having 2 attachments on and minimal ground disturbance. Otherwise, look at a skid. A mini is great if you mainly work small sites, sidewalk clearing, etc. A larger skid gives you more workability on med/large sites and changing attachments on skids vs. tractor is much easier and quicker.