How much horsepower

Discussion in 'Tractors' started by Woodland, Oct 28, 2006.

  1. Woodland

    Woodland LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 207

    The guy I worked for a few years ago had an old Kubota tractor. I don't know what model it was but I do know that it was only about 12hp. I remember this because I always wondered how this tractor that we used to move dirt and trees around with, rototill, grade and bush-hog with could have the same horsepower as the lawn tractor I used to mow my lawn with that could barely make it up my back yard if the grass was wet! Anyway. That tractor seemed quite adequate for what we used it for most of the time. It certainly wasn't the most powerful tractor but generally adequate. Most mfg. don't make tractors this small anymore. The smallest are around 20hp and these are generally glorified lawn mowers (in stature at least). These would include models like Kubotas BX series, Massey Ferguson 1400 series or even John Deere 2000 series. So my question is, how do these new models compare with that old Kubota? Should I expect a small Kubota BX1850 with an 18hp engine to have more power than the old 12hp? And if so, how small of a tractor could I expect to use in a small landscaping operation?

    I've started the search for a tractor for next season. My main uses at this time are for loading bulk materials to take to a job site, mulch, top soil & compost. I'd like to have something that could do more however, maybe some light grading work onsite, tilling for lawn renovations and moving plants and stone around the job site. How small of a tractor could I realistically look at purchasing to accomplish this. Obviously with a small company, cost is a major factor.

    What size tractors do you run for operations like I've described and how well do they perform? I'd love any input you can provide.
  2. lawn king

    lawn king LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,279

    Dont waste money on a subcompact, they are too small for commercial applications. Their low ground clearence and limited cat 1 3 PH are great for the homeowner but useless for commercial landscaping. Start off with a small compact (18-21 hp) diesel.
  3. lawnspecialties

    lawnspecialties LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,513

    I'm afraid Lawn King is right. I used to have a BX-2200 and it was fine for a while. It had a 60" deck so I could mow but it had a three point hitch and rear PTO. But after about a year or so, it proved inadequate for what I needed. The low ground clearance was a pain since it couldn't lift most implements high enough just to drive up on the trailer. Power was OK for a 4' BushHog but that was it. I didn't have a front end loader but the one for that model was small.

    Of course my New Holland does not cut grass, but with the 33 hp and larger stance, I've had so many jobs recently that I would have never been able to do with my sub-compact Kubota.

    To make a long story short: Only get the sub-compact if you're mowing a lot with it and doing just a little commercial landscaping work. As you put it, for your "loading bulk materials to take to a job site, mulch, top soil & compost" jobs, you'll be mad at yourself if you don't get bigger.:)
  4. rtyus

    rtyus LawnSite Member
    Posts: 104

    I agree with the others. You'll also be surprised how little difference there is in price between the subs and the larger tractors.
  5. hosejockey2002

    hosejockey2002 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,195

    Today's subcompacts have much more in common with that old Kubota than they do a riding mower. They are diesel, hydro or gear drive (not belt) and have live hydraulics and PTO. They will pull harder than 3 riding mowers put together. That said, the other guys are right, you can move up to a compact for not much more money. The smaller compacts don't have much more horsepower than a sub, but they are considerably bigger and heavier. Because of this they will pull and push harder, and if you use a loader the loader will have better lift height, reach and weight capacity.
  6. Woodland

    Woodland LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 207

    So a compact tractor on the low end, say 20 to 25 hp would probably be a step up from that old kubota I described? I hadn't really considered a sub compact, not because of its power but rather its small size for the reason described above. Some of the ones I've seen look like they would barely dump into the back of my pickup truck!

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