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New Buyer For Recommendations

Discussion in 'Compact Track/Multi Terrain Loaders' started by Eric Umbarger, May 14, 2019.

  1. Eric Umbarger

    Eric Umbarger New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
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    Location:
    Swansea, SC
    Hey guys, complete noobie here looking to make my first big purchase and hoping some of y’all can help me make a decision or point me in the right direction. This will probably be a lengthy post so I apologize for the wall of text in advance. The TLDR is: What brand should I buy?

    I will begin with my experience and what I need a machine to do. I’m 30yrs old and leasing some farmland from my father-in-law here in South Carolina. My wife and I moved into a single wide here five years ago and began organic farming. The entire property is 80 acres with my mother-in-law (they are divorced) having another 50 right next door. They have had horses here for 25 years and a couple of hay fields. The breakdown of “our” 82 acres is roughly 11 acres of hay field that I do not mess with, 18 acres of flat pasture, 12 acres of sloped pasture (not too steep), 25 acres of thick forest, 2 acre pond, and the rest are buildings and misc. My main duties currently and mowing, which I painfully do on a Ford 3910 tractor pulling a five foot bush hog. Using this method only allows 1-2 acres per hour to get mowed meaning it takes an entire weekend to cut everything. Now, because I’m farming regeneratively the long term goal is to have enough animals to rotate around and eat the grass for me, but for now I only have three sheep, four horses, and a small turkey flock so it will be a couple years until I figure out the correct stocking rate and obtain those numbers. The other thing I do is just move round bales for my father-in-law.

    Other things I have done and will do more of is putting up perimeter fence, mix concrete for fence posts, receiving the occasional pallet of cover crop seed, tilling, planting cover crop. I would say over all my priority list for attachments is:

    1. Immediately
      1. Rotary Cutter
      2. Hay Spike
      3. Broadcast Seeder or Drill Seeder
    2. Sometime next few years
      1. Auger
      2. Tiller
      3. Pallet Fork
      4. Ball Hitch
      5. Grapple Bucket
    3. One Day
      1. Forestry Mulcher
      2. Concrete Mixer

    Now the big question is, what CTL/MTL do I go with? I know literally nothing about these things other than specs and what I’ve seen on forum posts, YouTube comments etc. My 9-5 is in the IT field where we have things like Nikon vs Canon, Apple vs Android, PC vs Mac, and never in my life have I seen such a polarized community as CTL owners. A single Youtube video will have one comment of “You shouldn’t have bought an ASV, they are junk, get a Cat instead!” and the very next comment will say “Cat is garbage, ASV is way better”. In the automotive world we can track lifespan of vehicles. I forgot the name of the report but each year there is a list of most reliable vehicles that will have something like “4% of F150s are still on the road after 200,000 miles, 3% of Ram 1500s are still on the road after 200,000 miles” but I haven’t seen anything like that with construction equipment. What should I even be looking at? In my research the last few weeks things seem to be all over the place. Case makes New Holland so why buy one over the other? There is some kind of confusing relationship between Cat, ASV, and Terex so what makes one better than the other? Several brands have Yanmar engines. Gehl makes Mustang I think. ASV apparently uses plastic fuel tanks which make some people mad. And then some specs don’t make sense to me. Kubota SVL75 for example has one of the smallest, lightest dimensions in its class, but the top speed is far lower than competitors (7.1mph compared to 10-12 from other brands). And do I even care about top speed? From what I’ve read a PTO rotary cutter like I currently use only has about 500 rpms on the blades while CTL hydraulics can spin blades at like 10,000 rpms so in theory I should be able to drive faster than the 3-4 mph, but the Youtube videos I’ve seen look like they are driving just as slow as my tractor does


    I’ve seen some people say to buy from a brand that has good support via local dealers. South Carolina is small and most of the brands seem to have a monopoly. For instance, Blanchard Cat is the only Cat dealership in the entire state. They in particular don’t seem to want my money as I went there in person last Thursday, called and emailed Friday, and still haven’t heard back (Tuesday afternoon). As a matter of fact, I reached out to Bobcat, Cat, John Deere, Kubota, and Case dealerships two days ago and Bobcat is the only one that has contacted me back. Maybe they would all be more attentive if I already owned a machine and needed a repair but who knows.

    Another thing I’ve wading through is track styles. I’m a geek when it comes to soil health and part of healthy soil is for it to be loose. This made me lean towards a Cat 2_7D or an ASV, but really there probably isn’t a ton of difference of 3.7psi and 4.7psi. Speaking of soil, we have a wide range from loose sand, to compacted sand, to red clay, but most everything has either grass of leaves over it. I don’t expect traction to be an issue

    The final thing (I think) is my budget. I COULD afford a brand new machine and there are several companies that are offering 0% for 60 months right now and Kubota is even going 1% for 72 months. I’m very frugal though and hesitant to do that because as listed above, there are several attachments I both need and want, and I also like having extra money each month to put in an emergency fund. When I first started looking a few weeks ago I was thinking ~$30,000 would be nice, including a rotary cutter, but due to my lack of knowledge I kind of pussyfooted around at an auction I went to. From what I’ve seen, name brand CTLs only go below $30k once you’ve gone above 2000 hours. I thought that was fine at first but then I’ve seen Youtube videos and forum posts talking about how undercarriages might already be having issues by then which made me think I should up my budget because I don’t want to spend thousands in repairs. If I did buy new, or newer at least, with the light work I’ll be doing I imagine it will live just about forever.

    I guess I should put what I think are requirements for me and what I don’t care about.

    Required: Aux hydraulics |​

    Nice to have: Wide tracks | 2 spd | 2 way auto leveling | quick attachments (eg, Bob-tach) | A smooth ride​

    Don’t care: Closed cab with AC | Which type of controls​

    I know this is a long post but a really appreciate your time reading through it and helping me out. This will be the biggest purchase I’ve ever made regardless if I buy new or used, so thanks!
     
  2. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

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    Check on Craigslist in your area, older CTL units and skid steers are usually plentiful as they wear to a point contractors do not want the downtime. BACKUP the pricing with the dealer that supports them against hours, equipment included, cab/no cab(Heat and a/c) etc. Look to the units for sale on the dealer lots, many will have dealer warranty for a short period, many will allow you to rent and try before buy at least Bobcat here does. For the small time farmer with needs minimal look Older, mechanical function levers and pedals, newer than 2000 will likely come electronic controls and they can be problematic. For aux hydraulics watch for HIGH Flo systems as they will be best bang for buck running attachments with hydramotors.

    The dealers that do not want to talk with you are basically signaling what kind of service to expect.
     
  3. KSSS

    KSSS Senior Member

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    Location:
    Idaho
    The first thing that came to my mind reading your post, what are you raising or growing to pay 60 Large plus for a new CTL or even maintain a used one? I only ask because it is important in selecting the correct piece of equipment. Honestly I think you would be better served by a more capable loader tractor. PTO/three point attachments are cheaper and given what your doing, paying more for hydraulic driven attachments doesn't seem that it would pencil out. That said, if you say you have money to spend and you want a CTL then so be it.

    First of all since you state traction is not an issue, why a CTL? They cost more to buy and more to keep running. The upside is the increase in productivity, but I don't see that being a priority for you. You can accomplish a lot with a skid steer with the larger 14X17.5 tires, they are outstanding, they are not replacements for tracks but they go a lot further than the smaller 12X16.5's do in softer ground. While they have a higher PSI, I don't see that being an issue in pasture ground. I would consider a SSL with the large tire option (or OTT's), if your handling round bales I would go with something in the upper 2K ROC. I would also go under 75 hp since you don't spec anything that requires more hp. This keeps you from needing DEF and the lesser powered machines are cheaper to buy. I would consider a CASE SV280 or CAT 262, these machines have high ROCs and can be even further increased by added counter weight, but I doubt you would need it for what you list. Get it with High Flow, so you can run some higher performance attachments. You really don't need two way bucket leveling, you would not get much use out of one way bucket leveling. Get a cab, mowing sucks without a cab, a cab will resale better, keeps you comfortable and are worth every dollar. Getting a cab mandates (not really but it should) getting a hyd quick coupler.

    As to the CASE verse NH there is little difference, they are orientated more toward certain customers, historically NH has catered more to ag than has CASE, but honestly I don't think it would matter what color it was. To sum this up, I really think a legit loader tractor would better suit you, if you want to do these tasked with a CTL/SSL consider the SSL. If you still want a CTL, all the above still applies. I would consider the CASE TV370 or the CAT 289.
     
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  4. crane operator

    crane operator Senior Member

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    Mowing a lot of grass with a compact track loader is a waste of undercarriage and fuel. I'm guessing that with your main job being IT, the $ really isn't the issue.

    I agree with KSSS, you would be better served with a tractor and a large pull behind mower. Loader on the tractor or 3 point bale spike. Other farming attachments will also be much cheaper, and more available used.
     
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  5. hosspuller

    hosspuller Senior Member

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    Interesting post. I just rented a bobcat s590 for a week. Needed a skidsteer for my new hay grapple.

    After haying with it, moving & spreading 16 tons of gravel, setting a culvert, and odd jobs. I DON"T like it.

    I have a Deere 5200 tractor /w FEL and a Deere 310C backhoe. Except for using the hay grapple... the other machines do a better job for me. The 45 hp 5200 handles a 6 foot rotary cutter well in the pastures. If the grass is too heavy, I use a lower gear. Horsepower is what gets you speed or width. Digging and transporting, the Backhoe has faster travel and has better reach. Backhoe will lift more weight too. Used the BH to move & place a 3500# eco block. The S590 is only rated for 2100#

    Also, the skidsteer has to run the engine WOT (wide open throttle) makes for a fuel thirsty machine... The short wheel base is a rough ride at speed. And the skidsteer chews up the grass. ( I was careful to make sweeping turns)
     
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  6. Eric Umbarger

    Eric Umbarger New Member

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    Location:
    Swansea, SC
    @KSSS I want a CTL so as to not damage the ground. The 3910 I use isn't awful but could be better, but the Ford 5030 I've been using the last few months absolutely wrecks the ground if it rained three of four days before use. Almost got it stuck pulling a 5ft disc back in December multiple times. My father-in-law also has a really old Bobcat that has been in the shop for a year but last time I saw it in action it destroyed the ground too while being too weak to even drill a 5" wide hole in the ground for fence posts. I do appreciate all the specs and models you listed for me to look into!

    @crane operator I mean, I'm not rich but I do well with money. Doesn't hurt that I live in my house rent/mortgage free and work from home so I save a ton of money on not buying gas to commute to work.

    One thing I didn't really mention is I plan on doing a lot of work in my forest. Right now the 5030 I have access to has a front end loader attached and a hay spike and maneuvering through the woods can only be done in first gear and it is really sketchy. I would love the smaller size of a CTL.

    A couple people are mentioning fuel. How much does a typical CTL use? 2 gal per hour? 4? More? I'm not sure the tank size of my 3010 but I used a full tank to mow just one field last month

    So to generalize heavily, are there any brands I should avoid or lean towards as far as reliability?
     
  7. KSSS

    KSSS Senior Member

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    Just a note, CTL's are not great for minimizing ground disturbance when turning. Like about everything, when the ground is wet if you counter rotate with a CTL or a skid steer you will tear the turf. How much fuel you will use depends on how hard you are working it. I have a customer that I mow 22 acres for, some years the grass/weeds have been a foot over the height of the machine, some years up to the tires. I use a Diamond High flow mower, when the grass is low, I can mow the 22 acres in about 6 hours and use about 20 gallons. When the grass is tall and I can expect it to take 10 hours and use about 1.5 more fuel. I have been using my wheeled machines (SV340 or SV300) for this project but the fuel would likely be slightly worse in a CTL. It is a huge mower. Tractors tend to be better on fuel than a skid steer of similar hp.

    I don't know if there is really a standout OEM if your buying new. They are all pretty good. Buying used, some years for some OEM's are better than others. As a general rule, I would stay under 75 hp, remember that CTL's are not maintenance free. Buying new I find using them hard that the first 1500 hours are cheap, after that I need tracks (you may not, doing what your doing), then you will go through some rollers/idlers and they get progressively more expensive to run. If you keep it long enough or buy a used one old enough, you will get into drive motors which are very expensive. This is the reason I was a little curious about the nature of the farm. These things are not cheap to own long term. It does not appear to directly be making you any money per se in the scenario you mention. When the maintenance issues come due, it can hurt when the machine is not making its own money. Again, these are your issues to consider, but you need to know that CTL's are great in their element, but they are not a "for everyone" machine. My personal thought is if the machine is actively bringing in a decent paycheck, the upsides are worth the costs. If the machine is a toy or not a necessity, I have a harder time seeing the pay off. I would see if you can rent a CTL or demo if someone will give you one and see if it does what it needs to, then do the same with a wheeled machine. You might be surprised. One last option is update your loader tractor (you can put large turf tires on them to reduce PSI) to one that will do the job, and for the cleaning the woods projects, rent a CTL and a mulcher, which would not be very often once it is cleaned up.
     
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  8. crane operator

    crane operator Senior Member

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    I'm not after you about the money you make, I just don't think I could justify the cost of a CTL, for performing the work you want to do. Sorry, I didn't mean to offend, I just don't see a CTL being a great cost effective way to mow.

    As far as the getting stuck pulling a disk, or too wet, you're going to have to learn to plan around the weather. If it rained three days before, you're not going to go disk wet ground without making a mess. . If you want a track loader, by all means buy one. It will be much smaller than a tractor in the timber. And they are great for going through mud and poor ground conditions.

    They all break, all of the manufactures build off the same "engineering" playbook, and there's no magic CTL that's light years ahead of everyone elses. Undercarriage costs are really high, for the hours used, from everyone I know that has one. Have fun.
     
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  9. CMC76

    CMC76 Member

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    I'm going to chime in simply because I went through the exact debate between machine type. However I'm not farming.
    I'm doing more land clearing/ general construction.
    In the end, I went with the ctl. But strictly for terrain reasons. No lawn or crop to protect. But wooded, grades up to almost 14%.
    I shopped a long time. Bought a used machine. Was as careful as possible looking at the equipment. In the end I do baby the machine. Because for personal use, an expensive repair would mean money not spent on other projects.
    On top of that, I may still buy a tractor for some uses.
    Basic thing is a skid steer is not a tractor. And the opposite as well. A loader bucket on a tractor is cumbersome to use by comparison. But if time to complete tasks matters, and the acreage your talking. To me a good tractor is the no brainer.
     
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  10. Zewnten

    Zewnten Active Member

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    Am going to vote for getting a good tractor with a quick release front end loader. A CTL will eat you alive in maintenance costs even if you get a good one. And if you get something worn out or abused to save some money... but if you have to have one (which it kind of sounds like you have already decided, which is ok); definitely stay away from older ASV's. Caterpillar used to run their track systems on their CTL's and the operating costs for rental was higher than a D8 per hour. And I'm not sure any other brand is much better.
     
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  11. ianjoub

    ianjoub Senior Member

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    My 85hp uses about 3 gph running a mulcher, WOT.
     
  12. Georgia Iron

    Georgia Iron Senior Member

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    A decent USED Tl130 Takeuchi ($20 to 25 k )will do all you need in a CTL. Easy to move. Strong and most every busy concrete contractor around here has one. Tried and true machines... Auger for posts. Grapple for brush... screw the cutter... I use a tl150 but I move LOTS of logs...

    Buy a good running ($5000) / 100 hp tractor and get a used 10 or 11' bush hog ($3000.00). You can get the bush hog under trees with you on the tractor further out. IF you must have 4 x 4 spend another 5 or 8 k.. Your grass cutting time will go way down. I run a 640 cutter at 1000 rpms. I weld it when it breaks and I keep the SUPER HEAVY DUTY slip clutch in 80% or better working order. So the gear boxes don't get hurt. Mine has 15 forward gears and I can move fast in #11. It will take grass and weeds 6' tall. I can move fast enough that I must literally fight to stay in the seat. A skid steer or CTL could not even come close for that type work. And I still sit on this SOB for 2 days straight. I love my 6 cylinder diesel FIAT. What a beast. Now I want 150 hp with a 16' batwing... And to think of how much time I wasted with a 7' cutter
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  13. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

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    Around here we routinely use 100-120hp tractors with 16' batwing bush hogs, my own 70hp Allis 180 handles a 3008 Bush hog like a charm on 540 pto. neighbor has a 185 has the 1000/540 pto setup where just swap shafts wish I had that. That said I can mow thru saplings with little difficulty, the neighbor uses a 110hp Ford with a 16' and can manage same speeds I do. Have loads of terraces, relatively shallow inclines and lots of tree lines I mow out, takes 4 days to full mow the open areas of our 80 acres.
     
  14. Tones

    Tones Senior Member

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    Eric, to me a small sized tractor with good HP would be a great option for most of your farm needs so heres a quick list, no particular preference. Now these depend if you have any service agents near by: Antonio Carraro- 4WD, bidirectional, rear duals, good for all farm implements including small balers
    AGT " " " "
    BM " " " " 4 Wheel steer
    All these brands have tractors to around the 90 HP range, all very stable, good floatation and for some that I have seen very capable.
    As for the other work you require done and with your lack of experience( no slur intended) I suggest you set a program and that you hire a contractor who can provide the proper equipment for the task and you manage it. Over many years I have come across people like yourself who start with great excitement and ambition then slowly everything starts going pear shaped with having to spend big $ fixing equipment etc etc. instead of on the land projects you want done. The successful people have understood their limitations and worked to their strengths. Young Fella I wish you and your Family all the very best in your endeavors from an ole Fart. :D


    PS https://www.hillsidetractors.com/ for pic's of the above mentioned tractors
     
  15. rondig

    rondig Senior Member

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    Totally agree...you need a front wheel assist tractor with loader around 85 hp...perfect for hay...and farming operations....CTL are very expensive to put non paid hours on them. And for 30k you will be buying problems
     
  16. hosspuller

    hosspuller Senior Member

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    A thought … if you're using a 5 foot rotary cutter behind a Ford 5030, you're wasting your time and fuel. With 60+ Hp at the PTO, you should be able to swing a 10 to 16 foot wide batwing mower. You would be better served buying the batwing before a CTL
     
  17. rondig

    rondig Senior Member

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    I thought he said 3910 ford....that is 40 hp pto....i think
     
  18. hosspuller

    hosspuller Senior Member

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    Yes … he said 3910 Ford... which will handle a 6 foot mower At least a foot larger than he has now.

    He has access to the 5030 Ford
     
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  19. rondig

    rondig Senior Member

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  20. KSSS

    KSSS Senior Member

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    I am sensing that he had already made up his mind before the post and that he was looking for support on the CTL option. Been pretty quiet from the OP on our thoughts which largely were all focused on a better loader tractor as the most feasible option.
     
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