I had been resisting buying a tractor for a while, it just seemed like extra hassle and lots of money, but when we moved to our property at Nanango, it became clear that we were going to need one. We didn't know much about tractors, so we decided to just look for a cheap one secondhand and have a go. Luckily for us we found one advertised in the local paper for $6000 (that's very cheap compared to a new one).
It was a little Kubota 1500L. We went and had a look at it and couldn't see anything wrong with it, so we bought it before someone else could snap up our good deal. We had it delivered to our property on the back of a tow truck.
I wouldn't recommend a second-hand tractor to anyone who doesn't have at least a little knowledge of engines. If you're someone who services your own car, you'll probably be ok with a tractor, otherwise, you may find yourself paying that much to get things fixed you should have just got a new one with a warranty. Fortunately Pete does service his own car and used to race speedway cars, so he knows his way around an engine (as well as all the other important bits of the tractor). This has been very useful as we have had a few problems with the little tractor. Firstly it was leaking water and Pete was worried that the block was cracked (which means you may as well get a new one), but luckily a dose of "chemiweld" fixed that! We've also had trouble buying spare parts.
The main problem is that the tractor is a "grey market" tractor. That means its a second-hand imported refurbished tractor! It would have been imported from Japan as a second-hand tractor and refurbished before being sold to the owner before us. This means that its a model that's not usually sold new in Australia, so the Kubota dealers don't like to support it with spare parts. Luckily Pete has been clever enough to find appropriate parts so far, and found that our Toyota Hilux fuel filter fits the tractor, very convenient! But it is something to be aware of when buying second hand, as it may take some effort to find the right parts.
The tractor has been incredibly useful in clearing our property. It came with a small slasher and front bucket, and Pete has spent hours slashing the paddocks (and using the bucket to push down wattle sapplings). The bucket itself has been useful for moving things, from firewood to steer guts when the butcher was here! Being a tradesman, Pete couldn't resist turning it into a kind of forklift by added bolt-on tynes to the bucket. He uses this to lift the cattle crate onto the back of the ute. We have even used the tractor to move a Chev motor from the back of the ute and into the shed, and to pull out large clumps of unwanted grass.
Even so, the tractor is a little small for our property. As its a steep and rocky block, the short wheel base and 2-wheel drive can make for a rocky ride. There's no power-steering, so sometimes the steering wheel just moves with the front wheels and it can be difficult to hold on, let alone steer the tractor (I only drive it at VERY slow pace). Ideally we would like to get something slightly larger and with 4 wheel drive for better stability. It was a good idea to start with the cheap tractor though, now we know more about how to drive it and what to look for in the next one, we feel like we've already got good value from it, so we're not too precious about it. We should still get a decent price for this one when its time to resell it, and the work that its achieved has been good value.
Have you bought a tractor for a small property? Any advice?