If you are reading this article, then its clear that you have an interest in vintage tractors. Collecting, refurbishing and maintaining vintage tractors from years ago has become very popular in the last few years. There are lots of reasons for this; firstly they are relatively inexpensive to invest in, and look after and in some cases they cost less than the road tax on a new tractor. As Well, they can still be of use around the farm. They also less compliacted than new tractors and much easier to maintain. Each tractor has its own history and can be restored to bring pride and a great deal of enjoyment to the restorer. But how do you know how to avoid the many pit falls when you are buying an antique tractor?
Antique tractors come in many shapes and sizes. As with many things, you should first understand your needs as this will drive what and how you start your search. You need to know what you are looking for then you will have to translate them into a list of requirements that will help you to make a better decision when it comes to buying your antique tractor.
Detailed research should always be the first thing you start with when looking to buy an antique tractor. Research books are available that contain this information providing every detail you need to know about a particular tractor model.
While collectability, hours on the clock, hitch system, etc make up the main points for choosing what type, size, brand, or model of tractor you want, a more basic set of factors will be used for choosing the exact tractor you will buy. As always, restoring an vintage collectable tractor will have a completely different list of criteria.
Antique working tractors
If you are looking for a day to day tractor then you will find what you are looking for easly, but be careful not to buy the first tractor you see as people often become disillusioned with antique tractors if they have not bought the right one for their needs. One of the frst things you should look at is the layout of your fields, how hilly is it and also what type of farm machinery you will need to use. If you plan on using the tractor for tillage, such as barley or corn, then you should consider a Nuffield 342, a Massey Furguson T20 because other machines may be too low to the ground and cause damage to your crop. On the other hand if , you may need to consider something like a Massey-Harris 20 or a Massey Ferguson 135 . If you are going to use machinery, you should first understand the horsepower requirements of this implement and make sure the tractor you select has the weight and power to do the job. If you have the need for a 10 foot disk harrow, then you will need more power than a Fordson Major Diesel Thorough research should ensure you don’t make any of these basic mistakes.
Once you have selected your tractor the first thing which gets your attention should be the mechancis of the tractor not how its looks. Many good day to day tractors will not have seen paint in years and will have been maintained with lots of diferent stuff from around the farm.
Make sure that your tractor performs all the basic tasks properly, so check the steering, gears, forward and reverse, PTO, lift, lights, indicators and hydraulics. Even if you want to work on it immediately, you may not be interested in a complete reconditioning for sometime and need to reduce the number of upfront jobs. You should have a detailed check list which included at a minimum the following: does it start easily from cold, run well when hot, all the electrical components work well, does it have good traction If possible you should go to your test armed with a toolbox containing a compression tester, expensive Fluke digital multimeter, hydrometer, and other specialty tools. or bring somebody with you who has these tools.. If you don€™t have these tools, don€™t panic as these tools can end up costing more than the tractor itself.. You should in this case rely on your own common sense and your own observation skills.
However, having said this, you should still be armed with the a basic knowledge on the operation of the tractor you are previewing. You should, at a minimum beg, borrow or steal a copy of the owners manual for the particular model of tractor you are planning to look at so you are familiar with its operation and basic specs and what to look out for.
Below is a basic checklist which you should use for evaluating any vintage tractor:
· Does it start from cold? – A tractor that starts easily may rule out several particular probems at once Good Battery, compression, ignition wiring / magneto, tune up, fuel flow, Carburetor can be assured (not guaranteed) by this. If it doesn’t start quickly, it still may be a good machine but you won’t escape some work on it. One thing you should be watch out for is if the tractor is out and warmed up when you arrived, you lose an important checklist item, namely the cold start, because as we all know a warm engine starts much more easily then a cold one..
· Does it run well when hot – Make sure you get it hot, as you will want to ensure it doesn€™t overheat. There are simple and complex problems that can cause the tractor to run poorly after it warms up. Make sure to run it for at least half an hour. Look for leaks, both oil and antifreeze. Then, shut it down and see how it starts up again.
· What condition are the breaks in – Although relatively inexpensive to replace, they are difficult to get at on many tractors and will involve a lot of effort to replace. You can check the brakes by locking one wheel and cranking the steering to that side. The tractor should spin and the wheel should not rotate, do this for both wheels.
· Does it smoke – Blue smoke indicates many potentially difficult problems like rings, pistons, or valve guides. Black or white smoke can often be fixed with carburetion or ignition changes but still costs time and money.
· Does the engine run smoothly – A simple ticking from the top of the engine may be a simple valve readjustment but a deep thunk from the bottom or middle of the engine would indicate very serious and expensive repairs. The clunk should be more pronounced under load. This may be an indication of problems with the piston, bearings or crankshaft rods. And mean a very expensive repair job.
· How does the oil look – After you have run it for a little while, cut the engine and check the oil for foaming or presence of water. This is a show stopper.
· Is there head leaks – look for signs that fluids are leaking out the head gasket. If the tractor is drenched with grease and dirt, it may cover obvious signs of seepage.
· Is the clutch good – the clutch is not that expensive to replace but splitting the tractor in half is outside what most people want to do.
· Investigate the Dynamo – There should be a small charge shown on the ammeter when the engine is turning over and a change in the charging level when the lights are switched on (this indicates that the regulator or resistor switch and cutout is operating). At normal running speed, no release should be displayed. #
· Use the hydraulics – Check the full range of the rams by extending them with a load. Let the load stand in the hold situation for a while to be sure that there is no movement. Chattering noises from the pump while lifting indicate the pump is not getting enough supply of hydraulic oil. The pump might have experienced a lot of wear when run this way for long periods of time and may be ready to fail.
· Look for structural cracks – If you dont do this you may live to regret it. Look out hairline cracks in all the cast and steel components. A few spots of weld will fix the problem but it does render your tractor unusable until these cracks are fixed..
If your initial examination fails in some of these areas, you may be able to knock down the price (since you found all the problems). At this time you should decide if you have the time to correct what you discovered… and pocket the savings. If you need the tractor straight away then, .
The best option for buying a working tractor is either to purchase one that is currently being used (but the owner needs to upgrade) or from a reputable dealer. The first is normally someone like you who needs a tractor on a day to day basis. These dealings are normally pleasurable and can even lead to a long term friendship that goes beyond the buyer/seller aspect. This type of individual will in all probability even let you use the machine with on your farm and tell you all those things they would fix if they were keeping the tractor.
Purchasing from dealers can also be a good idea but even at a dealer you should be armed with your evaluation criteria rather than relying on “the warranty”. Even if your dealer includes warranties, transporting a tractor back for even free maintenance will cist you a lot of time and effort. Also remember that the dealer is there to make a profit for his business and may not have your best intrests at heart. So buyer beware!
While some of the above experiences may sound a bit negative, you should do your background research make sure you are aware of the specific issues the model of tractor you are looking at before you invest.