Compact tractors

Darren Wright

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Springfield, Missouri
I’ve been doing a little window shopping these past few weeks and wonder what others with compact tractors have.

I think I’ve narrowed the search to a JD 3032e, but thought I’d ask others opinions and suggestions before buying


I’m looking at a front loader/bucket, backhoe, post hole digger, and brush hog for initial attachments.

JD and Kubota dealers are the closest for service around me.
 
If I remember correctly, the loader on that model does not come off...at least easily. I have a Kubota B2920 we bought in 2010 when we moved to a house with some acreage. There have been quite a few times I removed the loader only to be able to maneuver something into a smaller spot on the property. If I was buying one today I would go for the next larger frame size, the current Kubota model i have my eyes on is the L3301. I do have the backhoe for our B series, and it has really proved useful form time to time but likely hasn't earned it's keep; similar to having a biscuit joiner in the shop. I went all out and bought all the attachments with the tractor, snow thrower (we had a 500' drive at that house), tiller, post hole digger, the backhoe/loader, mower deck, and a scraper for the drive. Agter one year I took the mower deck off and replaced it with a ZT mower.If you check comparisons between the JD and the Kubota what you will realize the "winner" is always predetermined by whatever brand the reviewer is in love with. Best to look at the candidates yourself. Pay attention to things like whether they have position control on the 3 point hitch, ease of attachment installation, and even the foot pedal (Kubota has the throttle and brake both on the right side, something I'm don't like). One other tip, at least for me installing the backhoe was almost an impossible task....until I built dollies (for everything) on casters allowing me to move the attachements to the tractor, instead of backing the tractor up to the attachments. I can put my backhoe on in about 15 minutes now, as opposed to mabe 90 minutes and lots of bad language early on. Lastly, at least in my opinion, don't get too sucked up in the HP stuff. To me 30 HP or so is the sweet spot, it's amazing how much torque these small diesel engines have and the small tractors run out of traction long before they run out of HP. Heck, I even had a Bobcat with a 26 HP Kubota and it was almost unstoppable. BTW, if you elect to build dollies you do need (duh) a hard surface to roll them around on and I've found HF casters are great for them...even the stuff that weighs ~800# like the BH.

Oops, forgot this. I've added a few other attachements over the years to mine, but by far the most used one is (are?) the forks for the loader. I'd say the forks are on the tractor probably 75% of the time anymore.
 
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Don, are you sure about that? I believe Kubota makes their own engines, they use them for their products as well as sell them to other companies. I've had 2 Bobcats, both had Kubota engines. As far as I know, Yanmar does make the small engine for JD.
 
Definitely test drive them and work the levers. You might find you bump your elbow or knee all the time in one and not the other. All of the little things add up when spending time working in them. Just the door size might be a deal maker or breaker. Have fun with the procedure, but do drive all your interested in. A new one should last your lifetime. Also, like a shed, go one size larger than you think you need. You will find more work for it than you can imagine. They are as handy as a pocket on your shirt!
 
I'd add a box blade to the very short list of implements to get early on. It's hard to express how versatile the box blade is for digging and grading and ripping. The loader on these tractors isn't really heavy enough for a lot of digging (unlike a bobcat or commercial backhoe / loader) so you can use the box blade to rip the material up then load it. Grading with it does require some practice, but hey play time on the tractor :D


I'm grumpy at John Deere about their anti right to repair antics. For a tractor there's a lot of "can it be fixed" and they really push you hard to only via the dealer. Having said that I know a couple people who have units in roughly you range and they've all liked them and I don't think they're quite as bad on the anti consumer actions on the smaller stuff as they are with big agg.

I don't know anyone who was sad about getting a Kubota. Plus one on the L series over the B though, just a lot more capable and not much larger physically.

I was pretty happy with my older Yanmar that I had, the engines on those are just solid (they're one of the standard Marine engines where they just can't break). That was an early 1980s model though and no real experience with anything newer.
 
One thing I've not seen discussed. It looks like the quote I have has the tractor equipped with R4 Industrial tires, vs. R1 Ag tires. Looks like traction could be an issue with the R4, but is as hot of a subject as 110v vs. 220v for a 1 1/2 hp motor. Anyone have the R4 tires and had issues with traction on a 4x4 tractor? Or if I go with those R4 tires, should I just go ahead and get chains?

If I remember correctly, the loader on that model does not come off...at least easily. I have a Kubota B2920 we bought in 2010 when we moved to a house with some acreage. There have been quite a few times I removed the loader only to be able to maneuver something into a smaller spot on the property. If I was buying one today I would go for the next larger frame size, the current Kubota model i have my eyes on is the L3301. I do have the backhoe for our B series, and it has really proved useful form time to time but likely hasn't earned it's keep; similar to having a biscuit joiner in the shop. I went all out and bought all the attachments with the tractor, snow thrower (we had a 500' drive at that house), tiller, post hole digger, the backhoe/loader, mower deck, and a scraper for the drive. Agter one year I took the mower deck off and replaced it with a ZT mower.If you check comparisons between the JD and the Kubota what you will realize the "winner" is always predetermined by whatever brand the reviewer is in love with. Best to look at the candidates yourself. Pay attention to things like whether they have position control on the 3 point hitch, ease of attachment installation, and even the foot pedal (Kubota has the throttle and brake both on the right side, something I'm don't like). One other tip, at least for me installing the backhoe was almost an impossible task....until I built dollies (for everything) on casters allowing me to move the attachements to the tractor, instead of backing the tractor up to the attachments. I can put my backhoe on in about 15 minutes now, as opposed to mabe 90 minutes and lots of bad language early on. Lastly, at least in my opinion, don't get too sucked up in the HP stuff. To me 30 HP or so is the sweet spot, it's amazing how much torque these small diesel engines have and the small tractors run out of traction long before they run out of HP. Heck, I even had a Bobcat with a 26 HP Kubota and it was almost unstoppable. BTW, if you elect to build dollies you do need (duh) a hard surface to roll them around on and I've found HF casters are great for them...even the stuff that weighs ~800# like the BH.

Oops, forgot this. I've added a few other attachements over the years to mine, but by far the most used one is (are?) the forks for the loader. I'd say the forks are on the tractor probably 75% of the time anymore.
Great feedback Fred! :thumb: I didn't realize the bucket wasn't removable on the E series, it's not really mentioned (anywhere), but looking at pics and comparing the models you're correct. Though I don't see that being much of an issue. There could be a few places it could get tight, but for the most part it wouldn't be an issue.

One of my reasons for looking at JD is that I have a good friend that runs the service departments for the dealer/chain I'm looking to buy from. He's given me several things to think about, but after discussing said that I'd probably be happy with the 3 series for what I'm looking to use it for. He was a bit concerned about the bucket hydraulics on the 3 series and said they are a bit on the weak side and said the 4044M might be a better choice for running a bucket, but he tends to load a lot of equipment on trailers and such.

My wife said the post hole digger was a must, she wants fencing installed, at least at the entrance to the farm. I'm not sure how it will do with the rocky soil here, but we shall find out.

With all the springs and water management on the property, the backhoe is probably the attachment that will actually see a lot of use. There are lots of scrub trees and bushes that have grown up in areas that were once pasture, so digging those and stump out may be another use.

There is a creek that runs through the property and in the past few years seems have times the water isn't receding as fast as it has in the past. There may have been some work done down stream causing it, but her grandpa feels it has a lot to do with the thick brush that has grown up along the creek. Brush hogging it back should certainly help with that, but I think it's a balance between having too much and not enough to prevent erosion of the banks. I'll certainly focus on some key areas of those areas to help with run-off.

I'd go with the Kubota.
So, other than what's been said by others, what do prefer about them over other brands?

Definitely test drive them and work the levers. You might find you bump your elbow or knee all the time in one and not the other. All of the little things add up when spending time working in them. Just the door size might be a deal maker or breaker. Have fun with the procedure, but do drive all your interested in. A new one should last your lifetime. Also, like a shed, go one size larger than you think you need. You will find more work for it than you can imagine. They are as handy as a pocket on your shirt!
That's really great advice, it was pouring down rain the other day when I stopped in at the dealer, so didn't get to do any of that. The young man that helped me was pretty knowledgeable and answered all my questions, but looks like I have a few more for him as well as fitting in some test drives. I need to double check the door height on the garage, but know it can fit in the barn if need be for now.

I'd add a box blade to the very short list of implements to get early on. It's hard to express how versatile the box blade is for digging and grading and ripping. The loader on these tractors isn't really heavy enough for a lot of digging (unlike a bobcat or commercial backhoe / loader) so you can use the box blade to rip the material up then load it. Grading with it does require some practice, but hey play time on the tractor :D


I'm grumpy at John Deere about their anti right to repair antics. For a tractor there's a lot of "can it be fixed" and they really push you hard to only via the dealer. Having said that I know a couple people who have units in roughly you range and they've all liked them and I don't think they're quite as bad on the anti consumer actions on the smaller stuff as they are with big agg.

I don't know anyone who was sad about getting a Kubota. Plus one on the L series over the B though, just a lot more capable and not much larger physically.

I was pretty happy with my older Yanmar that I had, the engines on those are just solid (they're one of the standard Marine engines where they just can't break). That was an early 1980s model though and no real experience with anything newer.
I think most dealerships (trucks too) have started pushing the dealer service route, along with maintenance plans. I certainly have my issues with it, but know my limits and try to let other do what I'm not good or as good at.

Good advice on the box blade, I'll put one on the list. I did plan to level a new spot for a shop and the RV, guess there is a reason they call it a "loader". ;) I think I can get a bucket with teeth too, but can see the breaker on the box blade being much more versatile.

I'll also be adding the fork attachment on the list for the FEL.
 
Make sure the forks aren't the kind that bolt to the bucket, those are kind of a bad idea (IMO), get the kind that replaces the bucket. As for the removal loader...well, OK. But for me that would be a show stopper. Now, for the R4 tires. They are good for traction, not as good as the ag tires, but a whole lot less damage to the turf. They are also a little more puncture resistant than the others, important if you're in a wooded area that has cut down saplings (don't ask). As to service, you are lucky to have a friend to talk too, and that maight make your decision easier. But outside of that, tractor dealers aren't anything like your local car dealer. The companies (JD, K, others) don't seem to be tuned in to use mere mortals that don't buy the big stuff. So little problems are for the owner to solve, and big problems take some wrangling....unless you have a good dealer because it's them who provide most of your assistance. Just be sure to check out the 2 brands and see which one suits you best. One other thing about the post hole digger, they are not generally a one-person operation. Unless you have hydraulic down pressure on the boom, it takes some weight to get them to dig.....usually someone pulling on a handle that's been welded to the boom. They are also a little tricky to get started at 90º without someone to spot for you....I mention all this so you don't expect them to make post holes appear magically. :rofl:


PS, one other thing that slipped my mind....having a "thumb" on the backhoe is really useful.
 
I need to double check the door height on the garage, but know it can fit in the barn if need be for now.
Many (most?) of the compacts have a folding ROPS (maybe optional) which can help with the clearance issue. Do put the thing up when you're using it though, I had to yell at another friend recently who was bombing around on the hills with it down and I ended up enumerating the list of people I personally know who've died from rollovers.

I'll also be adding the fork attachment on the list for the FEL.
Some of the FEL's have the forks as basically a different "bucket" where you can pop the bucket off and put on the forks. For a lot of things I kind of liked it better because it ends up with the forks closer in so there's less leverage way out there. That makes it a bit easier to use (angles are "slower"), less tippy if you have something heavy out there, and I think most might have a higher load rating. Downside is more stuff and the slip on forks are pretty quick to put on/off comparatively (although the one I recently saw for a Bota was basically quick connect and super convenient). Whether it matters depends on use.

I think most dealerships (trucks too) have started pushing the dealer service route, along with maintenance plans. I certainly have my issues with it,
I'm mostly opposed on philosophical rather than practical grounds :)
 
My ROPs will not fit under a 7' garage door when it's straight up. Straight up it's right at 7'. It can be leaned over at about a 45º angle (the top 1/2 of it) and then it fits under the short doors.
 
Darren I had the JD 3038e and it was a little work horse. I had the remotes installed and glad I did. Also the bucket is a quick attach and only takes maybe 2 min to switch between bucket and forks of which I seem to use the forks the most. I would slide the forks together and gab them into the ground and pop up shrubs and small trees (loved them forks). I always thought the lift was a little light tho but then I was use to larger farm tractors. It will NOT lift a large bale any higher that to push it along the ground. But it did do everything I asked of it AND you will run out of traction before running out of power.

The Mahindra will lift more and is cheaper but doesn't hold its resale as well as JD. To give you an Idea I had my JD 3038e for 5 years with 375hrs and sold it for $1000 less than I gave for it and probably could had got what I did pay for it if I had waited. The Kubota or Mahindra will NOT hold the value as well. Believe me I done a lot to shopping before buying the JD. I had the R4 tires and never had a problem and the didn't tear up the yard.

It will handle a post hole digger just fine but if your ground is anything like mine was don't waste your time with it as you will just twist the shaft off or break something on it even tho it has a shear pin. I found it was way better to just rent a hyd digger from the rental company's (the ones with track and/or bucket )

Also when you fold the safety roll bar down it will fit anywhere your pickup would fit.

Oh and no mater which one you get make sure the put fluid it the rear wheels. Dont think you can get along with out it because you CANT.

Have you looked at the Kiot, people seem really like them too I almost bought one but glad I didn't when it came time to sell.

I was talking to my Aunt a while back (she is still farming 300ac by her self) and the JD 4430 I bought in 76 is selling for $10,000 more than I paid for it
 
Are you buying off the shelf, or ordering? Wonder what the wait time for JD and Kubota is.
Salesman says he has it in inventory, but it's at another location. My friend that runs their service says that inventory is really hard to get in right now. He said it could be next year before I see it if I order from the factory.
OH this it the right time to buy JD as if I remember right their year close out in in OCT
Yeah, the salesman mentioned that as well, it's their fiscal end right now.

I happened to notice that the RV park owner had the 3032e also. We went down and looked at his and I was happy with the controls and layout. He said his has been running well and not had any issues at all. He's not doing much with it other than moving rock for a while, but has brush hogged with it and said it worked well for that.
 
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