Honey, Can I Drive It to Work? Buying and Restoring a Used Tractor

If you need a tractor and want a mechanical restoration project too, an older tractor might fill the bill. Older tractors with lots of life left are readily available – and for a lot less money than a new tractor.

Some items to consider if you are buying an older used tractor (pre 1975):

1. Most older tractors have hydraulics and 3 point hitches. If it didn’t come from the manufacturer with a 3 point hitch, there are several aftermarket hitches available. But adding a 3-point can cost money. If you like to work with machines and have experience making parts, you can easily make a 3-point hitch to fit your tractor.

2. Look at the tires and wheels. Tractor and implement wheels will rust with age and weaken. Also look for wheels that have been bent or cracked and welded. Replacing tractor wheels can be expensive. Determine if there are wheel weights with the tractor. Wheel weights are used to increase traction and they add value to the tractor.

3. Check the hydraulic system for leaks in hoses and check for leaks around the cylinders. Test the up and down movement of the hydraulics. A test I have used that has always worked is to raise and lower the lift arms a few times to get used to the lift speed. Then stand on one arm and see if it still raises at the same speed.(IF you use this test, be very careful. Equipment is very unforgiving). This test is not a complete test nor is it fool-proof, but it has always been a good indication of a properly working hydraulic system.

4. Next look at the PTO (Power Take Off). This feature may vary with make and model. Some have two PTO speeds but all have at least one speed. Engage and dis-engage the PTO several times and watch the output shaft. Does it run smoothly or wiggle? Listen for any strange noises when it is running.

5. Last, but not least, DRIVE IT!! Drive it down the road (but not the highway!). Check out all the gears and speed ranges. Listen for any strange noises and strange vibrations from the tractor. Do some turns in both directions and while backing up. Also check the brakes.An older tractor can be a good investment, a good tool, and a good source of enjoyment for the mechanical enthusiast. And there’s no chance of a speeding ticket while driving to work!

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