My tractor used to have problems that made it sit unused for months. Mostly I fixed this through a few simple repairs, such as replacing the broken fuel shutoff to prevent constant evaporation and its attendant crud in the carburetor, replacing the corroded distributor points with a Pertronix electronic ignition (which is almost as easy as putting in a new set of points), and replacing a dying starter motor.
But any tractor that’s more than 50 years old is going to require some unplanned maintenance.
Over the past few months, I’ve had to replace the starter motor bendix and deal with my fuel-cap-related problems, each of which required a wait for parts and some miscellaneous delays which kept the tractor out of service for a week.
This is why most people buy new equipment — and why I’m looking for a second elderly tractor. It’s not like two tractors will make my 37 acres look crowded, though admittedly I don’t have an empty bay in my machine shed.
From the point of view of statistics, it makes perfect sense. If one tractor has 95% uptime, if I have two, there’s a 99.8% chance that at least one of them is running. (This is based on the assumption that, if I have a spare tractor, I’ll repair a broken one as fast as ever, which I admit is questionable.)
Mostly I use my tractors for mowing and for moving chicken houses short distances. My current tractor is a Ford 640, which is almost overkill for such tasks. I’m looking for another Ford tractor from the Thirties through the Sixties, with a vague preference for a 9n (made from 1939-1941), just because it’s the most antique Ford tractor that’s really suitable for my purposes. These things are everywhere, at least in theory. I don’t see one on Craigslist within an hour of me.
Tractors last forever, even if used hard, because they are simple and overbuilt. A tractor from the Sixties isn’t much different from one from the Thirties. Once tractors get too old to use as the lifeblood of a large commercial farm, their prices collapse to low levels, and you can pretty much pick your poison. A Ford utility tractor from the Thirties through the Sixties should be worth between $1,000 and $4,000 around here, based more on whether it’s been spiffed up than what its actual features are, and how good its tires are. A new set of tires will cost around $1,000. This also means that an elderly tractor will retain its resale value, such as it is, except for tire wear.
I could get a tractor with more features (diesel, power steering, more horsepower) without increasing the price much. This might be prudent, but I’m going to stick with what I know this time.
Not that there’s a huge consensus of what the value of such a tractor is. Some people will pay more, some less. I’m looking for a bargain tractor that’s mechanically sound. My budget is $2,000 (including the cost to haul it to my farm, since I don’t have a suitable trailer), hopefully including a 5′ mower. I’d go higher if it has a quality roll bar on it or a decent tractor seat, but hardly any of them do.
So if you know of a running Ford tractor within about 50 miles of Blodgett, Oregon, let me know. I’d be especially interested if it has decent rubber and a bush hog.