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There are a lot of options that you should consider when shopping for a tractor and I've done videos about most of them. The topic today is not really related to tractor options, but rather tractor traits that could influence your decision to purchase a particular model. These are characteristics of the design of the tractor, and can't be changed, each machine will be one way or another.
The first of these is how the operator's area is mounted on the tractor. In other words, are you sitting low, where the transmission hump is exposed and right down between your ankles, or have the engineers raised the platform up where you're sitting above it? What we're discussing here is a straddle mount, a semi-straddle mount, (or semi-flat deck) or a flat deck tractor. There are advantages and disadvantages of all three.
The straddle mount tractors put the operator at a low point, making the overall center of gravity lower. That's great if you're on hills, you'll be a lot more stable than if everything were mounted up high. The disadvantage to a straddle mount is related...it cuts down on your visibility. Likewise, the semi-straddle mount and flat deck tractors position you up high where visibility is good, but, on side hills you don't feel as safe. In addition, semi-straddle and flat deck tractors will often have a rubber pad that isolates the operator from heat and noise that comes from below, and that's definitely an advantage.
The second trait of a tractor that generally gets no consideration is the location of the fuel tank. There are three places they can be; under the hood, behind the operator, or down by the step. I like the latter the best, many cab tractors have fuel tanks mounted under the platform. That keeps the weight of the fuel down low and helps offset the higher center of gravity of the cab. The only disadvantage to that design is the tank is down where it could be damaged by brush or stumps in the forest, but most have a steel guard around them, so that's not usually a problem.
Most of us buying a non-cab tractor will have one with the fuel tank under the hood or behind us. There are advantages and disadvantages of both. The under hood design means you'll have better rear visibility, which is nice when brush hogging, but the rear mounted design can generally be filled while sitting on the seat. Also, the rear mounted design means you won't be spilling diesel fuel all over your shiny hood, or scratching it up when filling, and if you're particular about every scratch on your tractor, that may be a big deal.
Finally, the last consideration is how loud the tractor is. I wish I would have paid more attention to noise levels when younger, I'm experiencing some hearing loss. What probably got me was my love for music. "Won't Get Fooled Again" by the Who or "Back in the USSR" by the Beatles turned up really loud was a joy of my youth that I'm paying for today. Couple that with a lifetime around equipment and you have a recipe for hearing damage. Most of the old guys in our business are a little hard of hearing.
In the old days, before smart phones, you'd have to buy an expensive VU meter to measure how loud a tractor was. Today, there are multiple free apps you can download to measure sound. To be fair to all tractors you're shopping for, you'll need to know the PTO rated engine speed of each tractor. That's the RPM level where the tractor makes the horsepower it's rated for. So, if you have a tractor that's 40 PTO horsepower at 2600 RPM, you'll want to check it at that speed. That's different for every tractor. I show two in the video, a Massey, with a Perkins engine with a long stroke designed for agricultural operation, that has a rated engine speed of 2200 RPM. Also a New Holland TC40 with a 2600 RPM rated speed. Will the Massey be quieter than the New Holland because the engine is running 400 RPM slower? Not necessarily, because the New Holland has a semi-straddle mount design with a thick rubber pad on the deck, the Massey is a straddle mount. So, I have no idea which one will be quieter, that could possibly be the topic for a future video.
Bottom line is, if you spend a lot of time on your tractor, and are like I am and just can't force yourself to wear ear protection, you may want to check how loud each tractor is before you buy.
I'm probably going to get some comments from people who think these three traits would have zero influence on their decision on which tractor to buy and that's okay. If you're more particular, this video may insure you get a tractor you love.
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