29 December 1995

1980s icon…

Thorough once-over for a

Back in September we kicked off our "What to look for" series with a profile of the 105hp Case 1056XL. This month another late-80s tractor icon, the John Deere 3650, comes under the spotlight. John Rose and Paul Heanes of John Deere dealer John W Doubleday provide the advice,

Andrew Faulkner writes the words

LUCKY dip comes to mind when buying second-hand tractors at a farm sale. Whichever way you look at it, its a gamble: You might pick out a bargain prime mover, but could just as easily end up with a pokeless pup.

For many, however, the gamble is worth taking. Even in these times of improved farm incomes and booming tractor sales, there are still farmers who just wont buy new on principle – "why use money which can be better spent elsewhere".

For these committed second-hand buyers, there seem to be a number of unwritten rules: Go for no-frills models, tractors with proven reliability over long hours, and ones that are probably over-engineered for their particular power sector.

Taking these guidelines into account, it is of no great surprise to find that the two tractors in greatest demand in the mass 100-120hp sector area are the now superseded Case 1056XL (What to Look For, Sept 8) and John Deere 3650.

Both these tractors meet the second-hand buyers golden rules outlined above and, although from different stables, share a degree of commonality too. They were both built in Germany, both ceased production in 1993, both used low-stress six-cylinder engines and both were fitted with cabs which, when introduced, were considered ahead of their time.

Weve already looked at the Case, so here we concentrate on what was John Deeres flagship model in its European-built tractor range.

Manufactured at Mannheim in Germany from 1987-93, the 3650 replaced the 112hp naturally aspirated 3640 in the firms line-up. As well as getting new decals and a power boosting turbocharger – power was upped to 116hp – the 3650 was also fitted with a cooling Eco-Fan. Deere claimed this self-regulating unit saved up to 0.8litres of fuel/hour by automatically adjusting its speed to actual cooling needs.

Retained from the old 40 series was almost everything else – most notably the 16F/8R synchromesh gearbox, castor action front axle and distinctive SG2 cab.

Over the six years the 3650 was in production, changes to specification were few. This makes secondhand buying easier. All tractors had heavy duty lift rods and transmission housings, all but the earliest tractors were fitted with air conditioning as standard, and all tractors came with 4wd. Main option to look out for is the 40kph gearbox – check for 3650C code on serial plate – which grew in popularity over the 3650s life.

So, given that there are no particular years/specs to avoid, how do you spot that pup at the farm sale?

For specific 3650 pointers, refer to the pictures and captions. Moreover all general guidelines, which can be used when buying a second-hand tractor of whatever size and colour, obviously still apply.

First impressions are always important, and a brief initial glance around the tractor can be revealing. Outwardly superficial items such as lights/mirrors in place, cab trim condition and functioning telescopic stabilisers are all useful indicators to past treatment. Do not be distracted by odd, off putting oil leaks – around pto shaft and spools, for example – which probably just need a cheap seal change.

Next step is a more detailed inspection (see pictures). If possible also try and get a drive on the tractor, however brief, before decision time.

While stationary, check engine note on start up – tired crank suggests new battery or starter motor – warning lights go out and hydraulics/pto are working. Final driving checks are standard clutch and brake test.

Now for crunch time. And remember, the tractor is only worth what its worth to your business?