Bargain: Old tractors, plenty of life

* There’s something almost defiant about a yard scraping tractor. Like a neglected, unloved dog it resolutely refuses to show that it is affected by daily abuse and remains loyal and reliable to the end.

One has to accept that those who work with livestock generally have little if any compassion when it comes to things mechanical – cows and tractors are frequently at opposite ends of the spectrum in these circumstances.

Their tractors are rarely, if ever, put undercover, get washed only when it rains and maintenance matters like oil and filter changes are not considered essential.

And, as life progresses, there seems to be an ever increasing dependence on string – string to hold the cab door open, string to hold the battery cover on, string to tie the linkage arms together, string to tie the string on. Yes, it can be a sad life being a yard scraping tractor.

Yet yard scraping is an essential job and someone has to do it – and needs a tractor to do it with. But what sort of tractor should be purchased and how much do you need to pay?

We set out to see if we could buy a suitable tractor for under £5000 and scanned the tractor classified advertisement list to see if we could spot a good deal. We came across the second-hand tractor dealer business of Phil and John Harrison based at Tadcaster, York which seemed to offer some likely candidates.

Ford 3600

Ford 3600This little gem of a tractor was in surprisingly good condition and had clearly been well cared for to the point that even the front of the bonnet bore no scars from over-zealous loader activities.

Built in the late 1970s as part of Ford’s 600 series, the 3600 was rated at 47hp and, like others in the series, was among the first Ford tractors to be fitted with alternators, rather than dynamos.

A look around this tractor reveals that it has a power assisted steering system which was probably fitted when the Cameron Gardner loader was purchased. As with most tractors that have spent any time operating loaders, the steering linkage does have an element of play in it although the front axle pivot bush is sound.

A dark sooty mark on the oil filter shows that the exhaust manifold is blowing, but there are no obvious oil leaks and the block is fairly clean.

The clutch, which has probably been replaced at some time, operates well and the brakes also have some life left in them.

For the operator, the cab is tidy and appears to be structurally sound, with only a suggestion of rust on the mudguards. The seat is not original, but is comfortable and has an integral suspension system that a stockman will appreciate.

Tyre wear is on the heavy side with about 20% all round remaining, although if the tractor is to spend its life shunting around on concrete, this is not a serious issue.

Most importantly for yard scraping duties, the rear linkage is operative and looks to be in good working order.

Overall then, a tidy tractor which would appear to have more than a few years of work left in her. The price tag is £5000.

Massey Ferguson 135

Massey Ferguson 135One just hates to think just how many MF135s have been condemned to a life of yard scraping – but sadly, perhaps, here is yet another candidate.

This particular model does look a little on the tired side, but as far as the engine and transmission are concerned it still sounds very sweet – testament to the quality of a design and manufacture which sees these tractors lasting forever.

There is evidence that the tractor has been split at some stage which would indicate that a new clutch is on board – so nothing to worry about on that score.

The engine itself looks as it should – no oil or fuel leaks, a relatively new-looking oil filter which would suggest regular maintenance, and reasonably clean overall.

Not such good news in the brake department inasmuch as there are no brakes worth talking about. Even so, no reason to despair a new set of brake shoes is easy both to obtain and to fit.

To the rear of the tractor, the linkage appears to work properly and should certainly cope with a yard scraper which could, in the run of things, soon become an integral part of the tractor. The operator will certainly welcome some new padding for the seat and it is likely a roll-over protection unit will need to be fitted.

New tyres on the back are a real plus, but ex-Land Rover 750-16 tyres on the front do tend to temper the initial enthusiasm for this tractor.

Although this tractor may look a little jaded, we are told a replacement bonnet and mudguards could be obtained for less than £1000. Perhaps not a tractor to put immediately to work – certainly not in the dark with its headlights absent – but one which is reasonably mechanically sound even so. The price is £3000.

Ford 4000

Ford 4000One of the most popular tractors to have been produced by Ford, the 4000 was introduced as part of the company’s 1000 Series in 1964. This particular model was built in the early 1970s a handful of years after engine power had been increased from 55hp to 62hp.

There is little doubt this tractor has not had a particularly easy path through life. Now more than 35 years old, one can only speculate just what tasks she has been asked to do.

But while outwardly this old girl has looked better, her important assets – the engine, the transmission, final drive and hydraulics all seem to be as sweet as the day she rolled off the Basildon assembly line. Well, almost.

The bonnet doesn’t look too bad and the side panels open and latch shut correctly and, still with bodywork, the mudguards are surprisingly good and suffer only slightly from rust problems.

For the cab itself, the side windows still slide open, but there is one window missing in the front panel. Worth pointing out before anyone climbs on board that a new seat is required – well not necessarily a new seat, just a seat.

A slight leak on the fuel line from the filter needs to be fixed, but that is not expensive and while the rear tyres have a generous amount of tread – 60% – the tyre walls look a little fragile from being perished.

What we have here is a tractor that still has plenty to offer – not perhaps in the cosmetic department, but in the ability to start up every morning and work.

And who could ask more from a yard scraping tractor? The price of this tractor is put at £3500.