How To Buy A Tractor – The ~~Final~~ List

Please read the first article here and the second article here to get the story of my learning curve from my previous tractor purchases. I’m no expert, I’m just a guy who does stuff. My special power is making mistakes that cost me time or money and then, after paying the price of admission, learning from my mistakes and making better decisions. It’s really a continuous improvement loop these days. I’ve learned to PLAN – DO – CHECK – ACT! I hope that I can help you not make the same mistake that I have, but this is just my opinion!

So, I made a jump forward with the Ford Jubilee. It had a Live PTO and I even found a bargain loader to put on it… and it was a huge disappointment. The loader bucket was massive and it was just too much weight for the tractor. I couldn’t get any traction on my tractor. Now, if you know any Latin, Tractor means “that which draws (or pulls).” No-traction tractors are an oxymoron at best and frustratingly ineffective at worst. I pulled that loader, sold it and reworked my list.


  • MUST be $3,500.00 or less. $7,000.00 – for the list that I wanted (below) this was the range I was going to have to spend and I saved up for it. Lesson here, don’t cheap out. Buy what you need the first time, it will save you money in the long run.
  • MUST have a loader. Still a must, but after the realization that a “loader” by itself didn’t fit the bill I had to add a couple of distinctives to this.
  • (NEW) MUST have power steering to handle extra weight of the load in the bucket.
  • (NEW) MUST have down pressure to dig in piles of dirt.
  • (NEW) MUST have come with loader originally, because if not, the front axle probably wasn’t designed for the extra load.
  • (NEW) MUST have at least 30 HP. The nice thing about the Jubilee over the 8N was the additional horsepower. Plus I needed it to have some weight to PULL (Latin – remember) things like plows, trailers, and even trucks out of ditches/fields. Less than that and you’re in the compact tractor range. Nice little machines, but not big enough for my needs
  • MUST have a live PTO. This didn’t change… and anything newer than the 60’s this is mostly not an issue. I needed a PTO that could and would operate independently from the rest of the tractor’s drive train.
  • Must be a Ford or New Holland. name brand that I can get parts for locally. Ford was sold to New Holland and if I was looking for NH’s they were consistent with other makes. I opened my list to other manufacturers even the ones that had been “too expensive” like John Deere and Kubota.
  • MUST be in good used shape. Still a must
  • MUST be diesel. Why is this a must for me? Because the extra pulling torque and efficiency at low RPM work. The gas Jubilee ate gas quicker than I expected
  • MUST be 4WD. I never wanted to experience lack of traction under load like I did on the Jubilee. Front axles with weight on them from the loader in 4×4 actually INCREASE your traction.

Now, making these MUSTS really limited my choices, but I HAD to get this right this time. I had to increase my search area, and I had to become a full-time tractor researchers while scouring the different sites. Craigslist was ok, but there were a lot of scammers. Facebook Marketplace was just coming into it’s own. Ebay hasn’t been a good place to typically buy something like a tractor for years. My secret weapon? Pennswoods. I know, I know, I’m giving it a way but I haven’t found too many PA’ians here on Steemit and posts seem to die after 7 days anyway! 🙂


IMG_20150307_101644_883.jpgJohn Deere 1050 4×4 MFWD (Mechanical Front Wheel Drive) Diesel with a 37 HP Yanmar Engine.

The tractor that I settled on… (read, was blessed by God with, because the story is amazing) was the John Deere 1050 4×4 MFWD (Mechanical Front Wheel Drive) Diesel. You can read stats here.

It clicked off every single item on my list above.

[x] $7K
[x] 4×4
[x] 37HP
[x] Down Pressure
[x] Loader – original equipment
[x] Power Steering
[x] Great Shape
[x] Live PTO
[x] Name Brand – John Deere – local dealer for support.

did have to drive about 5 hours one way for it. That made a LONG but exciting day!


HOLY SMOKES! What a difference 4×4 and diesel make. I won’t buy another actual utility work/farm tractor that isn’t diesel and 4×4. (I might buy another old-iron type tractor just because I like them, but it will be relegated to some basic tasks or just for me to fiddle with.) Yes, it makes that big of a difference. A 34 HP (at PTO) tractor that is 4×4 and diesel is like an 80 HP or bigger 2WD tractor.

The biggest lesson learned is to figure out what you want and shoot for it. Compromise can be made as long as you actually KNOW what you’re compromising on. Things that I thought were a must (like a Ford or NH) were not. Things that I thought were a “like-to-have” were a must (like 4×4 and diesel).

A very happy me on my tractor moving snow!

cool text divider.png

Things I wish my tractor had when I bought it (or maybe the title should be “The Next List”):

  • Rear and front remotes *These are for additional hydraulic hook-ups.
  • ROPS bar (Roll Over Protection Structure) Originally it came with one (in fact it was the first ROPS on tractors on this unit) but it is missing. I need to replace this.
  • Cab Ok, not a MUST for me (yet) but it sure would be nice in the snow and ice)
  • Backhoe I will be adding a 3PT with a PTO-run pump, but a quick attach unit designed for the tractor is the ideal
  • Shuttle shift The JD is 8 forward, 8 back manual shift. Shuttle shift makes forward and reverse as easy as pushing the lever or the pedal
  • Quick attach loader/bucket (like a skid-steer universal quick attachment) I wish for this more and more, especially when I want to put forks on the loader arm


I’ll do a full review of the JD1050 specifically in the future. I’ve had the tractor for 3 years now and I’m still tickled every time I use it. The thing is a workhorse and I’m certain that I can get MORE out of it today than what I bought it for if I ever go to sell it. The Yanmar engine is a real trooper.

Getting Ready2.jpg
The bucket is handy for carrying stuff and also works as a portable sawhorse!

My son loves this tractor also.


If you found this post helpful, informative, of quality content or perhaps even just entertaining, please consider and upvote, a resteem, a follow and a comment!

Post Author: tmhstead

Leave a Reply