Which Tractor Should He Buy? – Mick

Tim recently received this inquiry from Mick.  Which Tractor Should He Buy?

I am a recent subscriber to your YouTube channel. As I mentioned in my comments on your videos, I consider myself a tractor novice. My experience with tractors in the past was limited to lawn tractors and a couple of times I have used a Kubota ‘L’ series tractor for some yard work at our old house.
About two years ago, I got a part time job at a custom log furniture shop. My job involves the use of a Bobcat skid steer to move logs and materials around the shop and yard, so I am getting familiar with that. Recently, my elderly parents have moved in with us and this necessitated moving into a new (To us) house. This house sits on 6-3/4 acres, but it had sat vacant for several years, so the yard is in need of some major cleanup work. Part of this clean up would involve the removal of about 50+ small tree stumps (Backhoe time?).
In addition to our property here, we have a 140 acre piece of undeveloped ranch land that I use for hunting and ATV riding. It is about an hour from the house. I have two sections of roadway on this land that I need to maintain, so a box blade would be something I would need to be able to run with whatever tractor I choose. I also want to put in about a mile+ of roadway with the box blade so I can easily get around to various sections of our property.
Currently at the house, I use a Polaris Ranger with a tow behind mower to keep the grass and weeds down. I also have a snow plow for it and I use that to plow the driveway (About 100 yards). It works great for both applications. In addition, I use the Ranger to tow my wood chipper and small utility trailer when I am out working in the yard.
 
I am the caretaker for our part time neighbor’s place, which is 8-1/2 acres. He has allowed me the unlimited use of his Kubota L4400 tractor, which is outfitted with an FEL, a set of quick attach pallet forks, a backhoe and a brush hog. Using his tractor has me wanting to get one of my own.
We live in a remote area in the mountains of New Mexico and nearest town with tractor dealerships (Both a JD and Kubota) is about an hour and a half down the hill from us. So far, I have been looking at the Kubota L4701 or the MX4800. What is the equivalent tractor in the John Deere line? I would like to have an FEL with the QD bucket attachment system, so I could add pallet forks down the road.
I watched the video of your interviewing the Kubota rep at the National Farm Machinery show and I was impressed with the ease of removal of the FEL and I like the QD set up for the hydraulics. Does JD have a system like that?
Also, what trailer would you recommend for a tractor and box blade combo? Right now, I have a single axle 14 foot flatbed, but I know that is too short and too light to handle a tractor.

Which Tractor Should He Buy?

Mick,

Sounds like you are getting a bad case of ‘Tractor Fever’. There is only one known cure, and you are getting close to finding it!

You are considering two Kubota models (L4701 and MX4800). These models look VERY similar from a specfications standpoint. Starting from the L3301 upwards, Kubota has a very complete range of tractors, with each model being slightly larger in every regard. This is the case between the L4701 and the MX4800. I doubt that you would recognize much difference between the two once you get them apart from each other. Both use the same backhoe. The MX loader will lift several inches higher.
Having said that, once above 100 inches, do you need any more lift height?

Both units would handle the same attachments, have nearly identical turning radius and other handling characteristics. Overall, I think this is personal choice. You won’t regret whichever one you choose.

You asked about the hydraulic single point connector. Yes, Deere does offer this.  However, it is quite expensive.  Also, for the Kubotas you are looking at, you will need to add the single point connection as an option. It is standard on the small BX tractor, but I do not believe it is standard on the larger tractors.

The closest John Deere model would be the 4044M.   We could go into great detail about specification differences between these tractor. However, for your situation, I’m not sure it makes sense to spend much time investigating the Deere. You state that your friend has a Kubota L4400, and that you would like to be able to share attachments, including front loader attachments. The front loader quick connect is not compatible between the Deere and the Kubota. I think this becomes the decision maker for your situation.

Presumably your friend has had a positive experience with the Kubota dealer. Otherwise you would have been hesitant to pursue your own Kubota.

So, I would recommend that you get either of the two Kubota models you have mentioned. The backhoe will be a wonderful addition, especially if your neighbor doesn’t have one. This will give you a chance to ‘repay’ him for the kindness of allowing you to use his tractor.

Trailer

As for your trailer, you’ll need a pretty heavy trailer to haul either of the tractors you are pondering. The MX4800 weighs 3700 pounds without the loader or backhoe.     I would plan on a trailer which could haul at least 6000 lb payload.    This will likely require a 14,000 lb GVWR rating.

As for length, I would say that 18′ is the minimum.  You will be happier with 20′-22′.

You did not mention what truck you intend to use to pull this equipment.  A 150,1500 1/2 ton pickup will be at its absolute max with this load.   You would be much better served by a 250/2500 or even 350/3500 (3/4 or 1 ton) chassis.

You might even find that the trailer/truck requirements push you to buy a smaller (lighter) tractor.    So, it is good that you are considering all of this BEFORE you purchase.

Summary

I find that there are often factors above and beyond the specifications sheet, or even the purchase price which will help us make the decision on which tractor to buy. Two of the most frequent we see are:

  • Local Dealer Quality – Tractors need maintenance.  Tractor owners need advice.   You will spend more time at your tractor parts counter than you ever have at an auto dealer’s parts counter.  Come to think of it, auto dealers don’t even usually HAVE parts counters anymore.
  • Friend/Neighbor has significant experience with a particular brand/model – Nothing can help you learn about tractors faster than a friend or neighbor who is knowledgeable, and enjoys tinkering with their tractor.   Lean on them for knowledge.

Hopefully we’ll get a cure to that tractor fever of yours soon, Mick!

Let us know what you decide, and how it works out for you.

13 Comments

  1. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for your reply. It has given me a lot to think about. I can see that I have more research ahead of me.

    I have been doing a little more looking around on both JD’s and Kubota’s websites. I guess the first question I need to answer for myself is how big a tractor do I need to effectively run a box blade out at my ranch for road grading and maintenance? Is the L4701 or MX4800 (Or similar JD) overkill? Can I get away with a smaller (And less expensive) tractor?

    The only reason I first considered the L4701 and the MX4800 is that they are close in size to the L4400 that I have been using. They are very close in price. The main difference between the two is that the MX4800 has a Class II rear hitch and a slightly heavier rear axle.

    I would like a backhoe for the stump work at the house (And I am sure I will find uses for it when the stumps are gone), but when you add the backhoe, it sure kicks up the overall cost of the rig. If I went with a smaller tractor, I could afford the backhoe as the ones I have “Built” on both websites would put them around $30K.

    My neighbor actually has a larger (70hp) JD that he keeps at his primary residence. He seems to be happy with both brands of tractors and has had good luck with the dealers in his area. Most of the folks I know around these parts have Kubotas and they seem happy with them. The deciding factor for the tractor may come down to the front attachment mechanism. I like the way the Kubota uses the Bobcat style QD feature.

    As for trucks and trailers. Right now I have a 1/2 ton Dodge truck. No matter what I ended up with tractor-wise, I am planning on going to at least a 3/4 ton or 1 ton truck. I agree with your recommendation of a 20′-22′ trailer. I currently have a single axle 14′ trailer for my ATV’s. It originally worked great for the two quads I have, but when I got the Ranger, it would only fit that and one quad. So for trailers, bigger is always better:)

    Thanks again for all your help,

    Mick

    • The L3901 would most likely handle all of your tasks nicely. Especially since your neighbor has a 70hp Deere, and L4401. You will find transport to be easier with a smaller tractor.

      The L3901 uses a smaller backhoe, which won’t dig/reach as far, but hey, either of them are significantly larger than the backhoe I use on Johnny. So, if budget limits you, I would recommend downsizing before sacrificing by removing attachments (for instance, not purchasing a backhoe). Make sense?

      • Yes, it does makes sense to downsize (And, of course, the “Ministry of Finance” totally agrees with you 100% on this!). So I have been looking at some “Package deals” that include a trailer for the Kubota L2501/L3301. If I can swing something like this that has a backhoe, that would be great. I would like to get the backhoe first, as they look to be pretty pricey to add on later.

        In prioritizing my needs, I would say that mowing and stump/rock removal here at the house would come first, so a FEL, mower and backhoe is what I would be looking for right now.

        As I have mentioned, I can borrow my neighbors other attachments (mower and pallet forks), so I would’t need to buy those right away. I have been looking at box blades and they seem to be fairly affordable. My roadwork at the ranch is nothing I need to do right away, so the purchase of a box blade is not something I would need to do right off the bat.

        I am wondering if the L2501/L3301 or similar sized JD would be powerful enough to run a box blade for the road work I will need to do out at the ranch? I am sure it would be more than sufficient for mowing and backhoe work here at the house based on what I have seen you do with your JD.

        • I wouldn’t recommend anything less than the L3301. Maybe the 3901.

          • It looks like a visit to the dealer is in order to see what they can put together for me and what the finances will work out to.

            The lovely bride (AKA: The Minister of Finance) wants to add a driveway grader attachment for our gravel driveway. That is something I hadn’t thought of. We have about 100 yards of driveway from the house to the main road and then probably another 100 yards for the gravel loop turn around that we added last year. So this will add to the cost of everything.

            One advantage of going to the L2501 is that is does not have the DPF due to the smaller engine size. So not having to worry about dealing with that filter may be a plus.

    • Hi Tim, I’m sure this is not where I should leave this but don’t know where else to put it. I don’t do social media of any kind and don’t wish to. Have a few things that I’ve done with my 2025R that I would like to share with you because I believe you’d be interested in as well as your supporters. Let me know how to do that with the ability to send pictures. Like your site and have benefited from it greatly and would like to reciprocate. Thank you! Marc

  2. Tim,
    I believe that John Deere has now joined the rest of the world. At least some (possibly all) of their FEL’s are available with the skid steer type mount. John Deere part No. BW16727.
    I thought I had read about this recently but it was a bear trying to track it down.

  3. That attachment is not easy to find. I’ll have to ask the JD dealer about it…

  4. Very interesting! I love to read tractor blogs and I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hi Tim,

    Based on your advice, I ended up pulling the trigger on a Kubota L3901. It is a 4×4 model with the HST transmission. I got the QA front loader, backhoe, 5′ brush hog, cruise control and canopy.

    I had the dealer set the rear tires wide and fill them with ballast. I also had him install a third function valve for when I can get a grapple sometime down the road.

    Thanks for all your help!

    Mick

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