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comparing tractors, small farming

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justinpittman

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Sep 23, 2020
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Wisconsin
Hi,

What are folks' recommendations for tractors that work well for small farm implements?

I've got about 1 dozen Cub Cadets within 2hr drive and have narrowed the list to 3 ... partially based on WAF/PAF (Wife Approval Factor / Partner Approval Factor) wants a bigger snowblower and each of these come with said snowblower :)
  • 122 @ $1000 - looks garage kept
  • 127 @ $800 - very rusty
  • 1650 @ $1000 - "major engine overhaul" was done
All run and I hope to hear what each sound like and take a test drive soon.

Any of these known to be better for towing & attachments? Can I attach a sleeve hitch to any of them? Rear implements will lift on all of these?

I'm leaning towards the 1650 because it's a few more horsepower and it's 20 years younger ... I'm no small engine expert (yet) so need some kick-the-can time before a breakdown & DIY fix is needed.

Justin
 

kmcconaughey

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Justin, WELCOME!

All three will accept sleeve hitches. Here's a quick run down on some specs:

The 122 is a 12hp, gear drive Narrow Frame, manual lift, though could have optional hydraulic lift. Lights were optional. Mechanical PTO clutch.

The 127 is a 12hp, hydrostatic drive Narrow Frame with Quick Attach front mounts, manual lift, could have optional electric lift. Lights were optional. Mechanical PTO clutch.

The 1650 is a 16hp, hydrostatic drive Wide Frame with Quick Attach front mounts, should also have hydraulic lift. Lights were I believe standard. Electric PTO clutch.
 

justinpittman

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Wisconsin
Hydrostatic vs gear isn't something I'd considered but now that I think about rolling down a couple 100 ft per row in a field ... I may lean towards gear.

Thx Kraig!
 

dropte

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David Ropte
The sleeve hitch/lift isn't standard on any cub cadet, so you'd have to add that if it doesn't come with it. Look to spend maybe 250-300 additional to get the IH 3 point lift and the brinley sleeve hitch adapter. The hydro works just as good as the gear drive for plowing, IMO. If you're looking to blow snow, you're either going to want a creeper on the 122 or a hydro unit.

All three have basically the same driveline, with a single cylinder kohler (12 HP in the 122 and 127 and 16HP in the 1650) driving a rear end via a shaft with a beefy final drive and either a sunstrand 15U series hydro unit or the IH 3 speed gear drive between the two.

The 1650 is going to likely have the most potential "problems", unless they've been addressed. Generally the motor mounts go bad in them and they will shake the crap out of you with that big 16HP single in them. It might shake the crap out of you with good mounts too. The hydraulic lift is a big plus if you're going to be using a blower or rear mounted implements. Those blowers (probably technically snow throwers) are pretty heavy and do a decent job moving snow in most conditions, but really struggle in wet heavy stuff. The extra torque from the 16HP is helpful there, but still fighting against the design a bit. 1650 is also more likely to have the 4 paddle 42" or 36" blower than the older ones (assuming they all come with a thrower). Plan on also needing some chains and weights for the rear if they don't come with that (another $200 or so all-in is about the going rate). The 1650 can also spin the 190-364 2 stage snow blower, if you can find one, which does a lot better job than the earlier single stage throwers.

All those prices seem a bit on the high side to me, if they don't have all of that stuff already. With rear lifts, weights and chains maybe they are ballpark-ish.

Given those three options, I would still have to pick the 1650. To be clear, though, they are all basically old worn out machines at this point if they've been used this whole time. Even the 1650 is going to be 45ish years old. Just because the 122 is 65 years old doesn't make the 1650 a spring chicken. The 122 is a simpler machine and has fewer things to go wrong, but they are all basically functional antiques. Stuff is going to break on them. Some parts are no longer available. Some are hard to find even used and expensive. Just understand that you're going to likely have problems on all of them. From tired electrical systems to worn out pulleys and sloppy steering and bearings, to worn driveline parts to rusty bolts. It's all fixable, and pretty much everything is find-able either through folks that mostly deal with NOS stuff like Charlie on here at CC Specialties to folks that part them out and sell stuff, but don't think you're just going to hop on it and everything is going to operate fine for years. It's possible, but that's not most people's experience with these things.
 

justinpittman

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Wisconsin
I put a deposit down for the 127. :yikes:

I would still have to pick the 1650
The seller of the 1650 never replied. But I did go test drive a 1250 to see a Wide frame made in the same period. There were some issues I noticed with the 1250 that the 127 didn't have (ex: I didn't have to press the clutch/brake to drive forward/reverse, there was a leak under the rear gearbox / hydro, ... but she did look great!)

The 127 just "felt" right. The seller was the original owner's daughter & son-in-law who got it after he passed, it was used on his farm, and they still had parts that their dad had used: snowblower, plow, sleeve hitch (with DIY hand lift), chains, Cub Cadet spare blades, and manual. Everything is rusty and worn but it all works and that's what I kinda wanted.

What initial maintenance should I do? I should probably post a new thread on that.
 
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dropte

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David Ropte
I put a deposit down for the 127. :yikes:



The seller of the 1650 never replied. But I did go test drive a 1250 to see a Wide frame made in the same period. There were some issues I noticed with the 1250 that the 127 didn't have (ex: I didn't have to press the clutch/brake to drive forward/reverse, there was a leak under the rear gearbox / hydro, ... but she did look great!)

The 127 just "felt" right. The seller was the original owner's daughter & son-in-law who got it after he passed, it was used on his farm, and they still had parts that their dad had used: snowblower, plow, sleeve hitch (with DIY hand lift), chains, Cub Cadet spare blades, and manual. Everything is rusty and worn but it all works and that's what I kinda wanted.

What initial maintenance should I do? I should probably post a new thread on that.
You shouldn't have to press the brake pedal (there's no clutch on a hydro cub) to do anything but start the machine.

127s are great machines. I've got one somewhere. I've got pictures of it at least!
03FA025E-2369-438B-9B90-95E16897CB83_1_105_c.jpeg


Sounds like you got a pretty complete machine and that's not an awful price for everything you got. The accessories are a bigger deal than the tractor in a lot of ways. Tractors are kinda a dime a dozen, especially in the 1x4/5 and 1x6/7 line.

There really aren't too many things to do on these machines. Basically change the fluids. The rear end takes Hy-Tran or MasterTran (from Case/New Holland...not the cheap crap from the farm store). You should change the filter with an OEM one as well. You can still get those from the CNH dealer. I've also had good success with Wix 51410 filters as well. Change the oil. The book says straight 30 weight in the summer and 10w-30 if you're going to run it in the winter. I use Case Low Ash SAE30, but any good quality one is probably fine. I don't run my K series engines much in the winter, but really any decent 10w-30 should be fine. Those things were designed when oil was pretty crappy, so even the cheap modern stuff is way better than what they would have run new. There are a handful of things to grease on it, and you should do that too.

You could give it a tuneup too, depending on how handy you are. Change the air filter. Check the carb bowl and possibly rebuild it, inspect the points and set the timing, new plug and maybe wire, depending on how crusty it is.

Then give it a good bath/cleaning, especially under the seat pan if you can. Grass and crap tends to accumulate on top of the rear end and keeps it from cooling properly. The rear ends are pretty indestructible in pretty much every cub cadet at least through the late 90s, so no major maintenance there, but they should be kept clean.

The common things that wear on those older machines are the steering box and linkages, wiring harness (something about the 1x6/7 machines in particular for some reason), and possibly the trunion (which is a massive PITA on narrow frames compared to wide frames) if it won't hold a set speed or is jerky in forward or reverse. The cork gasket that goes between the hydro unit and the final drive can leak too. If yours isn't leaking you're probably fine.

Other than that it's the standard stuff. Bearings that wear out, linkages that are sloppy, driveshaft through-holes that get wallowed out etc. It's a 50 year old machine. Stuff is gonna wear out.

On the blower, make sure that the auger spins freely and that the driveshaft is alright. The gearbox and sprocket are usually the things that go TU on those.

That's the list off the top of my head. I'm sure other folks will chime in as well.

Welcome to cub cadet ownership!
 

kharvey

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Kendal Harvey
Check the driveshaft coupler on the engine. They get pretty worn and the slop will break the drive pin.
Always happened to me plowing snow as far from the garage as I could be.
 

PACub100

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Dec 8, 2019
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Woodbury, Pennsylvania
It's good you got a hydrostatic. You'll appreciate it when you're running your snowblower.
$800 for that, deck, snowblower, plow and extras is a decent deal. 👍👍
The 122 is awesome but swapping out between mower and snowblower is not a joyous occasion...
I have a 1450 and 1650. The motor mounts is something that will be addressed but they're in good shape and the machines don't rattle and shake that bad in my opinion. I also enjoy the hydraulic lift...ALOT, something you might want if you're going to be constantly raising and lowering attachments. A nice thing about your 127 is you can add a pump or an electric lift if you decide to later on.
Post some pictures of what you scored 👍👍
 

justinpittman

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Sep 23, 2020
Messages
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Location
Wisconsin
A nice thing about your 127 is you can add a pump or an electric lift if you decide to later on.
When I test drove it, the switch called "Lift" on the front turned on the lights ... so I'm assuming the panel came stamped from the factory with a placeholder for the lifts, whether or not the original owner actually added the hydraulic / electric lift? or did the previous owner re-wire it?

I'll post pics after picking it up.
 

dropte

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David Ropte
When I test drove it, the switch called "Lift" on the front turned on the lights ... so I'm assuming the panel came stamped from the factory with a placeholder for the lifts, whether or not the original owner actually added the hydraulic / electric lift? or did the previous owner re-wire it?

I'll post pics after picking it up.
The 1x6/7 series was the only series that had an optional electric lift. All the rest of them were hydraulic (before and after). The hydraulic lifts after that series were levers on the side of the dash tower, and the ones before it were a belt driven pump that had the lift handle on the actual pump unit mounted to the side of the tractor.

The lights on that series should have been controlled by a push/pull switch on the lower left side of the tower. Sounds like the owner re-wired it at some point. It should have a blank in there if not equipped with the electric lift.

7939E882-E92A-413E-8E9C-59B2062901B8_1_105_c.jpeg
 

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