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Tractor question - Hydrostatic drive or shuttle-shift reliability

Chief Rick

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Given the same tractor - be it John Deere, Kubota or Mahindra - is either drive system more or less reliable than the other for clearing land (pulling/pushing small trees/stumps)?


Speaking of new tractors only.


Looking at a tractor to bush hog 3 1/2 acres but will also need to maintain a 1/4 mile dirt driveway and partially clear another six acres. Power company dropped a dozen 12-18 inch diameter pines that need to be cut up and pulled away. The uncleared land is old paper company land with pines. Most of the pines are all over a foot in diameter but there are some nice oaks that have started to grow up in there. I'd like to thin out the undergrowth, a lot of 4-6 inch trees, and cut some of the pines to allow the hardwoods more room to grow - not to mention get rid of the old dead stuff that's nothing but a fire hazard.


Right now I'm looking at the Mahindra 2538 4WD HST and the Kubota L3901 4WD (either shuttle shift or HST).

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I have a Kubota with the hydrostatic trans. I push the driveway, drag out the bays at the range, move lots of dirt. When I'm moving something heavy I always use low range. I don't mow with my Kubota, we live in the high desert and only have to mow the pasture a couple times a year and we use the lawn tractors, they happen to be hydrostatic drive.

As for pushing or pulling stumps, I use the back hoe attachment to dig them out. I've had the manual transmission tractors and they tend to stall when the stop abruptly. My old JD back hoe is the shuttle drive, it works ok but it is old and has it's quirks.


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Most of my use will be with a bush hog or box blade for the driveway.  Would love to have the backhoe attachment, and could definitely use it initially, but can't rationalize the buy-in price for one.

Might be a better plan for me to drop a size and look at something in the lower 30HP range.

Seems the JD, Kubota & Mahindra tractors, in the same HP range, are real close in price (at least in my area).

Will need to look at service beyond the sale and warranty reviews.

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