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May 30, 2009

Driving a tractor.

Filed under: Diesel,life — chuck goolsbee @ 9:59 pm
Oliver Tractor in Vermont
Oliver Tractor in Vermont

I spent the day today on a tractor. I rent one every few years to re-grade our gravel driveway. Grass and weeds completely take it over if left ungraded for too long. I get a little better at the job each time I do it, and this time I think it looks better and is much more evenly graded than any previous time I’ve done it.

Diesel Power!
Diesel Power!

The tractor I rented is not an Oliver, as they have been out of production since the late 70s. I just had these pics in my collection of car photos as my friends the Markowskis in Vermont collect Olivers. My rental for today was a small Kubota B7800 and this is the view I had for several hours today:

Here is the whole tractor:

Kubota B7800
Kubota B7800
Kubota B7800
Kubota B7800

At the tail end is a box blade scraper, which is the main tool used in this job. This year I started the task by deploying the “teeth” at the front of the box. I set them at their lowest point and broke up the hardened bed under the gravel. After that was done I raised them up and finished the job.

the box blade
the box blade

All those years of watching Zambonis has paid off, as I’m able to run over the whole driveway, (which is HUGE by the way,) in smooth overlapping patterns. From 8:30 AM until about 1:30 PM I circled the property in set patterns. The end result is a nice clean even spread of the gravel, and the removal of all the vegetation trying its best to obscure the drive. It had gotten so thick in the front drive that people often mistook it for lawn and didn’t drive on it! The area under the tractor in the above photos was all grass and clovers a few hours ago. Now it is smoothly graded gravel. It is a tad dusty now, but one good rain (which is never too far off here in the Pacific Northwest) and that will be fixed.

The Kubota is a nice little tractor. The little 30 HP 4-cylinder Diesel has massive torque for it’s small size, and it only slipped a few times when the box was well loaded and I was climbing the steep parts of my driveway. Mostly I was able to raise the blade ever so slightly to lighten the load, while upping the throttle just a bit as I started to climb the slopes, and it would just keep chugging along. I really wish I actually owned a tractor. The house’s previous owner had one and I made him an offer to buy it, but he turned me down. Oh well. It costs me between $100 & $200 to rent this one for a day, including delivery and pickup. Since I really only NEED it once every other year or so it doesn’t make sense to buy one, but I know if I had one I’d use it more often. I’m just too cheap I guess.

The little Diesel in the Kubota
The little Diesel in the Kubota

6 Comments

  1. You’ve hit upon a kink of mine: Tractor-dom. I have always had a fascination for tractors, not onloy because they’re mechanical devices w/engines, but because of their ‘honesty.’ Little on a tractor is about styling; they are about the ultimate in wheeled form-follows-function.

    I live out where tractors are a religion and by far and away, the kings are John Deere.

    However, for ‘gentleman farmers,’ and for small work, there is *nothing* better than a Kubota. they revolutionized small diesel tractors, especially in the area of 4WD (in fact, most small JDs are Kubota-built). EXTREMELY well-made and -engineered, functionality that is second to none, and durable.

    FYI: the ‘roll bar?” Is NOT a roll-bar; in fact it is designed to *keep* the tractor from rolling over. It’s called a ROPS, a Rollover Protection System. In the eventuality of a rollover, and you’ve your belt on, it keep the tractor from rolling over on YOU, whether it be a sideways roll, or a backwards roll, which happens to people who dont understand why the drawbar is *under the axle centerline….:) In other words *NEVER* pull anything from behind a tractor with a chain ABOVE the axle centerline: If you do, physics and massive engine torque will lead to you getting a primer on ROPS!

    Not cheap, though: The tractor you rented retails for around $20 grand, and even used they will still command 10-15 thousand dollars. I know: I’d love one, and have kept my eyes peeled. Yet another instance of the Japanese taking a vehicle design, and elevating to a stsandard hard for othert
    s to meet.

    Comment by vrooomie — May 31, 2009 @ 6:02 am

  2. yeah vroomie, you need another toy to distract you from Tweetie! 😉

    Chuck you should roll it after grading…. another toy to rent? 🙂

    Comment by markc — May 31, 2009 @ 7:30 am

  3. Can’t roll it, as the rental shop came and picked it up yesterday afternoon.

    The first time I rented it I REALLY liked it and looked up the price… even used ones were $15k. Yeah, a tad steep for a toy. I’ll keep feeding Rex a hundred bucks or so to borrow his.

    Comment by chuck goolsbee — May 31, 2009 @ 7:46 am

  4. Mark, I’ve got a Mitsi 45-hp diesel tractor, to help mow my lawn–five acres of weedy lawn! I run it on near-pure veggie oil, with a shot of diesel so it will start easier.

    Not quite A Kubota, but… it was FREE!

    Comment by vrooomie — May 31, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  5. my father in law has an old Massey Ferguson tractor that he ‘plays with’ on his 11 acre retirement farm but has a blade he uses, with the hydraulics on the back, to grade his gravel driveway – that must be about 800m or so long I guess – does a good job

    Jerome

    Comment by gondwana — May 31, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

  6. I be that was a lot of fun. I’ve used a Kubota before to do some bushhogging. It’s a really nice ride, and the price isn’t to bad either.

    Comment by Tractorguy — March 3, 2011 @ 10:33 am

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