I have no idea. Are we clear on this? No. Idea. I am massively conflicted on this post. Not paralyzed to inaction, just conflicted.
Let’s start at the beginning. I bought an Oliver 550 on CL in May of 2010. Good rubber, soft clutch, weak brakes.
Then, a year later, I broke it. I was mowing under an evil sycamore tree and a limb just reached right out and grabbed the muffler, breaking the cast exhaust manifold. (I have since removed the offending limb and the other three growing at its height.)
I thought to myself, “Self, it would be nice if this tractor had a drawbar (Oliver didn’t ship many of these with drawbars). Since we’re buying parts anyway…”
SO I bought a new exhaust manifold and an aftermarket drawbar kit. And a new PTO shaft…because…why not?
Perfect. Just perfect. The tractor really comes in handy raking hay, pulling hay wagons or pulling a trailer full of firewood, chicken feed…whatever. It’s a perfect utility tractor.
But then it died. Dead. Wouldn’t start. Turns out it had a bad coil but it wasn’t just a bad coil. The tractor ended up at a reputable shop in town. Guy told me he couldn’t get it to show any oil pressure. The top end of the engine looks good but the bottom end needs rebuilt. I don’t know. Machine shop technobabble. Crankshaft. Bearings. Oil pump. Stuff. $1,400 worth of stuff.
Fast forward another year. We have used the tractor for several years now. I bought a blade I use for spreading rock, scraping up material or pushing snow. No big. But something goes wrong when I’m using it one day. Maybe I stopped, shut it off and was about to change implements but the battery was dead. No big whoop. We’ll just pull start it. “Julie, hop in the truck and pull the tractor. When you hear it start, stop the truck.”
I press down the clutch to stop behind the truck but nothing happens. Tractor keeps moving.
I frantically shove the tractor out of gear before something bad happens.
But something bad already happened. The clutch had blown apart.
The tractor then sat in a tractor cocoon in my machine shed for nearly a year. Should I just cut my losses and sell it for scrap? There is an Oliver scrapyard an hour south. Maybe they will give me something for it.
Whatever. I obviously don’t need this tractor since I haven’t used it in a year.
November rolls around. The tractor dealership shows up with dad’s loader tractor. The guy peeks in the shed and asks about the tractor. Dad explains, the guy offers to fix it and the tractor goes down the road.
How much does a new clutch cost? $1,800.
That makes my $3,500 antique tractor perilously close to a $7,500 tractor…minus the usage we have gotten out of it.
So let’s play a little game of “How else could Chris have spent that $8,000?”
A similar new tractor, though one with a loader, costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000. At 4.5% interest that’s $4,000 each year. So I could have had a small loader tractor for two years instead of this one for 5.
Point to the Oliver.
But the new tractor would have a loader.
Point to the new tractor.
And front wheel assist.
(No points given for showing off)
The Oliver is mechanically simple. No computers. All standard bolt sizes. Few wires.
New tractor comes with a warranty.
Point new tractor.
Yeah, but why do I need a tractor at all? I mean, really, why?
And that’s where it sits. I own an Oliver 550. It’s great at what it does. It’s not heavy enough to pull small trees out of the ground but perfect for pulling chicken houses, hay wagons, etc. I would like to have a new tractor but…I mean…if I keep replacing parts I will have a new tractor…lol!
I don’t know how to suggest you apply this. The antique tractor has needs but on an annualized basis it is cheaper to own…so far. And I’m not really sure I need to own it or any tractor since dad lives next door. I think I would rather have more cows. But if dad didn’t live here? If we didn’t trade work and help each other out? Fortunately…
So, to the fella who came by unexpectedly last week to look at the tractor, wanna trade for bred cows?