I've been searching for a compact tractor for several months now--interest accelerated when I sold my Bolens HT23 3 months ago. I found I needed a FEL, even if it didn't have Power Steering.
It was hard to nail down exactly what I wanted--I knew I had to have 4 wd--for pushing snow in the winter and to deal with some of the good ol' hard pan clay (caliche) we get here. It's like concrete when dry and slick as axle grease when wet.
I finally settled on HST or power shift a more distant second. This was stressed to me during a recent experience using a friend's JD790 (manual 8 spd trans) and tiller to work over my big garden plot. My left leg was busier than a bass drummer in a rock band...
Anyway, I also wanted power steering...that and the hst pretty much ruled out the grey market machines, though I did look at several. I also felt I need at least 18 hp, with 20-25 being better.
Problem was, to get something with higher hp, I ended up getting a larger tractor--would make it cumbersome when pushing and piling snow this winter.
I put 3 ads in our local online classifieds--which has readership in 3 surrounding states--as well as ads in 3 different Craig's List locations.
I got a few responses--by people who didn't read the ads--I didn't want a Kubota BX, or Yanmar SC, or John Deere 2000 series tractor because of low ground clearance. I didn't want anything with a longer wheel base than 60" or overall length of 105" (not counting loader)...
I tried real hard to buy a FX16D Yanmar--grey market, power shift, 20 gross hp, with a FEL and a bunch of attachments including a tandem axle trailer, but the owner only answered a couple of my emails over two weeks, and finally told me the machine was sold.
This last week end I drove up to Heber City, Utah... a nice little country town high in the Uintah Mountains--a fellow had a Kubota B7100HST 4x4, with a canopy (remains of a soft side cab), a Ford PTO snowblower, and HIniker scraper blade. The Kubota only has 16hp gross, but I was getting desparate, plus I knew that they made a bunch of them and parts support would still be good.
Anyway, the hour meter showed 2180 hours--the engine ran okay, but the FEL leaked down in both the boom and the tilt cylinders--and the front tires were completely worn out.
He was asking $8k, I offered $7K, he countered with $7.5K, and I said I'd think about it.
On my way home I stopped in the Kubota dealership in Heber--though it's a small town, this is one of the larger dealerships in the state.
I told the owner what I was looking for, and he suggested I might want to consider a tractor he'd just brought in on consignment.
They brought it around, and I took it for a ride--
This is the late series Kubota B7100HST-D with the 6 lug front tires and stepped front grill.
With the backhoe on it, the steering is quite light... the machine was pretty tight--no blow-by, axle hubs on the front were tight (a little wear in the tie-rod ends, but not much), front tires about 55-60%, rears a little more tread. No cracks or bends on the loader or backhoe frame--backhoe pins are tight--sheet metal good, all the lights work. 850 hours...
They came off $500 from the asking price of $9,950, and even threw in a new top link, serviced, it and delivered it to my home--75 miles away. They delivered it yesterday evening (Thursday).
I've driven it a little, but now need to practice using the backhoe.
I was at a friend's who was clearing out his backyard, and managed to get a top clamp for the bucket, and also picked up a Toro 223D with power steering--I think the orbital valve will fit in under the dash just fine, and hopefully the steering cylinder will be strong enough... if that doesn't work out, I still have my JD400 power-assist steering setup.
Anyway, the search is over for the most part though I still want to find a 48" rear mower and a toolbar for it... but, I'm tapped out, now so that will have to wait.