Mini / backhoe advice

DDCD

New member

Equipment
MF135
May 8, 2021
12
4
3
Oklahoma
Hello,
New here and am needing some advice from the experts. Currently I have a 1964 MF135. The tractor is a beast for it's age and I can mow all day for about $3 and is paid for. I also have fun restoring it and pulling out original parts from back then. It brushogs once or twice a year for about 6 hours on 10 acres, then sits most of the year. I'm trying to avoid another machine that will sit.

My main problem is it does not have a loader. I have made it so far by having the trucker drop the gravel near enough where I want it. I have spread about 150 tons with my 6' box blade only. This sucks and makes a mess.

I have also paid a skid steer guy but I have to overpay for 3 or 4 hours of work that takes them 30 minutes to get them to show up.

So my current mission is we are going to build a new house in a rural area. I'll be doing about 1000ft of trenching (no more than 3 ft deep in clay/dirt) that will require an excavator due to some small/medium rocks. I need to put about 150' of gravel roadbase in as well. I can rip the dirt with the box blade but have no way to move it.

I have rented several u25s and u35s. A u35 delivered (because of my 1/2 ton) is about 300/day or 1000 a week. I realize this is the most practical option...but those 4000 hour machines suck, I have to take time off work, and can never get one when I need it.

I have a budget of ~50k for mini/l47/tractor/skid whatever.

My questions:
1)Would you guys absolutely go with a loader machine over a mini? I realize the mini is slow, but it's not an issue on 10 acres. It's also more of a toy once I'm done digging. Eventually I will get a 3/4 ton and I could move it. We have an 8 ton backhoe on the family farm already.
2)If #1 is yes, how does an L47 compare to a similar tractor frame size in real world lifting (specs aside)? Is the backhoe absolutely terrible compared to a mini or does it just take getting used to it? I can rip with the MF135 and move the spoils/dig with the L47. I would LOVE an HST, gears are only great for mowing.

I could have a dozer do my road, but it's so hard to get people to show up and do good work. I don't really NEED another PTO - to get similar PTO to my 135 I'd need an L4701 or greater. I'm afraid with a small tractor like the l2501 would sit. Pallet forks on a larger tractor would be nice.

I've also considered a skid steer to get some hydraulic down pressure, but I don't need to do many post holes or other things besides dig/load. I'd probably put about 100 hours on the mini. I have priced the u35 with cab/thumb/angle for about 53k, and the l47 is 56k. I would add pallet forks and 3rd function for the l47, so probably around 60k. This dealer owns 5 physical locations in most of Oklahoma. I like to do my own maintenance. Anyone have any good dealers in NTX/Kansas/Arkansas? I can wait out this crazy time we are in until things are more "normal".

Help.
 

Nicfin36

Active member

Equipment
L2501 HST, BH77 Backhoe, QA Loader
Jun 19, 2019
659
184
43
Decatur, AL
You have many questions. I will add this. I had a dump truck load of slag delivered to my house last year and the driver simply dumped it on my drive. He did pull forwards while dumping, but it was essentially a big pile. I found the loader to be of little use actually. I mostly used the loader to bulldoze through the pile of slag and once I did that was able to move it with the land leveler. I would NOT have wanted to relocate a dump truck load of slag with my tractor. That is why I am waiting on dry weather so I can get some more and have it dumped exactly where I plan to spread it.

With that said, the loader has been a Godsend, especially with the 3rd function and grapple, I can do so much wit hit. Add implements like pallet forks and it is very versatile. Like you, I have an older bigger machine, a John Deere 2030 and the L2501. Guess which one sits most of the time....not the L2501.

I cannot say what machine you need. However, a modern tractor with loader can really open up possibilities. I am sure a backhoe on a tractor will not compare to that of a mini ex. I will just let the other people advise you on all that.
 

DDCD

New member

Equipment
MF135
May 8, 2021
12
4
3
Oklahoma
Rude post removed!
Thanks for the judgment. It's really a great welcome to this forum.The backhoe is 50 years old and belongs to my wife's family. It is located an hour away and I have no way to transport it.

I grew up poor and have worked for everything I own.

Thanks to the first person that replied, it was helpful.
 
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GreensvilleJay

Well-known member

Equipment
BX23-S
Apr 2, 2019
2,322
440
83
Greensville,Ontario,Canada
I'd rent the mini for a week at $1000 it's a 'no brainer'. 1000' of trench can be done in less than 3 days, probably 2, depends on what you consider a 'day'. Next door , 'contractor' started removing topsoil on thursday, started around 10, left by 4, said ,see you next week !! Only got 2/3rd maybe done. So two lost days of work(Friday and Saturday) friend of mine would have shown up at 7AM and left when job was DONE, certainly before 7PM. 6 months from now it'll be getting COLD.....so ANY delays(see you next week) are unacceptable to me.
 

dirtydeed

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
B2650 BH77, BX23TLBM, box blade, rear blade, flail mower, Stump Grinder
Dec 8, 2017
1,566
426
83
Wind Gap, PA
A mini-ex will dig circles around just about any backhoe, but they are a one-trick pony. A dedicated TLB (like an L47) is a tough machine with quite a bit of capability. Digging will be a bit slower with it for sure, but it will handle all the other tasks as well. You could always use it for three point hitch work as well, but keep in mind that you wouldn't have a folding ROPS and the loader is really detachable.

There is a reason why a TLB is still king at a construction site. They may not do anything the best, but they can perform many functions that track loaders and excavators can't.

I suppose in your case, I'd recommend the TLB route...possibly rent a mini-ex for your 1000 feet of trench.
 
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Crash277

Well-known member

Equipment
BX23S
Jan 17, 2021
439
278
63
Canada
I would go with a TLB. trenches aren’t an issue IMO for a backhoe. i Did a 40’ one in what felt like no time with my little BX. I find new uses for my machine on a regular basis.
 
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PaulL

Active member

Equipment
B2601
Jul 17, 2017
945
212
43
NZ
Do you have a use for an excavator after the house is built? Do you have a use for a backhoe after the house is built?

Assuming the answer is no to both, then I'd look to a tractor sized for a 10 acre block - so a small L probably, maybe a large B. An L2501 sounds like all the machine you'd need, they're similar in capability to the MF135 but 4WD, loader, modern, not too expensive. It sounds like you maintain your MF - the L2501 is relatively easy to maintain (no emissions controls, not much in the way of electronics). You also don't seem to have a lot of PTO tasks, and the PTO HP is the main weakness of the L2501. Of course, you can also go into an older small L, or large B, they're great machines and older ones save a bit of money. Would you keep the MF as well, or sell it? That might change the size of machine you'd buy.

This will give you money over for implements - box blade, land plane, grapple, rotary cutter (or maybe a flail - if you're mowing your 10 acres why not mow more frequently so it looks nice.....), I have a chipper on my B and on 10 acres you're in territory where you might chip windfall rather than burn it or pile it and wait for it to rot like you would on a larger property.

Then I'd have a think about an excavator. Options I'd look at are:
1. Pay someone to transport the family backhoe. Assuming they can live without it for a couple weeks or a month. Do the trenching in your own time.

2. Rent an excavator for 2 weeks or more, giving you time to do what you need to do when it's convenient. Sure, it's a couple grand, but still probably cheaper than buying a backhoe and selling it later, and fixes your issues with timing and taking time off work.

3. Buy an older excavator, perhaps a high hour ex rental or similar. Doesn't have to be a mini, could be a mid-size machine. Keep it until you're done, sell it for most of what you paid for it. Main risk is if it needs maintenance while you own it, but it won't depreciate and you don't have a lot of money in it. Also could let you do a bunch of other site prep for the house - a mid size excavator with a blade on it can do a lot of work.

4. Pay someone to dig the trench - perhaps with a chain trencher. Not sure what this would cost, but I'd suspect less than all the options above - probably a guy'd come out and do it in a day if he had the right machine. Not as much fun, but may be very practical.

The other way to go is to buy an older TLB - a CASE, a JCB, or a Kubota, and do the construction. Then once the house is built, change to a machine that's sized and featured right for a 10 acre block - probably something like that L2501 again.

In summary - I'm saying you have to work out the right machine for the long term. Then you either buy that now and gap fill any gaps while you build, or you buy a second hand machine for construction (to avoid depreciation), and sell it and buy your long term machine later.
 
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greg86z28

Active member

Equipment
B2601
May 17, 2020
227
103
43
South Central Wisconsin
Do you have a use for an excavator after the house is built? Do you have a use for a backhoe after the house is built?

Assuming the answer is no to both, then I'd look to a tractor sized for a 10 acre block - so a small L probably, maybe a large B. An L2501 sounds like all the machine you'd need, they're similar in capability to the MF135 but 4WD, loader, modern, not too expensive. It sounds like you maintain your MF - the L2501 is relatively easy to maintain (no emissions controls, not much in the way of electronics). You also don't seem to have a lot of PTO tasks, and the PTO HP is the main weakness of the L2501. Of course, you can also go into an older small L, or large B, they're great machines and older ones save a bit of money. Would you keep the MF as well, or sell it? That might change the size of machine you'd buy.

This will give you money over for implements - box blade, land plane, grapple, rotary cutter (or maybe a flail - if you're mowing your 10 acres why not mow more frequently so it looks nice.....), I have a chipper on my B and on 10 acres you're in territory where you might chip windfall rather than burn it or pile it and wait for it to rot like you would on a larger property.

Then I'd have a think about an excavator. Options I'd look at are:
1. Pay someone to transport the family backhoe. Assuming they can live without it for a couple weeks or a month. Do the trenching in your own time.

2. Rent an excavator for 2 weeks or more, giving you time to do what you need to do when it's convenient. Sure, it's a couple grand, but still probably cheaper than buying a backhoe and selling it later, and fixes your issues with timing and taking time off work.

3. Buy an older excavator, perhaps a high hour ex rental or similar. Doesn't have to be a mini, could be a mid-size machine. Keep it until you're done, sell it for most of what you paid for it. Main risk is if it needs maintenance while you own it, but it won't depreciate and you don't have a lot of money in it. Also could let you do a bunch of other site prep for the house - a mid size excavator with a blade on it can do a lot of work.

4. Pay someone to dig the trench - perhaps with a chain trencher. Not sure what this would cost, but I'd suspect less than all the options above - probably a guy'd come out and do it in a day if he had the right machine. Not as much fun, but may be very practical.

The other way to go is to buy an older TLB - a CASE, a JCB, or a Kubota, and do the construction. Then once the house is built, change to a machine that's sized and featured right for a 10 acre block - probably something like that L2501 again.

In summary - I'm saying you have to work out the right machine for the long term. Then you either buy that now and gap fill any gaps while you build, or you buy a second hand machine for construction (to avoid depreciation), and sell it and buy your long term machine later.
x2
 

ItBmine

Well-known member

Equipment
B2620
Jan 21, 2014
1,006
39
48
Canada
As has already been said, even a mini ex will out perform a backhoe. But if you only want one machine OR if you travel that machine around a lot, a TLB is what you want. Because travelling an excavator lots becomes an expense in track maintenance.

I recently put a backhoe on my Kubota tractor. It does the job and is WAY better than shoveling.......but I want a mini ex now. Because with a small tractor/backhoe, I spend more time repositioning than digging.
Buying an excavator would work for me because I already have the tractor with a loader and all kinds of implements. But again, if I could only have one machine it would be a TLB because the ex is only good for one thing.
 
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DDCD

New member

Equipment
MF135
May 8, 2021
12
4
3
Oklahoma
Do you have a use for an excavator after the house is built? Do you have a use for a backhoe after the house is built?

Assuming the answer is no to both, then I'd look to a tractor sized for a 10 acre block - so a small L probably, maybe a large B. An L2501 sounds like all the machine you'd need, they're similar in capability to the MF135 but 4WD, loader, modern, not too expensive. It sounds like you maintain your MF - the L2501 is relatively easy to maintain (no emissions controls, not much in the way of electronics). You also don't seem to have a lot of PTO tasks, and the PTO HP is the main weakness of the L2501. Of course, you can also go into an older small L, or large B, they're great machines and older ones save a bit of money. Would you keep the MF as well, or sell it? That might change the size of machine you'd buy.

This will give you money over for implements - box blade, land plane, grapple, rotary cutter (or maybe a flail - if you're mowing your 10 acres why not mow more frequently so it looks nice.....), I have a chipper on my B and on 10 acres you're in territory where you might chip windfall rather than burn it or pile it and wait for it to rot like you would on a larger property.

Then I'd have a think about an excavator. Options I'd look at are:
1. Pay someone to transport the family backhoe. Assuming they can live without it for a couple weeks or a month. Do the trenching in your own time.

2. Rent an excavator for 2 weeks or more, giving you time to do what you need to do when it's convenient. Sure, it's a couple grand, but still probably cheaper than buying a backhoe and selling it later, and fixes your issues with timing and taking time off work.

3. Buy an older excavator, perhaps a high hour ex rental or similar. Doesn't have to be a mini, could be a mid-size machine. Keep it until you're done, sell it for most of what you paid for it. Main risk is if it needs maintenance while you own it, but it won't depreciate and you don't have a lot of money in it. Also could let you do a bunch of other site prep for the house - a mid size excavator with a blade on it can do a lot of work.

4. Pay someone to dig the trench - perhaps with a chain trencher. Not sure what this would cost, but I'd suspect less than all the options above - probably a guy'd come out and do it in a day if he had the right machine. Not as much fun, but may be very practical.

The other way to go is to buy an older TLB - a CASE, a JCB, or a Kubota, and do the construction. Then once the house is built, change to a machine that's sized and featured right for a 10 acre block - probably something like that L2501 again.

In summary - I'm saying you have to work out the right machine for the long term. Then you either buy that now and gap fill any gaps while you build, or you buy a second hand machine for construction (to avoid depreciation), and sell it and buy your long term machine later.
Thanks for the detailed response. I'm thinking about just getting an l2501 HST and renting or paying the other work. I should be able to get a 2501 with top and tilt, grapple, and forks for under 30k. I'll keep the 135, I like the history of it and its not really depreciating much beyond the 2k I paid for it. I can keep the bush hog on the 135 and box blade on the 2501. If I need a tiller or something else I can run it off the 135 or buy a smaller size tiller for the 2501.

20-30k is alot easier to think about than 50-60. I think even with a TLB the hoe end would end up being a counterweight for 99% of the time after we're done building. Extra bonus is I don't need a new truck and trailer to haul the 2501.

Thanks everyone.
 
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Nicfin36

Active member

Equipment
L2501 HST, BH77 Backhoe, QA Loader
Jun 19, 2019
659
184
43
Decatur, AL
Well, I will add that I have 10 acres as well, and my L2501 has been adequate for most everything. Just like you, I keep a rotary cutter on my Deere 2030 pretty much exclusively and that is what I use to cut my fields. You are right, the backhoe on my L2501 is the perfect counterweight, and it stays on the tractor most of the time. Changing from backhoe to 3 point is a bit tedious, but not that big a deal. I just wish Kubota had a system where the 3 point arms stay on the tractor and all one would have to do is remove and reinstall the backhoe. My L2501 runs a 5 foot tiller OK. I have to go slow at times on new ground. But, your Massey would be a bit better perhaps since it is higher hp.

HST was a must for me. Doing back and forth work with a loader is easy with the HST. When I run the tiller in tough ground, I can creep as slow as need be with the HST.

Nothing wrong with eyeballing the L4701. Nothing wrong with having a bit more power. I went with the L2501 because of reading the reviews here and I mainly did not want the DPF. I would have bought a bit bigger machine like a L3901 had the DPF not been on it.
 

ItBmine

Well-known member

Equipment
B2620
Jan 21, 2014
1,006
39
48
Canada
Absolutely keep the old Massey! And just a couple more comments to the last two posts...you would be further ahead just renting an excavator and getting everything done you need to do, and buy the L2501.
I bought a backhoe.....but it really doesn't make good financial sense when you are not digging daily, weekly or even monthly. And I find I am always trying to hold off my digging jobs until I have a bunch to do at once because as Nicfin 36 said.....it's not hard to take the hoe off, just a pain because you also have to re-install all the 3 point hitch arms.

I almost need another tractor now, or switch my snap coupler Allis to 3 point to pull my box blade because I'm doing road work on my bush road, got the backhoe on to do ditching, but I also need my box blade at the same time.
 

DDCD

New member

Equipment
MF135
May 8, 2021
12
4
3
Oklahoma
Well here she is about 3 weeks later. Showed up with .3 hours. They had one sitting in the crate. Took a few weeks for all the valves to come in. I checked the nearby mega dealer with multiple stores and they were substantially higher than my local store 15 minutes away. They said 2501's are pretty easy to come by, since they are so popular, but the rest of the lineup is hard to get.

Went with ag tires - I know the industrials are really popular on here, but I mostly do mud and dirt work and the 135 still has original ag tires from 1964 so I figure they should last.

We got a few inches of rain last night, but I still took it for a spin. I already almost got stuck and rutted up my field-forgot this thing has 4WD. Definitely some getting used to over the old geared tractor.

I was able to pick up my 5' brushog with no 3 point ballast, just the loaded rear ag tires. I'll have to get used to sitting down on my seat to keep the engine running, I got in the habit of standing up on the 135 to see what I was doing.

Question - is the front third function a 1/2" pioneer valve? EA needs to know for the grapple fittings.
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PoTreeBoy

Active member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
L35 Ford 3930
Mar 24, 2020
489
134
43
WestTn/NoMs
Well here she is about 3 weeks later. Showed up with .3 hours. They had one sitting in the crate. Took a few weeks for all the valves to come in. I checked the nearby mega dealer with multiple stores and they were substantially higher than my local store 15 minutes away. They said 2501's are pretty easy to come by, since they are so popular, but the rest of the lineup is hard to get.

Went with ag tires - I know the industrials are really popular on here, but I mostly do mud and dirt work and the 135 still has original ag tires from 1964 so I figure they should last.

We got a few inches of rain last night, but I still took it for a spin. I already almost got stuck and rutted up my field-forgot this thing has 4WD. Definitely some getting used to over the old geared tractor.

I was able to pick up my 5' brushog with no 3 point ballast, just the loaded rear ag tires. I'll have to get used to sitting down on my seat to keep the engine running, I got in the habit of standing up on the 135 to see what I was doing.

Question - is the front third function a 1/2" pioneer valve? EA needs to know for the grapple fittings.
View attachment 60643 View attachment 60644 View attachment 60645
Congrats! I'm late to the party, but I think you did good.
I think you'll prefer mowing with the MF vs the HST (unless you have a lot of trimming). I spent lots of hours mowing on a '57 MF50.
And I don't see much backhoe need after the trenching is done.
 

Nicfin36

Active member

Equipment
L2501 HST, BH77 Backhoe, QA Loader
Jun 19, 2019
659
184
43
Decatur, AL
Nice! Looks good. I envy your rear remotes. The salesman talked me out of putting them on mine. I wished I had stuck to my guns and had them installed.

Just some advice, and don't do like I did and wait. Check your front axle fluid NOW. They don't ship full of fluid and often the dealers forget to fill them. Don't wait, just go ahead and check it.
 

DDCD

New member

Equipment
MF135
May 8, 2021
12
4
3
Oklahoma
Nice! Looks good. I envy your rear remotes. The salesman talked me out of putting them on mine. I wished I had stuck to my guns and had them installed.

Just some advice, and don't do like I did and wait. Check your front axle fluid NOW. They don't ship full of fluid and often the dealers forget to fill them. Don't wait, just go ahead and check it.
I will definitely check that when I get back to the tractor. The dealer already had to come out once with a mobile tech because the 3 point wouldn’t lift. Between the front third function and 2 remotes, lots of hoses going on. He had to swap two lines. I wasn’t there to watch it, but it works now.Hope it didn’t damage any of the hydraulics. I’m glad I went with a local dealer.
 

DDCD

New member

Equipment
MF135
May 8, 2021
12
4
3
Oklahoma
Nice! Looks good. I envy your rear remotes. The salesman talked me out of putting them on mine. I wished I had stuck to my guns and had them installed.

Just some advice, and don't do like I did and wait. Check your front axle fluid NOW. They don't ship full of fluid and often the dealers forget to fill them. Don't wait, just go ahead and check it.
In case this helps anyone else, check your axle. Mine took 3 quarts. Dealer paid for it.
 

Nicfin36

Active member

Equipment
L2501 HST, BH77 Backhoe, QA Loader
Jun 19, 2019
659
184
43
Decatur, AL
In case this helps anyone else, check your axle. Mine took 3 quarts. Dealer paid for it.
Yeah, I estimated mine had about 1 1/2 quarts in it when I checked it. (Manual says it holds 4.8 qts.) So, they never checked yours either.