EDITORIAL – Blues Country Magazine.
Stephen Winstone bought a SOTA tractor package in April 2006, to rejuvenate his block in the Wimmera, North West Victoria. Stephen writes: “When I bought the place, it was pretty run down. There were a lot of improvements required to get the place looking neat and tidy.
The previous owners had tenants in there; they had left the place looking like a bomb site. The 4 acres was festooned with all manner of junk: car bodies, abandoned white goods and years worth of accumulated metal scrap. The place was a mess. There were several water tanks in various states of decay. The 4 sturdiest tanks were full of household rubbish. Given the former occupant’s predilection for filling the water tanks with refuse, I put an order in for a new tank on the house; just in case.
Everywhere I turned, I could see more and more jobs. With only my box trailer and basic hand tools, I knew I was looking down the barrel of an almighty task. To make things worse, summer was encroaching ever closer. This would really test my resolve. As I began considering a spot for my new tank, I pondered hiring a backhoe. One thousand dollars was the quote. This prompted me to think of other options.
When I bought the place, the old owners promised to clean it up, and they had; to an extent. Everywhere I looked there’d be a job waiting. Old engine blocks there, fencing wire here. If I got the contractors in, it could have turned into an expensive exercise. Plus, it also went against the grain a bit; I like to do my own thing. Everywhere I looked, I could see the dollar signs ticking over.
And so, that’s how I came to the decision to investigate purchasing a little tractor with a loader and implements. It would pay for itself soon enough cleaning the place up, and then, I’ve still got a little tractor to slash the place and do other maintenance. In fact the more I thought about it, the more uses I could think of for a small tractor and loader.
I thought of second hand machine, but they are a bit of a mystery bag. They are often getting a bit long in the tooth. I didn’t want to have my hand continually in my pocket. I wanted something that I could turn the key and go. It was Dad who suggested SOTA. He’d seen the ads in the paper. From here I went on their internet site, which is very good. They offer package deals, and a warranty, which is beaut.
There is a bit of disinformation circulating about the grey market tractor business, so I satisfied myself by visiting them at their showroom. I was impressed with the presentation of these little machines. The sales team was helpful, the package was quoted and what was quoted was what you paid. They took the time to understand what I wanted, and what jobs I had to do. I could see that it wasn’t just a case of importing tractors and flogging them off.
I went for the little Kubota L1501DT. I was able to get myself into a Kubota with a 4-in-1 loader, slasher and box scraper. I was concerned that she might be a bit light on for power, as the budget didn’t allow for a bigger one. But, so far, it’s been great. This is a very versatile little machine.
As mentioned, the previous owners had left behind several old water tanks; four of them filled with rubbish!
I used the Kubota to load the rubbish into my trailer. I fitted four sheets of steel mesh into my 6×4 box trailer to extend the height of the sides, using D shackles in the corners. The front end loader was the perfect size for the front end loader which was handy for compressing the rubbish into the trailer. So off to the tip I went. I lost count of the trips, but there would have been 15,000 litres of tank capacity filled with rubbish.
I found all sorts of steel and metal scattered around the place. Just to name a few of the heavier items I found: old car engines, a steel dingy, rusted water tanks, roofing iron, fencing wire, fridges, washing machines and an air conditioner. I used the Kubota to collect it all together in one big pile. I was very happy and impressed with the ease that the tractor handled this work. I contacted a scrap metal merchant. They came and three truck loads later the scrap metal was gone and they left me with some cash. Brilliant!
Now that I had the place looking better than ever, I wanted to slash the grass. But there was one more problem to deal with. A lot of branches had fallen – and we needed some fire wood. So I put on the carry all and off I went with the chain saw. I was able to carry wood in both the front end loader bucket and also on the carry all. Normally I would use my trailer and car, but this worked out better because it is easier to unload and no chance of getting bogged with 4wd available on the tractor. Now that the wood has been cleaned up I can happily go around with the slasher.
The tractor has power aplenty for my slashing needs. I have found that I don’t need to run it at full rpm. It seems to be quite happy running at around 1900rpm. If I’m slashing at this speed I use 2nd gear on the PTO which works out at about 540rpm at the PTO. Fuel usage is amazing, it only uses about one litre of diesel per hour.
Excavating & Earth Moving
I had the new 31,000 litre water tank coming, so I used the Kubota to dig out a base. The ground was quite hard so I used the box scraper to rip the earth first. That made it a lot easier for the front end loader. When the tank arrived I used it to shift the tank into the perfect position. Then I used the front end loader and box scraper to spread out the surplus soil. The old man was pretty impressed with my new purchase, too. Being a mechanic he has nothing but praise for these tractors and he was quick to point out the good mechanical condition that the tractor was received in.
I wanted to renovate an old bungalow that used to be a single car garage. The floor was made of timber, laid straight onto the ground. I removed the old floor and cladding from the front of the building. Then I was able to get the Kubota inside the old bungalow through the original garage door opening. The tractor was small enough to fit, and strong enough to excavate for a concrete slab. Again I used the front end loader and box scraper to spread out the surplus soil.
On my block, several patches of soil are compacted and other areas are uneven. I’ve started to work on them with the box scraper. Ripping the ground and lightly scraping it at the same time. I do this over a couple of passes and the results are quite good.
Other Useful Things
I wanted to get rid of an old fence. I removed the sagging chicken wire that was attached to the posts. Then I used the Kubota to grapple and remove the wooden posts. It did it easily. Then I ran up and down the fence line with the box scrapper which ripped out the weeds and smoothed out the ground level.
When I was preparing for the new water tank and at various times I have needed to dig a trench. I used the box scraper and fitted just one of the ripping tines. I ran the Kubota up and down a few times which left a deep line that just need to have the spoil removed. This was easily done by hand.
Through all of this the Kubota has not once let me down. In fact, only three incidental repairs have been needed. All were simple jobs that only took a minute to do and could be considered a part of normal servicing. The tractor is still in great shape. I am really happy with my decision to buy a SOTA Kubota package.”