Why? Becuase newer tractors are a nightmare to repair! I feel manufacturers now purposely engineer them This is in terms of the two tractors here on the farm: a 1996 Deere 5400 MFWD and a 2017 3038E.
While the 5400 is not that difficult (and even our service rep with the dealer says Deere has never made a tractor that has come close to the quality since), although sometimes, panels have to be removed from the hood, the 3038E is the real nightmare. Uses DEF, has sensors everywhere, a wiring harness the size of my thigh, and it is difficult to check the oil. The dipstick is visible, but hard to put back in. Not to mention, the whole “Right to Repair” thing, in which Deere’s excuse was a completely unrelated matter “Music Piracy”. But, I think the free market is really showing it to Deere these days–in my area, Kubota for smaller tractors, and New Holland for big ones are pretty much becoming the major brand. Other than small tractors, I don’t see too many new Deeres these days. I bought myself an inexpensive police surplus General Dynamics GD8200 laptop, mainly due to it having an i7 processor. When I got it, knowing it was a “rugged” model that could handle being used on the farm outdoors, I thought about getting the Deere OBD software–which was a whopping $500! You can buy an 8N in my parts for under $1200. I think my folks are kicking themselves for not going with Kubota… Granddad originally wanted a Massey Ferguson MF135 when the search for a second tractor started, and I think he was right. \
A family friend, when I was a kid, gave me two old '1970s?) Snapper riding mowers he had laying around, for use as go-karts. My folks removed the blades. I think those Snappers were very well built. My Granddad had a Troy-Bilt from Lowe’s that was a POS. Stuff was always breaking. He traded the Snappers for work done to the Troy-Bilt. In my opinion that was a mistake. I’m sure the Snappers would still be going strong, even if they didn’t have the seat-activated “kill switch” for safety. Granddad ended up selling the Troy-Bilt to his brother-in-law, and buying a Deere LX277AWS, which has had a number of issues as well.
In my area, for a lot of tasks, a locally made “tractor” (it’s more of a loader that has tractor implements that fit the loader) called the Power-Trac has become popular, not only here, but across the US. I guess because the company takes a “KISS” approach to its engineering, and are thus easy to work on. Tried to talk my Granddad into buying that instead–even with implements, it was more than $10,000 less than the Deere was, with more implements. All we had with the Deere was a loader, bucket, bale spear, and Brush Hog (which, at the time, the dealer was running a free loader and implement promo). Plus, all engineering and design staff are just about 15 minutes from my home if something goes wrong–not Iowa or Illinois.
Despite nearly every Farmall I have seen being set up this way (aside from A’s and Cubs), I would never buy a tricycle Row Crop tractor. The majority of the tractor fatalities I am aware of are due to these tractors. Yet, I have no issue with anything else. The area where I live is pretty hilly, so I do like ROPS and seatbelts–and those can easily be retrofitted to older tractors that don’t have them–buy ROPS and new seat to have both. Granddad always liked Massey Fergusons, as he had a 50 when my folks bought the place in 1969, and a large track loader which he bought in the '70s, and traded in on the 5400 in 1998. I’ve liked Farmalls and Olivers, as well as older Deeres. The 4020 has been a tractor I have always admired. They could be had as 4x4 too, and are even more powerful than the 5400 at a whopping 84 drawbar horses. The Farmall Cub, quite honestly, could have likely done most of the garden-type tasks the 3038E has mostly been used for (Granddad put up hay shortly after the 3038E was bought, and used that tractor, but we never put up hay after that), and even with implements, could have been had at under $2000, less than the downpayment of the 3038E, which we’re still paying off (I think it was $30,000).