New Holland Tractor

New Holland Tractor

No, I did not buy a new tractor. That is a rental. Our tractor died. Of course, it was way out in the field at the bottom of a slope when it had a fit, paralyzed in the hind quarters. Makes sense though since most of its use time is not on the road the probability is it won’t die in an easy to access location. Using the backhoe I pulled the tractor backwards up the hill and out of the field. Imagine a lumbering beast grabbing the earth, digging in and dragging its paralyzed body along the snow covered hillside in agony. Tragic.

While our regular tractor is in the shop we have a New Holland T1530 to use. It was literally a life saver as it allowed us to get hay out to animals. I had called all around Vermont and even into New Hampshire trying to find a rental over the snowy Thanksgiving week I had been putting hay out when it died, arranging it for the winter. I am very greatful to L. W. Greenwood & Sons for providing the rental while they worked on our tractor. They delivered it fast and probably saved the lives of some pigs. Kudos.

That being said I really don’t like the New Holland T1530 tractor pictured above. That isn’t a smile on my face but a grimace. This tractor’s biggest issue is simply that it is too small for what we do. That 800 lb round bale of hay is way up at the top of its ability to move. I’ve almost flipped this tractor over repeatedly. It is scary how easily it starts to flip. On top of the issue of the tractor simply being too small there is the problem that there is no extra weight in the rear end. No fluid fill, no box weight, no rim weights. We have to move around a lot of stuff that weighs 800 lbs to 1,600 lbs on a regular basis and this tractor struggles with the low end of that range. I don’t even try the hard stuff.

The next problem is the lack of ice chains. Our tractor has very aggressive heavy duty ice chains on the rear wheels which add even more weight and a lot of gripping action. Additionally the rental has flat treaded industrial tires rather than the angular ag tires we have. The result is this rental tractor slides around easily. Time for a little spin control!

We’ve customized our tractor with chain hooks and other things in all sorts of places and I really missed all those little touches. This tractor had one hook in the middle of the bucket but that was not useful for what we do. Unfortunately the New Holland uses a different bucket attachment method so I couldn’t use our buckets and forks. As you can see in the photo I did manage to lift bales with a cinch strap. Iffy but it worked.

There are a lot of specific details I don’t like about the New Holland. Some of these are simply that it is different than I’m used to using but others are bad ergonomics such as the position of the front loader control. As you can see in the photo it is up high so one must constantly be holding one’s arm up in the air while working. That’s bad design.

The T1530 is very fussy about how you start and stop it. You have to go through a complicated chicken dance to turn it on and get started working. If you get off the seat it turns itself off. This is a problem since it is so hard to turn back on again. That wastes fuel and time. It is also very hard to shift into gear from neutral – which it insists on for starting – which is dangerous on hills. There is no clutch making it the worst combination of manual and automatic brought together in one transmission. The result is gears grinding, when you can get it to go into gear.

The T1530 has made me appreciate that when we bought our JD4700 we got the biggest, most powerful tractor in the series. We use all of that power and could use more. I just don’t want a physically bigger tractor than we have. Fussy aren’t I. Having spent a bit of time with this smaller tractor makes me appreciate our tractor all the more. There are a lot of things we never could have done with this tractor never mind no-tractor. Now I just need another, a backup tractor for those times ours breaks down.

Somethings I do like about this tractor is the air valves on the wheels are protected and the curved design of the loader arms is better than the welded sections John Deere used on the 4700 we have. See, it’s not all bad!

In the end the New Holland T1530 was the perfect tractor simply because it was available when we needed it in pinch. It moved the hay out to the animals despite struggling with the bales, the mud, the ice, the snow and our hills. It plowed the driveway, barely, but it got it cleared for the whey truck. But it did it. It reminds me of the train engine in the children’s story, chugging up the mountain saying, “I think I can, I think I can…”

Outdoors: 34°F/15°F Mostly Sunny, 1/2″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/58°F

Daily Spark: When the government outlaws light bulbs only outlaws will have light bulbs.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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16 Responses to New Holland Tractor

  1. David B says:

    Sorry to hear your tractor died! Same issue with the crack in the crankcase as before? Hope you get yours back quickly. You are definitely making me want to buy new and have a warranty/insurance on a tractor if I ever get big enough to need one.

    • Based on my experience I would even suggest the extended warrantee, especially if your yearly hours are low. Five years extended comes to $300/extra year when I just priced it recently.

    • Now that the tractor, and the bill, are back from the repair shop we know what happened. The repair by the original dealer on the back end of the tractor last time was not done right. The bolts that hold the guts of the tractor together as well as at least one exterior bolt were not tightened or locked. They came loose and broke inside the tractor. This resulted in loss of transmission of power to the rear wheels.

  2. Brian Martin says:

    I had a Ford 1520 a few years back it was a fantastically tough machine. I wish you could have gotten the New Holland in something a little closer to your specs. I think you would have liked it.

    • It certainly would be better if the tractor were closer to my needs (power, reach, weight, tire fill, chains, tire width, tire tread, etc). As I noted, I like the way New Holland designed the beam of the lift arms, that’s better than John Deere’s design. But the overly complicated startup and shut down procedure is a pain and the controls are badly designed – poor ergonomics. Something that I’ve come to the conclusion with both tractors, as well as vans, is that the people designing them need to be forced to actually spend significant amounts of time using them in the real world for many hours a day. The designers obviously don’t since there are so many things that are so off in all of these machines, both from a usability point of view and from maintenance & repair standpoints. Now, on the other hand, imagine if Steve Jobs had led the design teams… Then we would have cars and tractors that were right.

      • Ryan says:

        Interesting you would say that. Speaking from experience there is a lot of thought put into the design of a car and the placement of everything, and many many compromises. The same is true of Apple products. The difference is for apple products you are thinking like the designer expects you to think. For the van and tractor you are not thinking and acting as they expect.

        • I’m referring to things such as the location of the oil dip stick for the hydrostatic on the John Deere 4700. It is extremely difficult to get at with the backhoe on. Small changes would have made it work much better.

  3. Eric says:

    Interesting review. We have a 5-year-old New Holland TC-30, which we absolutely love, and which must be a very similar model as it looks virtually the same in the photo. It’s the right size for our farm (we don’t handle large bales like you) and has been able to do everything we’ve needed, including plowing deep snow from our steep road, hauling large trees, and so on. I haven’t had any concerns with the ergonomics of the TC-30, it turns on with one flick of the key, and the engine stays running when you get off as long as you have the brake set. Our tires are fluid-filled and we have weights, so it’s very stable in all sorts of conditions. As a complete non-mechanic who had never worked on engines before starting our farm, I’ve found it very easy to work on and do all the maintenance myself with no fuss; the manual is even reasonably useful as manuals go. It’s the only tractor I’ve ever owned, so perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing, but we’ve been absurdly happy with the design and reliability of ours as people who aren’t tractor-people. We were told by the salesman that they’d designed our model more or less for people like us; no frills and easy to use/maintain, and that’s exactly what we got.

    I sound like sales spam, but I’m real (see our link). Sorry to hear the model you found was set up so differently than what you needed, as Brian said. Your last line does remind me of ours, too, in that it could probably be just a little bigger for some of what we do, but has handled everything with aplomb. Our neighbor has been quite impressed with what we can do with something he initially saw as a large garden tractor, not a real one.

    • Glad to hear it is working for you. The weights would make a huge difference. Interesting that some of the NH tractors make you do the chicken dance to turn them on and others don’t. Because this one will only start in neutral and is hard to get shifted into gear (no clutch) it is actually dangerous to start since we live on a mountain.

  4. Matt says:

    That is quite a tractor! Glad it worked out for you, even though it wasn’t your ideal choice.

  5. Farmerbob1 says:

    Do you water-fill the tires of your tractor in the warmer months? Is there a non-toxic liquid fill for tractor tires that won’t freeze or damage the inner tube? I know down here in the southern states a lot of farmers keep water in their tractor tires year-round, but I suspect that in the winter, water’s right out the window for your tires.

    • Yes, but not water as that would freeze. See here. Beet juice, molasses and such are some of the alternatives to water and antifreeze. There is also a foam fill I looked into but that is horribly expensive. One version is hard but another version is soft enough to mimic air fill which is better for the tractor axel.

      • Farmerbob1 says:

        Have you considered a heavy salt water mixture? A heavy salt slurry would have a much lower freezing point than water, and salt is cheap. If there’s a spill, it wouldn’t be a catastrophe.

        I found some references to using calcium chloride at 5lb per gallon of water for tractor tires in low temperatures. It’s a pretty severe rust hazard though, if oxygen can get to metal it comes in contact with. I’m not sure you would want it around the farm.

        • I’ve heard of people doing that…and rotting out the rims of the tractor. The rims are very expensive at a cost of thousands of dollars. A tractor costs about $50K so I don’t want salt around it. Salt is also toxic to pigs and plants plus it destroys the rebar in concrete foundations so I try to avoid it. We use CMA instead of salt in our winter driveway sand for this reason.

          • Farmerbob1 says:

            Ah, you have mentioned pigs having difficulties with excess salt in their diet before, now that I think about it.

            So we want something organic that remains at least moderately fluid at temperatures quite a bit below where water freezes. Something that won’t potentially sicken the pigs or kill a bunch of plants if it leaks.

            Have you looked into vegetable oils? Some of them seem to be relatively inexpensive. You probably don’t want to use organic oils in the summer. Linseed oil has a freezing point around -20C from what I’ve seen, some other oils that are more common are fairly close to that. Even when ‘frozen’ these oils will still be viscous and not rock-hard until it gets a lot colder.

            Maybe after the first freeze, drain the water out of the tractor tires, and fill with veggie oil. When mud season starts, drain the oil into a container and mix it in with pig feed in safe concentrations until it’s gone?

            The only other thing I can come up with off the top of my head that’s cheap and might be safe around pigs is mineral oil. Humans use it for lots of cosmetics, but I have no idea how pigs would react to it if exposed.

            Thanks for being patient with me Walter, I hope I’m not bothering you :)

          • The beet juice and molasses are two examples of things that do work quite well. I would like to get the foam fill but it’s a bit too dear. The advantage of the foam is no leaks from sharp pointy sticks and rocks and it makes the tires last longer

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