Do" Little" Tractors Tip Over Easier Than "Big" Ones
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    Do" Little" Tractors Tip Over Easier Than "Big" Ones

    I know there are a ton of variables here - so impossible to answer with 100% accuracy - but that doesn't mean the general concept can't be addressed.

    Reason I'm asking: I have very uneven and hilly terrain. I have to be super careful when handling heavy loads. I would like a little bigger tractor, as I know that would increase my margin for error. But I have a feeling I would just carry heavier loads and be back in the same boat.

    I understand I can load tires, put spacers and widen the rear end, etc.

    But my question, without all the details that make it not an easy question is - if all things are equal, is there anything inherently in the design of a bigger machine that would make it more stable? Or would a maxed out smaller tractor with a load at the same height, same weights/ballast, etc. be more stable than a bigger (taller) tractor.

    Maybe my real reason for asking is if I can tell the wife I will be safer in a little bigger tractor because of the design, she would like that - and I may have her blessing. I know I can be just as stupid in a big tractor, but is there any safety advantage in moving up - other than not having to "push the envelope" as often.
    Last edited by konakid; 11-07-2018 at 02:33 PM.
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    John Deere 1025R TLB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by konakid View Post
    I know there are a ton of variables here - so impossible to answer with 100% accuracy - but that doesn't mean the general concept can't be addressed.

    Reason I'm asking: I have very uneven and hilly terrain. I have to be super careful when handling heavy loads. I would like a little bigger tractor, as I know that would increase my margin for error. But I have a feeling I would just carry heavier loads and be back in the same boat.

    I understand I can load tires, put spacers and widen the rear end, etc.

    But my question, without all the details that make it not an easy question is - if all things are equal, is there anything inherently in the design of a bigger machine that would make it more stable? Or would a maxed out smaller tractor with a load at the same height, same weights/ballast, etc. be more stable than a bigger (taller) tractor.

    Maybe my real reason for asking is if I can tell the wife I will be safer in a little bigger tractor because of the design, she would like that - and I may have her blessing. I know I can be just as stupid in a big tractor, but is there any safety advantage in moving up - other than not having to "push the envelope" as often.
    They all can be dangerour under the wrong circumstance. Either way, if you can use a bigger tractor, and can afford a bigger tractor, and it will fitin all your spaces, you are better off with the extra HP. As far as the original question, to quantify safer, not really. The higher the center of gravity with a given width, the more prone the tractor would be to tip. In other words, if I add a cab to my 1025R, the center of gravity raises, which even though a good ROPS replacement cab would be ~400lb more weight on the tires, the weight is added in a place that on the level gives you more traction, but still increases the height of the center of gravity, and therefore on a grade you may have felt safe traversing across before, the pucker factor would definately increase after the cab add. That being said, a larger tractor has larger tires that will be able to be filled with more ballast (Rim Guard or winshied washer fluid) that would provide more stability. So for instance the 1025R and the 2025R; the 2025R "should" be more stabel with loaded tires than the 1025R loaded the same, even though the center of gravity is raised on the 2025R. They are for all intents and purposes of this discussion identical machines, except for the height difference and the tire size. 2025R giving the higher potential of ballast in the tires. There are other ways of offsetting this. Herminator is making a ballast that goes on as easy as a drive over deck for a large frame 2 series. Anyway, they both (large and small) can be made more stable, just with the larger tires and rims. The larger tractor has an advantage. Good luck with your purchase, and let us know. I am sure someone will chime in with a better explanation, but I think you should be able to buy the bigger tractor!

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    Bonehead Club Lackey Levi's Avatar
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    If you're not pushing the envelope like I do, meaning I use my weight as a ballast by sitting on the high side fender, then I would think that bigger tires would be better. Bigger tires means bigger tractor. But as with anything else you can change the center of gravity just by adding things to it and putting it in different spots on the tractor. This is a call only you can make as you are the one that knows your place and what you intend to do with your tractor.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Deere 1025R TLB View Post
    Herminator is making a ballast that goes on as easy as a drive over deck for a large frame 2 series.

    Like this.

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    IMHO Yes

    I went from a larger tractor world to a 790 and while either one will tip over, I think the smaller tractors are less stable than the larger ones. I can't prove it but here's my reasoning.

    As someone else mentioned, larger tractors have larger tires. That doesn't matter on nice smooth pavement but my tractor world is full of groundhog holes, dips, mud etc. Those have less effect on larger tires, especially when the tires are both taller (circumference) and wider.

    Larger tractors have a lot bigger wheel base. That means if the front end goes down 6" it's a lot less noticeable on a large tractor than my 790. Same for side to side movement. Lots of overturns are caused by sudden dips and anything that lessens the angle promotes stability. As a thought experiment, consider the 5' width of my 790. If one rear wheel goes down a foot, the whole tractor is suddenly on a 20% slope. A larger tractor with an 9' wheelbase would only have an 11% slope. Big difference.

    While larger tractors do sit up higher, much of the weight is still low. Given the longer, wider wheelbase the center of gravity is low enough so that the angle of departure (that's the Oh, s--- point,) is at a higher slope than a smaller tractor.

    Finally, many rear overturns are caused by hitching too high in order to pull a load that's really too much for said tractor. That's much less likely with a tractor that has enough horses and traction to pull the load whereas we are all guilty of trying to get just a little more out of an small tractor so sure, I'll use that 3ph mounted drawbar and just lift a little. I don't think I've ever seen or heard about a rear overturn on a really large tractor, like over 250 hp. It may have happened but I've seen plenty of reports of rear overturns with smaller tractors. Maybe those who pay a couple hundred grand for a tractor are less likely to take chances, or maybe they have more experience but I simply haven't heard of rear overturns. Deaths from jump starting them, accidents on the road, pinching between articulation points, PTO deaths etc. but no rear overturns that I can remember.

    I'm basically a flatland person and really don't feel comfortable on steep slopes but if I have to work on one, I'd prefer 4wd, large tires and lots of weight down low on as big a wheelbase as I can get.

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    Quote Originally Posted by konakid View Post
    I know there are a ton of variables here - so impossible to answer with 100% accuracy - but that doesn't mean the general concept can't be addressed.

    Reason I'm asking: I have very uneven and hilly terrain. I have to be super careful when handling heavy loads. I would like a little bigger tractor, as I know that would increase my margin for error. But I have a feeling I would just carry heavier loads and be back in the same boat.

    I understand I can load tires, put spacers and widen the rear end, etc.

    But my question, without all the details that make it not an easy question is - if all things are equal, is there anything inherently in the design of a bigger machine that would make it more stable? Or would a maxed out smaller tractor with a load at the same height, same weights/ballast, etc. be more stable than a bigger (taller) tractor.

    Maybe my real reason for asking is if I can tell the wife I will be safer in a little bigger tractor because of the design, she would like that - and I may have her blessing. I know I can be just as stupid in a big tractor, but is there any safety advantage in moving up - other than not having to "push the envelope" as often.
    While a larger tractor would likely add some stability, your terrain dramatically increases your roll over risk. I know I find my tractor disappointingly unstable and I am very wary of doing anything questionable with it.

    The smaller tractors have such narrow wheelbases and the length of the machines, being proportionate create instability. Using the FEL dramatically changes the center of gravity with every inch of lift.

    One thing I do know, the fact you are aware of the risk is a very important first step. I would rather someone be cautious and always have the instability in their mind, than to think the risk is minimal.

    I would be looking for a tractor with the widest wheelbase, the longest wheel base, the widest "tracking" (distance between the center of the wheels, think "Wide Track Pontiac" era of commercials) which would work for your needs. Then I would carry extra ballast as low as possible and always carry FEL loads as low and slow as possible. Keep the ROPS up and your awareness high.

    Your awareness and recognition of the risk are very important. This is probably the most important "Safety Feature" you can get on any piece of equipment..........

    Will a larger tractor be safer? I can't imagine it would be less safe unless you were using what we call "Orchard Tractors", which are very narrow machines to fit down vineyard rows, in orchards and between HOPS vertical strings..........Back to my widest wheelbase, longest wheel base, etc. suggestions and always remain vigilant.
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    Well,here is my take on it. I had a 1025R and felt safe mowing the ditch along the road as I could kind of sit out on the uphill fender. With my cab 4066R, I do not use it to mow that ditch. Instead, I trade off with my neighbor where I mow his front 4-5 acres periodically, while he mows my front ditch with his small Kubota. That high center of gravity really kicks in with that 4066R. Maybe it would not be so noticeable if I did not have a cab. My 1025R was 4ft wide, whereas my 4066R is only 2 ft wider at 6ft, but much, much taller. Maybe if I had spacers or filled tires, it would make me feel better.

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    Small tractors are narrow, tall, and light. Not a good recipe for stability
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    Thanks for all the feedback. I was going to start another related topic, but let me carry on here.

    How safe/effective is the ROPS? In other words, in a tip over with the ROPS up and seat belt on, what are the chances of serious bodily injury? Do most "simple" roll overs (that is, not down a hill rolling completely over) injure the operator. I assume if you feel you are going over and are belted in, you just keep your arms and legs in as close as possible and hang on.

    I guess I'm trying to understand just how dangerous a roll over (or just really just a "lay/tip over") really is? What really happens to the operator? Does it frequently result in serious injury (to the operator, not the tractor)? Or is it a 50/50 proposition? Or does the operator usually walk away?
    Last edited by konakid; 11-07-2018 at 10:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by konakid View Post
    Thanks for all the feedback. I was going to start another related topic, but let me carry on here.

    How safe/effective is the ROPS? In other words, in a tip over with the ROPS up and seat belt on, what are the chances of serious bodily injury? Do most "simple" roll overs (that is, not down a hill rolling completely over) injure the operator. I assume if you feel you are going over and are belted in, you just keep your arms and legs in as close as possible and hang on.

    I guess I'm trying to understand just how dangerous a roll over (or just really just a "lay/tip over") really is? What really happens to the operator? Does it frequently result in serious injury (to the operator, not the tractor)? Or is it a 50/50 proposition? Or does the operator usually walk away?
    I suspect your odds are greatly increased. I have seen plenty of articles on people crushed under equipment over the years but I dont recall hearing about any who were seat belted in with a cab or rops.
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