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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I know everyone here is probably sick of “which one should I buy” threads. I’ve been reading many of those threads on this forum and enjoy learning. I want to take a moment to introduce myself so you know my experience and why I’m here. Sorry for the long post. Feel free to skip to the section that interests you most.

MY EXPERIENCE:
I grew up on 85 acres where we spent most years square baling alfalfa hay. We used a John Deere 4430 for EVERYTHING. When I was little more than a toddler, I sat in the gap between my dad’s seat and the fender. When I got too big to sit there, I rode sitting on the fender and held on to the ROPS posts. I was driving tractors by myself in the fields running implements years before I could legally drive a car. When my dad passed away suddenly and my mother sold the farm. I’ve always wanted to have some property of my own to share the joy with my children of playing on the farm. My kids grew up and moved out before I could realize that dream, but I still hope to share that experience with my grandkids. While I was intimately familiar with that old 4430, it’s been 25 years since I’ve been on a tractor, so I consider myself a newbie once again. I’m brand loyal to a fault, so I will not consider buying any other than a John Deere.

MY NEEDS:
I purchased 13 acres. The front 7 of it is open grassland. It slopes up very gently as it goes back from the road front, cresting at the wood line and then has a medium downward slope in the 6 acre woods. I mowed the grassland myself this year with my John Deere X380 lawn tractor (the brush was 3-4’ high but the little girl fought through it. This is obviously NOT a job for a lawn tractor). I will soon be building a house on the land, so I’m starting my search for the appropriate tractor now. I foresee the following usage:
  • Mowing - Rough cut the open field (5 acres), finish mowing around house and drive (2 acres),
  • Snow Removal and maintenance of a 1,000’ driveway
  • Moving material and tree trimmings, and probably most importantly
  • Taking the family on hayrides.
  • I might end up cutting and baling 5-6 acres down the road. It would need to be turned over and reseeded in order to be of much nutritional value.

MY OPTIONS:
3R Series - With those inputs, I started my search at the 3038E as an affordable option. However, I was afraid that the lighter weight may be insufficient when giving hayrides. Also, I want to be able to give my grandkids a ride on the tractor, and feel a cab model will be a safer way to do so, so I went to the other end of the 3 series, the 3046R with a cab and loader. The 3R will be a cheaper option than the 4R, will allow me a mid PTO (for a belly mower or front mount snowblower), and be easier to store in the garage until my barn is built. I think it will probably do everything I need it to.
4R Series - I’ve always been told to buy one size larger than what I think I’ll need. The 4R will give me more room to grow and offer a little more stability. I lose the mid PTO option in the 4R, but I’ve heard complaints about the ground clearance of the mid-mount mower and its mounting hardware on the 3R. Therfore, I will likely just use a rough-cut and finish-cut or a flail mower on the rear PTO anyways. Snow removal would have to be front blade or rear 3PH blower with the 4R. Backing down a curving 1000’ driveway for multiple passes wouldn’t be as easy as a front mount unit. (I know there are ways to do a front mount on a 4R, but I’m keeping it simple for now). I’m considering a 4052R or 4066R with cab and a loader. The 4052R is probably powerful enough for my needs, but the 4066R can’t be ruled out Depending on price. The extra power wold come in handy if i start a hobby hay operation.
5E (Honorable mention) - Both the 3R and 4R are big enough to feel like a tractor and not an oversized garden tractor (no offense to the 1 and 2 series owners, they are very capable machines, but I’m coming from memories of a 4430 row crop tractor), but neither will be out of place on my modestly sized homestead. I briefly considered a used 5 series utility tractor for the bigger cab and the available ‘instructional seat’, but I think it would be overkill and would end up opening up a hole I’d have to get a second, smaller tractor to fill.

I’m pretty sure the 3R and 4R are the right range for me. I’ll just have to find a way to fit a little granchild in the cab for a short ride. I bet I can fab up something. As essentially a new, first time tractor buyer myself, I’d appreciate any words of advice or warnings to watch out for from others who have been through this. Am I considering the correct inputs? What am I overlooking? What mistakes am I getting ready to make? Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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What am I overlooking? What mistakes am I getting ready to make? Any advice would be appreciated.
I have a massive five-acre spread with maybe a 0.75-acre being grass. I have a 1025R with a 60D for mowing grass, and a 3046R cab with a loader, grapple, and backhoe for no particular reason other than to tear some things up in the woods and drive my toddler around.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd buy a 5-series because of the toddler. The steering wheel requires too much input for my applications (not much straight-line stuff), and having a kid on my lap really hampers my ability to operate the machine smoothly. A 5-series would allow me to install an instructor, or buddy, seat. That would make using the tractor with a passenger much easier.

 

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My first JD tractor is a 4300 HST. It is a late 90's equivalent to the 3R. It has become my wife's favorite for horse chores, gardening, paddock mowing (25A Flail), and overal property maintenance. We have probably over worked its 30hp on occasion. It is a convenient size for use around the house. The other tractor we have is a 70HP Agco-Allis. It is definitely too big for use around the house and is used mainly for pasture cutting and heavy duty loader work on our 48 acre hilltop farm. From whar you describe the 3R sounds perfect with the mid PTO. As you get settled in your new homestead, and complete the around house projects, and the hobby hay cutting picks up, you can consider either trading up to a 4R, or picking up a 5 series, and smaller garden/utility tractor. I know that there have been times i wish the 4300 was a bit smaller. I'm thinking about adding a 1 or 2 series to the stable as we develop our property into a vineyard.

Good luck, and welcome.

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Based on what you have said, it sounds like a cab tractor is what will serve you best, but just something else to think about. Not sure how often you will be in the woods or mowing around trees, or will be doing things (like fencing and logging) where you will be on/off the tractor constantly or where the cab will not go under the trees, but an open station tractor can be the preferred configuration in a lot of work scenarios.

I had owned an open station 4610 for 16 yrs before I got a cabbed 4052R. I was planning to sell the 4610 when I bought the 4052R, and quickly realized that would have been a huge mistake.

Even with a nice new cabbed 4052R (which I love for mowing), I still use the open station 4610 probably twice as many hours in a year over the 4052R.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you to everyone who has replied already. These are great things to consider and I appreciate your input. I feel confident I can make the decision on what’s best, but as the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know” so this helps a lot.

I do have another question about tractor ownership: what do you guys do when the tractor needs repair or service that you can’t do yourself? Does your dealer pick up your machine, do repairs on site, or do I need to make sure I have a trailer and tow rig big enough to handle whatever I buy? I’d like to think the machine will never need anything other than oil and filter changes that I can do, but I realize that is not a realistic expectation.
 

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what do you guys do when the tractor needs repair or service that you can’t do yourself? Does your dealer pick up your machine, do repairs on site, or do I need to make sure I have a trailer and tow rig big enough to handle whatever I buy? I’d like to think the machine will never need anything other than oil and filter changes that I can do, but I realize that is not a realistic expectation.
My nearest dealer is as useless as teats on a boar. I've invested heavily in tools over the years. Consequently, there's nothing I can't make or fix when equipped with the proper shop manual. Even if I need it once, I'd rather buy the tool and leave it in my toolbox after the job instead of buying it for someone else and leaving it in their toolbox after the job.
 

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I have a really good dealer. I had them install the 3rd SCV when I bought the tractor and have had 2 warranty issues. They picked up and delivered in both warranty issues, but informed me that from then on it would be $100 pickup/delivery fee. They’re only 13 miles away. Now I have a 10K GVW trailer, so it’s not a problem.

All other normal service I’ll do myself such as oil/filter changes etc. I did have a self inflicted problem of poking a limb through the grill and then the radiator. I just bought the parts and changed them myself. It was easier than I thought it would be. The only thing I would probably use them for from now on is electronic control issues. But I’m at 375 hrs and have had none of those. I’m still contemplating getting a service manual. That would enable me to at least make a better informed decision of, can I do it or let them.

It’s my feeling that they’re pretty reliable machines and should be pretty trouble free. My previous tractor was a 2007 790 that I bought new and kept for 12 years. I only had one issue in all that time and it was just a seat switch which was $30 and I changed myself.
 
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What is the terrain on your land like?
Will you have to mow on the side of the slopes you mentioned, of can you go up and down the hills/slopes and safely turnaround on even ground on both ends of the slopes. .



I have all three of the ones you had mentioned.

Is there anything you are most interested in learning hearing more about in comparison of these 3-5 series machines.

IE.
The 3046R is a great machine, and that is the only cab model with a mid mount mower which that is my cab 3046Rs main function. However the 3046R can't really be used on steep slopes very effectively or safely and turning around even with a ditch ditches and at times put the that mid mount mower in real bind. Nor can it get up under a low tree canopy.
So I still have to have my X758 to get the ditches, around the edges of the pond and up close to the house where the tree canopy gets a little to low for the cab 3046R. If going with a 3046R I would highly recommend wheel spacers, regardless of Deere's thoughts on this, the tractor is too narrow and really needs some rear wheel spacers for added stability and safety.

The 5 series is going to likely be the most familiar to someone who grew up running a 4430.
Our utility tractor that I grew up running years ago on our Farm was a 4440. The 5 series I would say is the easily the most similar of the 3 to that 4440 we had. The quad range trans is somewhat similar to the old Quadra shift trans we had in our 4440. The loader can lift about the same amount of weight and in general the feel of the larger 5 series tractors weight just makes it feel in general a lot more like our old 4440 then any of my other machines.

The 4 series will have a smaller cab and be significantly more capable then the 3R with anything you ask of it other then it can't run a mid mount mower. The Cab 4R is also more stable stock/no wheel spacers, then a cab 3R with wheel spacers. It also the 420 loader for the 4R nearly doubles the lift capacity of the loader found on the 3R.

Main difference is, as was mentioned.
Cab space and comfort is much greater on the 5 series. The cab 3R and 4R's have the exact same cabs and they are little tight on space.

The 4 and 5 series will have significant increase to them in terms of loader capacity over that of the 3 series.

If the Mid mount mower is a big need for you, then the 3 is the only choice. I would recommend wheel spacers as a must have, and for best ground clearance with the MMM installed, I would get either the Turf tires or the Larger/Taller R4s. Those Short R4s can be a real problem at times in getting the mid mount mower enough clearance (range of lift) to clear obstacles with those shorter tires.
 
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For service at the dealer, mine will transport to and from, but there is a fee for that added as a line item to the service bill. If you do decide to purchase your own trailer like I did, I would encourage you to add a winch to it. If the tractor is going to the dealer because it won't start, you'll need a way to get it on and off the trailer. Some of my neighbors use a flat bed wrecker service for theirs rather than the dealership trailer. They say it is less money overall, but that may vary greatly among locations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
What is the terrain on your land like?
Will you have to mow on the side of the slopes you mentioned, of can you go up and down the hills/slopes and safely turnaround on even ground on both ends of the slopes….
Thank you for the excellent response. I’m glad you have experience with all three of these tractors and seem to like them all and each one has a use. I am going to try to attach a photo of the land if I can. I know it is difficult to tell the severity of slopes from a picture but it will be something. Turning around at the end of the rows won’t be a problem, I don’t think, based on my experience. The land rises about 22 feet from front to its peak at the midpoint which is about 450 feet back, so it’s pretty gentle, averaging about a foot rise every 20 feet of run. You can see it’s not perfectly flat along the way but there’s aren’t major mounds or ditches that concern me.
Sky Plant Natural landscape Branch Wood

I spoke with my dealer today and interestingly enough, the 4R can be ordered with factory wheel spacers while the 3R cannot. Aftermarket ones are available but not recommended, as you mentioned. That’s ironic. I wonder if it’s related to the aluminum (3R) vs cast iron (4R) axle housing? Anyways, they order their 4R’s with spacers. I’m not sure I want them or not on the 4R, but would probably consider them in the 3R.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Several of you with 3R’s have the Mid-Mount mower. To me, that would be the main benefit of the 3R over th 4R besides cost, What is the benefit of the Mid mount over a rear mount grooming mower? Obviously it makes the whole arrangement more compact without the mower swinging around behind the tractor, but what other benefits do you see? Does it cut better than a pull behind? Was your main benefit maneuverability? Would you miss it a lot if you didn’t have it?

One of the things I’m strongly considering is getting a rear mount flail mower that I can offset to one side. The main reason why is to be able to mow next to the wood line without having to worry as much about tree branches hitting the cab.
 

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Yea, the whole spacer thing where Deere is concerned is out right nuts IMO.
With the older 3 and 4 series versions they used the same spacer for both 3 and 4 series machines.

Now the Deere 4Rs spacer kit will still fit a 3R still the same hub and a bold patterns on both machines.

There is only one reason, I know for fact as to why you would not want to use the Deere spacers from the 4R, is they are simply to wide for use with the Mid mount mower deck.
You have stay under 3" to if your running a MMM on a 3R.
I want to say that Deere spacer was something like 5 inches.

The 4R is a pretty stable machine without them, where the cab 3R can get real sketchy fast.
With my first 3033R mowing my back yard which is relativity flat with a few bumps here and there that
when mowing it with any speed 6mph or so, I had that first cab 3R slam me around side to side in the cab more then once, just hitting some slightly rough ground would get it bouncing or rocking side to side and quite violently slamming the operator (myself) all around inside that cab.

The fluid filled rear tires and 3" wheel spacers, totally put a stop to that slamming me around business.
Much more stable after that, also much smother overall ride.
Just totally changed the driving dynamics for the better adding those spacers and later the fluid ballast to the tires.
That IMO helped a lot in the overall safety of the machine.
When it is my life the on line, you can bet I am putting spacers on any 3R tractor I ever own, I don't care what Deere recommends.

The 3046R I just recently bought is awaiting it's spacers to come in right now.
The 3" spacers on my 4R today are off one of my old 3Rs, and if the tires were not filled and it was not a major pain to swap them, would have swapped them over to the 3046R till the new ones got here. I only put these on my 4R after I put the new radial R1s on the rear of the tractor and even though they were same as a the OE size bias ply R4s, they turned out to be physically larger both slightly taller and wider. It was crowding the cab and hitch hookup points a bit more then I liked so I had those 3" spacers setting there, so put them on . It's has more clearance with the cab and hitch and gave it even more stability.

Pics are of my 3046R without spacers yet.
and my 4066R with 3” spacers .
Tire Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle Automotive tire
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Several of you with 3R’s have the Mid-Mount mower. To me, that would be the main benefit of the 3R over th 4R besides cost, What is the benefit of the Mid mount over a rear mount grooming mower? Obviously it makes the whole arrangement more compact without the mower swinging around behind the tractor, but what other benefits do you see? Does it cut better than a pull behind? Was your main benefit maneuverability? Would you miss it a lot if you didn’t have it?

One of the things I’m strongly considering is getting a rear mount flail mower that I can offset to one side. The main reason why is to be able to mow next to the wood line without having to worry as much about tree branches hitting the cab.
Either way you go, you will likely still need your smaller mower for trimming work.
There are pro's and cons of both the MMM and rear 3pt mount. I prefer the MMM, I do as much trim work as I can with mine before braking out the X758 for the ditches and really tight difficult areas. I mow the bulk of my property with the 5M pulling a 17 foot batwing finish mower, Which I use to pull with the 4066R no problem, just the 5M is a lot more comfortable and I can swivel my seat around in the 5M to get a better view of where that big batwing is when getting close to any obstacles.

I do love my offset flail for brush cutting and mowing my pond banks.
Not sure how I would like an offset flail behind a 3R, it can jerk the 4R around more then I would like, I am thinking I will end up putting it on my 5M next time I use it. The 4 with weight tires and spacers was really fine with it, just I think the 5M would be even better.
 
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Based on what you have said, it sounds like a cab tractor is what will serve you best, but just something else to think about. Not sure how often you will be in the woods or mowing around trees, or will be doing things (like fencing and logging) where you will be on/off the tractor constantly or where the cab will not go under the trees, but an open station tractor can be the preferred configuration in a lot of work scenarios.

I had owned an open station 4610 for 16 yrs before I got a cabbed 4052R. I was planning to sell the 4610 when I bought the 4052R, and quickly realized that would have been a huge mistake.

Even with a nice new cabbed 4052R (which I love for mowing), I still use the open station 4610 probably twice as many hours in a year over the 4052R.

View attachment 805290

View attachment 805292
I am thinking about adding a 4066r type machine to my fleet.......currently have a OS 4500 (very close to your 4610) ...and a 5 series cab tractor plus a lot of other stuff........and looking to add something in between (cab) for using a mower/cutter like you show in your pictures looking for climate control and more nimble than the 5 series ..... your post struck home as i was thinking about replacing the 4500 OS which i use all the time and really like other than i could use more PTO hp and climate control....was kinda stressing about letting the 4500 go ...can you further elaborate in real world ussage issues between your 4610 vs your 4052r pros n cons ......i may just have to keep the 4500 but your feedback would be great to hear
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Either way you go, you will likely still need your smaller mower for trimming work.
….
I do love my offset flail for brush cutting and mowing my pond banks.
Not sure how I would like an offset flail behind a 3R, it can jerk the 4R around more then I would like, I am thinking I will end up putting it on my 5M next time I use it. The 4 with weight tires and spacers was really fine with it, just I think the 5M would be even better.
I plan to keep my X380 for mowing around the house and other trimming. It works well but not as fast as a zero turn so I hope to keep its coverage to about a 0.5-1 acre at most.

Yeah I would probably just do a MMM and a 3PH straight behind rough cut or flail with a 3R. I’ve seen an offset done with smaller tractors but plan to go offset if I go 4R. Fluid filled tires either way. Spacers on a 3R, probably no spacers on a 4R…I’d have to see what they look like with and without spacers and fender extensions.
 

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I do all my repairs myself. I went to the local big JD franchise and asked for an estimate to split my 4300 to replace a broken HST control rod, and they could not/would not even provide a ball park estimate on the hours required. I figured that there would be a shop labor manual for such a straight forward repair. Well i wasn't willing to just open my wallet for a 23yr old tractor. So i invested in a $40 repair manual.

That said, i tend to avoid electronic controls on mowers and tractors. To many things to fail, and requires a proprietary black box to read and test systems.

I also have both a 10.4k bumper pull 20' equipment/car hauler, and a 14k 25+5 deckover goose neck trailer to haul with.

If you want to go one generation back, the 4720 was available with a mid PTO. CC1999 has a thread on his purchase of the Good Works Unicorn. IIRC, he traded it back to GW for his 5M. Might still be available.

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My wife and I use our X380 and X570 mowers for our 3 acre yard. Both have the 54” decks and we get done in about an hour and a half. For the field, I kept my 5’ finish mower from my previous 790. I just use it after the hay is taken from the field to cut missed swather corners and chop up leftover straw. I’d like a larger finish mower, but since this is all I use it for once a year, it works fine.

It just looks like a little toy behind the 4R. At least it covers the tracks.

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I am thinking about adding a 4066r type machine to my fleet.......currently have a OS 4500 (very close to your 4610) ...and a 5 series cab tractor plus a lot of other stuff........and looking to add something in between (cab) for using a mower/cutter like you show in your pictures looking for climate control and more nimble than the 5 series ..... your post struck home as i was thinking about replacing the 4500 OS which i use all the time and really like other than i could use more PTO hp and climate control....was kinda stressing about letting the 4500 go ...can you further elaborate in real world ussage issues between your 4610 vs your 4052r pros n cons ......i may just have to keep the 4500 but your feedback would be great to hear
@ttazzman,

I could probably ramble on for quite a while explaining the different tasks that I use the open station 4610 for instead of using the 4052R, but a lot of it just has to do with the height of the cab.

Part of my property is wooded, and while there is almost no where in the woods where you can take the cab 4052R, the open station 4610 is at home in there. I keep an old 5 ft Rhino rotary cutter around, not because you can use it to mow large areas, but rather because it is so short and narrow that it is very effective behind the 4610 at brush removal in the woods.

I remember showing my neighbor a section of woods last year that I had cleaned up with the 4610, and he said "how did you do that?". He is used to seeing me on the cabbed tractors with flex wing mowers, and didn't realize the 4610 with a small rotary cutter (and the front end loader removed) is short and nimble enough to work in areas that the other tractors cannot.

Last year a storm blew down a very large hackberry tree in the woods that I wanted to harvest for firewood. With just a little judicious trimming, I was able to get the 4610 in there to carry out wood.

In the picture above that I posted of the 4610, it is being used to move split firewood to the wood rack I keep in my garage. You can't even get the 4052R in the garage on my home, but with the roll bar down, the 4610 goes right in. I can use the 4610 like a large wheelbarrow. I almost never operate the 4610 with the roll bar up because it is just too tall.

I mow around the house with my 455 lawn tractor, but then mow several acres of yard with a Frontier 7 ft rear discharge finish mower on the back of the 4610. Yes, I could run the finish mower on the cab 4052R, but it is hard enough keeping the trees in the yard trimmed up enough to use the 4610, much less the 4052R.

The other big reason for using the open station 4610 instead of the cabbed 4052R has to do with ease of getting on/off the tractor. I am always using the tractor for things that require me to frequently get on/off the tractor. It isn't really that bad to get in/out of the 4R cab, but having that big glass door in the way quickly gets annoying when you are needing to frequently get on/off the tractor. It would help if you could lock it open to the side of the cab like I can do with my backhoe and dozer, but that isn't possible.

I also have to admit that it is really handy keeping the Rhino TS10 flex wing mower on the 4052R all summer. I back it in the barn and leave the mower attached so it is always ready to go, and I use it often. The 4610 is my go-to tractor for pretty much everything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
My wife and I use our X380 and X570 mowers for our 3 acre yard. Both have the 54” decks and we get done in about an hour and a half. For the field, I kept my 5’ finish mower from my previous 790. I just use it after the hay is taken from the field to cut missed swather corners and chop up leftover straw. I’d like a larger finish mower, but since this is all I use it for once a year, it works fine.

It just looks like a little toy behind the 4R. At least it covers the tracks.

View attachment 805347
That’s a great looking stance on that 4R. Is that without the wheel spacers? the one’s I*ve seen with the spacers the centerline of the tires are outside of the fenders…
 

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Here is my 4066 without fender flairs and without spacers with the OE R4s.
Tire Wheel Vehicle Tractor Automotive tire


The one on the left is a no spacer 4720 and the one on the right is the 4066R.
Tire Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle Tractor
 
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