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Just looking for some first hand experience of people that have or had hydrostatic transmission and how many hours they got before major repairs if any. I know a lot of this is dictated on use and how well it was maintained but at what hours is hydro trans generally deemed at the end of it's service life.

The main reason I am asking I been eyeing a tractor for sale that has 4600 hrs on the meter. I know that is a ton of hours but this tractor was made in the early 2000's so it's averaged about 300 hrs yr. I have no real concern the engine hours because Yanmar engines if maintained can regularly get 6k plus hours without major issues.

The only experience I have with a hydro with high hours was a bobcat skid steer I used at a former job. That thing had over 6k hours on it and the hydro was very tight and responsive and that never had an easy hour in it's life. Are compact tractor hydros typically cheaper/lower grade and expected to wear out long before then?
 

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My FIL owns a either a 1978 or 1972 (thinking 78) 1655 MF thinking Onan engine,with hyd transmission. Has no hr meter but has mowed 3 yard taking 2-3 hrs a week, plowed snow during winter months, at least 5 driveways and church parking lot for 30 yrs.
Did the landscape work around my house , BIL and FIL building, at our daughters house, plus tilling the gardens every summer since new.

So even using his tractor 2 hrs a week for the past 41 yrs. over 4000hrs we talked last summer we are thinking over 5000 hrs.
Either way the Hyd transmission is still as strong today as when it was new. Hdy have filter and fluid been changed according to owners manual.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for sharing some firsthand experience ET.

I been try to find some type of case studies and other research on Hydros and have come across all sorts of different opinions. Some say hydros take more stress because fluid displaces pressure equally throughout the unit and then I read another article whereas a hydro is more durable than a gear transmission because it has an internal relief system so as where when the transmission gets overtaxed it goes into bypass.

The things I have read consistently is that clean and proper weight fluid is an absolute must due to the extremely close tolerances of the hydraulic system itself and they like high volume fluid flow to keep the oil cool.

Are there any telltale signs that a hydro is on it's last end? I presume sluggish or slow response at operating temp. would be the obvious one.

I've read so many posted stories about people having major problems over the years it's made me gun shy about a tractor with so many hours. But my experience with hydros I've had be with skid steers and Z-mowers the trans has been a non issue but if you do end up having to replace one it is a very big ticket item.
 

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Other than a tractor that did stationary PTO duty,, I would NEVER consider a 4,600 hour hydrostatic machine, of any type.

My JD 4105 has 1900 hours, and the only concern I have is the hydrostatic unit.

My tractor never had the PTO shield removed, so I know every minute was wheel drive operation.
The 4630 JD my BIL owned, and faithfully changed the oil in,, was traded in at 4,000 hours.
The tractor was purchased, and within the first week, the new owner had the engine catastrophically fail,,,
The trade-in dealer did cover the repairs, but, he did tell my BIL how lucky he had been to trade it in when he did.

To me, 4,000 hours on a farm tractor is a place to be very careful as far as buying,,,
 

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Other than a tractor that did stationary PTO duty,, I would NEVER consider a 4,600 hour hydrostatic machine, of any type.

My JD 4105 has 1900 hours, and the only concern I have is the hydrostatic unit.

My tractor never had the PTO shield removed, so I know every minute was wheel drive operation.
The 4630 JD my BIL owned, and faithfully changed the oil in,, was traded in at 4,000 hours.
The tractor was purchased, and within the first week, the new owner had the engine catastrophically fail,,,
The trade-in dealer did cover the repairs, but, he did tell my BIL how lucky he had been to trade it in when he did.

To me, 4,000 hours on a farm tractor is a place to be very careful as far as buying,,,
On the flip of that, we owned a 4630 that got used HARD! Not sure how many hours were on it when dad bought it though. It was out "big" tractor for about 3 years, so all the heavy tillage and planting, plus chopping silage, stacking hay, and hauling hay. After we got a 4 wheel drive, it still did all but the heavy tillage.

When dad quit farming, we sold it, as it had no loader and no 3 point, so it wasn't useful in a cattle operation.
At that time, it SHOWED almost 8000 hours. The hour meter had rolled over once already. That engine had NEVER been touched, the tractor never opened up at all.
To boot, when dyno'd, it was putting out a bit over 170 PTO hp, the factory rated them at 150.

This has nothing to do with a hydro, but more to point that sometimes there are "good" ones and "bad" ones out there.
 

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Super55,
I think that my experience is NOT typical. I believe that most hystat transmissions on smaller tractors should last 3 - 5000 hours plus if they have been serviced regularly (strictly my opinion, not based on data).
But my experience does say that you need to check a machine out very well before you buy, because it just may not have been serviced well at all. If you're interested in reading about my 'adventure', here is a link: https://www.greentractortalk.com/forums/general-tractor-operation-ownership/94369-my-tractor-story.html
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I keep thinking of the tasks I will be doing with the tractor that are particularly hard on hydro trans that require drawbar power such as running a disc or plow this tractor will never see. In all likelihood what I would end up doing transferring the mount on the 4310 I have now so that it would run the front mount snowblower. Cold temps, low/slow range speed and no drawbar demand make me think this is practically no stress on a well used hydro trans. Occasionally it would do some tiller work and loader work. I plan on keeping the 4310 pwr reverser I still have.

Maybe I just have too high of expectations for todays tractors. My oliver has an hour meter that stopped at 3k and I am guessing the tractor probably is closer to 5k and it runs flawless. I know most farmers, forestry, or excavating companies wouldn't even look at a product if the service life was only 4-5k but us non-commercial users see that as a worn out piece of equipment. The ironic part is us residential users will only ever put the equipment through a fraction of the abuse it's commercial counterpart will.
 

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I dont want to change the intention of this thread but as it relates to a Hydrostatic Trans, what exactly are the tasks, methods, habits that are considered detrimental to this type of drive as opposed to a clutch?
 

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I dont want to change the intention of this thread but as it relates to a Hydrostatic Trans, what exactly are the tasks, methods, habits that are considered detrimental to this type of drive as opposed to a clutch?
I wouldn't say "detrimental" per say, but rather tasks that put more stress on the hydro.
Any ground engaging, especially heavy work: Tilling, discing, cultivating, ripping, pulling out tree stumps, heavy towing.
Also heavy digging/pushing with the loader.

These tasks can also work a clutch/gear drive if the clutch is slipped or not adjusted properly.
 

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Not a JD and a Manual Transmission but the tractor I sold when I bought this one was a 1967 MF 135 and it had 11,000 hours on it and I owned it for at least 1/2 of them! That old girl was still working when I sold her and original engine and transmission. I hope to get those kind of hours out of my JD if I take care of it. Course I did change the oil once every few yew years and used old oil in it cause it leaked at the real seal. Never tore into the engine except I had to replace a alternator and a couple fan belts but that was about it in over 10 years. Bought it for 2500.00 and sold it for 3,000.00 and kind of miss the old girl she did a lot of work on the place for me with out complaining!
 

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I dont want to change the intention of this thread but as it relates to a Hydrostatic Trans, what exactly are the tasks, methods, habits that are considered detrimental to this type of drive as opposed to a clutch?
Not performing routine maintenance.
The hydro has relief valves, so you cant work it past its designed intent, but you certainly can damage them if you try, just like a gear transmission.
You can stress it by being rough with it, but really, these last every bit as long as gear transmissions. I cant remember where, but there was an article floating around from a tractor publication that went into some detail about the differences, and lack of, in lifespan and use.
 
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