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5 Must-Have Implements Compact Tractors Buyers Guide Part 3

Neil from Messick's here with part three in our Tractor Buyers Guide series. Today we're going to discuss must-have implements. Your tractor at the end of the day is a tool carrier. The machine itself isn't really capable of any work without attachments to go on it. There's a handful of attachments that I think are worth every person considering upfront mostly because of their versatility and the variety of the tasks that they can accomplish, probably not a lot of things that you don't even expect here initially. Today we're going to take a little bit of time, walk around the lot, pick out some of those things that I think you probably shouldn't be without.
Now before we start talking attachments, we need to talk about your tractor itself. I've been selling tractors now for 19 years, believe it or not. Even in my 19 years, we've seen the evolution from implements really only going on the rear of your tractor for everything being oriented towards that three-point hitch and much greater support for things going out on your front loader. You're going to notice on virtually every tractor out here in our parking lot today, you're going to have machines that are equipped with skid steer quick couplers. That's when you're going to have two handles on the back here of your loader bucket that I have here with pins that drop down and through the bottom.
Now this style of coupler represents probably 90% of the attachments that are out there on the market to go onto your front loader. It's the same coupler that you're going to find on skid steers and compact track loaders and a lot of competitive machines here. I sell Kubota and New Holland. I'm going to have that same coupler from both of those companies regardless of what machine we’re dealing with. It has become nearly as ubiquitous as the three-point hitch itself, and its universal nature gives you a huge variety of things to be able to add to your tractor here that go onto the front loader and also open you up into the world of used skid steer implements or things that have been made over the decades for that equipment that can easily pin onto the front of your tractor.
These are optional and you will find machines sitting out there on some other dealers’ lots where they're going to save the $300 to $400 that this coupler costs and price a tractor a little cheaper, but you have sold yourself short in the long-run when it comes to versatility. While this isn't an attachment for your tractor, it is absolutely crucial. It should be on every machine that you would consider buying.
My first must-have implement is going to be a set of pallet forks. Kind of funny name here, right, because you think, “Pallet forks, why do I need those? I'm not going to move pallets.” You're probably not, but you wouldn't believe how versatile these can be. Simply by popping your loader bucket off your tractor and putting your pallet forks on, you now have an inexpensive way to be able to pick up branches and logs and carry them around, move debris and stuff around your yard. I used mine the other day to lift up the back of a four-wheeler so I could change a tire. I've got a skids that I use to move firewood around my property. It allows your tractor’s loader to become much more of a better wheelbarrow, better at carrying things than what you're simply going to be able to do with your bucket.
Pallet forks can be really fairly inexpensive. Now, post-pandemic here, we're selling a good quality set of name brand pallet forks now in the $700, $800 range for a lower capacity set reaching up to say $1,200, $1,300 for a higher capacity from a more premium brand. But for the amount of versatility that you can get out of your tractor by having forks on the front, to me, they're worth every dollar.
My next must-have implement is a box blade or a grading scraper. Now these are similar attachments with only minor differences between them, but fundamentally, both of them are going to give you an attachment on your tractor that allows you to smooth and grade things out. Now that can be things like a stone driveway or a yard. I use it for maintaining trails or rebuilding crowns in the middle of the area that my kids ride their four wheelers back and forth.
That you can do similar work with your loader bucket, you might look at that and you think, “That's my earth moving tool,” but that loader bucket and it's four to six to seven-foot cutting edge across the front there doesn't do a great job of digging down into the ground and ripping up those compacted soils. The scarifiers that are on these are going to do a much better job of that. They can dig down and loosen that dirt and then collect all the spoils in the box where it's pulled along behind the tractor and you can feather that out as you go. Again, the investment that it takes in one of these things is pretty nominal. This is a simple steel implement. There's not gearboxes and shaves and so it's a very affordable attachment that again allows you to address a lot of different chores.
Most people when purchasing a tractor are going to have some kind of mowing and maintenance chores to do, whether it's around your home or in your backyard or building trails, maintaining fields, you name it, you've probably got some mowing to do. Now the variety of implements that are out there to do mowing chores are as massive in variety as the mowing chores there are to do themselves. We could walk around the yard out here and probably find you half a dozen different implements in order to get that done but you can break most of those up into a couple of different categories.
Rotary cutters like these are going to be best suited to doing thicker and woodier implements in more rough terrain, or flail-type mowers are going to have a spinning drum with knives or hammers on the bottom that are going to handle smaller debris and grasses and stuff a little bit better, leaving a little bit better finish out behind that when it's done than what a rotary cutter is going to do. Those flails become more popular here at Messick's all the time. We're probably selling close to 60% to 70% flail mowers to 30%, 40% rotary cutters at this point. That's a wild shift that has happened here in the industry in the last several years. Those flail mowers have been really desirable. I own one myself. I love it. I keep it on the back of my tractor all the time. They are a little bit more costly though than what a rotary cutter is because of the additional gearboxes and belts and drive assemblies that it takes in order to mechanically make one work.
We talked earlier about how tractors have evolved over the years and the way that we see them used has changed. The grapples here in front of me are a prime example of that. A decade ago, these weren't common attachments on tractors and today we're fitting them up with shocking regularity. It used to be that if you were going to do clearing applications, you needed a big heavy piece of equipment to do it and we've got big heavy grapples, but we also now offer a range of small ones.
It's a lot of different variety in grapples depending on the type of material that you're trying to handle. But if you're looking at moving around things like logs, firewood, limbs, you're manipulating brush and clearing an area, there is no better attachment to be able to get out there and do that kind of work. Simply by having that skid steer loader on the front and a third-function hydraulic kit, you can now operate the cylinders on one of these grapples making your tracker a versatile clearing tool.
Lastly, we're going to talk about snow attachments for your tractor. If you're like us here in the Northeast, the utility for your machine really continues all year long. Having an attachment for your tractor to deal with snow is really a necessity up here in the Northern states. Now, many people will choose to clear snow with your front loader and your bucket. You absolutely can do that. It works surprisingly well by simply putting your loader up into float and then kind of scraping that snow off.
But if you have a longer driveway or you're trying not to mar your surfaces with a metal edge, there's a lot of other attachments that can be more productive and at surprisingly low cost. Something as simple as adding a push box on your front-end loader allows you to be able to clean out large areas and parking areas much better than what you can do with a loader bucket. Blades and snow blowers can be very productive in implements if you have to clear larger amounts of snow.
These things can really all exist at a variety of price points. The smallest push boxes can be down under a $1,000 and give you that simple metal iron implement that's never going to break, that you can pull out when you get a good snowfall. Keep that in the back of your mind. Not only are we shopping for tractors for that spring and summer and fall work, implements that you could consider will really extend all-year long, including the winter.
This video scratches the surface of the options that are out there for implements for your machine. I linked to another video here up above or down in the description to a video that we did earlier, walking through 36 different implements that are out here in our parking lot but this conversation deserves a place in a buyer's guide. If you have a budget and you're shopping for a tractor, leaves some room in that budget for a variety of implements.
They don't have to be the most expensive fancy things that are out there. Something like having a simple set of pallet forks to go onto your tractor can make the investment in that machine, that tool carrier, all that much more versatile. It can give you so much more utility out of that machine by having those inexpensive attachments in order to go with it. If you're shopping for a piece of equipment and we can help, or if you've got parts of service needs for a machine you've already got, give us a call here at Messick's. This is what we do, available at 800-222-3373 or online

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