Old and New Tractor HP Comparison Information

Asked April 20, 2016, 9:15 AM EDT

I need some help on comparing the HP ratings of old tractors with new tractors.

I hobby farm which includes a 1 acre veggie garden.

Currently I have a Ford 860. It is rated at ~40 HP draw bar and pulley. The tractor meets my needs but both of us are getting old and some things need to change. I am looking to purchase a new (like 2016) tractor that would have the equivalent draw bar and PTO HP of my soon to be ex-ford. All of the info I can find on new tractors lists just the engine HP. I believe engine HP is not the same as draw bar or pulley HP. Before I make a tractor dealer visit I would like to have and idea of what size tractor I should consider.

Thanks for any help you can give me on this.

Berrien County Michigan

1 Response


Personally I can relate to what you are describing. I farm as well and grow vegetables as well. Some of the tractors I have had are Ford 9N, 8N and 2N. These models were built between 1939-1952 when the last 8N rolled off the assembly line.

I have found for 1 acre plus farms that a tractor in the 40 horsepower range seems to be a good fit and does the job. Unless you're farming 20 plus acres then you should consider something bigger.

Now the research facts. The Nebraska Tractor Tests are conducted at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. It is the only tractor test facility in the nation. UNL has a website that has an abundance of information on how the tests are conducted and what they mean. The website should have your answers on it. If not, there is a phone number you can call at the test facility and I'm quite sure they would be glad to answer your questions. The website is: http://tractortestlab.unl.edu/

On another note, not certain you have found this website yet for tractor data. http://www.tractordata.com/

Tractordata.com is a commercial site and lists all tractors built, models before and after the tractors you are considering too. Specifications for each tractor are listed.

There are a couple of websites that list tractors for sale to give you an idea of the price ranges for various tractors. Both are commercial websites. http://www.tractorhouse.com/


In Michigan, there is Michigan Farm Trader that lists used tractors and machinery for sale. It is a hardcopy publication in newsprint and comes out the first of every month. If you're not already getting it, you can contact them and ask to be placed on their mailing list. They have a website at www.gotoMFT.com or you can call them at (517) 484-7600. Their email address is mail@gotoMFT.com. Michigan Farm Trader is a commercial website as well.

I hope this information is helpful to you.

I know how hard it is to find personnel well-versed enough to talk about equipment and tractors for vegetable operations. If you have any further questions or would like to talk further about matching implements to tractors, etc, feel free to contact me at my phone number or email below.

I specialize in commercial/consumer vegetable production and work with growers that wish to sell at farmers markets, farm markets, CSAs, produce auctions, etc. Tractors and machinery is one of the areas I have visited with producers about.