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Low-Cost "Tractors In Crates" Selling Like Hotcakes
Assembling your own tractor is a great way to get a machine for half price or less. But it's not for everyone, says John Nelson, Nelson Equipment Corp. He sells tractors and other equipment in crates. Customers include both dealers and individuals looking for a low cost alternative to brand name equipment.
"If you've never changed oil on a car, go buy a Kubota," says Nelson. "If you're independent minded, it might be right for you."
To help prospective customers decide if a crate tractor is for them, Nelson offers a free one-hour assembly video. "If you are a decent mechanic, it's not hard," he says. "My wife is tool impaired, and I am old with heart problems, but you can put a tractor and loader together in a weekend. All the tools you need come with the tractor, along with spare parts, filters and other stuff."
Nelson has been selling Chinese-built Jinma tractors in crates via the internet since 2000. He sells about 100 tractors a year and has shipped to almost every state in the U.S.
Jinmas are the most widely imported tractors from China and have been manufactured in that country since 1959. Nelson offers 25 to 35 hp tractors with live hydraulics, live PTO, glow plugs and power steering. Prices range from $5,900 to $13,500 for tractor, loader and backhoe attachment.
"They're sold under many different brand names in North America and through hundreds of small dealers," says Nelson. "Even parts are no longer a concern, with companies like Northern Hydraulics and other big outfits handling them. Parts are also available from jmparts.com via the internet."
Nelson says he hasn't seen any major problems with the tractors he sells. In most cases, the owner can take care of it, sometimes with a little phone support. If parts are missing from a delivered crate tractor, Nelson usually asks the new owner to pick up small nuts, bolts and zerk fittings locally. If it is a functional part, he promises to "move heaven and earth" to get the part to the customer.
"I had one customer who decided after buying a tractor that the project wasn't for him, so we sold it for him," says Nelson. Usually customers tell us that the tractors are a lot better than expected, good and solid."
This year is the first that EPA-approved engines have been offered. The tractors represent basic 1960's technology but they're now manufactured in modern production facilities using the latest technology.
"They're a tool, not a toy," says Nelson. "What most people like is that they get to know the tractor from the start and fix things the way they want as they put it together. When they get on it and start it up, there is a sense of accomplishment."
Nelson also offers a small dozer in a crate. It has a 3-pt. hitch like a tractor and is small enough it can be towed on a trailer behind a pickup truck. No commercial license is needed. The dozer comes mostly assembled with finish work consisting largely of attaching the front blade and a blade carrier. The dozers are priced at $11,999 to $13,495 and are available both new and used.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Nelson Equipment Corporation, 38544 Hwy. 99W, Corvallis, Ore. 97330 (ph 541 745-0163; fax 541 924-1590; info@tractorconnection.com).


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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #6