21 votes

Farmers are buying 40-year-old tractors because they're actually repairable

7 comments

  1. [3]
    aphoenix
    Link
    I think there is a real market for high quality, well-engineered products that are repairable and understandable with some time investment. It would obviously be better if farmers could invest in...

    I think there is a real market for high quality, well-engineered products that are repairable and understandable with some time investment.

    It would obviously be better if farmers could invest in brand new electric tractors, but I think it's probably difficult to invest in something that you don't understand and cannot fix, and the ability to fix a tractor on the fly while out in the field is an absolute must for farmers. If a company like Solectrac can understand and capitalize on that, then I think they have the opportunity to buck the trend observed in this article, but as with all things, I cannot think of how that change can happen other than via a sizeable economic bonus like a grant for farmers that invest in electric.

    I think my point obviously also would apply to just about any technology, though it's worth noting that not everyone requires being able to fix their machines out in a field.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      You mean in general, as far as usable hardware is concerned? How so? I know there's been a lot of conversation about planned obsolescence, and polution by throwing things away, and the right to...

      I think there is a real market for high quality, well-engineered products that are repairable and understandable with some time investment.

      You mean in general, as far as usable hardware is concerned? How so?

      I know there's been a lot of conversation about planned obsolescence, and polution by throwing things away, and the right to repair... But how does all of it end up suggesting a market opportunity?

      1. aphoenix
        Link Parent
        I mean both in this specific case and in general. With respect to farming, I think there is a market opportunity to try to bring an understandable new tractor to market that farmers could fix...

        I mean both in this specific case and in general.

        With respect to farming, I think there is a market opportunity to try to bring an understandable new tractor to market that farmers could fix themselves - one of the big draws of older tractors - without too steep a learning curve. Ideally, this would be an electric tractor (for ecological reasons), but the main selling point would have to be ease of repair, since ease of repair is such an important thing for farmers.

        In general, I think that there is huge market potential for people making quality products that are not designed to be thrown away, and the sooner it is capitalized on, the better. I also think that this opportunity is not simply due to the fact that if we fail to embrace this ecological sustainability, most of us will die; I think more and more people want to invest in something that is not a throwaway item. I'm not claiming that most people feel this way, merely that a market exists for good products that are not likely to be thrown away soon.

        3 votes
  2. [4]
    alexandre9099
    Link
    I don't quite understand how tractors these days work. It breaks, you have to stop all (or well, the part that relies on that tractor) the farming, get the tractor somehow to the dealer (which...

    I don't quite understand how tractors these days work. It breaks, you have to stop all (or well, the part that relies on that tractor) the farming, get the tractor somehow to the dealer (which might be quite far, depending where the farm is), most likely using some tow truck or try pulling it with your car in a really dangerous way...

    Why?! Just Why?!

    1. [3]
      aphoenix
      Link Parent
      It's actually really important for farmers to be able to fix tractors while out in the field, which is why they're often going back to 40 year old (or older) tractors; if an older engine breaks...

      It's actually really important for farmers to be able to fix tractors while out in the field, which is why they're often going back to 40 year old (or older) tractors; if an older engine breaks down, it's easier to fix than new computerized engines, and farmers generally understand how to do fix them and can get them running (or limping) along, enough to get them out of the field and into a more repair friendly situation.

      My dad has a 1943 Ford, and that thing is a beast; if it conks out, you can get it to run in a lot of different, field-accessible ways. Contrast that to my minivan where if it doesn't start, I generally have no idea what to do with it, unless the computer attached to it elects to let me know what's wrong.

      4 votes
      1. alexandre9099
        Link Parent
        exactly, guess i didn't made myself clear, i agree that it's good to be able to fix the tractor on the field. What i meant is... today fixing something is really complicated and time expensive...

        exactly, guess i didn't made myself clear, i agree that it's good to be able to fix the tractor on the field. What i meant is... today fixing something is really complicated and time expensive cause you gotta take the tractor to some authorized mechanic with a tow truck (assuming it's not working) which might be really far away from the farm ;)

      2. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        I think the difficult design trade off to make is sacrificing repairability for durability. Suppose you had a perfectly sealed device that can never be repaired, but because it's perfectly sealed...

        It's actually really important for farmers to be able to fix tractors while out in the field

        I think the difficult design trade off to make is sacrificing repairability for durability. Suppose you had a perfectly sealed device that can never be repaired, but because it's perfectly sealed it also never gets dirt in it or breaks down so you never need to repair it.

        I think there is probably some balance point where getting the number of issues a thing can have below a certain rate becomes worth compromising repairability but I'm not sure where that line is.