Since you don't own the Cub "yet" your testing will be limited to a visual review and test drive. The following is not all encompassing but includes items almost anyone with some aptitude can use on site to evaluate the Cub. If you are capable of checking electrical and mechanical that's even better, but this will cover a general overview for the inexperienced buyer. If you have someone that can give you solid advice, it may be worth your time to bring them along. The cost of a coke and chips may be money saved for you.
- The first thing to do is walk around the Cub a couple of times and give it a good look over. Is it mostly complete with usable rims and tires, lights, grille, seat, floorpan, steering wheel, battery, gauges and switches, is the gas tank/hood full of rust or rusted out, any obvious cracks or breaks in the engine block or castings. Cracks at the lower radiator hose are common on the early Cubs and many have been welded or brazed. Many of these repairs hold up fine but is always a potential and costly problem!
Repairs on the radiator bolster below the radiator are also common and most hold up for many years.
Are the threaded holes in the final drives intact? Some may be "wollered out" and would need repair before mounting inplements.
- Check the oil fill tube for oil level, burnt smell, moisture or water, very sticky oil on dip stick = additives maybe hiding wear.
Check the radiator water level, it may not be at the top but it should be clean and at the top of the fins at least.
Check the wheel bearings by kicking at or trying to wobble the wheel for slop. The front wheels are connect to the tie rods which may have slop but may have adjustments on them.
- If it runs, crank it up and drive it around a while, working the clutch pedal for firm feel with no operational noises, hydraulics, PTO and checking the brakes, lights, gauges and steering slop. Check the transmission and drive train for noise and to ensure it shifts in and out of gear easily and that it doesn't grind or pop out of gear. Does it idle well and run smoothly with smooth RPM fluctuations up and down? Any knocking or rattling noises? Knocking from deep inside the engine could be a rod bearing and would require some internal engine work. Does it smoke under load? Will it take off in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear? A VERY strong engine will.
While still running recheck the oil fill tube for compression blowby , the radiator for boiling or dancing water (possible head gasket leak) , any signs of dripping or leaking oil or water.
Checking these items will reduce your chances of buying a headache, but an old tractor will always require maintenance and repairs which is money. You can expect to spend a little after your purchase to get her into tip top condition or just keep her performing up to snuff.
The most important thing is not what you pay for your Cub , but to know what you are buying , because as they say "cheap ain't always cheap"