Rotor tiller


#1

well it has an engine.

I am gonna get a tiller, I think.

I m gonna need a good one, with reverse I hope.

one I don’t have to yank on or push.

I like older troy bilt stuff, but I m not sure of the quality these days.

any recommendations? is craftsman any good these days?

ease of use and reliability are my main focus.

I guess I m gonna lay out around 700 bucks.


#2

How big an area are you going to till? My experience with roto tillers, which spans more than 60 years, is that I prefer a front tine tiller for ease of use. These tillers don’t have a reverse, but for me that was never a problem. When the university where I worked had garden plots for the staff, a group of my colleagues sent together and bought a rear tine Troy Built. I had a little 2 hp 4 stroke front tine filler and I could cultivate my rows more quickly than the fellows using the big tiller could do the job. The university did have the plots plowed and disked and ready to go. However, I could bust up the sod with my small tiller with a little patience. I presently have just a small area in my back yard and I have a small Earthquake brand tiller with a 2 stroke engine. My only complaint is that in order to make starting easier, I purchase the non-ethanol 50:1 mix at about $5 a liter. This means that since I have to spend money on a non alcohol fuel for the tiller, I don’t have the money for a beer for myself after a hard day of gardening. I do like the light weight tiller for what limited gardening I do at my age. I think my favorite tiller was the one my dad bought back in 1952. It was Roto Hoe make, made by the Roto Hoe and Sprayer company in Ohio. It was a front tine tiller with a 3 hp Lauson engine. We had a half acre garden and it did the job.


#3

Have you visited any gardening forums? Done any real research on tillers?


#4

Troy is pretty much MTD now. I wouldn’t expect the stuff at the home centers to be anything heavy duty. Why not just rent? It’d take 10-20 years to break even on the initial cost plus the hassle. I think the rear tine though does a lot nicer job and easier to control but watch your feet.


#5

See if you can test drive them first. We got one years ago. Holy hell that thing almost ripped my arms off. Even our neighbor, who was a professional landscaper and used tillers all the time, was being dragged all over when he came over to teach us how to use it without getting dragged all over. He ended up telling us to either sell it or get it an exorcism. :wink:


#6

Check the online reviews. I bought a Husqvarna two years ago. It’s an animal. But the shortcoming is in the gear clash when trying to shift the “transmission”. After I bought it I spent some time online and found people complaining about that very issue. Now I am changing direction on the garden and instead of one giant ground level area, I am going to have a number of raised beds. I had better grass growing in the “garden” than my lawn and it was a constant headache…too bad you’re not nearby. I’d sell my Husky with maybe 2 hours on it…


#7

Yeah its like running a buffer, there is a technique to keeping it under control. Remember being dragged all over the floor behind the buffer the first time?


#8

I’d check local ads and Craigslist to see if you can find a used Troy Built. I bought a new one in the early 70’s and it was big, heavy, and did a terrific job. At that time there were 2 models, Pony and Horse, and I got the bigger Horse model. My gardening phase passed and I sold the tiller, that’s why I think you can find a used one. I’d be surprised if the current models are as well built as mine was, but I’d still check out Troy Bult as a 1st choice.


#9

I’ve got a 2007 Troy Bilt lawn tractor and it’s been a headache since right after purchased new. About 10 hours in the shoddy drive belt shredded itself. Within the next 2 years of light use the ignition switch failed, the starter solenoid failed, the transmission drive belt shredded, 2 separate safety switches failed, and 4 or 5 other smaller things including the deck belt.

A year or so after that the transmission drive pulley shredded itself on the splines taking out the fairly new drive belt and at some point after purchase the transmission started leaking oil from the shift shaft. That’s when I discovered the transmission is manufactured with no seals and there’s no filler plug to add gear oil.

I disassembled the transmission and cut the shaft to accept a couple of O-rings and drilled and tapped the case for a fill plug.
My view of Troy Bilt is not very high. Granted I have the ability to fix all of this without having to pay someone but it does bring out the profanity involving the engineers who put their name on it.


#10

yeah I ve researched online reviews of new troy bilts and the husqvarnas

everyone liked the husky except that they had the same transmission shifting complaints which ruined it for them

the new troy bilts had a consistent theme of being cheaply built and poorly assembled in the reviews.

I had a nice front tine tiller that acted like a rear tine because it had a fold out guide wheel in the front.

it worked great but had to be manhandled.

I m not man enough to manhandle things anymore.

so I want a self propelled rear tine.

the last 2-3 years I have used a little electric thing or a shovel.

I want to do a larger area this year and perhaps have surplus veg if all goes well.

i don t want to rent because tilling will be a process that i will do gradually and repeatedly as i am breaking new ground this year.

i don t really want used because i don t want to have to fix something to use it.

i m generally good about keeping my own tools in good shape, so if i get a good product it should outlast me.

thanks guys.

i will go shopping tomorrow and check out the quality of the machines that i can afford and let you know what i think of them


#11

If you are doing a large area, you may want two tillers. The large, rear tine tiller is great for breaking up the soil for your spring planting. A lightweight tiller, which is more a power cultivator, is great for going up and down the rows after the crops are up.


#12

I rented a rear tine when I was re-sodding my front yard. Two hour minimum but the whole thing with transportation was about an hour and a half. And that was digging old turf. You can do a lot of work in a short period of time with a rear tine, so I don’t know about staging.


#13

yeah i still have the little electric job…

i usually don’t do rows.

i form 4 ft wide beds and kinda make shallow ditches all around them.

i shovel the dirt from the ditches into the beds and have a really think layer of topsoil that i plant fairly densely. French intensive garden, kinda.

i have good soil and plenty of water channels thru where i plant because of natural drainage and channels ive made to direct my roof water to the garden.

the water will flow thru my garden like a series of locks when it rains and eventuall get to the storm drain in the center of our block.

i just block the ditches as necessary to contain the water where i want it.

i also have a couple of rain barrels for dry times.


#14

with new ground i prefer to till it 2-3 times a week or two apart.

saves weeding and grinds all the grass and roots up.

i will have plenty of time planting my existing beds and won t plant the new ones early.

i really want to till my existing bids as soon as it dries up enough.

i want to grind the ground cover up now so that it can be ready to nourish the plants in spring.

time to plant peas now, i think…


#15

OK, pics. We want to see pics of your garden layout.


#16

crap bing, i d have to learn a new skill.

i can post you tube videos on another site but haven t figured it out here yet.

i still haven t figured out how to post a still image.

uploading and posting my own pics seems like rocket science to me…


#17

…they aren t much to look at at the moment anyway.

a couple of days ago my goose decoy was buried up to his neck with snow, then the next day he was bobbing in the ditch and it was 60 degrees.

i have a rubber decoy that likes to hang out in my garden…


#18

My recommendation would be a Smith and Hawken but they are out of business. A good long handle garden fork with a solid forged head is an absolute necessity. I prepped my garden before Christmas and like you, I made 4’ beds with 2’ walkways. I went up to town and got some shredded wood from Public Works and put a 4" layer in the paths. A truck and trailer are also indispensable for gardening (vehicle reference here).

Earlier last summer, I got a trailer load (about 1.2 yards) of horse manure for each bed (22’ long) and let it age over the summer, then turned it under with my fork. I didn’t really turn it so much as just disturb the soil down the depth of the fork to let the manure sink in. I did till the beds before getting the manure so that when it rained, the water would carry the “manure tea” into the soil below the beds and not run off.

After getting the manure forked in and the wood chips spread, I went back to PW and got several trailer loads of old shredded leaves and spread them over the beds and finally covered them with a thin layer of old wheat straw.

Today I planted the blackberry that arrived today, tomorrow it will be the asparagus and strawberries. I have started artichokes, tomatoes and milkweed in flats for setting out later.

If you are going to make a new garden, you need to start by early fall for the next year, spring is too late.

I have three tillers. one is an old Troy Horse with a 7 hp Kolher engine, one is a 5 hp Troy Pony (original Pony, bought new, mail order back in the 80’s) and the third is a Mantis. The only reason I didn’t use the Mantis this year is that I need a new one, I wore the old one out. Do not confuse the Mantis tiller with one of those mini cultivators, this sucker will shread the ground down about 8" in very short order.

Once you get the hang of it, it doesn’t wear you out either, but it does take a little bit to get used to it. You have to figure out just what the optimum pull works for you.


#19

Look into hay bale gardens, cool stuff!


#20

Hello there. I notice this appears to becoming more of a gardening thread than a discussion about the rototiller itself, which was a stretch for the forum topic. Would you kindly bring it back on topic? Thank you.