Rear-Tine Counter-Rotating Gas Tiller

In the market for a tiller. Notice that some of the models have counter rotating tines (tines goes opposite of the wheels going forward). Its said that they are recommended for new ground. Never have used a rear-tine tiller - just the ones in front. Leery about purchasing a counter-rotating tiller.

Anyone here use a rear-tine counter-rotating garden tiller and can recommend?

Avoid them. The way they work is with specially designed tines that wear out relatively fast. They are not very useful as the gear speed of the wheels prevents effective cultivating between rows. For that matter, avoid entirely the typical craftsman husqvarna other name whatever cheap tillers with stamped steel gear boxes.

I purchased a Troybilt horse tiller used for $400 10 years ago. I use it HEAVILY every year. The motor went out 5 years ago and I replaced it with a new Briggs industrial 8 HP motor. I replace the tines about every other year for roughly $140 with new case hardened tines. I’m convinced it will outlive me.

If you want to purchase a troybilt horse, suggest looking on Craigslist in your general area. I often see an electric start Horse for $500 to $600 in very good condition. Do some due diligence and you will wind up with a tiller that works circles around the cheap junk available today. Please note, troybilt pony, bronco, tuffy, econo-horse etc are not in the same category as a Horse tiller. Also, there are plenty of very old horse tillers advertised for high prices. You want a recent model horse tiller with the 2 speed gear box.

In the very hard to find category, there are some older tillers that are excellent if not completely worn out. I have a Tillsmith front tine tiller that is incredibly useful for cultivating in the garden.

Here are a few examples from Craigslist:
This is a good tiller but overpriced as it is manual start. If electric start, it would be worth $550 to $600.

This one is electric start but is the older single speed model as you can tell by the tires and tecumseh motor. It is a usable tiller, but only worth $250 to $300.

This one might be a decent tiller, but is not listed correctly. Need to verify it is a Horse, not Econo-Horse and that it is the 2 speed gear box. Electric start is nice but not necessary. If it ticks all the boxes and the tines are in decent shape, it could be worth $300 to $600.


In Italy, diesel powered tillers are called tractors and used extensively on small farms. I believe the features you are talking about apply to a Mainline tiller I used to use that was made in Italy, based on the advice of Eliot Colemen, a pretty smart guy, I think. I should have purchased the model with a 8HP diesel but opted for a 10 HP gas model instead. Biting power is essential and without it you might as well use shovels, cultivating forks and mattocks.

That is, unless you plan to use it in areas already dug and soft, but I’ve never understood the point of shredding you earth worms to save so little labor. Other people smarter than me disagree though. We all have our opinions.

This is the kind of machine I’m talking about. More than any hobbyist needs.

I just read FP’s remark. He is more versed in the technology than I am. I’m a pick and shovel man. My Mainline rusts and awaits recycling.


Totally agree with FusionPower, look on craigslist for an old cast iron TroyBilt. Ten years ago I bought a 1974 Horse model. The paint was faded and needed new tines, muffler, and carb kit but after that I had a tiller I’ll never wear out. If you are handy with tools you can buy a nonrunning one cheap and be better than what you can buy new. I smile everytime I run it.

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My Mainline is free for the taking. It was running when I parked it over ten years ago. However, it’s gotten very hard to find parts.

One more vote for the old Troybuilt, bought mine new in the 80’s still going strong! 8 horse Kohler, electric start a real animal.(a horse of course)

I bought one of these to till some new BlackBerry row it worked like a champ. I tilled the grass into the soil, thank God I bought this one instead of one of those handheld ones it would have been bouncing up and down.

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Yeah, the Lowes salesman showed me that the Craftman tiller they carry had an ‘E’ in their books, meaning that it sells poorly. He said he only sold 4 of them last year, 1 so far this year. I guess he was being kind to me in showing that. Kind of a subtle way of saying “don’t buy”. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Only problem with me buying used is that I am a terrible negotiator. Seems that every time in my life that I have bought used I have been stuck. I do like quality though. I will look for used Troybilt horses in my area. But…

I’m also looking at the Honda tillers, specifically the FC600 mid-tine model. I once had a Honda push mower that ran great for a brief time until it died. How do you know if a tiller has a stamped steel gear box?

Bartlett Small Engines offers Honda tillers, the best on the market!

I have lusted after a BCS for years. They are a two-wheel tractor with power take-off. Several tools/accessories for them like tiller, mower, flail mower, rotary plow.


First and foremost, Honda engines are arguably the best on the market. I have zero issues with the engine. But the tiller is a different story. The front wheel does not pull the tiller, it is only there to keep the tiller upright. This means the pulling is done by the tines. In effect, this is a front tine tiller with a front mounted balance wheel. IMO, it is not going to be up to snuff if you have serious thatch to break up, also, it will bounce you around quite a bit trying to chew into hard ground. It is going to be difficult to manage if the ground you are working has even a small slope.

How to tell if stamped steel gearbox? Just look at the gear box. If it is cast iron, it will look like a heavy duty gear box, heavy, chunky looking, and almost unbreakable. If it is stamped steel, it will look like it is made in 2 or 3 pieces held together with a row of bolts. Unfortunately, most of the tillers made today including most of the modern Troybilt tillers such as the Bronco have stamped steel gear boxes.

If you are hesitant about buying a used Troybilt Horse, post what you find here and we will help you figure out if it is a good deal or not.

I purchased an electric start Troybilt Horse for my son 4 years ago for $250. It needed a new battery, new reverse disk, new tines, and a new rope on the recoil starter. I wound up spending about $450 total and have an excellent Horse tiller with 8 HP Kohler engine. If I chose to sell, I could make $150 to $200 on it easily.

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I have have a cub cadet 5 hp rear tine tiller since 2016… you can set the tines to rotate forward or counter… I almost always use counter. It has worked great for me and I use it 5 to 6 times a year. Not one single problem with it yet.

Before that i had a 8 hp MTD rear tine tiller that lasted me near 15 years… engine finally wore out… sold it… bought the new one.

Note i also have a wide broad fork that i use quite often. Once broken good with tiller… the broad fork is all i need for additional bed prep.


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Ps… adding gypsum to your garden beds not only adds calcium… but also loosens soil… makes it much easier to work… and has no affect on ph.


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Surprising - I just got back from a local Tractor Supply store. They had an used Cub Cadet RT65 with a price tag of $899.99 but it was marked “Reduced”. Asked the store guy what the reduced price was and he replied something to the effect that “It is in really bad shape. You do not want it”. I thanked him and walked away.

Sort of wished that I had offered him $10.00 for it. And yes I did see that the tines could go forward or counter.

My brother has a front tine tiller with a Briggs motor that I borrowed last year. He paid $15.00 for it used. Works fine.

Yup, when I bought my Mainline it was considered by many to be superior to BCS, but not by much. I don’t think they are in business anymore. I bought a seckel bar mower which you put the machine in reverse for. Cuts! Perfect for annual meadow mowing. Rocks are pushed aside without meeting blades. The power was a bit over the top for mowing but very convenient for busting up virgin clay soils when tilling.

You can’t really know how affective your tiller is until you’ve tried it in a tough, compacted soil.

I suggest renting a similar model you are considering purchasing before committing if it’s possible.

I use a Grillo 2 wheel tractor for tilling and rotary plowing. Has an 11.5 hp Yamaha engine and a 28" till width. Been very reliable for me and does a fine job of tilling. The rotary plow will till heavy sod and make 24" wide raised beds. Uses some BCS parts as the companies were aligned a few years back. They are some what pricey but a well built machine. Bought it from a company called dirt works. Excellent service.

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Okay - What is your thoughts on this Troybilt Horse tiller? Thanks in advance.

Troy bilt tiller - farm & garden - by owner - sale (

It is overpriced. That looks like a cleanup job where someone spray washed most of the dirt off of the tiller to make it look good for the listing and then did a bit of touch up painting. The tines appear to be 70% worn which means $140 to replace them. The motor does not look like an original motor. This is not necessarily bad, however, it is common to put a 5 HP motor on a tiller that needs 7 HP minimum. If it is not a Kohler or Briggs or Tecumseh engine, the value goes down. It does not have electric start which reduces the value about $200. The most I would pay for this one is $350 mostly because it appears to need new tines. Note that you can get cheap tines for about $90 which would work, but are nowhere near as durable as the case hardened tines. The attachable plow is an older model. I don’t see the rest of the hardware to attach it to the tiller. There is also a scrape blade that adds about $100 to the value of the tiller if they have it.

If you want to look into purchasing this tiller, ask for a picture of the tines, picture of the tine engage lever on the opposite side of the tiller, and a pic of the reverse disk. Ask if there is anything else that goes with it such as the scrape blade. Ask for the HP of the motor. Then you can make a decision how much to offer. $700 is way too high.

I don’t know your location but it looks like you are in western TN. If so, here is a craigslist search that will cover most of the region.*+troy*+-pony+-bronco+-econo+-led&sort=rel&purveyor-input=all&searchNearby=2&nearbyArea=220&nearbyArea=465&nearbyArea=670&nearbyArea=293&nearbyArea=560&nearbyArea=358&nearbyArea=374&nearbyArea=231&nearbyArea=134&nearbyArea=558&nearbyArea=425&nearbyArea=695&nearbyArea=100&nearbyArea=641&nearbyArea=32&nearbyArea=375&nearbyArea=673&nearbyArea=566&nearbyArea=221&nearbyArea=29&nearbyArea=359&nearbyArea=371&nearbyArea=377

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What about the listing on the search you have a link to. I am near Killen AL. about 30 min away. $800 looks way too high for this machine

Living in the Memphis area, I am basically looking within 200 miles of Memphis, of course the closer the better. Arkansas being right across the Mississippi river is a lot closer to me than Alabama.

Another consideration is that I’m only gardening about a 50’x20’ area.

I’ve already seen an ad on Craigslist with someone wanting a Troybilt Horse. Must be very popular.

The Shoals machine is is overpriced, depending on a few other things, about $200 to $300 too high. It is electric start and appears to be in reasonably sound physical condition. I don’t see a tine disengage lever which means it was made in the 1980’s. It is the 4 speed model meaning there are two forward speeds plus the belt can be switched between pulleys to add 2 more speeds. The tines appear to be heavily worn. It is probably worth about $500 plus you would have to put in $140 for a set of tines. I can’t tell if the reverse disk is worn, but if you go look at it and try to get it to back up and it does not move, that means it needs a new $20 reverse disk. That older model Briggs engine was one of the most durable engines made. I would check carefully for oil leaks. This is the kind of listing I would go to see and try out the tiller. Point out the problems you see and see if the guy will go down on the price. As fyi, I am only 20 miles from Florence.

There are no pictures on this listing so no idea what it is. If I were in the area, I would call and get more details. This one might be a really good buy.

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