Tillers


#1

I am getting old enough that using a front tine tiller is too hard on my back. I am looking at a rear tine tiller or possibly a pull behind tiller for my lawn/garden tractor.

Rear tine tillers come in 4 flavors - Counter rotating, Front rotating, Dual Rotating and Vertical Tine (not axis). Anyone have preferences or like to share there experience with rear tine tillers? I really can’t tell what type of rear tine tiller I should get (CR, FR, DR, or Vertical).

I am using the tiller on a plowed garden spot that is roughly 35 ft x 90 ft. I will use it periodically to break up new ground to plant fruit trees.

My garden tractor is a high end Husqvarna with a Kawasaki 24HP engine (maybe 25?). I paid to get the model with the better transmission (not the Lowes low end models) so I believe it is capable of pulling a powered rototiller, something like agrifab offers. Anyone have experience or recommendations they would like to share.

My current front tine tiller is a 5.5 hp that came from Sears 16 years ago. It was not perfect but it still runs fun. Only fix was to replace a cracked gas tank. Would like to find something similar.


#2

Make up your mind early whether you want a tiller to last the rest of your life or a tiller to run for 5 years and die. I’ve had numerous tillers over the years on average wearing out one every 3 to 4 years. I use a tiller a lot harder than most people ever will. As a generalization, Craftsman rear tine tillers fall in the 5 years and die category.

I purchased a used but good condition Troybilt Horse rear tine in 2010. The tines are forward rotating. I wore the engine out and had to replace it in 2015. The rest of the tiller is in good condition and with a new engine runs like new. I was given a Tillsmith front tine tiller a few years ago that needed the engine replaced. I found a new Briggs engine for under $200 and have now used it for about 15 years.

The common factor in the tillers I own now vs the 5 and die types is that my current tillers have cast iron gear boxes. If you go to a store to purchase a tiller and see a stamped steel gear box, no matter the brand name, it is unlikely to stand up to years of grueling hard use.

One very important caution, the older 2 speed Horse tillers are geared and weighted in a way that can cause them to run away if used in compacted or stony soil. I strongly advise getting the 4 speed horse if you choose to go this route.

With a bit of craigslist watching, one can be purchased with electric start and a good engine for between $400 and $700. I like them enough that I purchased a second Horse a couple of years ago for my son to use. It has the 8 hp Kohler electric start engine. I paid $250 for the tiller, but had to do $150 of repair. It needed new tines, reversing disc, new pull cord, and a bit of adjusting. There are other good brands of tillers such as BCS.

Also, good sharp tines are important to any tiller. Replace them as needed and don’t skimp by purchasing the cheap steel replacements.

Here is a craigslist link for an excellent Troybilt tiller. If I lived within 200 miles, I would be there in a heartbeat even though I already have 2 good Troybilt tillers. This is the 25th anniversary Troybilt and it has about 100 hours use plus comes with the hiller/furrower and push blade. https://okaloosa.craigslist.org/grd/d/troy-bilt-8hp-tiller/6462277245.html


#3

Spud, I used a Troybilt horse for 40yrs., back when they had a lifetime guarantee. Wouldn’t buy one now, built by a cheap, crappy, company, use them a year and throw them away. Currently I have a 11 hp Grillo 27" tiller 2 wheel tractor. It is a big machine and does it till! So many of the less expensive machines are junk, I couldn’t find one that I would buy earlier in '17, under $600, even the high end Hondas.
The rear tine, front rotating seem to be less physically stressful on me, less jumping and deeper tilling.
Good luck, do your research. You’ll find a good one.
I’ve also used 3 pt tillers and the orange ones, chain driven, worked well for us.


#4

I can’t see where Grillo sells there product in the US. Dealer locater came up empty.


#5

EarthtoolsBCS.com I’ve got the 131 model


#6

Hi Fusion. Thank you for the feedback. The local craigslist tiller listings usually have junk.

https://lynchburg.craigslist.org/search/sss?query=tiller&sort=rel

I looked at BCS but it is difficult for me to determine what I need from there web site and what it will cost. The closest dealer is 45 minutes away. It looks like they carry BCS in store.

It looks like I am looking at somewhere between $1500 to $2000 for a low end BCS, That is more than I wanted to pay plus I lack a close local dealer. So I will have to put some more thought into this. 5 year disposable tiller or $2000 lifetime tiller. Also I don’t think i am that hard on a tiller although the spots I plan to break new ground will be rough.

Do you know when MTD bought Troy-Bilt - Or what year models are good vs lower quality?


#7

That is a great link - and I like the Grillo Tiller they offer but it is more than I anticipated paying. I am still stymied why I can’t find a list of Grillo dealers in the US - obviously they exists if you Google US Grillo dealers.


#8

I have a Landpride five foot tiller I pull behind my compact tractor. For small areas I use my mantis. For years I use an old troybuilt horse. What a monster it was.


#9

Use the "include nearby areas to expand your search. Here are some examples to give you an idea what is available and relative value.

https://lynchburg.craigslist.org/search/sss?query=tiller*+troy*+-pony+-bronco+-econo&sort=rel&searchNearby=2&nearbyArea=446&nearbyArea=439&nearbyArea=290&nearbyArea=367&nearbyArea=335&nearbyArea=444&nearbyArea=457&nearbyArea=61&nearbyArea=447&nearbyArea=440&nearbyArea=291&nearbyArea=48&nearbyArea=36&nearbyArea=60&nearbyArea=289&nearbyArea=556&nearbyArea=632&nearbyArea=712&nearbyArea=10&nearbyArea=194&nearbyArea=329&nearbyArea=711&nearbyArea=272

This tiller looks decent but is about $300 overpriced. It is not electric start. https://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/d/troy-bilt-horse-rear-tine/6466318271.html

This is one of the older 2 speed tillers with a newer engine. Note the tires. https://lynchburg.craigslist.org/grd/d/troy-built-horse-tiller-needs/6462136912.html

The tines are probably worn out so will cost $150 to replace and it probably needs a $20 reversing disc. Negotiate the price down to $300 and I would buy it but with a caution that it may be one of the 2 speed models. https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/grd/d/troybilt-horse-tiller/6460677969.html

You will see a lot of tillers like this one. It needs cleanup and is overpriced about $200 but not a bad machine. https://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/d/troy-bilt-horse/6459558477.html

This one I would call about. It all depends on what he calls “reasonable offer”. If you can get it for $500, it is a bargain. For $750, it is decent but not exceptional. Check the tines and verify the battery is good before purchasing. They are replaceable, but add cost. https://winchester.craigslist.org/grd/d/rototiller/6457599757.html


#10

The old Troy built horse , and BCS. …also get my vote !

Keep in mind that tillers are the worst thing for creating a Hard pan.
They are good for light cultivation, and making a seed bed .
From the top it looks like they loosen the soil , and they do.on top.
4"-6" down they can make it harder than about any thing you could use.!
Hard for most people to believe

I like to chisel plow ,or sub soil to break this up every couple years

Does your riding tractor have 3pt. Hitch , PTO ?

I have a 6’ PTO 3pt. King cutter tiller for my little tractor. Great for incorporating cover crops, lime , seed bed , a good machine.

Does anyone have the electric ! ( battery powered) TILLIE tiller? Thinking of getting one for use inside high tunnel. They are small , but may be handy in a tight space, can’t find an independent review of them


#11

Can somebody share a link to a vertical axis tiller? I can’t picture it.

I use a 55" pto driven Rhino tiller behind my 1987 or so Kubota compact utility tractor and a mantis for the raised beds.


#12

If that’s a rotary plow, Earthworks.com has videos.


#13

If the vertical axis is a rotary plow look up;

Gravely  rotary plow ,images.

I knew someone that had one , worked good in loam soil with no rocks.
I would not think of it as a tiller per se… He plowed his garden with it.
Throws the dirt to one side.


#14

I called it Vertical Axis - should have been vertical tine tiller. See -

http://www.cubcadet.com/equipment/cubcadet/handhelds-and-cleanup/garden-tillers/vt-100-vt100-2015

Troybilt has one also.

They are both made by Mtd.


#15

My riding tractor did not come with a 3 point hitch, it is an option I can add.


#16

I had to run into town today so I stopped by Home Depot to see if they had any discounted wood for my raised fruit tree beds that I am building for Spring 2018. They had two Cub Cadet RT 65 tillers on display. I was disappointed - they did not look sturdy at all. Maybe the handles on a rear tine tiller do not need to be sturdy like on a front tine tiller but it looked so flimsy.

I think the feedback has narrowed my choices - I either need to go cheap and assume I will throw the tiller away in 5 years and count my blessings if it lasts longer, go with a higher end new Troy-Bilt (they look sturdier) or go with the BCS (maybe Grillo if I can find a local dealer). I do not have good luck buying used outdoor equipment and I am not a good mechanic - so the used Troy-bilt I will avoid (I do understand the quality). I will call the Earth Tools BCS dealer and see what they have to offer and see what BCS will set me back. My wife agreed that I could get a new tiller, not sure how I will explain the BCS price tag.


#17

Do be aware the new Troybilts are built by MTD and all the associated quality with that manufacture.


#18

Spud, Earthworks have been excellent to work with and the tiller came off the truck pristine and ready to go, no adjustment issues or any other problems. The one small throttle issue was solved with an overnight parts delivery(paid at their end!) and ant updates etc are shipped w/o my request or knowledge. I’ve been pleased with service and quality of the machine.


#19

I realize that Troybilt is built by MTD. MTD makes Troybilt, CubCadet and at sources parts for Husqvarna.

Looking at this tiller -

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Troy-Bilt-Pony-250cc-16-in-Rear-Tine-Tiller-CARB/999976612

It has a larger engine than most of the big box store tillers so I am hoping the larger engine may equate to a little better quality.

If I go real cheap it will likely be this one -

https://www.homedepot.com/p/YARDMAX-18-in-208cc-Dual-Rotating-Rear-Tine-Tiller-Briggs-and-Stratton-YT4565/303803770

Yardmax is not made by MTD and the price is right.

I will call Earthworks tomorrow and see what BCS and Grillo will run for a tractor/tiller. Its a shame that there is not a quality domestic tiller manufacturer.


#20

This is the tiller I want now: http://powerequipment.honda.com/tillers/models/f220

For a few years, I’ve been renting a tiller for fall work, when I till a lot of leaves into the soil of my veg garden - a job too big for the Mantis to handle well. This one is the right size for both me and the garden, being light enough for me to wrangle

At my age and state of decrepitude, a lifetime of use isn’t relevant