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M Foti
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
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first off, YES our market garden is going the way of no-till. so, lets leave that horse where it lays... WE do use our tractors, tillers, and 3 point tillers to open up new ground though, BUT my main reason for this question is every spring and fall I earn pretty good supplemental income tilling gardens for folks. Right now I have an older 4 speed troy-bilt horse and a craftsman dual rotating tine tiller... I have had a BCS walking tractor in the past, I liked it, but didn't like the cost of parts and the fact that every dang thing on it was metric, so I had a heck of a time even making parts for it... I got rid of it after the first repair, nice machine, just wish I could have gotten/made the parts easier.

sooo, on to my question. The big troy-bilt is nice, lots of weight and that makes for easy working. The little craftsman is a dream as well, the dual rotating tines are awesome, use the tines on backwards rotation for the first pass or two on virgin ground and then switch to forward for smooth sailing... I LOVE the dual rotating function, I've had tillers that ONLY had counter rotation, they were ok, but then you had to fight them after the site was about halfway tilled, the forward rotation only (like the troy-bilt) isn't too hard to deal with, but it makes opening up new ground take about 3-4 times longer than with the MUCH smaller crafstman... Now, obviously the craftsman is a cheapie (relatively, still a $800 dollar machine) and it isn't going to take too much abuse, so I don't use it very often... I've been looking around for tillers that have dual rotation of the tines, but all I can seem to find are Craftsman, Husqvarna and Cub-Cadet, all three of these are OBVIOUSLY the exact same chinese machine with different engine choices on them, I was wondering is there a real GOOD machine with dual rotation out there? Something with the build quality of the BCS or older Troy-bilt machines?

I have been told that I shouldn't be too down on the troy-bilt until I put some new tines on it, these are pretty worn... any comment as to that from someone who has used a dual rotating tiller compared to a troy-bilt with good tines?
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 988
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I've used a number of Troy-bilts over the years. As you noted, they are not great at opening up new ground. Even with new tines that have been sharpened. And if you weight them so that they bite in better, too much pressure is on the worm drive which has a nasty habit of wearing out prematurely. I really like the Troy-bilts that I had, but they were best for ground already being used for gardening. Not good at busting sod.
 
M Foti
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
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Good to hear, I was gonna drop a hundred bucks on new tines, but looks like I don't need to do that as it wouldn't be worth it... I may just have to find another big counter rotating tiller just for sod busting... I don't want to haul the tractor around as that would increase my prices and therefore mean I'd probably make less money per season as I'm mainly focusing on folks who can't afford a tiller and my prices are similar to rental prices, usually being lower.

I found a couple, apparently snapper made one that you could reverse a belt on and it would drive tines backwards, seems to be a decently built machine... Kubota made a really nice walking tractor with this feature, they're super looking machines but I keep encountering folks who can't find parts for them, kinda the same reason I got rid of the BCS machine.... There are a few others, but they're in nice tractor price range, so that's out...

I may have to give one of those snappers a whirl, see what it'll do... I guess unless someone comes along with a tip for a machine that I could find used for an affordable price then that's the route I'll go, either that or just keep hauling two....

I'm certainly not coming down on the old troy-bilt horse models, their weight really makes them work smooth and easy, I just wish they would dig better...
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 988
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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The only time I bought new tines was when the gap of untilled earth got wide enough to be annoying. The ends of the tines would wear off over time, thus leaving a gap. I still have a small Troy-bilt that does a nice job when the ground gets too settled, such as with a long season crop. It opens the soil nicely and tills in compost/manure well. I like to keep the tines sharp by running a file over them before tilling. Yes, it wears the tines out a bit faster by thinning them some, but it makes the tilling go so much faster and easier. And you get far less debris tangle in the tines.

While the Troy-bilt isn't a good sod buster, it sure is a nice garden tiller. Real easy to use. Does a great job. Another plus, I've always been able to repair them myself. Not that they breakdown very often, but the tools I have fit their parts. Parts are easy to get too.
 
Mike Gaughan
Posts: 26
Location: Central CT, Zone 6
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Have you checked out hydraulic tillers? They are quite powerful and there are no concerns about gears or belts wearing out since they are hydraulicaly-operated. The tines rotate forward and backward by adjusting the hydraulic control lever. It is my understanding that these tillers are generally manufactured for the rental market, which means they are constructed to take abuse. The downside is the steep purchase price. Barreto Manufacturing offers several models. http://www.barretomfg.com/eq-tiller.php. My local hardware store carries a few of these tillers and I'm planning to rent one this spring, so hopefully I can report back.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I have an old Honda tiller, I see the new ones at rental shops still available. Mine has NO wheels, and a F/R gearbox. There is a drag point you push into the ground to slow it down and dig. It will DIG. It will bury the tines and in loam will go down til the engine is all you see.

Might be hard to get parts for, too. Never needed them, and I wasn't easy on it.
 
M Foti
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
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Thanks folks, yeah I have seen the hydraulic tillers during my search, there isn't any way I can afford one of those, we really don't use them here on the farm anymore except for opening up new ground or if we have something that we really want to decompose in the garden quick, so I couldn't justify the expense haha...

Rscott, I have seen those big hondas, they look impressive! Have I mentioned my sheer laziness? haha, that's why I like the larger rear tine self-driving types of tillers. The old tecumseh engine on the troy-bilt is about to give it up, checked compression last week and it was around 55-60 psi, still runs but cold starts are hard now, pretty much have to use starting fluid on her, I am looking to re-power the critter with a nice honda engine, I absolutely LOVE those honda small engines. I grew up in construction and all our pressure washers had honda engines on them, it was quite rare to ever have an engine problem... Probably went through 3-4 pumps on each one and still the engines would start by the third pull.

I had forgotten about the rotary plows, has anyone here ever used a rotary plow on virgin hard ground? Just wondering how well they do on really tough stuff...
 
Tim Malacarne
Posts: 226
Location: South central Illinois, USA
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I use an old 3 point disc for new ground opening. There's tractor weights on it, helps it cut.

You are 1000% right about Honda motors, none better. The Tecumseh on my 40 plus year old Horse is original...

Best, TM
 
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