The BIG tillers: My question, and your advice, please : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I'm thinking of getting my husband a tiller that might be easier for him to use, at age 73. I've read the archives on tillers, and find you are pretty evenly divided between T-built and BCS tillers. The one with the Kohler built engine sounds good too, as Kohler has a plant here in the States, for replacement parts. Our 7.5 Kohler generator has never given us any trouble in 18 years.

SO: do you have any additional recommendations?

AND MY QUESTION: I see all those pictures of people with the big tillers just going right through grass and such that is 6-8 inches tall...yet we can't do that with our current tiller because the stuff wraps itself around the tines and has to be cut off. He has to go over the ground with the grass cutter machine, rake the stuff up, and only THEN can he do the rototilling. What am I missing?

Thanks much!


-- Mary L. Gonzales (, September 30, 2001


Hi Mary, 6 years ago my husband (at my request) bought me a Troy Built tiller. it is BIG and very hard for me to handle. It is ok if I use it in ground that is more sandy/loose but in the clay --I have been lifted off the ground and it has turned over with me on slightly uneven ground! My husband has removed the spark plug and hidden it so I will not use it! It scared him more than it did me when it hit a rock and lifted me off the ground with a jolt!

When we went to look at it --the fellow showing it to us was maybe 5'2' and 100lbs. (soaking wet) He took it out back to "prove" how easy it was to use. Well, the soil is perfect and looks like it came from a bag at Lowe's!!!! Most soils are not that way.

But my husband is 6'6" and weighs 275 lbs. and has not trouble using it. Good luck.

-- Debbie T in N.C. (, September 30, 2001.

As you may know, we just moved to our new homestead and we have been busy buying all the usual homestead tools and equipment. We almost bought a Troy Built tiller; however, you may not realize that Troy Built filed for bankruptcy. When I called Troy Built they said they may have another company buying them, but that needed to be approved by the court. They have another company who is tending to its warranties (not a part of Troy Built). They also said that they dismissed 2/3 of all employees. At this time the solidy of the company is very shakey. In cases of bankruptcy, if you place and order and pay and then the company can't deliver you are out your money. You can file a claim with the court, but only the companies largest creditors will see anything -- that is IF there are assets left. In view of this, you might want to rethink the Troy Built. A shame since they have been in business a long time and had a quality product.

We just bought a Craftsman dual tiller. It is a front tine that flips and becomes a rear tiller. A real plus since sometimes you need the front tine and sometimes you need the rear tine. So far we are very happy with it and easy to operate and they have a great warranty program. We got ours on a fall closeout for $400 (regular $800). A lot cheaper than the Troy Built we looked at!

-- Karen (, September 30, 2001.

I bet that Craftsman that changes from front to back was made by Troy Built. Have you looked at Honda? That is the one I have decided on.

-- Mel Kelly (, September 30, 2001.

Mary, you only really need a big one at the beginning of the year, or if preparing a brand new bed. Then the smaller ones used weekly or every 2 weeks is all you really need. So hire out the intital bed work to someone with a big tiller or better yet a tractor, then use the small tiller to keep everything in shape and weed. An older lady friend of mine has the small mantis, she also had the larger Troy Bilt and she hired my husband to initially make her beds each year, even at 80 she was able to handle the mantis on her own. I am a raised bed fan, no tillers allowed! Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (, September 30, 2001.

I'm with Vickie.....hire out the first seasons till and compost, compost, compost! Better for the soil and no hardpan layer from too much tillage.

-- Jason (, September 30, 2001.

Believe nothing you hear and half of what you see at least when it comes to salesmen of any type. The only small machine I know of that even comes close to one pass seedbed in tall grass or hard soil is a Gravely with rotary plow (different than a tiller). Even then its not for small elderly person to use in difficult conditions. For example, if you hit a big rock, the handle will bang you in the leg. As others have mentioned, hire your garden plowed, then use a small tiller to keep the weeds down. I have used a small Honda and its well made although pricey. Maybe best thing if you buy a tiller is to pay a little more and buy from some dealer that will let you try the tiller out in your own garden before buying. Thats hard for a cheapskate like me to say, but it is good advice for any equipment, especially if you are not familiar with using anything simular. Could alternatively rent something you are considering buying.

Also for anybody elderly who wants a garden and cant even afford to have it tilled, let your friends and neighbors know. Likely somebody might volunteer to do it for free. I like to garden and would gladly plow some elderly neighbors garden space for free just to know they had the fun of a garden for another year.

-- Hermit John (, October 01, 2001.

If you have a tractor( 35 to 50hp ) and can afford a tiller for the 3 point hitch you will love it. Mine is 6 ft wide and cost $1600. My wife and daughter think it is wonderful. Jay in NC

-- jay vance (, October 01, 2001.

Mary, Stay away from the Mantis, It is strictly garbage.

-- Rog (, October 03, 2001.

How odd Rog. Did you get a bad one? Not only has my friend had hers for years and it is completely trouble free, but in Farm Show they were listed as one of the best small tillers. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (, October 03, 2001.

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