Pros: Forward and Counter Rotating Tines, Forward, Reverse and Neutral Transmission, Adjustable Height Handle
Cons: Drag Stake could be 4 to 6 inches longer for hard-pack forward tine tilling.
I just bought the Craftsman 7HP Briggs, rear tine tiller on April 9, 2005. (Sears Model 29427). I looked hard at the Troy-Bilt and Huskee lines (MTD) of similar sizes, but decided this one was more bang for your buck. Sears also had this one marked down $100 during the month of April '05.
I had been using my neighbor's rear tine 6-HP Troy-Bilt tiller for any new ground breaking plots for a couple of years. I would then use my old 1970's 5HP Wizard front tine tiller to re-till each spring and/or weed the walk rows there-after.
I must say that they just don't make new tillers near as sturdy as my old Wizard. Heck the tines on my old Wizard are 3 to 4 times as thick as the ones on the new 7 HP Craftsman?
So I unboxed the new beast, attach the handle, check the oil (full from factory), fill with gas and it starts on the second pull. Took about 10 minutes to unbox & assemble. An easy to follow owners manual comes with this tiller.
I head to my first plot for a test run. It was ready to plant, but a rain a couple of days earlier put a slight crust over it. I was pleased with the speed and ease of use this tiller offered vs. others I have used.
The fact that this tiller has a neutral setting in the transmission, is very useful. The tiller can be easily pushed in neutral, it is like the tiller just floats while being pushed around. Very useful feature when moving the tiller long distances from the barn to various plots.
I then decided to put it to the test. I started on a new plot. A section of never before tilled lawn, behind my pond. I set the depth guide to 1/2, put the drag stake in notch #2 (or in the up position), set the transmission to turn the tines in reverse, but the wheels move forward. I grabbed on firmly expecting the need to man-handle this beast in a straight line, but it just started turning the soil with little operator effort. I made about 15 passes, 125ft long or so. Hit a few large rocks with nothing more then a slight jump of the tiller. I had to stop twice to remove large clumps of grass that were kind of bull dozed between the wheels and tine shield. Started to deep I suppose for a new plot, but I just wanted to test this new machine! I then set the depth guide as deep as it would go. Went over the new plot a second time at maximum depth, still turning the tines in reverse and that's it. A new plot ready in only about 45 minutes. Bring on the sweet corn!!
The reverse tine option is the best thing since butter met bread when breaking new ground for the first time. Even when breaking new ground, it only took one hand to hold and lightly assist the direction of the tiller. I was very impressed. My soil conditions are "Normal". Just compacted top-soil with a small amount of clay. I would have been there for 4 or more hours with my old Wizard and been beat to death.
I have used this tiller for about 18 hours so far, tilling garden plots and wild flower rows, etc. I have had no grinding issues with the transmission. It shifts smoothly with a little click between gears. There is talk of transmission issues on another power tool forum. Hopefully mine is the cream of the crop for that production run and give me at least 15 years of trouble free tilling.
So far, I could not be happier with this purchase. After using this tiller, it is easy to see, that it's actually not a beast at all. This is just an easy to use machine that does a great job of tilling.