Pros: Reliable, relatively inexpensive, the width is adjustable, and it works.
Cons: Not automatic, hard to move around, and get clogged with weeds.
Why I choose this model.
I had a choice between this model for 300 and the more powerful, self-propelled model for $600. Because I was watching my budget, I choose this one. There were cheaper ones but from my personal experience I find these to be practically useless. One that my friend rented just bounced across her yard like a rubber ball. Needless to say, we returned that and got a similar one to my current version, and it worked just fine.
The engine core was assembled but everything else needed to be attached. All you needed was a flat head and a couple of wrenches. Set up was actually easy, it just took about half an hour and I was able to complete it myself with little difficulty. It is mainly held together with bolts and nuts and metal clips.
The engine is a 5.0 horsepower Briggs & Stratton. Its chain driven (for those of you that care). The tank holds 3 quarts of gas which is plenty for me to do my garden for an entire season.
The noise is just what you would probably expect. It is loud and noisy. Not something you want to operate at 7am Sunday morning. But there is no unusual noises that have concerned me.
How it works.
You turn it on just like you would a regular lawn mower. It has a speed lever and a choke. I have never had any trouble turning it on and the engine has run great these past couple of years.
Before you turn it on you need to check the depth stake and set it for how deep you want to till. It is just a simple piece of metal in the back bottom of the unit that is held together by a clip. The depth stake looks kind of silly, but it does work. If you need to modify the depth further for some reason, the wheels can also be raised and lowered (just not as easily.)
After you turn on the engine, you press down on a lever just above the handle that starts rotating the blades. Release the lever and the blades stop, just not the motor. The blade rotation also helps the unit move without you pushing it. Then the machine digs into the ground and churns up the dirt and any amendments you may have put in.
The tiller blades
There are 4 wheels with 4 blades on each. From tine tip to tine tip it is 22 inches long. The product advertises 24 inches range. You can take off both of the outer blade wheels and make the tiller only 13 inches long (about 15 inches in range.) This is a great feature if you just want to till your rows for weeds.
Ive used about a half dozen tillers in my life and not a single one is easy to use, despite what a commercial will tell you. With that in mind here is my impression
This is not an easy machine to handle. It does not move on its own and has no automatic features. When you reach the point that you need to turn around, you almost drag the unit 180 degrees to get it back into position. I have figured out a way to let the tines do the work for you by slightly pressing down on the on-lever, but it still requires some grunt work.
Once it is in position it is pretty easy. The machine may want to wander off so you need to put pressure on the handle to move it in the correct direction. Occasionally the unit will get stuck in a rut and you need to coax it out.
This machine is not designed for the elderly or the real young. You need both hands and two stable feet to use it.
How well does it work?
If all of the vegetation is dead and cut low to the ground, then the machine works perfectly.
It is not a weed eater or a weed killer. If you have large weeds or piles of dead ice plant, then you need to get rid of them before you use the tiller.
The website states that this is a device for already tilled gardens. I feel that this is a better product than that, but it certainly will not compete with a small tractor with tiller attachment.
Depending on how you set the depth stake, you can till to around 6 inches in depth (more with multiple passes.) And even at that depth I have had no problems with the machine running normally.
At 106 pounds, it isnt that heavy. When necessary, I can pick it up to place it on my truck.
It fits fine in the back of an SUV or van, but it has to be disassemble to fit in a trunk. A friend of mine has a mid-size car and transported the tiller in it. We had to disassemble the entire handle bar as well as take off the outer two blades just to get it in the trunk. Even with this we still couldnt close the trunk all the way and had to strap the trunk lid down.
I have had no problems with the engine or mechanical parts of the machine. Everything seems sturdy (Knock on wood.)
The problem I have is sometime weeds get stuck in the blades and wheels itself. Its simple to clean out but a nuisance if the area was not properly maintained. It is basically like cleaning out the brush in a vacuum cleaner.
Warning- boring stats From the Sears website, here for your convenience.
Powered by a 5-1/2 hp Briggs and Stratton? Intek engine
Adjustable Depth Stake helps till at the perfect height.
Adjustable handles add extra comfort
Tine shield keeps dirt, dust or rocks in the till path and off the operator
Hardened 12 in. heat-treated steel Tines are built to withstand tough jobs
The engine over transmission design lets tiller dig quickly and easily into the ground
end of boring stats
Who should buy this.
If you have the money to buy a 600 dollar machine (or more), then do it. You will not be sorry. But if you have a small garden (less than 100 plants) and you dont want to spend that much, then get this machine. I personally wouldnt recommend anything less expensive than this unless you have a really small garden. And if you do have that small a garden, just use a shovel.
This is a great budget tiller. It is well made and has saved me hours of manual labor. It will probably pay for itself in labor and rental costs within three years of buying it. If you want a tiller that will not break the bank but gets the job done, then this is it.
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