Troy-Bilt Horse rototiller is a dangerous machine

californianMarch 16, 2010

The trouble is the design. The rubber belt contracts when it heats up (rubber is an unusual material in that it contracts instead of expands when it gets hot), as a result it gets too tight and makes it hard to shift into neutral. I have had my rototiller get away from me many times when I came close to a bush or fence and couldn't get it into neutral to shift to reverse. This is especially dangerous on a hill made of hard clay like I have. The tines can propel the rototiller forward in high speed surges when they hit a hard spot. In fact I am bleeding right now from the latest episode where the rototiller ran into my Kumquat bush.

And don't say I don't have it adjusted right. I live on a hill and when tilling uphill the belt has to be fairly tight or it just slips and the rototiller won't move. If I make the belt loose enough so its easy to shift the rotiller won't go uphill under heavy load. If I make it tight enough that it will go uphill then I can't shift into neutral when the machine and belt get hot. Right now my workaround is to only rototill for ten minutes at a time and then let the tiller cool for an hour.

If you have a large lot on level soft ground with plenty of room to make turns you probably don't have these problems. But if you have cramped conditions with lots of obstacles on a hill with hard dirt you know what I am talking about.

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bbriggs(z5 IA)

But they work pretty darn well for decades and decades. My only thought is to lubricate the spring-loaded pawl that holds the drive engaged as well as the linkages and shafts that allow the engine to move up and down. I've always found it more pleasant to till uphill with my Horse.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 5:39PM
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I've used mine alot, every year, over the 25 years I've owned mine. Whenever that problem crops up, it's always because something isn't lubricated. Especially the 4 round stocks that the motor lifts up and down on.

Another thing I found is that where the shifter lever ball bearing bears against the adjustable iron block, a groove wears in the underside of that block. You can either grind it out or replace it.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 7:13PM
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You know I till up a steep hill and I go all day with no problem at all. Are you running a fractional horse power belt designed for a lawn and garden application? They are specially designed not to have problems with heating up. And i would seconded all the other suggestions about lubing everything.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 9:46PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Mind was sticking in forward hard to pull out take 3 steps at times so got air wrench lube was handy oil put on roller and pins engines mounts on. First time engaged engine was easy out engage easy time hand get there out drive. I think every lube made work free up shifting on my 2 horses 2 speed 73 four speed 78.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 10:41PM
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Troy-Bilt Tillers are safe and great machines.

It's Californian's whom are a danger to themselves and everyone else in the United States. You people are to stupid to use a thing called common sense in that state.

Prime example. Take the stupid Toyota driver that did not have enough sense to put a run away cars transmission in neutral and let the thing coast to a stop.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 11:30PM
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The first thing I do when I get ready to use my rototiller is spray those engine support rods you were talking about and the little wheel on the end of the shift mechanism. I will try grinding the iron stop. The belt I have is supposed to be the correct one.
My machine is still going strong. Bought it in 1983. I did replace the engine though when the crankshaft broke. I also put carbide tipped tines on it when the originals wore away to little stubs. I did have to replace the tine shroud and shift lever under warranty. But the longevity and ruggedness of the Horse rototillers doesn't negate the design problem that has been here from day one.
And yes it is easier for the tiller tines to dig in when going uphill, but my soil is getting so loose that I have to push the tiller uphill because the wheels just spin in the loose dirt. I think I need tire chains, do they still sell them?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 10:01PM
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First question: does your horse have ag tires or turf tires? second question: do you have the extra weight mounted under the engine, if not maybe a welding shop could make a couple from some 1" plate.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 11:11PM
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I paid extra and got the ag tires. This machine is heavy enough when I have to push it up the hill because the tires are just spinning in the fluffy dirt. I have rototilled so many cubic yards of compost in that you sink in just walking on the dirt, like walking on a mattress. The reason I have to rototill every couple of weeks is the soil is so rich weeds and bermuda grass just explode out it when ever we get a rain, which luckily or unluckily is very rarely.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 12:27AM
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I had an older Troy tiller that used a matched set of drive belts. they had a sort of hard cloth backing, and the usual belting material as the vee part. I sold it 7 years ago, and asked the buyer last week if he wanted to sell it back. He sez it is still running great-no problems, and no it isn't for sale!
And, last spring, i installed a new single belt on another one, and it looked just like a lawn tractor belt. Are you sure you don't have the belt-s too tight?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 7:44PM
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Yes tire chains are still available, check ebay. Best advice is never use anything but a factory belt, there still available also. REJ2

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 8:28PM
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CA. I've been thinking on your uphill problem. I don't know how steep a hill you're going up, but as angle uphill gets steeper it transfers more weight to the tines and less on the wheels. Maybe if you added 10 lbs or maybe more of weight to the front it would help your situation on the uphill pull. Then you probably would have to push down a little more on the handlebars going downhill or level.
Just a thought,

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 10:27PM
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What bothers me about this whole post is that people are trying to till UPHILL! Like mowing one should mow and till along the side of the hill so this issues don't happen.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:58AM
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