Is $500 a good deal for a 1968 Troy Bilt Horse Tiller?

ecologicsoulApril 5, 2012

Hello gardenwebbers!! I love this site and most always find answers when searching and this is my first post here :-)

My question is regarding a 1968 Troy Bilt Tiller for sale. I negotiated $500 - asking price was $700. The engine and tines were replaced 2 years ago and have 12-15 hours on them. The engine is a Honda GX200. Is this a good deal? I did read the older machines are great workhorses. Is there anything I should be looking out for when I go check it out?


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It probably is a good deal, considering the new engine and tines. Is the engine genuine Japanese Honda or a cheaper Chinese motor?

Check out the rear tine area where they attach on each side. Look for oil dripping or excessive rocking motion, side to side, in the tines, which would indicate bad bearings. There always will be a little bit of wiggle in them.

Leaking oil isn't always a bad sign for an old tiller, but you must keep an eye on ALL oil levels.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 5:41AM
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It sounded like a great deal, until you mentioned the honda engine! Did you hear it run--longer than a minute or so?
I had one of those, about the same age. It was a gift as a con rod was busted. I fixed it, and sold it to a friend who still uses it.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 2:42PM
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baymee - thanks for the advise on checking for oil drips and bad bearings. As far as I know, the engine was new 2 years ago with only 15 hours on it and it and I would assume it is a real Honda - Can you buy knock-off Hondas that are still called Hondas? The seller said it was a Honda GX200 so I am taking his word for it.

rustyj14 - Do you not like Honda engines or is it a compatibility issue with the 1967 Troy Bilt Horse? I have always heard that Honda engines are some of the most reliable out there.

BTW...I have a hunch this tiller is from the original owner too - I will check with him about these details. He is out of town to be back this week, so I was trying to do my research since I had some more breathing time before making a decision. :-)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 2:05PM
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No, I do not like Honda engines, for lawn and garden equipment. Period!
Also, a question: Does the machine have the front "bumper"? That additional part keeps ya from breaking the engine crank-case, if you allow the machine to tip too far forward! I was given one with that problem, and i had to change the engine. It broke a big hole in the crank-case/block! Those machines will tip quickly, if something stops forward movement! RJ

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 3:08PM
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They usually don't have the bumper. If it did it would also be nice because it would help attach a blade if you ran into one. The bumper can keep you from banging the carb into something hard and cracking it. However, most people have managed without the bumper.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 6:06PM
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Here are some pictures of the tiller:

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 11:06PM
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rustyj14- Do you have specific reasons for why you do not like Honda engines for garden equipment? It would be nice to know what you think are the best engines too.

If I were to add a bumper, and assuming rustyj14 is the only one opposed to Honda engines, are there any other reasons not to pick up this tiller for $500?

Thanks :-)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 11:09PM
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Well here's an update...

First off, thank you all for being honest and informing me of potential issues and things to look out for.

I now have found another Troy Bilt Horse 1985-1986 time frame with original 8hp motor, approx 120 hours and a front bumper! Listing price is $600. Based on what I'm hearing from your responses, I am now considering that this one might actually be a much better purchase.

Any confirmations on that? ;-)

Here's a pic of the 1986 horse:

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 2:00AM
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I'd go for the '86 model. You also have the PTO disconnect, which provides safer travel without the tines moving. I have an '83 model, just like yours.

As before, make sure you always know that your oil levels are full. There are 3 on your model. Rear, trans, and motor.

If you buy it, I'll show you how to check the oils, as stated in the manual.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 5:38AM
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Awesome. Thanks for all your help! Went with the 86. We will test it out after the rains subside. It looks solid. Runs well, and tines/bearings look pretty good too, just a little movement.

Baymee- would love to learn more about checking the oil levels! I did get the original manual with it too! :-)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 10:08AM
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I just don't like Honda engines. Period. Any mowers i get with honda engines, i donate to a friend who loves the honda engines--a place called Neville Metals, on Neville Island, down the river from Pittsburgh, Pa. A scrap yard!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 9:22PM
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fredbarber(z4 CO & z6 MA)

Rusty, does your distaste for Honda engines stem from a bad experience? No disrespect, but I think your opinion is a little out of the mainstream.

Honda definitely has two series of engines -- "homeowner" engines and "heavy duty" engines, but so does everybody. And there are problems throughout the industry with cheap clones that aren't what they first appear to be.

Over the course of the last 30 years, I've had two Honda lawnmowers, a Honda tiller and a Honda snowblower. I love them all, especially for the reliable, torquey engines. I've never had a major engine problem. The engine on the first lawnmower smoked pretty badly (after 20 years or so) when the transmission gave out and I had to replace the coil on the tiller. Apart from that, oil changes and filters are all that the engines have ever needed.

I've never -- and would never -- bought one of their "big box store" mowers. They use the less durable engines and are generally less well built than their "professional" line. Here again, they are no different from other manufacturers in that regard.

As you can tell, I'm pretty much hooked on Honda power equipment based on solid performance over long term usage. IMO, most of it's due to basic quality, but certainly there's also an element of luck.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 10:04AM
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An amendment to the manual was sent with mine in '83.

To check the tiller attachment transmission topic on page 10, Step 1.

1A. Put a board 3 1/2" thick under the drag bar while in the position described in step one. Leave in this position for at least 2 minutes.

As far as genuine Japanese Honda equipment goes, it's well built, so well built that parts last almost forever, but when they wear out, they can be a real pain to change out.

I started working on Japanese Honda motorcycle engines in '72. They were a real mechanical work of art compared to the Triumph engines of the day.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 4:19PM
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yah the 83 with low hours is a better deal. Ask the seller for receipts to get an idea of the condition. They go through seals and shafts because they trash around so much. When I was running one I had, it would break sod. It took 3 passes. Anything less, and the machine was too wild to control. I could use a smaller one. My father tilled 3 acres with his 68 Troybuilt. It got a Kohler engine in the early 80's. My BIL hates it because he kept it running.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 7:53PM
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