Has The Dust Settled - Does Troy-Bilt Rule?

leeave96(VA)May 12, 2006

Well, maybe not, but it seems like the writing is on the wall.

I just went through an extensive search for a smaller tiller for my Dad and the brands available were Troy-Bilt, Simplicity, BCS and various MTD labeled tillers - all of which were rear tine.

He settled on the Simplicity, but I have to tell you that while I think we can get parts for a long time (I hope), the picture is right bleak on the tiller front.

One guy who sells BCS said they closed their east coast distributor and the only one left in the country was on the west coast. He said it would cost almost as much as the tiller to ship one in. Hope he is wrong.

The MTD tillers, while they looked OK, were not a consideration.

The only one out of a bunch of Simplicity dealers had a tiller on the show room floor. All of them said they would order them, but not stock them - seems nobody gardens like they use to and so they don't sell. Infact the Tiller my Dad bought was quite a few years old, thought new.

However, we found Troy-Bilt EVERYWHERE!!!!!!! In the box stores, dealers and used in local trading posts.

Even thought the Simplicity is a very nice tiller, it looks like in terms of Tiller availability (where you can acutally see one) and parts availability, Troy-Bilt rules.

I have about a 10 yr old Troy-Bilt Horse model and it has been bullet proof (knock on wood). No fear in finding parts or resale for it. My Dad's old tiller is a large BCS. Super tiller, but heaven help you if you need a part or service.

What's your take on this in your neck of the woods?

BTW, it seems like I've seen more gardens out in the back yards this year than in a long time. Makes me wonder what kind of tiller those folks are using.

Oh, I know that MTD owns Troy-Bilt, but I am to understand that they are built in the same plant at the premium Cub Cadets in Cleveland OH. Aside from eliminating forward rotating tines on the smallest of models, eliminating brochures (online and in the mail), MTD appears to have kept the quality of TB intact.

Just courious of your thoughts!


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canguy(British Columbia)

The tiller market has really died here. We do reasonably well with the small cultivators but it seems no one is really into serious gardening anymore. Our parents did it, many out of necessity, but the current generation seems to be too busy trying to juggle two careers to meet the mortgage and family demands.
Troybilt a.k.a MTD is marketed at a price point through the big stores who have large advertising budgets and operate at lower margins due to volume and to whom service is of little interest. I don't see the current crop of TB being on the same plane as the tanks the former company built but the market for high end tillers seems to have disappeared. I have yet to sell a Honda this year.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 10:58PM
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I purchased an older (1970s) Horse tiller a few years ago. Well built, but the inherent design of the machine didn't lend itself to ease of building or repair.
That said, it still is a very good and sturdy tool- with a little preventive maintenance, it will probably be handed down through the family for years.
I was interested in Snapper tillers-but this Troy Bilt came up. I suspect that the Snapper tiller parts may be relatively easy to procure also.
I live in a neighborhood of about 200 houses, all with at least 3/4 acre lots. I don't know of anyone with a garden except for me. Most families in the neighborhood only have the husband working- wives stay home. My wife and I both work full time- we make time for the garden (although it doesn't take all that much time.) I just think that most people are too lazy and/ or short-sighted to even think or plan a garden. Maybe it doesn't fit in with the landscaping. Plus the supermarket is only just down the street.
That's what I think.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 7:20AM
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earthworm(6 Pennsylvania)

A digging fork does the "tilling" for me.
I still have the old evil handling Roto-Hoe from the 70s..
Another project..
The R-Hoe was less expensive than the Troy Bilt at the time and was more versitile...
Retired ,so there is time for tilling,etc..

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 7:01PM
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"The MTD tillers, while they looked OK, were not a consideration...

Then I suppose that Troy Bilt is out of the question also.. After all MTD ownes Troy Bilt.

"However, we found Troy-Bilt EVERYWHERE!!!!!!! In the box stores, dealers and used in local trading posts."

Were they true Troy Bilts or MTD knock offs?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 12:08AM
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aesanders(8b Alachua, FL)

I have not heard anything in regard to BCS shutting down in the U.S. I was at my local BCS/John Deere dealer (Stoneham's John Deere) just a couple days ago and got a throttle cable for my unit. Did not have any issues. Cost for the 80" cable was only $6 (can't beat that). They had at least a half dozen BCS tillers in their showroom when I visited.

You are right, the cheaper MTD tillers are in all box stores. Have to look around for the really good ones.

Their is a company in the Northeast called OESCO which carries Goldoni Tillers. Now that is a real machine. Would love to have one of those (but I guess my measely old BCS will do)

Check out Goldoni tillers here:

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 8:52AM
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woodywoodchuck(Wake Forest, NC 7)

I was very disappointed at the quality and design of my Troy Bilt Super Bronco, bought new this spring. (From my LOCAL dealer not box store!) Traded it in for a little BCS 718 after only a tank-and-a-half of gas. The dealer said he sells very few of the BCS and lots of Cub Cadet and TB tillers. Also selling more and more of the Stihl and Mantis mini-tillers. He had several new looking TB machines in his shop for repairs, THAT tells me a lot right there. The shop guy told me, when he was showing me how to operate the BCS, he had only seen one BCS come back for repairs. Yes, since they sell less than other brands you would expect less to come back. But only one, and it was an older model for a tranny fluid change and cable adjustment as it was not shifting as expected.

Price is the big issue with his customers. Why pay big bucks for something that can be bought for 1/4 the price, and will only be used once or a few times a year? The dealer does do a lot of rentals (Cub Cadet tiller) and added a second to his rental Âfleet last year. Tiller renting for $60.00/day versus $650.00+ to buy and upkeep one? For most small gardeners it is a no brainer. I think also that all the hard-core gardeners have their TB Horse from years ago and it is still going strong.

From my recent experience, the new TB is nothing near the quality of what I remember. The tanks of old are now price point, box store, sellÂm by the dozen garden implements. I opted to pay for something that would not only be a pleasure to use, but last me for at least a few years. I have only had to buy new tines (three days from phone order to delivery) so do not know about repair parts. I would hope there are enough BCS tillers around to warrant a dealer, time will tell! BTW, $100.00 shipping on the tiller back in March and a three day delivery time. With the selling price I got, it worked out the same as any internet advertised price.

DonÂt get me wrong; I am not saying the new box store MTD products do not work! They just are not made for what I expect from my tools, which is a good days work... few days in a row. I am sure they would be great for the 30 minutes at a time, twice a year gardener.

Maybe more folks are lasagna gardening and tillers will be a thing of the past?!?!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 1:19PM
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A local outdoor power equipment dealer used to sell Troy bilt but quit after MTD began making the tillers. They now sell Snapper(I think) tillers. I was told Snapper bought the remaining stock of transmissions and other parts from what was Gardenway corp and now sells a model that is almost identicial to the original Troy Bilt tiller. The reason the dealer stopped selling the MTD Troy Bilt is due to customer complaints and returns. Just about everything MTD makes is CRAP! Walmart owns a piece of MTD and they too never worry about quality, just about how to make it cheaper. MTD junked the original Troy Bilt design because they could have a transmission made in China much cheaper, not better. DId you ever wonder why you now see the Troy Bilt name on lots of stuff Troy Bilt never made when Gardenway owned them??? The reason is because everyone knew MTD stood for garbage and Consumer Reports said as much. Now MTD replaced their name with Troy Bilt and other names to mislead people into thinking they are getting quality for less...hmmm sounds a lot like Walmart.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 5:21PM
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MTD = Made To Destruct Daily or something like that.

If you pay lots less, expect less also.

As a general rule there is nothing I have seen coming out of MTD no matter which one of their badges it comes from that has any long term quality to it. (one exception are the Cubs 2000 series and over, however these are made by the old International Harvester people) The 1000 and 1500 series Cubs are made by MTD and are like the rest of their products.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 9:49PM
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Have you looked into Mackissic? They have a bunch of different models to choose from.

Here is a link that might be useful: West Power Tools-Tiller page

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 10:28PM
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If the only way I could garden was to buy a Troy-Bilt tiller I would quit gardening. I know they're built like tanks, but I find them very unpleasant to operate and to work on.

I think one thing hurting the tiller market is mini-tillers. For anything short of breaking sod, the mini-tillers get the job done, and their convenience and low price outweighs the extra time it takes for small and medium jobs. Plus they're handy for tight spots and between rows where you just couldn't manuever a monster like a Troy-Bilt Horse.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 3:07PM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

The tiller market may rebound based upon market conditions.

I have never seen such little traffic on the roads here in Northern NJ on weekends since the cost of gas went through the roof. Since people are staying at home maybe gardening may become a popular hobby again.

I thought BCS was the Rolls Royce of tillers?
What do I know bout tillers? The first time I used one I was dragged 100 feet on my stomach before I let go of the handles. My pants were pulled down to my knees as I wore no belt. I thought the drag stake was a "kickstand" and removed it.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 10:59PM
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Don't know about dust, but I purchased a little TB144 4-Cycle Garden Cultivator / Edger from Lowes in October of 2009. Didn't use it much until recently, when I spent about 10 hours in the back yard. At the end of that time, the centrifugal clutch that is supposed to disengage the tiller blades when the engine idles down decided to not disengage any more.

I called their customer service line, got hung up on once, and finally talked to a person. He basically told me to take it to a local dealer to get it fixed, and bring the receipt to prove warranty status.

When I got it there, the guy looked at it, kind of shook his head, and told me not to expect it to get fixed too soon. He has one customer with a Troy-Bilt product who has been waiting FIVE MONTHS for parts to fix his machine, and he suspected that it would take an equally long time to get a replacement clutch - under warranty - for my unit.

Needless to say, this does not sit well. I'll check back with the repair place Monday to find out how things go, but if Troy-Bilt / MTD decides to stall on getting parts to fix this thing, I'm going to get really hacked.

I'll let you know how it goes ...

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 9:03PM
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Troy-bilt Used to be the very best tiller you could buy. Right up until the time they went bankrupt.

MTD bought the out just as they have with the names Bolens, Yardman, white, cub cadet, and others.

MTD specializes in mass marketing the least expensive equipment that can be built.

They have put these formerly quality names on theie cheap junk.

The Two Top end models of Troybilt tillers and for the most part, really like the older troybilt.

These sell for at least $2000.

ANything less expensive new now with the troy-bilt name is not really a troybilt.

The Snapper and Simplicty Tillers are sold exclusively through Authorized servicing dealers. They are identical now since Briggs and Stratton bought both companies.

You can find the cheap troy-bilt MTD junk in nearly every Big box store or hardware chain store on the planet...

I would never by a piece of power equipment in a box from a non servicing dealer, accept on e that had been put together as the same guy that assembles the gas grills.

They need ot be adjusted per spec, and adjusted with a digial tachomter

Since Briggs owns both companies, I expect that they will follow the same policy on supply part for the tillers as they do for their engine parts.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 1:05PM
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Love my BCS 850! BCS is SO much more than just a tiller! Drove to Kentucky to EarthTools (Joel Dufour) to pick it up... Best price! Joel knows! Keeps stock and parts... never had any issues that couldn't be resolved with a phone call.. Need parts? Call Joel - get parts! He even talks me through trouble shooting issues (usually my own stupidity)when needed. Have had others of various brands longest lasting of which was an Ariens in the past. The BCS 850 is great and the best that I have used! They are well made: power unit, Brush Hog, rotary mower with sulky, sicklebar mower, tiller, grading blade, chipper (not what I had hopped) --- They are not the cheapest... I'll have this as long as I can garden - not that gardening is all I use it for... Locally, the dealers I have tried in Virginia know squat and only say they have BCS, meaning they will order one for you. They seem to know nothing about maintaining or repairing them. Actually had one ruin a sicklebar knife when he had it for repair/replacement of several teeth... Would never trust the power head in their hands!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 3:53PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

There are used Troy-Bilt tillers you can buy around here for $100. That said, I bought a BCS 853 last year, also from Earth Tools, and it's done a great job. Did the plowing and tilling for a large vegetable garden, starting from a hayfield on rocky soil, in a weekend. It would have taken months to do by hand. The nice thing about the Berta rotary plow is that it gets fairly deep, probably about 10 inches, chews through sod, and tosses rocks aside. The tiller implement is pretty powerful and makes a nice seedbed -- sunflowers grow tall and carrots grow straight.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 6:45PM
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