• garden
  • machines



It had rained so much in May that we didn't have a chance to get all the plants in the ground but finally after a break in the weather on Sunday the 20th there was an opportunity to get outside. The area we have cordoned off with chicken wire to keep out the bunnies and groundhogs is pretty small but my back was in bad shape for some weeks and there was just no way the ground was getting turned over with a shovel. I pulled out the old rototiller, a late '70s Troy-Built, and got it ready.

If you've ever been in Troy, NY where these were made you might wonder how a business making roto-tillers could possibly survive on local sales as it seems there is very little soil on top of the Taconic shales and slates that seem to be everywhere at least out where most of the farms are east of the city.


I still have all the original documentation (and bill of sale) from when my dad bought it. I know my mom was absolutely sure he was going to kill himself with it and I don't really blame her - this thing is a beast and if you don't know what you're doing it can easily get away from you.

Last year I noticed the shear pin on one of the wheel shafts was missing when the wheel nearly walked off the shaft so I replaced that this year with a 1/4-20 smooth shaft bolt. I checked the oil and it still looked fresh and was at the full line. I put in a little gas - the last bit of last year's gas which I know is a bad idea. Some years ago I had replaced the original metal gas tank with a plastic one from a wood chipper that I had wisely given away. The original had varnished up completely. A neighbor and I tried to salvage it with the iron / battery electrolysis trick but it was too far gone. The plastic tank is always nice and clean, although a little Stabl tossed in after using it probably helps.

I removed the air filter (not sure how necessary this really is but it helped last year), unscrewed the spark plug, shot a little starter fluid into the spark plug hole, quick put the spark plug back in, flipped the throttle to ON position, pulled and it started on the 2nd pull!

I put the air filter back on and rototilled a bunch of spots in the yard where we wanted to put flowers in addition to the garden without killing myself. A couple shelf-wood ramps kept in the shed ensure it gets back in there easily. I keep a pan under the engine just in case it leaks (and I'm pretty sure the seals do leak) but there hasn't been much accumulating in that.

I've had a bunch of trees taken out over the last few years so there is a lot more sun in the yard now. I hope to open up some more areas for a bigger garden someday.