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  1. #1
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    MF 2823

    Default Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    When I was searching for info on mid-range rear tine tillers a month or so ago, there wasn't much to be found about mid-range tillers other than some Troy Bilts, so I thought I'd post my experience with my new Husqvarna 700DRT. Hopefully this will prove useful to someone at some point.

    I'll begin with a little background about my tiller search. I planted my first garden this spring, about 500 sq. ft., and used an old mid-tine Merry Tiller to break ground. On my hard ground it nearly beat me to death and took about 3 hrs to break an area 20'x25'. I wanted to expand to about 1000 sq. ft. this year and 1500 sq. ft. next yr. and wasn't looking forward to wrestling my old tiller for hrs. just to break new ground, so I decided a good rear tine tiller would make life easier. I set a budget of around $800 give or take about $100--I didn't feel justified spending a couple thousand on a top of the line tiller like BCS, Grillo, or Honda, when I felt that a good mid range tiller with proper maintenance would last many years.

    My short list included a Cub Cadet RT65, Troy Bilt Pro Line CRT, Troy Bilt Super Bronco, Husqvarna 700DRT, and a Craftsman dual directional rear tine model. The Cub Cadet was impossible to find around here--there are 2 local dealers, 1 I had a bad experience with and the other was having issues ordering tillers from MTD, so the CC RT65 was out. The Pro Line CRT and Super Bronco were very little different from one another with the exception of a Honda GC engine, bumper, and 1" larger tires on the Pro Line Model for $50. Again, my good local dealer was having issues ordering from MTD and had no Pro Line models in stock, but did have a Super Bronco. The Husqvarna appeared to be a nice, well built tiller, but knowing it was a near twin to the Craftsman, which had more than just a few transmission issues mentioned in Sears' reviews concerned me a little. I also checked out the Craftsman at Sears, and it appeared nice enough, but I was concerned it was built to a lower standard than the Husqvarna, and there wasn't a huge price difference between Sears and my local Husqvarna dealer.

    Ultimately it came down to the Super Bronco, Husqvarna 700DRT and the Craftsman. I had a couple of issues with the Super Bronco: it weighs about 50 lbs less than the AYP twins, it had smaller tires, a no name MTD engine vs. B&S on the AYP units, and I was concerned on a lightweight tiller about compromising by having only counter rotating tines (good for ground breaking but less good for cultivating). There wound up only being $50 between the Husqvarna and Craftsman ($679 at the least from Sears and $730 from my local Husqvarna dealer). When I bought the Craftsman was up to $879, $150 more than the Husqvarna from my local dealer. At any rate, the Husqvarna was worth its premium vs. the lowest price on the Craftsman. The Husqvarna has a B&S 206cc engine with cast iron liner; the Craftsman had a slightly smaller displacement B&S without the cast iron liner. Plus, I have the support of a good local dealer in the event anything goes wrong.

    As for the Husqvarna tiller itself, I have been thoroughly pleased with it. I brought it home and put it to the test breaking new ground that was dry as a bone and hard as concrete with ankle high grass growing on it. I made 3 passes with the tiller in counter rotating mode, 1 with the depth stake 2 holes from it's highest setting, 1 pass 2 holes from the deepest setting, and then a 3rd pass at the deepest setting. Each pass was made at a right angle to the previous pass and after 3 passes I had a nice fluffy seedbed about 6-7" deep. I didn't have high expectations due to the conditions, but the tiller performed flawlessly (though I choked on the dust). The tiller starts on the first or second pull, shifts gears smoothly, though occassionally you must "double clutch" it, has adequate traction even in loose soil, and can be guided with 1 hand so long as you don't try to set the depth stake too deep when breaking new ground. Forward rotating mode does a great job with the drag stake at its lowest setting when cultivating existing crops, as well as for mixing in compost or lime.

    At this point, the only minor drawbacks to this tiller are that I wish it had 16" tires like the Cub Cadet, and the tines don't rotate fast enough for "power composting". However, I can say that I've never had to push the tiller through loose soil, it has always been able to pull itself (you just can't have too much traction), and I doubt any tiller with a single speed gearbox will spin the tines fast enough for power composting (and I wonder how well even a BCS will do it since it is mentioned in their literature).

    In all, I would give the Husqvarna 700DRT an 8 out of 10, and for the price paid, I would say it's a 9. I would definately buy this model again.

    Disclaimer: I have had this tiller for a couple of wks now and put about 6 hrs on it so far. I'll provide future updates as the hrs build to see how it holds up.
    Simplicity ZT4000
    Shindaiwa T195s, Redmax HB250
    Northern 48" core aerator, Rug'id 250# spreader

  2. #2
    Platinum Member bontai_Joe's Avatar
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    northeast PA
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    Deere 316 (Kohler) Deere 316 (Onan) Deere 210

    Default Re: Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    Great in depth review! Based on what was available in your area and budget, I'd say you made a good choice. For what it's worth, you can fill the tires with liquid to add extra weight and I believe that there are wheel weights also available. Nice to able to use one hand, isn't it? Sure beats being being drug around getting your arms "stretched out" with a front tine tiller. I use an old Troy-Bilt horse madel, and your technique of making several passes while lowering the tines incrementally is exactly what is described in Troy's manual and works well for starting a garden in existing sod.
    If it's free, it's for me!!!!!

  3. #3
    Gold Member
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    Kubota B2320

    Default Re: Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    I tried that Cub Cadet, took it back, the wheel pins kept breaking and it was hard to select the right gear.

    I now use a TroyBilt CRT, works good, only downside is that it has no neutral gear. (no extra charge shipping/no tax on their website)

  4. #4
    Gold Member
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    Default Re: Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by jinjimbob
    I tried that Cub Cadet, took it back, the wheel pins kept breaking and it was hard to select the right gear.

    I now use a TroyBilt CRT, works good, only downside is that it has no neutral gear. (no extra charge shipping/no tax on their website)

    I was tempted by the TB CRT models for the quality and the lifetime warranty, and when I looked at the Pro Line and Super Bronco CRT I noticed there was no neutral and if you needed to push the tiller you had pull the wheel pins and slide the wheels in, then push the wheels back out and put the pins back through them. I'm sure when you get used to it that it is no big deal when you need to do it. One thing about the TBs that I did really like and was hard to find on anything else in the price range is the ability to drain and refill the gear lube in the transmission. It eased my mind and made me feel much better about buying the Husqvarna when I first read the owners manual (before buying) and realized that it has a grease fitting on the transmission housing. My first thought when I saw "sealed transmission" was "lubed for life" and I was glad to realize that it wasn't and I would be able to grease it at regular intervals.

    Joe -- I probably will add liquid to the tires at some point for extra traction. I haven't run out of traction yet, but I'd rather have it available and not need it than for it to just spin and wish I'd added weight. On the subject of making multiple passes to break new sod, one common theme I noticed when I was doing my research was that most people who complained of their tiller either bucking or running away would eventually admit to starting out too deep trying to bust sod. Before I bought, I read the Husqvarna owners manual, and that is also how it recommends breaking sod. I think it is great, I just walk along behind and guide while the tiller does all the hard work.
    Simplicity ZT4000
    Shindaiwa T195s, Redmax HB250
    Northern 48" core aerator, Rug'id 250# spreader

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    Tiller Update:

    Tiller has been performing great, until yesterday. I've put around 8 hrs on it, expanding the garden about 3 times its original size and cultivating (before everything grew too much to squeeze down the middles). The tiller does a great job breaking sod, and when the soil has a little moisture in it, it acts like it could dig to China. Overall I've been really pleased with this purchase.

    Now, for the downside. Yesterday evening (8/22) I was tilling in some old cornstalks getting a spot ready to plant some broccoli. I made a couple of passes and then BANG and the tiller choked. I looked it over and didn't notice anything out of place, so cranked it again, and as soon as I put it in gear it took off across the garden with me chasing it. I killed the engine and this time noticed the chewed up belt hanging out of the belt guard.

    I pulled it apart this morning and found that the idler pulley was a little loose where it attaches to the transmission housing/frame. Under load, the slack apparently let the idler pulley wobble just enough for the belt to jump track and it chewed it up pretty bad--kinda looked like Bigfoot got ahold of the belt. I put a drop of removeable Locktite on the bolt that holds the idler pulley on and tightened it, so hopefully it won't be coming loose again any time soon. The new belt is on order from the dealer, so hopefully I'll get it all back together by Tues. or Wed. and see what happens.

    Hopefully this won't be a recurring event.
    Simplicity ZT4000
    Shindaiwa T195s, Redmax HB250
    Northern 48" core aerator, Rug'id 250# spreader

  6. #6
    Platinum Member bontai_Joe's Avatar
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    Deere 316 (Kohler) Deere 316 (Onan) Deere 210

    Default Re: Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    Tilling under old corn stalks is a really tough job. Makes my Troy-Bilt Horse jump a bit and it's about the hardest plant material I have ever tilled under, so your machine did fairly well. As for power composting, I till the soil first, then spread the compost material, which in my case was usually freshly raked leaves in the fall and that technique seemed to work well.
    If it's free, it's for me!!!!!

  7. #7
    New Member Ghog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    Based on this thread I purchased a 700 DRT today

    As soon as I got it home this evening, I put it to the hardest garden in the world, sandy clay stuff down here in the tidewater area of Virginia. I was pleased how this tiller performed. It was getting dark so I had to put it away..boohoo..lol.

    Anyway I did run one line in some new ground and after three passes, it chopped the ground up pretty good. It jumped around a little, but I need to tweak my technique a little. Thanks for the informative, and positive post about this tiller. I don't think I'm going to be disappointed.

    I'll post how things go when I triple the size of my garden

  8. #8
    Gold Member
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    Default Re: Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    Glad I could help someone. I originally posted my review simply because of my frustration trying to find honest hands-on tiller reviews when I was shopping. There were plenty of Troy Bilt reviews and people willing to heap praise on their BCS machines. I really believe the Husqvarna 700DRT is the best value going for a quality mid-range tiller right now.

    As for corn stalks being tough to till under...I try to help the tiller a little by hacking up the stalks with a machete as I cut them down. I try to cut them down in roughly 1 ft. sections so the tiller doesn't have to deal with the full length of the stalks. Still, it is tough going, but after a couple of passes the stalks were chopped up and tilled in nicely.

    Update on the chewed up belt situation: I picked up my new belt today from my dealer. I couldn't be more pleased with their service--I visited the dealer Sat. a.m. to check if they had a belt, they didn't and told me they'd order it first thing Monday and give me a call when it came in. They called me around noon Tuesday and I picked up my belt at lunch. I'd recommend the folks at Boiling Springs Small Engine to anyone nearby in the Upstate SC or Western NC area. It's been pouring rain all day today, so I didn't get a chance to put the belt on and reassemble the tiller yet--not that it matters since we've had nearly 4" of rain and it's still coming down so it'll be a while before the ground is dry enough to till again.
    Simplicity ZT4000
    Shindaiwa T195s, Redmax HB250
    Northern 48" core aerator, Rug'id 250# spreader

  9. #9
    Gold Member
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    Default Re: Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    Further update: With all the rain we've been getting, I had to put my tiller back together so I could get the mower out of the building and cut the grass before it got too far out of control. Good news: I put my new belt on, and everything went back together in about 5 minutes. The tiller works perfectly--exactly as it did before eating the belt.

    Now a cautionary word--Ghog, you may want to check this on your new tiller--one would think that if a foam precleaner was supposed to be oiled, that it would come that way from the factory. Not so on MY tiller. The book says to check/clean the precleaner every 25 hrs, more often in excessively dirty conditions. I've put maybe 9 or 10 hrs on my tiller, and today decided to clean the precleaner (which on my mower--Kohler Command engine--does a great job). I was surprised to find that the precleaner was 1) not very dirty and 2) not oily. Checked the manual and it is supposed to be oiled, as I'm pretty sure all foam precleaners are to be effective. All of the dirt that should have stuck to the oil that should've been on the precleaner got sucked through the carb into the engine.
    Simplicity ZT4000
    Shindaiwa T195s, Redmax HB250
    Northern 48" core aerator, Rug'id 250# spreader

  10. #10
    Platinum Member
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    Nov 2005
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    Kansas
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    Mahindra 3215 4WD

    Default Re: Husqvarna Tiller (long post)

    Any further information on this model? I am looking to buy a tiller and the Husqvarna so far looks to be the best. I think tomorrow I will run up to my local dealer and see what he has. I have a Husqvarna chainsaw and it has been great. If it is priced similarly to a Craftsman I would also go with the Husqvarna. Does anyone know if Husqvarna makes the Craftsman model?

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