Thursday, May 15, 2008

Troy-Bilt Pro-Line FRT Garden Tiller - A Review

When Troy-Bilt contacted me about the possibility of testing one of their products, it couldn't have come at a better time. We'd literally run our old tiller into the ground. Just getting it to start wore Romie out and it had been repaired countless times. But it had served us well over the thirty years we'd had it.

We chose a mid-size tiller that had enough oomph to work its way through our horrendous clay. The one we'd chosen was out of stock, so Troy-Bilt suggested another model, the Pro-Line FRT. This is a real workhorse of a tiller, and we had some work for it to do.

In the last couple of years, we'd run out of garden space to plant all the vegetables we'd wanted to plant. Two years ago, we even 'borrowed' our neighbor's garden plot that he wasn't using, except for a couple of tomato plants. So this year, we decided to enlarge our own. Would the Pro-Line be up for it?

We weren't able to get started quite as soon as we'd liked, because when the tiller arrived, it had somehow been damaged in transit and was leaking oil. There were also a couple of parts missing - a lever knob and a keyed washer. It was several weeks before we finally were able to get the oil seal replaced and the missing parts we needed, but Heritage Farm Equipment came to our house, picked the tiller up, and delivered it back to us - repaired - the very next morning. Kudos to Heritage for such quick service! Troy-Bilt was also quite concerned about getting it taken care of, and because we'd had so much rain this spring, we weren't quite ready for the tiller anyway when it first got here.

Once we were able to use it for its intended purpose, we gave it a workout. Romie worked up the garden so we could get it planted and wow - the Pro-Line made quick work of it. A swipe across the garden just two times and the soil was wonderfully workable. With the old tiller, it would have taken more than a couple times across the garden, been harder to control, and taken much more time.

The Pro-Line, with its forward-rotating tines, can be guided with just one hand. While Romie is the one that does the tilling around here, I just had to try it to see if it really was as easy to guide as it looked. It was.

But how, I wondered, would it do when it came time to break new ground? Ideally, it would have been nice to have all the sod removed before trying to work up the ground, but this is a heavy-duty tiller and we felt that it should be able to dig right in and work up the ground anyway. So Romie moved on from the previously tilled garden to the edges, where we were enlarging.

It's a good thing I wasn't standing in the way of the tiller. As soon as the tines hit the sod, it was like the tiller had a mind of its own and it was getting the heck out of Dodge. It presented a pretty comical picture to see Romie trying to hang on and get it stopped before it reached the new flowering crab tree we'd just planted and tore it to smithereens.

He got it stopped and we looked at each other and started laughing. Okay, there must be a better way. After a discussion with my dad, we tried again, this time slowing the speed down as slow as it would go. There, that was better. It tore up the ground this time, although it didn't move with nearly the ease it had in the garden, of course. Our turf back there is pretty dense and is growing in clay, so that was some heavy duty groundbreaking it was being asked to do. Once we figured out better how to do it, the tiller rewarded us with new ground for gardening.

This is one powerful tiller. If you need to tear up new ground, this will do it. As far as the cultivating and tilling of a present garden, it handles that with no problems at all - and quickly.

It's got a power reverse feature, which makes it easier to handle when backing up.
And surprisingly, this tiller is much quieter than our old one, which was a bit smaller. I thought it would be louder.

Romie was especially thrilled with how easily it started. When we were looking at the various tillers, we discussed getting one with an electric start, but we felt that it isn't worth the extra expense on the those models where it's available. One pull on this one and it started right up, every single time.

Troy-Bilt Pro-Line FRT Garden Tiller

Starting System Recoil start
Transmission Cast-iron transmission with bronze gear drive
Tine Direction Forward-rotating
Frame Size Medium frame - Accepts a variety of attachments
Speeds 1 forward with power reverse
Tilling Width 16"
Tines 12" diameter Bolo
Tilling Depth Adjustable up to 8"
Attachments Factory-installed protective front bumper included
Wheels 13" Ag
Side Shields N/A
Warranty Limited lifetime
Engine 160cc Honda OHV GX

Does it have any cons? For us, somewhat. At this point, we don't foresee tearing up any more new ground in the near or distant future. This tiller's strong point is the fact that it can do that if you need it to. But for working up present gardens, it's a bit of overkill and the size makes it a bit awkward to maneuver in non-standard shaped gardens with curvy edges or narrow spaces. It's doable, but a smaller tiller or cultivator would be better for us in this respect. Having both would be just the ticket.

Our overall experience with the Troy-Bilt company and this product wasn't perfect, but we felt that they were indeed concerned with making it the best possible and we were pleased to have the opportunity to test their product. They encouraged us to be absolutely forthcoming with all impressions, both good and bad, in an effort to help them make improvements, if necessary. The quality of the product can't be disputed and we wouldn't hesitate to consider Troy-Bilt in the future for any product the company makes.

The product or merchandise being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for testing and reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine, with no suggestions whatsoever by the manufacturer or distributor. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Kylee, I have found that when I break new ground to get rid of the sod I set the tines high and just scrape off the sod so to speak. Then with each pass lower the tines so it doesn't as you said "take off" on you.

Unknown said...

That looks like some tiller. Sounds very nice too. Isn't it great to get to test products that you want/need?

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