Garden Tiller Preseason Check Up
Kevin Felts 03.26.18
Ok guys and gals spring time is here and a lot of us are working on the garden. One of the most common garden tools in use today is the garden tiller. These will usually have a small gasoline powered engine, chassis, and tines which dig into the soil.
Chances are the garden till has been sitting in a shed for the past 10 months, maybe even close to a yea, being ignored and collecting dust. When we want to plant the garden, we pull the tiller out, pull the rope, and hope it cranks. Well, sometimes it does not crank.
The engine will probably be something like a Briggs & Stratton, which will last for years if taken care of. As reliable as those engines are, there is a critical point that often gets overlooked, and that is the oil. Small engines on the tillers only hold about a quart of oil. Not changing the oil for several years will probably damage the engine.
Before cranking the tiller for the first time, take a few minutes and change the oil. Chances are there will be a drain plug in the front or in the rear of the engine. Have an oil pan ready to catch the old oil. When changing the oil in my tiller, I let it drip for as long as possible. I may take the oil drain out, let the oil drain into a pan, go work on something else, and come back an hour later.
Brigg & Stratton has a page setup to help determine the type of oil to use. For my tiller, I use straight 30 weight oil.
Something else that probably needs to be drained is the gasoline. There should be a line that goes from the fuel tank to the carburetor bowl. Use a pair of pliers, take the hose loose, and drain all the old gas out. I usually use a glass jar to catch the gas.
Sometimes I take the bottom of the carburetor bowl off and wipe any trash out.
While you are at it, maybe take the spark plug out and give it a once over with a wire brush.
There should be a belt that goes from the engine to the tines. How does the belt look? This is a standard car fan belt. If is needs to be changed, take it to the local auto parts store and they should be able to match the size.
Show that tiller some love and care, and chances are it will give you years, if not decades of service.