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A Tale of Two Tillers 
by
Les Kreifels

Since I recently came into possession of a 38" heavy duty tiller and also have a regular tiller, I thought that Simpletractors club members would like to hear a comparison of the two. 

The first picture shows the old tiller on my Agco 918H, which started its' life as an AC 912H which belonged to Brad Weis' grandfather.  After many years of use the cylinder wall of the Kohler got scored, Brad had it given to him and he sold it to me.  I didn't want to spend $350 to rebuild the Kohler so I installed a 16 hp Briggs out of a 7016 which I bought from Jerry at RT's in Paddock Lakes, Wisconsin.  The 7016 came with the tiller and a snowblower and a bad bevel box.  I put a bevel box out of a 712S in and then had had ignition problems with the engine.  When I got the 912 I decided to fix it up since I already had a 7119 which I converted to a 918H.  The 7119 also came from Jerry at RT's and came with no engine but did have a hydraulic lift.  It had been sitting out in the field for a few years and looked pretty bad.  The battery leaked acid and rusted out the cowl, so I had to take the cowl off of the 712S.  This tractor also got the 12 hp Kohler from the 712S.  I bought the 712S at an auction for $250(I was the only bidder!).  It didn't take me long to learn that there was a reason why I was the only bidder, because the tractor was a shuttle! 

At this point I need to apologize to all of you shuttle lovers out there (yes BOTH of you!),  but I hated that shuttle transmission with a passion!  It required constant adjustment, rarely did it work right, when it did work right you go backwards at the same speed you were going forward (about jerking your head off).  Didn't make me feel too safe for sure. Plus it produced a sound very similar to the one a pig makes while it is being castrated (in fact only an expert like me could tell the difference).   After a year I just couldn't stand it anymore so I parted the tractor out.  Anyway, with a little work, three cans of Farm & Fleet AC orange, and $42 new decals, I had a 918H.  When I got the 912, I just couldn't resist making twins.   

The second 918H also got the electric lift out of the 7016 (btw, the 7016 was sold to SmilinSam).  Both the hydraulic and the electric lift have their attributes, and both are tough as nails!  The electric is nice when you are hooking up attachments as it works with the engine off.  The hydraulic lift is very fast, almost too fast.  If I had to choose I would take the hydraulic lift, esp. for blowing snow, where it is awesome!  For tilling, I prefer the slower electric lift as it allows for a smoother finish to the work.  Back to the tillers.  

I took the old tiller over to the side of the house, where I am tearing out some sod to improve the drainage.  I thought that this would be a good test since that is probably the hardest job a tiller has to do.  You can see the results.  I then mounted the heavy duty tiller.  Now if anybody out there has back problems, had back problems, or ever expects to have back problems, then I would not recommend the 38" HD tiller.  The thing is HEAVY.  I had a real tough time getting it hooked up.  Next time I hook it up I am going to lift it with the Kubota and the 3 point lifting beam.  Once I got it attached I had idler pulley and belt sizing problems. Of course when you pick these attachments up cheap (i.e. "as is") you never get all of the parts.  I first tried the idlers off of the old tiller but had belt problems.  A new belt from Simplicity was $65 and my dealer didn't have one.  According to my dealer the belt size is 105.9".  Farm and Fleet didn't have it either but the Dayco book said it was a 103" belt.  Being a frugal old German hog farmer, I didn't want to spend $65 for a belt I only use once a year, so I went to Tractor Supply and bought a 103" Huskee belt for $21.40 plus tax.   

The 103" belt was too short for the old idler pulley setup, but I was able to rig up and idler to keep the belt from rubbing against the bottom of the seat deck.  It works pretty well.  The first thing I noticed was the smoothness of the HD tiller.  The older style seems to shake you to death, which is why the bevel box went out on the 7016, which is why it came into my possession, which led to this story.  The vibration from the tiller must wear on the bearings in the bevel box, causing pre-mature failure.  The HD model drives from the side instead of the center, which not only gives smoothness but a more even till.  I expected the new tiller to really dig in more, but it didn't seem to do much more in a single pass than the old tiller.  I then tried to lower the depth guards but found that I couldn't as the guard on the right side hits the gearbox and wont go down all of the way.  At this point I haven't determined if this is a design flaw or is due to wear and tear.  Maybe another owner can advise me.

I then took the HD tiller over to the garden and re-tilled some ground.  Due to the adjustable back shield the soil was left very, very smooth.  As perfect a finish for a garden as I have ever seen. It would have been a real pretty picture but I didn't include it because I am embarrassed about how bad my garden looks, sorry!  Overall I have to say the the HD tiller performs far better than the 36" standard tiller.  It leaves a smoother surface and is much easier on the operator and the tractor due to less vibration.  Just another example of excellent Simplicity engineering, which never ceases to impress me. Apparently, these things are rare (the one I have is the only one I have ever seen) so they must have been very expensive when new.  SmilinSam tells me he has never seen one either, so they must be REALLY rare. 

Hope you all enjoy the story and the pictures.  Just in case anybody is wondering, there is about a 99.9% probability no one will be willing to offer me enough money to part with my new toy. 

Click each picture for a closer view

 

 

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