The big Horse and the little Pony Troy Bilt rototillers

When working on a farm (or anywhere else for that matter) it’s handy to be handy. Being able to do things yourself not only saves you money, but it can also save time.

I was out tilling the corn garden. After waiting so long for the weather to warm up and the soil to dry out, I’ve been anxious to get the ground preped so that I can plant the sweet corn. There are only so many months that I can grow corn, the corn takes a certain length of time to mature enough to eat and I’m running out of time to get seed in the ground. So I was very happy to be able to get out and chew up some ground with the large rototiller, a Troy Bilt Horse. It’s a great piece of machinery, and is so easy to use.

The sun was out, the ground was soft and dark, I had a few chickens running loose, following to grab up the occasional worm. And all of a sudden, what’s that? A loud grinding noise coming from the ’tiller!

The big Horse with a hanging pulley rope and ready for surgery

I shut the thing down and noticed that the pulley rope (this ’tiller is a pull start) was hanging. I gave it a pull and sure enough it was a no go. Looking in, I could see that the cord had come loose and snarled on the pulley. What to do?

I’ve never worked on this type of equipment aside from opening up the air intake for the carburator and shooting starter fluid in the thing. I took a look at the front and fortunately the pulley housing is just held on with screws. I got a screwdriver from the tool shed and opened her up. Then it was off to the internet to figure out how to deal with this situation.

The rope back on the pulley

Back to the greenhouse, where I’d set the pulley and housing on a work bench so it’d be easier to work on. I was able to get the cord unsnarled and wound back on the pulley, then went back out and installed the pulley/housing back on the front of the ’tiller. The cord still hangs as it won’t completely retract. I’m thinking that the spring is getting worn out and will have to be replaced. Not suprising as this ’tiller is a 1979 model. I had to have work done on it before we could use it this spring (carburator), and then one of the tires developed a fatal crack so it was off to Les Shwab for new tires. Nothing lasts forever…..

If I had waited for the repair to be done at the shop in Molalla, where I usually have work on the ’tillers done, I would have had to wait untill Tuesday as they’re closed on Mondays. It also would have cost some money, although probably not much.

As it was, a few minutes on the net and about an hour to take the thing off, wrestle with the cord, and reinstall and I was back up and running and finished the tilling I had planned and a second area that I hadn’t thought I’d get to that day.

The layer hens after getting off work in the hen house relax in the freshly tilled earth, scratching, dusting, foraging.

The layer hens after getting off work in the hen house relax in the freshly tilled earth, scratching, dusting, foraging.

The ’tiller will have to go back into the shop sometime this summer. That grinding noise I heard? It was a gear being stipped. But that can wait till all the tilling’s done. I hope…..

Stripped starter gear on the Horse