Rotary Tillers w/ Vertical Shaft Engines

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by OldLawnMowerMan81, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. OldLawnMowerMan81

    OldLawnMowerMan81 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    Does anyone remember all of those rotary tillers (or "roto-tillers," "Roto-Spaders," etc.) which use the vertical-shaft engines? This classification of tillers seems to have died in the late 1970s, as most of the powered rotary tillers used horizontal crankshaft engines (even though there is at least one MTD tiller made in recent years that has this setup).

    As a result, Tecumseh stopped making roto-tiller specification vertical-shaft engines (service numbers being 8036XX, 8046XX, 8056XX, 8066XX, etc.) except the 2-cycle minis (TC200 and TC300 with service numbers like 8006XX), although on the Briggs & Stratton side, you could still get replacement V-shaft engines provided you have all the necessary parts to add and/or remove so the newer engine meets the same requirements as the original.

    What do you think of roto-tillers with the vertical shaft engines and comparing those with the tillers that bear the more common horizontal shaft engine placement?

  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    I've got an old vertical shaft Montgomery ward front tine tiller. (Gilson tiller I do believe).

    Haven't used it in a very long time. The problem I have with it is the cone clutch is worn and slips on me. When it was working, it would till through just about everything and probably weighs less in comparison to a horizontal with all the pulley's and belts.

    I just might pull it back out if the weather cools off and play around with it. It has the old Briggs motor on it.

  3. unit28

    unit28 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,554

    Honestly I think they were more value to a landscape professional.

    Being that they were decent HP, when it was to hot to work they also served as a boat motor hence the term tillering.......... right?

    the boat motor.JPG
  4. morgaj1

    morgaj1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 318

    What kind of tiller is that???
  5. OldLawnMowerMan81

    OldLawnMowerMan81 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    My questions here concerned:

    1 - Why had the roto-tiller market, with vertical shaft engines, died out after 1980?

    2 - What do you think of tillers that used vertical shaft engines, and comparing those to tillers with horizontal shaft engines?

    Thank you,

    Benjamin "Ben" Edge (OldLawnMowerMan81)
  6. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    In regards to front tine tillers.

    1.) I think it was just a poor design personally. With a horizontal, you would wear out belts first before anything else. With the vertical, you had a direct drive and that odd clutch. If the clutch worn out, then you had to remove the motor completely to fix it. I'm also guessing that it's cheaper to do a pulley system rather than a direct drive. If syntrifical clutches were cheaper and more cost effective back then, then you might have seen the vertical shaft stay around.

    From the standpoint of rear tine tillers, I've never seen a vertical shaft rear tine, always horizontal direct drive to a gear box, or to a pulley system.

    2.) I really feel there was no real advantage either way between a horizontal and vertical front tine tiller.

  7. mowisme

    mowisme LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 911

    Morgaj1..That pic by unit28 is called a: Grahm-paige..or Frazer. They were beast of rototillers!..They would out till a TB horse for sure. And they used a 5hp 2-cycle! yes a 2 cycle that called for mixing with 30wgt car oil. I did it that way but with aviation 30wgt. I use to collect old tillers and my Ariens 'trans-a-matic' was also big old boy. Had many TB's and ME's,ect.
  8. OldLawnMowerMan81

    OldLawnMowerMan81 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    Yes, I forgot to mention it was in regards to front-tined tillers.

    For the same reason, I noticed that even Montgomery Ward abandoned front-tine tillers with the V-shaft engines (model 92902 type 0783) around 1976; my 1975 Fall/Winter catalog shows a model 1531 with this configuration.

  9. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,506

    Horizontal designs give the tiller makers near unlimited engine choices. The late 80's is when they started having to compete with cheaper imports. Front tine style sucks anyways, way too hard on operator. New rear tine models are worth the extra money and there are many choices out there. They have returned to large tractor type tires and multigear trannys to get through just about anything.
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  10. morgaj1

    morgaj1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 318

    Thanks for the info. I love learning about the old equipment. Who made the 2 stroke motor for them?

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