Smollock says, “Of course with any rental equipment you want to choose a tiller designed for rental use. We feature heavy all-welded tines, stronger transmissions and a cast-iron hitch assembly which secures the transmission, wheels and drag bar and handles.”
Seymour at BCS agrees that durability is a top priority. “In rental, rule number one is it has to perform. Rule number two is it has to come back in one piece.” BCS tillers, he notes, are actually two-wheeled tractors with heat--treated steel gears and shafts, supported by ball bearings and running in oil bath.
As mentioned previously, hydraulic tillers are available and offer a certain degree of flexibility to their operation. Manufacturers, such as Barreto and Maxim, offer models with hydrostatic drives. While more expensive, these machines can offer distinct advantages.
”The [Maxim] Hydrotill is not restricted to a preset high or low speed,” says Fisackerly. “Till at any speed you are comfortable with or the terrain requires.”
Barreto's tiller is bi-directional. It's able to counter rotate on the first pass, to really break up the ground, and then switch to standard rotation on follow up passes to grind up the soil. Greg Barreto, president of Barreto Mfg., adds, “Hydraulic tillers have a relief valve built in to prevent breaking the equipment, especially in rocky ground or new construction sites.”
Hydrostastic tillers do tend to be bulkier, so a trailer might be necessary for transport. Barreto notes that while hydrostatic machines do have more bulk, it can be an advantage. “The heavier the machine, the more work it's going to do rather than working the operator,” he says.
Taking care of your tillers
Maintenance for tillers is fairly straightforward and can be handled successfully with a good pre--season spring check up. “You need to check the belt and pulleys for wear and proper alignment, replace the tine seals seasonally and check the tines to make sure the edges are not worn and the pin holes are not elongated. If the tine edge loses its corner, it will not dig effectively,” says Smollock at MacKissic. “Rear-tine tillers are slightly more complicated as you have a separate wheel drive.”
In general, some primary service points to keep in mind include:
Safety comes first
“Safety begins and ends with customer training,” says Fisackerly, who suggests following these guidelines for a safe tiller rental:
Instruct the customer to do the following:
Many tillers today incorporate an operator presence system that shuts the machine off when the operator lets go of the handlebars. This is a helpful safety feature that can be particularly important to novice users.
Experienced or not, all renters should receive an orientation of the tiller they're renting before they leave the rental yard.
“A very thorough instruction should be given with every rental and most smart rental operators now have the customer sign off that he has received proper instruction and knows how to operate the equipment safely,” says Smollock. “Proper maintenance is critical for safety also.”