Earthquake 1-Man Earth Auger Powerhead: Product Review
Earthquake unleashes a hole-digging beast with its 43cc, 2-cycle Viper™ 1-Man Earth Auger Powerhead and 8-inch diameter auger.
Available on Amazon
I own and love several Earthquake tools, so I was excited to test the Earthquake 1-Man Earth Auger Powerhead. Plus, I had an immediate need: a snowplow hit my mailbox. Also, my new puppy needed a fenced-in yard, so it was time to dig some holes.
My test conditions here in North Carolina contain the unholy trinity of soil composition: red clay, rocks, and roots. I wondered how my new Earthquake tool would stand up to such deplorable conditions.
- Product weight: 37 lbs.
- Engine: Viper® 2-cycle
- Displacement: 43cc
- Maximum rotation: 250 RPMs
- Auger diameter: 8-inch
- Auger depth: 36-inch maximum as equipped (12-inch and 18-inch extensions available)
- Gas/oil ratio: 50:1 (recommended 87 gasoline octane or higher; Viper 2-cycle engine oil included)
- Fuel capacity: 0.30 gallon
- Starting system: Manual recoil
- Assembled power head dimensions: 22.6 inch x 14.2 inch x 11.0 inch
- Other features: Welded steel handlebars; cast aluminum housing; steel auger components; rust resistant; ball bearing alloy gear transmission; industrial air filtration system.
- Warranty: 5-year limited liability warranty
See the Earthquake Auger in use, get a quick overview of how to start it, and learn more about this powerful tool in our video review below.
OUT OF THE BOX
The packaging graphics show the possibilities of the tool and some of its key features. Once I removed the Styrofoam protecting the top of the contents, I saw the tool securely nestled in custom-shaped foam.
The first thing I do when I get a new tool is to make sure all parts are accounted for. I didn’t see an owner’s manual, but after laying out the contents, assembly looked straightforward.
Without a manual, I didn’t know the words “fishtail point” or “output shaft.” Nevertheless, using two 9/16-inch wrenches, I slid the bolt through the bolt hole, inserted the attached nut, and tightened.
Once I had the top shaft connected, I tightened the fishtail point onto the open end of the auger.
Poof! That was it. I thought that maybe the company didn’t include an owner’s manual because the unit assembled so easily.
Just in case, I reached out to Earthquake customer service. I’ve called them before, and the customer service reps are always polite and knowledgeable. Within minutes, I received an electronic copy of the manual. A few days later, a paper owner’s manual arrived at my door.
PREPARE YOUR ENGINE.
I’m not a fan of mixing gas and oil. However, I own several 2-cycle tools, so I keep a gas can marked 50:1 with a mixture ready to use. Viper 2-cycle engine oil is recommended (and included). It contains a fuel stabilizer that keeps the fuel mix from gumming-up the carburetor.
If you don’t have a pre-mixed can, the owner’s manual gives you the “recipe” for mixing 1, 2, and 5 gallons so you can create the perfect amount and mix for your needs.
I filled the smallish, 0.30-gallon fuel tank on the auger about half full. And that’s it. The engine was ready to go!
Safety guidelines take up about three pages of the manual, but 99% of the rules are pretty obvious, like “don’t operate the machine with bare feet.”
Here are some rules that bear repeating:
- Wear pants, a long-sleeved shirt (or jacket), closed-toed footwear, hearing protection, and nothing baggy that might get snagged in the auger.
- The tool is loud and can be dangerous if not used with caution.
- As with all gasoline-powered tools, be aware that there is a risk of fire danger, toxic fumes (from fuel combustion), and burns from a hot engine or spinning parts.
- Finally, make sure you know what’s underground before digging. Call the utility companies in your area to mark power, cable, water lines, or anything else that can harm you or destroy the tool and your property.
START YOUR ENGINE!
To start the cold engine, follow the simple instructions in the owner’s manual.
- Move the choke lever into the CHOKE position (i.e., as far as the choke lever will open).
- Locate the primer bulb on the top of the unit. Pump it until the bulb is full of fuel.
- Push in the protected ON/OFF switch to the ON position.
- Gripping the handlebar tightly, grasp the starter rope and pull out slowly until you meet resistance. From that point, pull the starter rope firmly with a full-arm stroke. Let the rope return to its original position until the engine fires. If the unit doesn’t start on the first pull, repeat until the engine runs. For me, the unit fired on the first pull.
- Once the engine starts, move the choke lever between the CHOKE and RUN position until the sound of the engine is smooth. Once the engine runs a minute in the half-choke position without hiccups, slide the throttle to the full RUN position.
- To stop the engine, push OFF on the ON/OFF switch. That will kill the engine immediately.
Note: The carburetor is adjusted for use in moderate temperature, and neither the engine nor the auger bit is recommended for boring holes in ice. Additionally, this unit lacks the power—and the appropriate auger—for boring through concrete. If that’s what you intend, try to find a tool rental shop that specializes in your needed application.
RUNNING THE AUGER
Once the engine is warm, running smoothly with the choke in the RUN position, and the auger positioned where you wish to dig, depress the throttle.
The auger’s rotation speed depends on how much you depress the throttle. Want more speed? Hold the throttle down completely. To reduce speed, ease up slightly on the throttle until you find the right amount of rotation.
The fishtail point that hits the ground first is one mean tip! The weight of the unit doesn’t seem extreme, but the tip immediately penetrates the topsoil.
The manual states that the auger works best by taking thin slices off the ground, and it encourages the operator to let the weight of the tool do the work. In other words, don’t lean into the tool like a jack-hammer.
AUGER VS. ROCKS: WHO WON?
The clay and rocks in my yard didn’t stay buried for long. Depressing the throttle, the fishtail point immediately spun into the surface, and the auger blades created a crater as it threw clay and smaller rocks from the hole. Glaciers deposited truck-sized boulders all around our area. The fragments in my ground can be as big as bricks. The auger handled the rocks in one of two ways. Small rocks got turned up and out of the hole as the auger blade got under them.
At times, the rocks shot out with some force, enough to sting a pants-covered leg.
The other way the auger handled rocks was to buck up and down and bind. I’m guessing that the size and shape of some rocks got swept up into the incline of the auger blade, and it got pinched as the blade continued to lift it.
When this happens, you’re trying to balance two needs: let go of the throttle AND hold on to the machine. However, releasing the throttle reduces your grip, making it tricky to hold on to the machine when it twisted and jumped in my hands.
I found that the biggest rocks required the use of an old-fashioned spade to remove them before continuing. Once the auger hit a big rock, I’d stop the machine, dig out the loose dirt, and use the spade to remove the rock. Even so, the auger greatly reduced digging time.
AUGER VS. ROOTS
Perhaps my ground is “rootier” than some, but roots proved a challenge for the auger. Specifically, roots caused a problem for me, the operator. With the auger spinning near 250 RPMs, it snagged in an intersection of roots. All that energy transferred to the top of the unit, which jerked violently. On two occasions, the handlebars twisted in my hands, wrenching my right wrist and creating colorful bruises.
My wrist hurt badly enough that I stopped for the day. However, when the auger met single roots, it ripped them apart with ease.
So, is the auger dangerous? It’s a power tool. All tools—even hand tools—can be dangerous. Be careful. You might hit a root, large rock, or even a pipe and get jarred.
For one project, I bored about twenty 18-inch holes to create a cedar log post divider between two landscaped areas. The engine sipped the gas/oil mix slowly, and I never needed to stop to refuel. Having fingertip control over the throttle speed, I could gun it or back off a bit to accommodate what the auger point encountered underground.
In areas thick with roots, rocks, and red clay, the auger performed as well as an auger could. It excelled in open areas free from roots, where I used it to dig holes to plant trees.
The unit weighs 37 lbs. It’s heavy! The auger might prove challenging for smaller folks or folks without sufficient upper body strength. Fortunately, the weight works against you only when you move the tool to, around, and from your worksite. As far as operating the auger, its weight helps keep the tip on point. Let the weight of the auger do the work.
Operating the auger puts your body in an awkward position: arms outstretched to grip the handle bars, legs spread, and torso back a bit to stay away from the spinning auger fin. My lower back complained. Instead of using the auger to finish the task at once, I dug about 10 holes at a time to avoid fatigue—and stay safe.
PROS AND CONS OF THE EARTHQUAKE AUGER
Do you have posts holes to dig or trees to plant? You’ll finish the task quickly with the Earthquake auger.
Here’s what I liked about the Earthquake auger:
- Power. The 43cc 2-cycle Viper engine gave me all the power I needed to muscle through even deep holes.
- Quality. The tight fit of the auger shaft to the transmission and the fishtail point to the auger stabilizes the machine when vibrating at high speeds.
- Starting. The unit fired up cold, warm, and hot without a hitch. The engine starts reliably each time with no more than a few pulls.
- Assembly. From opening the box to starting the engine took less than 10 minutes.
- Hole Depth. While I only needed to dig about two feet deep on my projects, the auger comes equipped to reach three feet. If you need more depth, you can purchase extensions.
- One-Person Use. Many augers require two people to use. The Earthquake auger’s design makes it easy for one person to handle. However, you can use it with two people if you feel safer with an extra pair of hands. In fact, in conditions with many rocks and roots, I’d grab a friend to help.
- Price. At around $300, the Earthquake auger pays for itself the first time you use it. I’ve priced landscapers to dig holes for new trees. They wanted $100 per hole! I planted six trees, installed a 20+ cedar log post fence, put an aluminum post in the ground, and dug a hole for a bottle tree. I still haven’t used a full tank of gas!
Here are a few criticisms of the Earthquake auger:
- Weight. While you might be able to carry a 37 lbs. kettle ball around the yard for a few laps, the length of the auger makes it awkward to carry easily. Smaller people may find it challenging to move.
- Ease of Use. The auger battered both of my wrists when it got snagged on roots, making the handlebars whip around in my hands. The built-in spring at the top end of the auger helped minimize some of the spinning torque when I hit an underground obstruction. The spring also makes the motorized head “float” on the shaft, which gives the whole system a less rigid feel. But like any auger, the ease of use depends on what lurks below ground. Large rocks and roots will forever give a single operator or a two man/woman team trouble. Augers perform beautifully on rock-free, root-free ground—a rarity. Where I had ideal conditions, the Earthquake auger worked like a charm. In more challenging subterranean applications, it took brute force to avoid the machine overpowering me. Overall, I found it fairly easy to use and liked how it boosted my productivity. However, given a choice, I’d put an 18-year-old high school football lineman on the beast instead of a middle-aged man. Or I’d use two people.
- Auger width. The 8-inch width of the fins worked fine in root-free ground. For heavily rooted areas, I would prefer a 4-inch option to “pre-dig” a hole. A smaller auger dimension coupled with the weight of the unit would more easily cut and penetrate roots, allowing the 8-inch fin to finish the job.
- Marketing. Advertised as a “1-Man Earth Auger,” consider changing the description to “1 or 2-Man Earth Auger.” A diagram and a few sentences about how two people can use the tool together would broaden the Earthquake auger’s appeal, showing the ease of use for smaller people.
The 43cc Earthquake auger comes with a limited 5-year warranty against defects in workmanship and materials.
I’m accustomed to “making do” with the tools I already own, so I was surprised how the Earthquake auger increased my productivity. I’ll choose the auger every time I need to plant something (which is often, since I love trees). When I build my fence later this spring, the Earthquake auger will make quick work of digging post holes.
For the price-conscious homeowner wanting a powerful auger, look no further!
WHERE TO BUY
The Earthquake E43 Dually 1-Man Earth Auger Powerhead with 43cc Viper Engine, 2-Cycle is available from Amazon (engine and transmission only)
- Outstanding power, durability and efficiency. Industrial air filtration keeps dirt out
- Lightweight, heavy-duty construction; Ball bearing, alloy gear transmission
- Easy-to-grip fingertip throttle control
- Comfortable anti-vibration, foam-grip handles
- 5 year warranty on product if it was purchased on or after 3/15/2017
The Earthquake EA8F 8-Inch Diameter 36-Inch Long Earth Auger with Fishtail Point and Flex Coil Shock Spring is available from Amazon
You can order directly from Earthquake for $299.00 at getearthquake.com.
Last update on 2019-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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