Earthquake Victory Rear Tine Rototiller (29702): Product Review
Easy to assemble, easy to operate, and lives up to its name!
Available on Amazon
Earthquake, a division of the Ardisam company, kindly sent us their newly designed 29702 Victory CRT Kohler 196CC Solid Wheels Rototiller. Ardisam has been around since 1960, and, at their headquarters in my home state of Wisconsin, they have maintained that small business quality while growing into an international brand. Earthquake reports that they design and build tools for those who prefer to do the outdoor jobs themselves.
As we prepped our first garden on our new farm last year, we may have gotten just a wee bit carried away. We marked, tilled, and pulled cornstalks for days. With blistered hands and dirty knees, we stood back and admired our work. We had just converted a large plot of cornfield into our garden site. Feeling so accomplished, I had no idea that the work was really just beginning. Prepping a one-acre garden is one thing, but managing a one-acre garden is far more exhausting.
That first spring my husband, sons and anyone else I could convince made pass after pass with our tiller. That poor tiller didn’t get a break. Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to review another rear-tine tiller, knowing that we could knock out spring tilling this year in half the time if we ran them simultaneously. We put the Earthquake Victory 29702 to the test tilling up our garden this spring.
- Engine Brand: Kohler®
- Engine Type: 4-cycle
- Fuel Type: 87+ octane unleaded gas
- Starting System: Recoil pull cord
- Fuel Capacity (GAL): 0.73
- Displacement (CC): 196
- Throttle Control: On the engine
- Compression Relief Valve: No
- Recommended Oil/ Capacity (fl oz.): SAE 10w 30 / 20 OZ
- Low Oil Shutdown: No
- Handlebar Style: Loop
- Multiple Height Positions: 3
- Operation: One- or two-handed
- Self-Propelled: Yes
- Tilling Depth (inch): 10
- Tilling Width (inch): 16
- Tine Material: Welded forged steel
- Tine Speed: (RPM) 216
- Number of Speeds: 2, Forward/Reverse
- Tine Rotation: CRT (Counter Rotating Tines)
- Transmission Style: Bronze gear drive
- Wheel Diameter (inch): 13.5
- Wheel Width (inch): 5.38
- Wheel Material: Metal hub/rubber tire
- Assembled Dimensions (inch): 57.2 X 20.9 X 43.7
- Net Weight (lb.): 153
- Gross Weight (lb.): 163
The tiller arrived partially assembled in a heavy-duty cardboard box. My husband and a truck driver easily slid the box from the back of the semi into the back of our pickup truck. Once home, my husband and I slid the box to the tailgate and lowered it to the ground. The box weighed about 160 pounds.
The tiller was well-packed using foam blocks and bubble wrap to protect it during shipping. We sliced the box down the sides so that it laid flat. The box worked well as an assembly pad, so my husband didn’t have to crawl around in the mud.
BEFORE WE STARTED THE ASSEMBLY
Before we started assembling the tiller, we inventoried the parts and confirmed that we received an assembly/instruction manual. We also checked for smaller add-on components. All seemed in order, so we began.
The uncomplicated assembly took my fairly handy husband less than an hour. Assembly included attaching the handle, side shields, depth regulator, and wheels to the body. The only tools we used were a ratchet and a 16mm and 17mm socket. The well-written assembly instructions include many pictures.
I really like how the company packaged the parts. Bubble wrap protected parts that might rub together in transit. The tiller’s paint job arrived in pristine shape.
My husband claims that the assembly of a tiller is intuitive and requires no written directions. Being the helpful wife that I am, I sat in my lawn chair reading the directions aloud just in case he might absorb something useful. I actually caught him glancing over my shoulder before installing the linchpins for the wheels.
The side shields were easy to install using the supplied bolts and a socket wrench.
Next, we filled the oil reservoir at the bottom of the engine. The engine oil is included in the box. The bottle of oil is larger than the tank capacity, so take care not to overfill. In reading the owner’s manual, I noticed the company includes templates that can be copied onto cardboard to use as oil dipsticks. That is something my grandfather would do, and it made me smile. Also noteworthy is that this is a 4-cycle engine and doesn’t require adding oil to the gasoline.
FIRING UP THE ROTOTILLER
We turned the choke to the ON position (yellow lever placed all the way to the left until it stops) and pulled the starter cord three times. It fired up right away. We backed off on the choke and let it warm up on slower engine speed. (After the initial use, it always starts on the first pull). Now, it was time to get started in the garden.
Our soil had not been touched since the fall harvest. We did not clear debris, such as the sweet corn stubble and withered tomato vines. The tiller tore right through the debris without slowing down. Like it was on a mission, the tiller just chugged ahead with my husband trailing behind.
Tilling depth adjustment is easy and intuitive. You can till to a maximum depth of 10 inches. We selected a minimal depth, as the ground was well-worked last year and didn’t need excessive tilling like virgin land requires.
To set the depth regulator, simply pull out the locking pin from the post that holds the bar. There are several holes in what is sometimes called the drag bar. Set the depth by lifting or pushing the vertical bar. With the bar in the fully retracted position, the rototiller will till to a depth of 10 inches. With the depth regulator fully inserted to the top hole, the tilling depth is only a few inches. For tilling harder soils, a deeper setting is typically used. Adjusting the depth regulator is a trial-and-error experience, but once dialed in, the Victory rototiller produced a wonderfully soft, fluffy, aerated soil.
THE VICTORY ROTOTILLER OFFERS COUNTER ROTATING TINES (CRT)
So, what’s the story behind CRT (the tilling technology behind the Victory)? According to Earthquake, “CRT stands for Counter Rotating Tines. Models with this allow for better ground-breaking power and are great for gardens or locations with compacted soils or that need a little bit more TLC.” Although Earthquake offers rototillers with Standard Rotating Tines (SRT), “…these models are great for agitating and turning the dirt prior to the planting season,” I found that the CRTs did a marvelous job at creating rich, soft soil and churning through the old corn stalk and tomato roots.
In a CRT system, the tines rotate in the opposite direction of the rotating wheels–the rototiller moves forward as the tines spin backward. The power of the spinning wheels is stronger than that of the CRTs, which ensures that the rototiller always moves in the direction of the tire rotation.
For the tines and the wheels to turn, you need to squeeze the two handles together. The smaller black handle (bail) is pulled toward and held to the red main handle. Once together, the tines automatically start to turn. The comfortable grip makes it is easy to keep the two bars of the handle together while operating.
In order to move in reverse, release the smaller black bail handle and pull the lever on the right side under the handles toward you. This engages reverse mode. I gripped the bail handle and squeezed it until it touched the main red handle, and the machine automatically reverses. The tines spun in the opposite direction of the reversing wheels.
The handle offers three height options: low, medium, and high. It is adjustable with a bolt and nut. My 6-foot, 1-inch husband prefers the middle height. He says it’s comfortable, and he didn’t feel strained after tilling for about 30 minutes.
The wheels are made of hard plastic. The earthquake came up with this new wheel design in 2018 after recognizing that inflated tires can lose pressure over time and are susceptible to punctures. As we pulled out our older tiller, I noted a low tire that needed to be filled. The new wheel design offers a practical, time-saving feature.
The Earthquake wheels have little paddles all the way around that provide great traction. The tiller pulls itself along, making tilling more like walking a well-trained dog than pushing a 150-pound machine through garden beds.
The wheels offer two modes: freewheel and drive mode. Pull a linchpin out of the hub of the wheel and place it in one of two holes to make adjustments. In drive mode, the pin engages the shaft, and the wheels turn as the shaft and tines turn. In freewheel mode, the wheels easily turn independent of the shaft.
Although cumbersome to adjust, the option to place the tiller in freewheel mode is amazing. Dragging a tiller without freewheel mode from the barn to the garden is painful. This Victory tiller moves very easily when in freewheel mode.
Tillers can be dangerous. They have sharp tines, a hot exhaust muffler (when the machine is running), and many moving parts that can do serious damage. Earthquake recommends familiarizing yourself with the operations guide and controls before starting the tiller. The company includes an entire page dedicated to safety in the owner’s manual.
Earthquake offers a 5-year, limited lifetime warranty from defects in material or workmanship. The Kohler engine has a 2-year limited lifetime warranty.
PLUSES AND MINUSES
Here’s what we liked about the Earthquake 29702 Victory CRT Kohler 196CC Solid Wheels Rototiller:
- The tiller is aggressive and tears through soil and roots easily.
- The self-propulsion is evident, as it is effortless to walk behind.
- The tiller is comfortable to work with, and engaging the handle is effortless.
- The tines left the soil fluffy, without any large clods.
- The purr of the engine is not offensive.
- The wheel design means no flat tires. Every tire on this farm loses air, so I appreciate a machine that won’t go flat on me next spring.
Here’s where I think the tiller could use some improvement:
- Pulling the linchpins to change the wheel mode is cumbersome. It requires me to sit or squat, tip up the tiller and manipulate the wheel into position.
We loved the new addition to our tiller family. The Earthquake 29702 Victory CRT Kohler 196CC Solid Wheels Rototiller is easy to operate, boasts low maintenance, and is effective at its tasks. I am pleased with the results of my garden beds. It left beautifully aerated soil that is excellent for planting or creating rows between the plants. Based on my testing, I definitely recommend this tiller.
WHERE TO BUY
The Earthquake 29702 Victory CRT Kohler 196CC Solid Wheels Rototiller is available on Amazon
Last update on 2019-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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