The Small Roto-tillers. My Experience.
http://www.durgan.org/URL/?PBNJL 26 May 2008 Planting Redhaven peach Tree. Honda in action.
These small machine reduces the labor for backyard gardening by a guess-a-mate of about 80%.
Small Cultivators Honda FG110G.
I bought mine last year 2005 (Honda) and it has to be my most valuable tool in the garden. I use it like a shovel, hoe and rake combined. To plant trees, shrubs and to make a simple hole for some plant, for edging, and working established beds, and for breaking up chunks of earth it cannot be beat. The tine shaft runs about 180 RPM, which is much much faster than larger tillers. Note: No rototiller made will break up sod sufficiently to prevent grass growth. The Honda is four stroke and the Mantis is two stroke. I don’t have a two stroke garden tool, due to the misery in starting if the oil gas mixture is slightly off, which is common.
The Honda FG110 was used to work reasonably good soil, clay with much compost with no rocks. The area worked was over 1500 square feet. This little tiller did a perfect job. If the tiller got clogged with fibrous plant strings, I simply removed the outer tines and cleared the obstruction within one of two minutes. The tiller engine starts with one or two pulls of the starting cord.
To plant onions, and other vegetables, I removed the outer two tines and pointed the remaining two inwards and got a perfect row for planting about 4 inches wide. I use the tiller by gently pulling backwards without the drag bar. All the work was done at full throttle as it should be with such a small engine. I consider the operation to be effortless, and the result on the soil is simply not achievable with hand tools.
The noise level is for all intents and purposes not noticeable, since it is a four stroke engine. It is well built, and has no appearance of fragility or poor workmanship. I simply carry the tiller from place to place as required.
To use this small tiller amongst large rocks is misuse in my opinion. I have no rocks. Used with common sense, and not attempting to work it in conditions where a larger machine is clearly required this little machine should last a long time.
To make a small bed I remove the sod with a kick sod cutter, spade the compacted earth to the proper depth, then put the tiller to work to condition the soil. On large chunks it jumps around a little and reduces the chunks, but that is to be expected. A larger machine simply kicks them out without beating them into small pieces. The result is near perfection.
Worrying about turning a garden into flour like soil is probably little to worry about. I have spend my life trying to get the chunks small enough for a good garden. Usually I have had clay, but by adding compost and composted wood chips the soil is friable.
I also have a larger tiller but hardly use it anymore.
Since writing this summary, I have had the experience of using the much touted Mantis. The Honda is superior in every way, but the Mantis is also a good unit in some applications.
6 August 2008 Rototiller.
http://www.durgan.org/URL/?GZSCK Honda versus Mantis.
The double tines on the mantis make removing vines and stones difficult if between the first and second tines, and much effort is sometimes required. The Honda has separate tines, so obstruction removal is relatively easy, by removing the tines from the drive shaft. If the obstruction is between the inner tines and the drive housing, both units are about equal.
7 August 2008 http://www.durgan.org/URL/?CZXLO Comparison of Honda and Mantis minitiller tines
There are four tines on the Honda, and the outer two can be removed for making a row to plant seeds, or cultivating between close rows. The Mantis width is fixed, due to the tines on each side being one piece. To me this is a distinct advantage for the Honda over the Mantis. Various tines are available for the Mantis at extra cost.