Comments on Mantis tillers?

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Anyone have one? I'd appreciate comments pro or con. They're cheaper than renting one three times around here, and at least according to the promo material, they're much easier than trying to wrestle with the bigger units. I'll be using it to create a 40x40 vegetable garden, and as many flower beds as I can find time to fiddle with.
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Doug Kanter wrote:

I have a Troy-Built version that I use only occasionally. For a small garden it's probably sufficient. For a 40x40 I'd rate it seriously undersized. It's basically a 2-cycle chainsaw engine driving the tiller. Small buzzy thing. It digs OK, but I find the tillers with driven wheels easier to keep in line (although the line is wider). My small Troy-Built has no wheels -- just a bar that drags to keep the machine from running away. Nothing to keep it from moving sideways except the skill (?) of the operator. If you have rocks, it will bounce in random directions. This is true of the larger tillers also, of course, but they're heavier and able to withstand moderate sized rocks.
I also got an edger attachment for it. Don't bother. It turns too slow and gathers debris on the edger wheel, causing the line it cuts to widen and increasing the force required to hold it back (you don't use the drag bar for edging). I got an edger that goes on my brushwhacker and it works much better.
The bigger rototiller I have (Troy-Built horse) takes a learning curve to operate easily. Initially it was a real struggle to turn it, but I find that if you lift the tines out of the soil at the end of the row, step to the side and push one handle up and sideways so it's balancing on the opposite wheel, it turns fairly easily. It does take some strength to lift the handle (my wife can't do it) but not nearly as much as it does to try to horse it around with both wheels on the ground.
If you don't want to buy your own, consider hiring someone to do the work for you. It's probably competitive with renting a machine (and dealing with getting it from the rental place and back) and definitely much easier on your back.
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dps wrote:

I've got one; it's a horrible little device, and impossible to keep running after the first year. Mine is in the shop right now, and I may not bother to pick it up when it's ready and just let the shop keeper have it. I don't have problems with any other 2-cycle equipment, just the Mantis. Maybe mine just came from the factory with a bad carburator.
Also, it's too light to use to *create* a 1600 sq ft garden unless your soil is mostly sand. It might be OK for cultivating a garden that big after the soil was broken and most of the weeds removed.
OTOH, I bought a Honda FG-100 tiller earlier this year and it is great. It is a little bigger and heavier than the Mantis, but that's a good thing because it doesn't bounce around so much. It has removable transport wheels like a big front-tine tiller if you are too weak to carry it ;-) The Honda could probably handle a job that big without any trouble, but it would take a while.
Best regards, Bob
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What did the manufacturer say about the problems with the engine?
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than
units.
beds
I've been trying to find someone to do it for the past two weeks. It's unreal - I've called 32 landscapers so far, with no luck except for one guy who said he does rototilling, but will be out of work till December due to a back injury. Great. The ground will be frozen by then.
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Well, I like my Mantis. It's light, easy to maneuver. The edger blade is not all that great. It cranks, first time, every time for me. But I use it often, and the carburetor doesn't have a chance to gum up on me. If I had to buy another small tiller, it would be a Mantis. Perry

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On Wed, 06 Oct 2004 13:49:18 GMT, "Doug Kanter"

They are okay for light use. Can be hard to start, rather on the expensive side for what you get. For a 40x40 garden, a larger tiller is much better.
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wrote:

units.
beds
I've heard that (about size), but based on past experience, I'll be using it to create NEW garden space, but not for ongoing maintenance. This is what's got me wondering if the thing would be appropriate in that regard.
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I wouldn't want to break sod with it.
--
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
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expounded:

it
what's
Do you own one?
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Yes I do. I've tried to break sod with it, it worked, but it was a struggle. The Troy-built Pony works much better <G>.
--
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
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I love mine, I've had it for five years now, it starts every time I ask it to <G> and does exactly what I need. We've got a bigger Troy-built that we use on the large veggie gardens, and to break sod, etc. but for the smaller raised beds the Mantis works well.
--
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
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expounded:

units.
beds
Ann, have you tried breaking sod with it? What were the results? What kind of soil were you dealing with?
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As I said in my other post, I've broken a small bit of sid with it, it was a struggle. I do have lots of rocks, too, it's been jammed once or twice, but it's easy to free it up. I use it mainly to mix in leaves in the fall and manure in the spring. It's also great to churn up a compost pile with.
--
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
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I'm not sure if you've already made-up your mind on size or brand, but this is the tiller I have:
http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes&vertical=LAWN&pid129148000&subcat=Tillers
I've ripped-up sod, I've prepared new beds, and I, of course, turn over my vegetable bed each year.
It's a little bigger than you may want, and it's no good at all for cultivating between rows, but when I chose mine, I wasn't looking for something to cultivate, which isn't that big of a deal physically. I was looking for some way to save my back from having to do a lot of digging. I'm very satisfied that I fulfilled my goal effectively, and economically.
--
Warren H.

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expounded:

http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes&vertical=LAWN&pid129148000&subcat=Tillers
Looks like an interesting machine. But, I may have found a solution. I had a stroke of genius (duh!) yesterday and called the yard equipment place where I bought my lawnmower. They sell tillers, and were able to recommend a person who offers tilling as a service. I don't know why it took me a week to think of this.
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I"ve got a Mantis with a 4 stroke Honda engine. It works great. It's not what I'd recommend for the first till in a big garden though. Rent a big rear tine for your first time and then use the Mantis after that. It"s usable in a very small space so works out well for flower beds and cultivation.
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I have the electric version, and it's worked well for me in heavy clay. Hate 2-cycle engines, and have no real need for a tiller capable of handling large spaces (I'd hire a neighbor with a tractor for that sort of thing).
I've dug 40x40 gardens by hand... it's not so bad if you put down occlusive mulch to kill the sod first. I suspect the Mantis is probably going to get really boring if you're going to use it to create large beds... its strength is in "detail work".
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units.
beds
Have had my Mantis for several years now and wouldn't part with it. I have absolutely horrid soil, very hard and has to be amended many times over before things will grow. Have only run into one patch that we had to get out the farm tractor for, and that was a large garden that bulldozers had run over a number of times. Otherwise the Mantis does it all. It's light and easy to move about. It starts every time and I have had no problems with it at all. In fact, my brother who is getting ready to open a greenhouse business borrows my Mantis often instead of using his own horse of a tiller. And my cousin who is a professional grower uses Mantis exclusively. BTW... I don't work for the company or anything. I'm a 58 year old flower fiend with arthritis. lol Suz
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than
have
Do you or someone else take care of draining the gasoline before storing the tiller for the winter? Others have said they have problems starting the engine after a year or so, which makes me wonder if they did the type of maintenance required of ANY yard equipment.
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