Who makes the best garden tillers ?

Hello,
I'm in the market for a new garden tiller. Something with a 5-8 horsepower engine, rear tine, and no more than $600 or so..... I want this one to be the last I'll ever buy.
Who makes the most dependable ? Availability of replacement parts is important also.
Opinions anybody ?
Thanks,
John
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For what kind of projects, and how often?
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Well, it has to bust sod. But really my gardens are usually 20'x20' and up to 30'x30'. Just an ordinary vegetable garden. Any body know anything about blue BCS machines ? They used to call them the best tillers on earth.
JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

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Although some will disagree, you really only need a tiller to make a new garden, as you're doing. Afterward, you're supposed to designate growing areas and "walking & kneeling areas". Never walk on the growing areas. Therefore, you never need the tiller again. At the very least, get a price quote from one or more landscapers for doing the initial sodbusting. It might be cheaper than a tiller.

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wrote:

Below is what I found at www.consumerreports.org
March 2005      printable version      Mini-tillers: More power, less effort
    Person using Honda Harmony mini-tiller.
GROUND CONTROL More digging power at lower speeds helps four-stroke tillers like Hondas Harmony ease handling. Mini-tillers arent just for ardent gardeners. The best of these machines can handle more pedestrian chores such as tearing away crabgrass and whisking away weeds far more quickly and easily than a spade or hoe.
Several new models add faster starts and more digging power, courtesy of a four-stroke engine like the kind on mowers. They also run cleaner, since four-stroke tillers produce fewer exhaust emissions than the two-stroke models theyre replacing--a prime reason why most two-stroke tillers do not meet stricter California emissions standards. Yet at about $300, most of these cleaner machines cost about the same as older, dirtier models.
Youll also find plug-in electric tillers, along with tiller attachments that replace the bottom half of the shaft on some string trimmers. But weeks of testers tilling, sod-busting, and weeding revealed that some of these machines work far better than others. Here are the details:
Some take more strength and care. Spending just $90 for a tiller attachment may seem appealing if you already own a string trimmer that can power it. But the trimmer-powered tillers we tested were slow, heavy, and hard to handle.
Youll find electric tillers tempting if you love push-button starts and hate handling gasoline. But the ones we tested for this report were slower and less powerful than most gas-powered tillers. We also found it all too easy to drag an electric tillers power cord over young shrubs, flowers, and other short, fragile plants.
All gas-powered tillers are noisy. All 12 gasoline-powered tillers and trimmer-driven machines produced a racket at or above the 85 decibels at which we recommend hearing protection. Electric tillers are quiet by comparison; the quietest emitted just 68 decibels at ear level, making it quieter than many vacuum cleaners.
HOW TO CHOOSE
Mini-tillers have grown in sales as lot sizes and gardens have shrunk. But they arent for everyone. Youre likely to prefer renting or even buying a larger tiller for yard projects beyond 300 square feet or for rocky soil. You may also prefer the added control of hand tools for jobs smaller than 100 square feet.
See Types to determine which type meets your needs. Then keep these points in mind as you shop:
Determine how youll use it. The best of these machines excelled at tilling, sod-busting, and weeding. But you may be willing to trade some performance in one or more of those areas for a lower price or an electrics push-button starting.
Look for convenience. Features highlights labor-savers that make some tillers easier to use. Those that count most include a four-stroke engine for gas models, along with easy tine removal and wheels for all tillers.
Also be sure that any tiller is reasonably easy to lift and rolls smoothly on its wheels. Check, too, that the handlebar is wide enough to allow both elbows to clear your sides when you pull back on the machine--something youll do often while working as the tines pull the tiller ahead.
Consider repairs down the road. Half of all tillers are sold by Home Depot (Honda, Yard Machines), Lowes (Troy-Bilt), and Sears (Craftsman). Some of these retailers have service agreements with local dealers, as do brands such as Hoffco, which are sold by manufacturers.
Before buying, ask which dealer will provide your service. Then, as with other power equipment, call or visit the dealer to get a sense of whether youll be treated as well as customers who bought their machines at that dealer.
Think twice about add-ons. With some tillers, you can buy dethatchers, edgers, aerators, and other attachments for roughly $40 to $100 each. As with tiller attachments for trimmers, however, weve typically found these add-ons less effective than dedicated machines.
Keep it safe. Wear goggles and boots, along with hearing protection when using a gas tiller. And keep children and pets away while you work.
    Person firing up a mini-tiller.
Starting: one, two, three
Firing up a two-stroke mini-tiller often requires a mysterious sequence of carburetor throttle, choke, and some well-placed pumps of the fuel-primer bulb. Clear instructions and an automatic throttle made starting the two-stroke Craftsman 29256 easier than other two-strokes: Pump the primer bulb 10 times, flip the blue choke lever, and pull the starter cord. The four-stroke Troy-Bilt 21A-128T063 we tested has an even simpler system that eliminates the carburetor choke. But as we found, two other four-stroke tillers typically fired up with one less pull of the starter cord.
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Well -- I've got a Honda mini-tiller (not sure of the model), but it's going to be way too small for what you're after. However, IF you can get one with a Honda motor, please do-- Honda makes really nice motors that when regularly serviced will start on the first pull unlike most other Briggs & Stratton motors I've used.
My mom bought my father a pressure washer a few years ago and I insisted it had a honda motor on it and it runs like a champ and still starts with a single tug of the rope.. My only peeve with Honda is that they've been changing out a lot of parts from metal to plastic on some of their products.. Of course if you're only buying a tiller with a honda motor on it (and the tiller is made by someone else) this may not apply in your case..
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I like TROY. Once they showed a tiller going around a tree in the root zones. I was very disturbed and wrote them a letter and they pulled all of those commercials and assured me AI would not see another commercial roto tilling tree roots. So I support troy.
--
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
  Click to see the full signature.
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For breaking up sod, you need a big strong tiller, but you need it only once unless you move your garden. So I rent one for breaking up the sod.
Subsequent tilling is more like weeding with a hoe, so buying a small tiller makes sense. I had a mantis that didn't last, and a Honda that has run flawlessly for years.
John Q. Public wrote:

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