The Troy-Bilt TB146EC Cultivator

 

The Tiny Little Engine That Could
Troy-Bilt TB146EC Cultivator

The TB146EC has a petite 29cc engine which makes me doubt its power capability.  However, this is a 4-Cycle engine, which means that you won’t have to mix gas and oil together.

This cultivator touts “SpringAssist Starting Technology” which makes it easier to pull the starter cord when cranking the engine.

The Troy-Bilt TC146EC is “JumpStart Capable”

Troy-Bilt has also designed the TC146EC to be “JumpStart Capable”…meaning that it has the capacity to adapt either a corded or cordless electric engine starter to the motor if you have trouble pulling the starter cord.  The electric engine starter is sold separately as an accessory.

TC146EC can adjust tilling width to 6, 9, or 12 inches.

The tilling width is adjustable.  It has 6 heavy duty steel tines and can be set at 6, 9, or 12 inches…making it ideal for weeding between rows and plants, as well as mixing in compost and fertilizer.

The tilling depth is 5 inches which is a bit shallow for my purposes…since I like to dig down a minimum of 6 to 8 inches.

The TC146EC's handle folds down.

The handle folds for a smaller storage footprint.

The variable throttle allows you to control the tine rotation speed.

NOTE:  As with all small engines, give this cultivator a few minutes to warm up before attacking the dirt!

 

Upsides

A Troy-Bilt engine is one of the most reliable.

  • It’s a Troy-Bilt engine – Besides Honda and Briggs & Stratton, this is the most reliable engine on the market today!
  • Excellent maneuverability – Great for weeding and mixing compost between rows and plants due to being able to set 3 different tilling widths: 6, 9, and 12 inches.
  • Great for small gardens – Can handle small plots of a few hundred square feet very well.
  • Lightweight – At around 37 pounds, the TC146EC is easy to carry or roll back and forth between the storage shed and the garden area.

 

Downsides
  • 29cc engine – This is a very tiny engine for the money but, it does have more power than I would expect it to have for its size. There are reports that it is hard to start but, I think folks aren’t following the starting directions.  As with most small power equipment, you have to press the gas bulb 10 or 12 times until the air bubbles disappear before you pull the starter cord (cold engine in choke position…warm engine in half-choke position).  And, don’t “power yank” the cord…pull it quickly, but smoothly and not all the way out…or the cord will break or bind.
  • Poor starting cord placement – The pull cord is in front of the machine. So, it is a little awkward to start when you are pulling the cord and trying to keep it stable with one foot blocking the rear wheels.
  • Shallow tilling depth – I prefer a tilling depth of at least 6 to 8 inches and this one can only get you to 5 inches max.
  • Not great for medium to large gardens – I use a larger tiller…one with more width and depth…to dig up the soil in my 2,000+ square foot garden. Additionally, my garden area has clay soil and this cultivator works better with softer, loamy dirt containing mostly sand and silt.
  • There is no oil dipstick – To check the oil, you have to lay the cultivator down with the handles on the ground and ensure that the engine is level. The, remove the oil cap and, using a flashlight, ensure that the oil touches the bottom thread of the hole.  This is, in my humble opinion, an absurd method of checking oil in any power equipment!
  • Using cotter pins to secure the tines – A much, much better and less time-consuming approach would be to use spring pins to hold the tines in place…especially, considering how often you will be removing the tines to clear away the tangles of crabgrass and weeds.
  • The air filter screw can sometimes vibrate loose – This is an easy fix by applying a little Loctite to the screw.
  • The handle bars are not adjustable – How hard is it to design handles so that they can be adapted to the height of the operator?

 

My Last Words

Most of the downsides listed above are found on almost every small, inexpensive cultivator.  And, after all, this is a Troy-Bilt product and I can make a few allowances for it since I live and breathe by Troy-Bilt and Honda engines!

The Troy-Bilt TB146EC Cultivator is still worth considering for a small garden or the precise task of weeding in tight areas.

Want more?  Well, there are many more gas tillers on the main review page to look at!

What’s your take on it?  Comment below or zap me an email: jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com.

 

Jim, the Life Long Gardener

4 thoughts on “Troy-Bilt TB146EC Cultivator Review

  1. Phil Reply

    Hi there,
    Many thanks for this detailed review of the Troy bilt cultivator and you have done a great job in highlighting all the important features of this cultivator.
    It looks well in the photos and reading the pros and cons, I guess one should make due diligence before purchasing one of these machines.
    If one keeps a large garden, there is no doubt but that this tiller would make lite work of garden preperation.
    Price wise, its very affordable when we see how much work it can do and more importantly how much time we could save by using one of these machines.
    Continued success,
    Cheers Phil Browne

    • Jim Reply

      Glad you liked this little tiller, Phil!

      It is definitely one of my favorites.  And, the “upsides” truly outweight the “downsides”…making it a wise purchase for gardeners everywhere…from the novice to the master!

      Lots more to see on the gas tiller review page.  You may even find some interesting options on the electric tiller review page!

      Jim

  2. walker2 Reply

    I certainly like the idea that it isn’t a gas/oil mixture. I’ve never liked using anything that required that much work! I also like the idea that it is easy to start. Again, I’ve always had trouble pulling those cords! I get lots of weeds in my flower beds. Do you think it would work in tight areas? I agree it probably needs to dig deeper than 5″ but would it take care of annoying weeds? Thanks for a very informative and helpful review. Keep up the good work!

    • Jim Reply

      Yep…it’s Troy-Bilt…’nuff said!

      This little cultivator works its way through and around plants very efficiently.  I have gotten within an inch or two of plants without disturbing them.

      It sure is a better way of weeding than getting down on your hands and knees and yanking them out of the ground!

      Glad you enjoyed the article.  There are more to choose from if you visit the main gas tiller review page.  Or, you may also be interested in looking at the electric tiller review page.

      Jim

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