The Troy-Bilt TB146EC Cultivator
The Tiny Little Engine That Could
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.
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.
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 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!
- 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.
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.