Big rototiller breakdown

Dustcap torn open

This is the not-good look of torn metal, not something you want to see on gear that’s both fairly essential to the tasks at hand, and ALWAYS expensive to repair. Right in the middle of some very satisfying tilling on Thursday, I heard a mild, unalarming scraping-squeaking sound coming from the rototiller on the Kubota compact tractor, so I stopped to check, just in case. When I rotated the tines by hand, I noticed the shaft had a lot of play on the left side, you could move it up and down a good inch or two. I cleaned off some wound up bits of plant and then dirt from the end and found the cap protecting the bearings had been split and peeled back. Uh-oh. It turned out to be not great, but could’ve been a lot worse. Somehow—not enough grease, or dirt finding its way into the bearings and gearbox, or both, or…something else—the shaft that drives the tines had completely pulverized the bearings and had been rotating directly against metal! Imagine the heat, the tortured, red-hot metal-on-metal—but it was still tilling real good… In the pic below, you can see where it ground out its own path, that extra piece of  hole on top of the larger one. It had burned through the tiller housing, another plate behind it, and a heavy die-cast fitting that supports the shaft (that bolted-on square piece in the pic above), and jogged up enough to split the dust cover. Man!

Gearbox open, shaft removed

Of course, PARTS are always at hand, it just takes cash and a call to the tractor dealer, and presto, delivery by next day. Like an expensive little miracle… I hate buying parts, you need ’em, have absolutely no way to tell what they’re “really” worth, and they cost a fortune. This little boxful: $400 (well, besides the 4-bolt flange bearing, oil seal plate, bearing cover, and a couple of other bits, that includes the annual air and oil filters, and oil…). Anyhow, that’s the way it goes: things break down, gotta be fixed! This morning it was put back together, like nothing had happened at all…

Tractor parts

4 thoughts on “Big rototiller breakdown”

  1. Ha ha! I sooooo hear you on the repairs.  At least you can repair it yourself, and it could have been worse. I have a BCS walking tractor with a Palladino flail mower attatchment. Twine got wrapped so deeply around the roller ends, it cut off part of the seal.  Course I did not realize what was happening-the engine quit every time I engaged the PTO.  When I looked underneath and saw the twine I figured I would just cut it off. The more I cut the more appeared till it wouldn’t budge. I called my son who said “not good Ma”.  Anyway, he ended up taking everything apart and fixing it. If I had to take it to the shop it would have cost a pretty penny.
    Knowing how to use tools, make repairs, and how stuff works is vital to farming. If a person had the great luxury of growing up around tools and a dad or grandfather to teach them how stuff works, well that is half the farm’s success right there!
    Happy Tilling,

  2. Hi, I just stumbled across your blog while looking for tractor related blogs. You have a TON of information here, it is really amazing.  My company sells parts for antique tractors and we just started a company blog.  I’ve been cruising some farm and tractor related blogs to see what kind of content is already out there and what we can offer to the blogging community.  I really enjoyed the pictures of your farm and the very detailed descriptions about your growing and weeding techniques. 
    I just wanted to say that I was here and enjoyed reading your material.  I’ll be back!

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