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  1. My Trip Back In Rototiller History

    I recently had the opportunity recently to travel to Troy, NY and do some research into the history of Rototiller and Troy-Bilt. These are the doors leading to once famous Troy-Bilt tiller factory at the corner of 102 St & 9 Ave in Troy, NY. Before that this was the home of ROTOTILLER, INC. from 1937 until around 1959 when Porter-Cable purchased controlling interest and moved the operation to Syracuse.rot

    After Porter Cable was sold to Rockwell Mfg Co. tiller manufacturing returned here in 1961 with the newly designed Trojan Horse Rototiller manufactured by Watco Machine Products, the same folks that manufactured the Rototiller inc. products. In 1962 tillers started rolling off the assembly line. In1965 the company name was changed to Garden Way Mfg.Co.inc.and the product renamed the Troy-Bilt Horse Rototiller. Troy-Bilt tillers along with other models of lawn equipment was made here until 2001 when they declared bankruptcy.

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    This is the foyer for the offices on the 3rd floor. This building was built in the late 1800’s and was previously home to Draper Cordage Works. In the 70’s and 80’s business was booming with production backlogs as long as 26 weeks.

    In 2007, I made my first trip to Troy after being introduced to Allen Cluett via email. Allen worked for Troy-Bilt from 1969 until 1981 and was service manager for some of that time. His father worked for Rototiller from 1946 until 1958 as Sales Manager. On my visit I met Dean Leith, who started as sales manager in 1965, Allen Cluett, Donna Done, daughter of Dave Done, Vice President of Production for Garden Way Manufacturing, and with George Dunham, who started working for Rototiller, Inc., in 1949 as a welder. George could make or fix anything. He is credited with making over a million hoods for Troy-Bilt tillers. On that trip I had the privilege of sitting in on an almost 2 hour round table discussion with plenty of stories about Rototiller and Garden Way, which I was able to record. We had met at the Burden Iron Works Museum which houses the museum pieces that were collected by Garden Way .There is a nice collection of tillers dating from 1937 that were built at the 102 St & 9 Ave location.

    I spent a day at The Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy going through boxes of documents and photos from Rototiller/Troy-Bilt. I was only able to scratch the surface of what is there. RCHS was kind enough to allow me to scan any documents and photos I wanted and were most accommodating.

    This time I got to meet more people with a connection to Troy-Bilt. I had the pleasure of meeting Shirley and Janet Done daughters of George Done, John Pattison, who worked for Troy-Bilt and whose father was the law firm that supplied legal council for Rototiller, Inc. and Choppy Wicker who worked there from 1972 until 1999. He was at one point Director of Product Innovation and was responsible for the “skydiving Rototiller” called Pegasus, a marketing stunt in which Choppy and ‘Pegasus’ free fell 9000 ft from an airplane as they were being video taped.

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    Last, but not least, I was able to see RT-1, a one of a kind tractor with an attached 58” wide Rototiller. It was shipped to Florida for use in an orange grove. After all these years of sitting, the engine is not stuck and efforts are being made to find someone who would restore this one of a kind tractor.

    It is nice to collect pieces of equipment, but it is even more satisfying to learn of the history of the company who built it. Even better I was able to go inside the building where all this history took place. Even though it is a deserted shell, I could just imagine all that went on there for those many years. A big THANK YOU to my guide for the three days, Allen Cluett.

    • Dec 26, 2014 04:47 PM
    • by earthgrinder
  2. Massey Ferguson MF 650 22 inch and 38 inch Roto...

    The Massey Ferguson MF650 Tiller is for the Massey Ferguson MF10 and MF12 garden tractors.

    The Massey Ferguson MF650 tiller came in two different sizes. The 22" MF650 tiller was 22" wide and weighs 140lbs. The 38" tiller weighs 180lbs and uses an optional extension piece to give it the 38" width.

    To be able to mount the tiller on to your Massey Ferguson MF10 or MF12 garden tractor you need a rear lift kit. If you don't have a lift kit on your Massey you can find lift kits for sale either in the classifieds section here at GTtalk or places like eBay.

    Massey Ferguson MF10 garden tractors made before serial #6365 need a couple of extra modifications done to fit a rear lift kit. The rear plate needs to be drilled out and 2 holes added for the lift spring bracket. Massey Ferguson MF10 and MF12 garden tractors 1967 and newer do not need any modifications done and everything will bolt right on. If you need help identifying the year of your Massey Ferguson garden tractor you can use this serial number build date sheet in the GTtalk Manuals section.

    There were two different gearboxes that were used over the years. One has a single output shaft and the other has two output shafts. Not sure what the extra front shaft is for on the second style gear box.

    There are two different style drive shafts along with two different style gear box inputs for later and newer tillers. The later tillers had a square end at the tiller and a spline end on the gear box at the pto and the drive shaft had matching ends accordingly.

    The newer tillers had splines on the gearbox and splines at the tiller. The drive shaft had splines at both ends of the drive shaft. The belt used to power the gearbox from the power take off is A34, 4L360 or Gates #2360.

    There is also a difference in frame size between the Massey Ferguson MF12 Hydrostatic or Variable Speed models, the MF10 only came as a variable gear drive model. The hydrostatic drive garden tractors are longer then the variable drive sister. There is a small extension piece that mounts to the MF650 tiller to make up the difference in frame size on the MF12 hydrostatic model.

    The 22" wide tiller uses 2 lift assist springs the the 38" wide tiller uses 3 lift assist springs. When mounting the tiller to your tractor the tiller goes to the middle holes on the rear lift brackets.

    So far I have only used the 22" wide MF650 tiller. I have used it both on the Varidrive and Hydra drive garden tractors and it works good on both. I feel the gear drive tractors have an advantage in that the tractor moves at a slower steady pace. With the Hydra drive I feel it is a little tricky to do this but it can be done. The manual says to run the engine at 3/4 power.

    I just recently bought a 38" wide MF650, searched for three years for it and it needs a good once over before I use it, which I haven't had time to do yet. Hopefully I will have time to do it this coming spring.

    If you are looking to buy one it is very important to make sure that you get everything. There are a lot of incomplete ones out there. It doesn't do any good if you can't mount it.

    Here are some pictures to show the various details as well as photos from the manual.





    If you have a MF650 tiller or other Massey Ferguson tiller and have any questions post about in in the Massey Ferguson tractor forum here at GTtalk. For reference there is the Massey Ferguson MF650 Tiller Operators Manual and the Massey Ferguson MF10 and MF12 Service Manual.

    • Dec 24, 2014 09:00 AM
    • by DH1