If you’re looking at a tiller for your small to medium sized garden, then you are most likely going to be checking out models where the tines are mounted at the front. These machines are light and easy to use and offer the best value for money, plus they handle well in tighter spaces.
Husqvarna is one of the go-to brands for garden power tools and their FT900-CA Tiller is the only model they make with the tines on the front. So, if you’re checking out which Husky tiller is for you, this could be it!
With a powerful engine made by Briggs and Stratton, adjustable tilling width and depth, removable transport wheels and both forward and backward gears, this machine certainly has a lot going for it.
We’re going to take a closer look to find out if it lives up to the Husqvarna name and what features it has to offer.
Husqvarna Rototiller FT900 feature summary
Before we dig deeper (pun intended!) into this model, here’s a summary of the main features so you can check if it has everything you need:
- 208cc Briggs and Stratton OHV 4-stroke 950 series engine providing 9.5 lb/ft of torque
- 118 rpm tine rotational speed
- Forward and reverse gears operated by separate levers on handlebars
- Maximum working depth of 6.5”
- Depth stake with 6 adjustments for controlling depth and speed of tiller
- Forward and reverse rotating tines
- Adjustable tilling width can be set at 26, 24 or 12 ¾ inches
- Large removable wheels for transportation and support
- Easy starting manual recoil
- EPA certified and CARB compliant
- 2-year warranty personal use, 90 days commercial use
- Easy assembly
- Height adjustable pistol grip handlebar
- 2-piece air filter for easier maintenance
What’s comes in the FT900-CA box?
With minimal assembly required, there are not too many pieces inside the box. What you should find includes:
- Tiller body with wheels attached
- Handle assembly
- Depth stake
- Operators manual
- Parts bag containing bolts, washers, nuts and a small bottle of engine oil
There is a 2-year limited warranty for personal use on this model. Wear and tear is not included and when used for commercial purposes the warranty is only for 90 days.
How easy is it to put the Husky front tine tiller together?
As you can tell from the box contents, you only need to install the handle and the depth stake to fully assemble this machine so no more than around 10 to 15 minutes.
You will need to fill the engine oil tank up with the oil provided and add gas, then you’re ready to go. The tilling width will be set at the maximum setting so if you require a smaller width that will need changing before setting off of course.
When you first fire up your new tiller it’s important to break in the belts, pulleys, and controls before doing any work. This helps prevent problems later on and is simple to do. Just start the engine, press the handles down so the tines tip up off the ground. Then engage the forward control so that the tines are spinning and hold this position for five minutes.
How big is the FT900 tiller and how heavy?
This machine is lighter and less bulky than a rear tine tiller so is easier to store and move around. If you remove and stow the handles (as it came in the shipping box) then you will need a space 47.5 inches long by 33.5 inches high by 24 inches wide in your storage area.
A tiller needs a certain amount of weight to be able to make an impact on the ground so they’re never going to be that light, but this one is a reasonable 100lbs when assembled. That’s half the weight of some other models we’ve looked at such as the Husqvarna CRT900L rear tine tiller so is definitely much easier to lug around.
The handle bar on this unit can be easily adjusted for height to suit a particular operator (requires undoing/tightening 4 nuts) but remember when setting this up, that the tiller will be digging into the ground by up to 6 inches or so when in use.
The fuel tank on this tiller will take 3.2 quarts (0.8 gallons/3.6 liters) of unleaded regular gas (must be at least 87 octane rating). The engine oil tank holds 20oz of oil and has no dipstick so just fill it right up until its almost spilling out.
What engine powers the Husqvarna FT900?
The engine at the heart of this tiller is the very popular Briggs and Stratton 950 series OHV model. This one has a displacement of 208cc and develops 9.5 lbs per foot of torque. That’s more than enough power even when driving the full 24” width tines. B&S engines are used in many different brands of garden machinery and are well known for their rugged reliability, so there should be no problems in that department.
The 950 Series is a 4-stroke engine so does not use a pre-mixed gas/oil like the 2-stroke engines do. It’s also a lot quieter and easier to start, usually requiring just one or two pulls to get it going. Emissions are low too so this tiller is CARB compliant as well as benefiting from very good fuel economy
The tines are driven at a respectable 118rpm maximum and you don’t want it any more than that really, otherwise the tiller becomes difficult to control. You can adjust the throttle speed to slow the tines down when required.
What gears does the FT900-CA tiller have?
There are just two gears on this model, forward and reverse. You engage these by squeezing the relevant control on the handlebar for quick and easy operation.
Whilst researching reviews we found it mentioned a few times that their position on top of the handlebar can become uncomfortable after a while.Some owners solved this by removing the fastener securing each control and turning it by 180 degrees so that the lever sits underneath the handlebar. If you find the lever position uncomfortable in the way it’s sent out from the factory, then that’s certainly an easy option to try.
The wheels on this tiller are not driven by the engine so the forward and reverse gears just change the direction the tines are going around, as it’s these that pull or push the tiller along when digging into the ground.
Why are the wheels on this tiller so small?
On a front tine tiller, you often don’t have any wheels as they are not needed to drive the machine along like on a rear tine version. However, they can be useful both as a stabilizing support when cultivating or tilling and also as a brake to help stop the tiller jumping forward in conjunction with the depth stake (see below).
Their main purpose though on this model is to make it easy to move the tiller around and are actually called ‘transport wheels’ in the manufacturer’s description. The position of the wheels can be easily adjusted or they can be removed completely whilst tilling. Most people seem to leave them on fixed at a position just above the depth stake.
How do you change the depth and width of tilling?
The depth stake we mentioned above is actually an important component as it not only governs how deep the working depth is (up to a maximum of 6 inches), but it also controls how fast the machine goes forward by acting as a brake.
If the wheels and depth stake are not set correctly for the soil being tilled, then the effect it has is that you have to strain to control it and the tiller will be shaking. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of trial and error to get the right setup, but after using it for a while you will get to know what the best settings are.
The tines themselves are of course at the front and can be adjusted for different tilling widths, which is very useful. The widths you can set it to are 26 inches (full width), 24 inches (mid) and 12 ¾ inches for narrow tilling or cultivating.
Full instructions are in the manual but it’s as simple as removing a couple of hairpin clips and clevis pins to remove or replace the outer tines. Note that even though the tines themselves are removed, the guard across the top stays in place at its full 26-inch width.
What maintenance checks are needed when using the Husky FT900?
There are full details on maintenance and servicing in the user manual, but here’s a quick rundown of the tasks involved to get some idea.
- Check oil and fuel. Top up if needed.
- Inspect the air filter and clean if necessary.
- Check for loose fasteners, cable clips etc.
- Check the spark plug is tight and the connection pushed on firmly.
- Set wheels and depth stake to the correct height.
- Check tines for damage and set to correct width.
- Once a year it’s a good idea, depending on use, to replace the air filter and spark plug, check the tines for wear and lubricate all the pivot points. There is a handy chart in the manual that provides a good visual reminder of these and all the other maintenance tasks.
On this model, there are two V Belts for forward and reverse motion that will need periodic checking, adjusting and replacement. There are instructions in the manual and it’s simple to do for most people with a bit of DIY skill.
What safety equipment do I need to use this Front Tine tiller?
Using a tiller is no different to any other powered garden tool in that it’s important to understand what the risks are and be safe when using it. The first thing you should do is read the manual, next you should get some safety gear which can be used when working with any power tool.
First on the list is some hearing protection. Even though this is a quieter machine than a 2-stroke version, prolonged use could still affect your hearing. Anything that digs up soil at a high speed could throw stones and debris towards the operator so some wide view safety goggles will protect your eyes.
Those rotating tines could also cause some nasty damage to your feet as well so we recommend you get some decent work boots with a reinforced toe cap just in case.
A pair of sturdy gloves, preferably anti-vibration if possible, should also be in your kit as these will help prevent injuries caused by long-term use of vibrating power equipment.
Last but by no means least, make sure to wear sensible clothes and nothing that could get tangled up in moving machinery.
- DEWALT tough Coat hard coated lens provides tough protection against scratches
- DEWALT Xtra clear anti-fog lens coating provides tough protection against fogging
- SHRINK RESISTANT: These work gloves are made with synthetic leather, providing toughness, and helps to resist shrinking/hardening. Excellent for outdoor jobs where gloves may become wet.
- SNAG PROOF: Concealed inner stitching prevents these heavy duty work gloves from snagging on wood or metal.
Are there any issues with the Husqvarna FT900-CA?
This is a popular model and so there are plenty of reviews to research online which we’ve done for you. Overall the FT900 gets very good ratings and most owners are happy with their machines. As always there are some negative comments but these are in the minority and many relate to older versions of this model.
It’s actually been around since 2009 and is still going strong, which shows how durable the design is with many of the early problems being rectified in later models. We’ve compiled a list of what people liked as well as the things that annoyed them for easy reference.
People liked the following:
- Easy to use and maneuver.
- Reverse gear is great for getting out of tight corners.
- Briggs and Stratton engine is reliable and starts well.
- Great for tilling and cultivating established gardens.
- Adjustable tilling width makes it extremely versatile.
- Multiple depth adjustments work very well.
- Sturdy build.
- Useful transport wheels.
The bad points:
- Handles on older models were not durable.
- Some people found holding gear controls down to be uncomfortable.
- Tiller guard is not adjustable when changing width.
- Can bounce around if not set up properly.
- Some people felt the wheel assembly was too flimsy.
The Husqvarna FT900-CA Front Tine Tiller has certainly stood the test of time and continues to be a great choice for anyone with a small to medium sized garden or yard. It’s relatively lightweight for a tiller, can get into and out of tight corners plus has that great range of tilling width which is incredibly useful.
This really is a machine you could use for all your tilling, plowing and cultivating needs. There is one area where it might not be so good though and that’s when breaking new ground. It may take several goes to get through hard, compacted soil and if you have a lot of ground to cover, that could get very tiring.
It has to be said though that we have found plenty of reviews where gardeners have used the FT900 to cultivate virgin soil successfully and are very happy with the results, so it’s not a minus point against this model, just something to be aware of.
Overall, we can recommend this model if it’s a versatile front tine tiller you’re after and we have found one of the best places to get this is on Amazon right now. Click below to find the best deals.
Last update on 2022-04-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API