Husqvarna Rear Tine Tiller Review
The thought of digging over a large garden several times a year often fills people with dread and so they start looking into some sort of garden tiller that can do most of the back-breaking work for them. Husqvarna is one of the leading names in outdoor power tools so it’s natural that people will see what they have to offer.
In this review, we’re going to take a close look at one of their rear tine tillers, the CRT900L 17-inch model which sits right in the middle of their range and is ideal for frequent cultivating, tilling and plowing of both established beds and new ground.
With a powerful Briggs & Stratton engine, forward and reverse gears, agricultural tires and counter rotating tines this model has everything you need to work a large garden or plot of land. It can handle rough terrain and is very maneuverable for such a large piece of kit. Let’s take a look now to find out exactly what it has to offer.
Husqvarna CRT900L Rear Tine Tiller
Here’s a summary of all the main features so you can get some idea if it has everything you need:
- 205cc Briggs and Stratton 950 series OHV 4-stroke engine providing 9 lb/ft of torque
- 210 rpm tine rotational speed
- Forward, reverse, neutral and forward/tine gear drive positions
- Gear selection, throttle and tine drive handlebar controls
- 6.5” max working tilling depth with 7 depth adjustments
- Counter rotating tines
- 17” tilling width
- Self-propelled 13” wheels with agricultural tires
- Easy to start with manual recoil
- EPA certified and CARB compliant
- 2-year warranty for homeowner use, 90 days commercial use
- Minimal assembly required
- Handlebar is height adjustable
- Counterweight for improved balance and weight on the wheels
- Tine shear pins to avoid damaging transmission if an object is hit
- 2-piece air filter for easier maintenance
What engine is in the CRT900L?
Powering the Husqvarna tiller is a Briggs and Stratton 950 Series OHV 205cc engine that provides 9lb-ft of gross torque to drive both the tines and wheels. B&S are well known for building quality, dependable engines and this 4-stroke 950 series is no exception. Many other garden tools use this engine so parts and service outlets for it are easy to come by.
As it’s a 4-stroke
The 205cc engine drives the tines at a rate of 210rpm for cultivating even the most compacted earth and is CARB compliant. Starting is simple and reliable on this machine, with just a couple of pulls required usually to get it going.
What gears are available on the Husky
This model comes equipped with a range of different gears, selectable by a lever on the handlebar. Here’s a quick explanation:
Forward gear – for moving the tiller forward without engaging tines. Useful for getting the machine in position.
Forward gear with tines – the working gear, select this to start tilling.
Neutral – no gears or tines engaged, useful for moving the tiller to and from storage.
Reverse – engages the wheel drive only in reverse. Can be used when turning or maneuvering.
Note that on this model the tines only rotate counter wise to the wheels, the forward rotating tine selection mentioned in the owner’s manual is not present.
What is the maximum tilling depth on
The tines on the CRT900L are located at the rear which is the best position to work on all types of soil, including hard, compacted ground
Using the adjustable depth bar, you can set the tiller to dig up to seven different depths, with the maximum being 6.5 inches. Note that this only works as a guide and when tilling soft earth the bar may sink deeper into the ground.
The tines have a tilling width of 17 inches which is not adjustable. This makes the Husqvarna a great machine for working on large plots but may not be so good if you need to till between rows of vegetables for example. Of course, if you work out your planting regime to leave enough room for the tiller then you can use this model for all your cultivating needs.
You can only use the tines when moving in the forward direction on this model. In reverse gear, there is no way to engage the tines at the same time, unlike some other models we’ve looked at such as the Southland SRTT196E. Some may find this a minus point for the Husky, but we think that it’s only of limited use in reality so no big deal.
To protect the transmission and engine, the tines are attached to the drive shaft using shear pins
How good are the tires and transmission fitted to the CRT900L tiller?
The 13-inch wheels have agricultural grade tires fitted which are both rugged and provide decent grip. There is just one gear in forward and reverse direction although the throttle can be adjusted to provide a change in pace, useful when moving the tiller or cultivating different soils.
There is a counterweight installed underneath the front of the tiller that not only improves the balance but also provides some weight on the wheels so they can grip better.
The drive is generally reliable although there have been a small number of transmission problems reported. If you have trouble shifting gears, rather than forcing it, try briefly rocking the tiller back and forth as that might help without damaging the drive.
When it arrives, how much do I have to
There really is minimal assembly required with this model, it’s just a case of getting it out of the box and attaching the single piece handlebar, then connecting the gear shift rod. It will probably take you around 10 minutes!
The manual advises you check the tire pressures before using but apart from that you just need to add gas and away you go. There is not even any need to add engine oil as it’s shipped with the tank already full although it’s best to check the level before you get going.
How big and heavy is the Husky CRT900L?
This tiller is a big machine for a piece of garden machinery so needs a lot of space to be able to store it. The shipping dimensions, which are a good guide, are 48 inches long by 24 inches wide by 35 inches high so if you disconnect and stow the handle when not in use that’s the approximate space it will take up.
The tiller is no lightweight either weighing in at 190 lbs. That is quite some weight to move around and if you need to load it into a pickup a ramp might be advisable.
When in use, the handlebar can be easily adjusted for different heights which not only helps users of various stature to use it efficiently but allows it to be adjusted for the optimum position depending on the softness of the ground being cultivated.
Filling the fuel tank will take 3.2 Quarts of unleaded regular gas, which is about 0.8 Gallons. The engine oil tank which should be full on delivery holds 20oz of oil and has no dipstick. You just make sure the oil is full to the brim when checking oil levels!
What’s in the box with the CRT900L tiller?
- Main tiller body including wheels
- Handle assembly
- Operators manual
- Parts bag containing bolts, washers, locknuts, handle lock lever and spare shear pins
There is a limited warranty on this model for homeowners of 2 years. This covers all the usual things against defects but not wear and tear. If using it for commercial use, then the warranty is just for 90 days.
What checks do I need to do on the tiller
before using it?
As always, we recommend you check the manual for the latest information on maintenance and servicing. Here’s a summary of tasks we recommend as a starting point:
Check and top up engine oil level.
Check for loose nuts, bolts, and fasteners.
Remove the air filter for inspection and clean if necessary.
Add fuel of course.
Check the spark plug and its connection are seated properly.
Set depth regulator to the required height.
Check tines for damage including shear pins.
Depending on usage there are some regular maintenance tasks that need to be performed such as changing the oil, replacing the air filter and spark plug etc. etc. There is a handy chart in the manual that provides a good visual reminder.
The bigger jobs of adjusting or changing the ground drive belt and replacing the tines are well within the capability of the average home user with a bit of DIY knowledge. The manual has pretty clear instructions on what to do and there are videos online that can help such this one for the very similar Poulan
What problems have people had with the Husqvarna CRT900L?
We’ve had a good look round all the review sites and places that sell the CRT900L to find out not only what people liked about this tiller but also what problems they’ve had. Overall the reviews are positive however there have been a small number of problems with the transmission seizing up as we mentioned earlier. Make sure to read the manual to understand how to operate this machine correctly and hopefully you can avoid any issues.
The good points:
- Easy to operate machine with controls placed on the handlebar
- Digs into hard and rocky soil without problems
- Starting is both quick and reliable
- Briggs and Stratton engine is one of the best around
- Forward, reverse and neutral gears help to make it easy to maneuver
- Multiple depth adjustments work very well
- Sturdy build and rugged tires
- Ability to use half throttle for slower speeds helps in different situations
- Can be used in reverse as a leveling plow using the rear tiller guard (at slow speed)
- B&S engine is very fuel efficient
The bad points:
- Very heavy and can get bogged down
- Small number of transmission failures
- Could do with dual rotating tines to aid clearing obstructions
- Unless careful on rocky ground shear pins will break easily
What safety equipment do I need to use the Husqvarna tiller?
Safety is one of the biggest concerns when using powerful garden equipment and using a tiller is no different.
Rear tine tillers have been known to damage a few toes since they became popular which is not surprising as the rotating blades are close to the operator’s feet. This model is not so bad as the tines only rotate when going forward, but even so, it’s a good idea to get a pair of reinforced toe cap work boots.
Hearing protection is always necessary even though this has a quieter 4-stroke engine. We also recommend wearing eye protection as well as small rocks and stones can easily be flung up by the rotating blades.
Sensible clothes should also be worn with no loose or flapping garments that could get caught up in the tines. Finally, a decent pair of work gloves, anti-vibration
Always check your manual for all their safety advice on working with your new tiller to make sure you keep as safe as possible.
We’re impressed with the Husqvarna CRT900L Rear Tine Tiller as it ticks all the boxes for what you need from a decent large garden cultivator. The B&S engine provides plenty of power and will not let you down. In fact, we only found one or two cases of any mention of trouble starting or running this machine.
The gearing and throttle combination seems to cater for most situations and we like that these are both controlled from the handlebar. The only possible issue we could find is with the transmission on a few rogue machines. Whether this is a problem with the actual tiller or the operator not working it correctly is open to question. There is mention in the manual of what to do if it won’t go into gear so perhaps this advice was not followed.
Overall, if you’re looking for a versatile rear tine tiller for frequent use then this model is certainly one to consider. There are bigger tillers out there, but at 17” wide this one is maybe just the right size for medium to large gardens.
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