Hints and tips

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Rule number 1 on all models:- Check the engine oil regularly. I copied the following out of a gardening newsgroup site.

I'm in desperate need of a new engine for the merry tiller major. I borrowed my neighbors rotavator while he was away and after using it for awhile, the engine went "screeeeeeeeeeech! Bang! Inspecting the engine I discovered gouge marks in the piston chamber and further checking discovered no oil in the sump. The engine is kaput.
What I'd like to find out is the price and availability of a second hand engine.

Most Merry Tillers have a button to keep the clutch engaged. If the spring (Part No. MT.3058 now available from my spares pages) is damaged the clutch can stay engaged when the lever is squeezed to release the clutch, or worse, drop into engagement by itself. This is dangerous and a new spring should be fitted urgently. Note Types C, D and Merry Tillers later than about 1985, do not have this button.

On Type C Merry Tillers the transport wheel assembly is a bit fragile. Welding the pivot shaft solid to the bracket that goes round the hitch is the easy way out. The alternative is to make new parts.

Check the bolts that go through the chassis rails regularly. They can work loose and wear both the chaincase and hitch. Majors are particularly prone to this problem. On Wizard/Cadet models the hitch bracket can come loose and pull out of the chaincase.

Soon after Wolseley changed the extension slasher rotors from the coupling tube to the welded on type they started using thicker tubing on all rotors meaning that the earlier outer rotors will not fit onto later inner rotors. This change occurred about 1963. In the USA they carried on making the early type so again US outers will not fit later UK inners.

Finger rotors are handed left and right. The welded on part of the prong should hit the ground first. On slasher rotors the sharpened side of the blade cuts into the soil. See the photos on my history  page if you are unsure.

Briggs & Stratton stamped the engine data on the side of the flywheel cover. This has often been changed as repairers and dealers sometimes swapped the cover from a scrap engine rather than repairing the recoil starter. As parts are ordered using the Model and Type from this data, problems in ordering spares may ensue. 3hp machines with front mounted tanks are Model 81302 Type 943756. Pre 1976 Majors with pulsa-jet carburetors are Model 80202 Type 0413-01 and 5hp Titans are Model 130202 Type 0162-01. Post 1976 machines used a bewildering variety of engine codes.

 On Merry Tillers with flo-jet carburetors (front mounted fuel tank), the choke should be used sparingly. If the engine does not start "first pull" turn the choke partly off as these engines "wet the plug" easily.

Pulsa-jet engines can be troublesome to start from cold. Try filling the fuel tank brim full, if the engine then starts easily the fuel pump is not working properly. It may be that the tank has been dry and the pump needed priming but if the cold start problem persists the carburetor will need servicing.

If leaving a pulsa-jet engine in storage, use Briggs & Stratton's fuel additive to prevent the fuel "going off". Earlier fuel tanks can easily be drained before storage.

On Merry Tillers with pulsa-jet carburetors the throttle cable soon gets stiff. It is a good idea to remove the cable (lever included) and oil it. This is done by making a paper cone round the engine end of the cable, sealing it onto the outer cable with sticky tape,  filling the cone with engine oil and hanging the cable vertically overnight. The oil runs through so leave a drip tray underneath.

Titans and later (post 1978) Majors have roller bearings on the chaincase input shaft. These can break up with terminal results for the chaincase if the bearings and shaft are not changed as soon as they fail, as the shaft grinds into the case

Hints for actually using the Merry Tiller. On ground that is hard and compacted you will probably have to use one pair of rotors (sorry Wizard and early Cadet owners). This is a problem for those new to Merry Tillers as the machine tends to rock from side to side, but practice makes perfect. The rear skid is set so that, at the depth you are intending to cultivate, the machine is fairly level. This can only be judged once you have started, but for an initial setting I have the skid with one or two notches showing above the hitch casting, or fully down for the Wizard/Cadet/B66. Adjustable handles can be set for ease of use once the depth is set. The machine works best at the slowest speed it will go without stalling, over revving increases the tendency to dig in then lurch forwards when you wriggle it out, and clods of earth are shot skywards, spectacular but pointless. Forward progress is achieved by letting the machine inch forwards at the depth you have chosen by lifting or lowering the handles to increase or decrease the drag on the skid. If the skid is too low it won't move forwards when level, too high and the machine goes forward faster but does not crumble the soil up properly. The machine will "dig in" occasionally, it stops inching forwards and inches downwards instead, if you are quick, lifting the handles pulls the skid out decreasing the drag and the machine moves forward, but often it has sunk too far and wiggling from side to side whilst pressing on the handles is required, followed by lifting once the machine begins to climb out. The row end is tricky, letting the machine lift out or trying to turn it round with the machine at depth are both difficult and a combination of the two is normally used. I cultivate along what is to be the row ends first to "soften" the ground. It is often easier to do the plot at about 4" depth, then go over at right angles to a depth of 10" than to try to get 10" depth in one go. This enables you to stick two pairs of rotors on for the second pass (if you have been using one pair earlier,) and knocks out any bits you have missed between rows on the first pass.


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