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Old 10-04-2015, 07:38 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
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Posts: 175
Default How to use a rotavator properly - ? (long)

Rather late with this question, as I've spent all day rotavating and am
now done (done in, actually). I'd never used one before, but the chap
whose garden I was doing had, and had hired one for me to use (he being
'just past it').

The plot is a tennis court size, all used for vegetables. All flattened
out due to over wintering, but there had been rows of beans, etc., with
paths in between.

My day has been *exhausting*!!! I couldn't help thinking the whole time
that I was doing it wrong. I got better as the hours went by, but still
I think there must be techniques that I did not know about (nor the chap
whom I was helping).

Judging by all (ALL) the youtubes I've just watched, there aren't many
experts out there either (some of them are laughable!).

There were no instructions with the hired rotavator. The machine was a
four-gang job, with a sharp disc at either end of the digging axle.

So ... I've a few questions for people who are used to using these
beasts:

(1) Is it meant to be so bloody hard? It was like wrestling a tractor
all day.

(2) Wheel up, or down? At first, I put the wheel down, because I found
this was the only way I could lever the machine out of a hole.

(3) A bit later, I put the wheel back up, and developed a twisting,
side-to-side, wrangling sort of action to shove the bugger on to firmer
ground and get out of the hole.

(4) The "holes" tended to be softer soil, where the thing just dug
itself in deeper, because harder soil was in front, and it didn't like
tackling that. This naturally happened when I hit a bean trench area
followed by a path area.

(5) I ended up forking a whole area where the soil was very firm: the
machine just skated over it, and didn't look like making progress even
after 2 or 3 passes. The forking (I just levered the soil into lumps, I
didn't turn it over) had a very good effect: the machine could get
purchase on the lumps, to do its stuff.

(6) What is the flipping bar poking down at the back of the thing for?
It just seemed to be leaving a line in the soil; it certainly wasn't a
plough (what good would that be anyway?) and it was no good for levering
the machine about: it just sank deep into the ground when I tried that.

(7) Half throttle or full throttle? I did most work on half, because it
went too fast to dig in, on full throttle. I made 3 passes over the
whole plot, and went full throttle on the last pass, because this
definitely seemed more effective on the now-chopped up soil.


The youtubes I've watched almost all seemed to be rotavating soil that
has been previously rotavated (in previous seasons I mean). Those where
the soil was virgin seemed to be as cack-handed and Chaplinesque as my
own efforts.

So (spare me the scorn and the "well obviously.." comments) if anyone
has Top Tips, or a proper good youtube, to pass on, I'd be most grateful!

John
(despite everything, very grateful that I was not asked to dig the plot
with a spade or fork!).

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Old 10-04-2015, 09:16 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: May 2012
Posts: 2,882
Default How to use a rotavator properly - ? (long)

On 10/04/2015 19:38, Another John wrote:
Rather late with this question, as I've spent all day rotavating and am
now done (done in, actually). I'd never used one before, but the chap
whose garden I was doing had, and had hired one for me to use (he being
'just past it').

The plot is a tennis court size, all used for vegetables. All flattened
out due to over wintering, but there had been rows of beans, etc., with
paths in between.

My day has been *exhausting*!!! I couldn't help thinking the whole time
that I was doing it wrong. I got better as the hours went by, but still
I think there must be techniques that I did not know about (nor the chap
whom I was helping).

Judging by all (ALL) the youtubes I've just watched, there aren't many
experts out there either (some of them are laughable!).

There were no instructions with the hired rotavator. The machine was a
four-gang job, with a sharp disc at either end of the digging axle.

So ... I've a few questions for people who are used to using these
beasts:

(1) Is it meant to be so bloody hard? It was like wrestling a tractor
all day.

(2) Wheel up, or down? At first, I put the wheel down, because I found
this was the only way I could lever the machine out of a hole.

(3) A bit later, I put the wheel back up, and developed a twisting,
side-to-side, wrangling sort of action to shove the bugger on to firmer
ground and get out of the hole.

(4) The "holes" tended to be softer soil, where the thing just dug
itself in deeper, because harder soil was in front, and it didn't like
tackling that. This naturally happened when I hit a bean trench area
followed by a path area.

(5) I ended up forking a whole area where the soil was very firm: the
machine just skated over it, and didn't look like making progress even
after 2 or 3 passes. The forking (I just levered the soil into lumps, I
didn't turn it over) had a very good effect: the machine could get
purchase on the lumps, to do its stuff.

(6) What is the flipping bar poking down at the back of the thing for?
It just seemed to be leaving a line in the soil; it certainly wasn't a
plough (what good would that be anyway?) and it was no good for levering
the machine about: it just sank deep into the ground when I tried that.

(7) Half throttle or full throttle? I did most work on half, because it
went too fast to dig in, on full throttle. I made 3 passes over the
whole plot, and went full throttle on the last pass, because this
definitely seemed more effective on the now-chopped up soil.


The youtubes I've watched almost all seemed to be rotavating soil that
has been previously rotavated (in previous seasons I mean). Those where
the soil was virgin seemed to be as cack-handed and Chaplinesque as my
own efforts.

So (spare me the scorn and the "well obviously.." comments) if anyone
has Top Tips, or a proper good youtube, to pass on, I'd be most grateful!

John
(despite everything, very grateful that I was not asked to dig the plot
with a spade or fork!).

Sounds to me as if you had the wrong sort of machine for the job you
were doing.
I presume from your description that you had a machine like this
http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/f...pspzbhzwr8.jpg

What you should have had is this sort of machine
http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/f...ps7zbvr0kk.jpg

But the best thing would have been to hire a man with a professional
Rotavator to come in and do the job.
By the sounds of it it might still be worth getting a man in and for you
to watch how he does it.

I've been using Rotavators for around 60 years now from a Howard bantam
through Howard Gem, Woolsey twin 6 which was a blade driven machine with
a 6ft cutting width to a Pasquali 2 wheeled tractor with a 30 inch
Rotavator attachment.
The answer to rotavating is having the right machine for the job.

David @ a still dry side of Swansea Bay
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Old 10-04-2015, 09:18 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
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Posts: 727
Default How to use a rotavator properly - ? (long)

Another John wrote:

So (spare me the scorn and the "well obviously.." comments) if anyone
has Top Tips, or a proper good youtube, to pass on, I'd be most grateful!


If you use a self-propelled rear tine machine, it shouldn't be too
difficult. The only U.K. machine I know is the Howard, which is a monster
to turn (an neighbor of my parents used to hire his out, with him
operating.). I love my Troy-Bilt, but don't think they ever emigrated from
the U.S. For virgin soil and a biggish garden, might make more sense to
hire a tractor with farmer attached to do the work. There are
tractor-driven rotovator that will deal with anything up to and possibly
including granite.


--
Gary Woods AKA K2AHC- PGP key on request, or at home.earthlink.net/~garygarlic
Zone 5/4 in upstate New York, 1420' elevation. NY WO G
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Old 10-04-2015, 10:20 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
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Posts: 1,869
Default How to use a rotavator properly - ? (long)


"Another John" wrote in message
]...
Rather late with this question, as I've spent all day rotavating and am
now done (done in, actually). I'd never used one before, but the chap
whose garden I was doing had, and had hired one for me to use (he being
'just past it').

The plot is a tennis court size, all used for vegetables. All flattened
out due to over wintering, but there had been rows of beans, etc., with
paths in between.

My day has been *exhausting*!!! I couldn't help thinking the whole time
that I was doing it wrong. I got better as the hours went by, but still
I think there must be techniques that I did not know about (nor the chap
whom I was helping).

Judging by all (ALL) the youtubes I've just watched, there aren't many
experts out there either (some of them are laughable!).

There were no instructions with the hired rotavator. The machine was a
four-gang job, with a sharp disc at either end of the digging axle.

So ... I've a few questions for people who are used to using these
beasts:

(1) Is it meant to be so bloody hard? It was like wrestling a tractor
all day.

(2) Wheel up, or down? At first, I put the wheel down, because I found
this was the only way I could lever the machine out of a hole.

(3) A bit later, I put the wheel back up, and developed a twisting,
side-to-side, wrangling sort of action to shove the bugger on to firmer
ground and get out of the hole.

(4) The "holes" tended to be softer soil, where the thing just dug
itself in deeper, because harder soil was in front, and it didn't like
tackling that. This naturally happened when I hit a bean trench area
followed by a path area.

(5) I ended up forking a whole area where the soil was very firm: the
machine just skated over it, and didn't look like making progress even
after 2 or 3 passes. The forking (I just levered the soil into lumps, I
didn't turn it over) had a very good effect: the machine could get
purchase on the lumps, to do its stuff.

(6) What is the flipping bar poking down at the back of the thing for?
It just seemed to be leaving a line in the soil; it certainly wasn't a
plough (what good would that be anyway?) and it was no good for levering
the machine about: it just sank deep into the ground when I tried that.

(7) Half throttle or full throttle? I did most work on half, because it
went too fast to dig in, on full throttle. I made 3 passes over the
whole plot, and went full throttle on the last pass, because this
definitely seemed more effective on the now-chopped up soil.


The youtubes I've watched almost all seemed to be rotavating soil that
has been previously rotavated (in previous seasons I mean). Those where
the soil was virgin seemed to be as cack-handed and Chaplinesque as my
own efforts.

So (spare me the scorn and the "well obviously.." comments) if anyone
has Top Tips, or a proper good youtube, to pass on, I'd be most grateful!

John
(despite everything, very grateful that I was not asked to dig the plot
with a spade or fork!).


Get a man in to do it. It's worth every penny.


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Old 11-04-2015, 01:35 AM posted to uk.rec.gardening
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Default How to use a rotavator properly - ? (long)

On Friday, April 10, 2015 at 7:38:49 PM UTC+1, Another John wrote:

four-gang job, with a sharp disc at either end of the digging axle.

So ... I've a few questions for people who are used to using these
beasts:

(1) Is it meant to be so bloody hard? It was like wrestling a tractor
all day.

(2) Wheel up, or down? At first, I put the wheel down, because I found
this was the only way I could lever the machine out of a hole.

(3) A bit later, I put the wheel back up, and developed a twisting,
side-to-side, wrangling sort of action to shove the bugger on to firmer
ground and get out of the hole.

(4) The "holes" tended to be softer soil, where the thing just dug
itself in deeper, because harder soil was in front, and it didn't like
tackling that. This naturally happened when I hit a bean trench area
followed by a path area.

(5) I ended up forking a whole area where the soil was very firm: the
machine just skated over it, and didn't look like making progress even
after 2 or 3 passes. The forking (I just levered the soil into lumps, I
didn't turn it over) had a very good effect: the machine could get
purchase on the lumps, to do its stuff.

(6) What is the flipping bar poking down at the back of the thing for?
It just seemed to be leaving a line in the soil; it certainly wasn't a
plough (what good would that be anyway?) and it was no good for levering
the machine about: it just sank deep into the ground when I tried that.

(7) Half throttle or full throttle? I did most work on half, because it
went too fast to dig in, on full throttle. I made 3 passes over the
whole plot, and went full throttle on the last pass, because this
definitely seemed more effective on the now-chopped up soil.


The youtubes I've watched almost all seemed to be rotavating soil that
has been previously rotavated (in previous seasons I mean). Those where
the soil was virgin seemed to be as cack-handed and Chaplinesque as my
own efforts.

So (spare me the scorn and the "well obviously.." comments) if anyone
has Top Tips, or a proper good youtube, to pass on, I'd be most grateful!

John
(despite everything, very grateful that I was not asked to dig the plot
with a spade or fork!).


The discs aren't sharp, they stop your foot or other stupid people's foot (standing too close) from getting pulled in and rotovated.

1) No

2)The nose wheel is a transport wheel (think wheelbarrow) it should be pinned up whilst using the rotovator.

6) Depth bar (very important)

7) Full throttle

Proper operation.

Do not fight it or try to control/manage it, it is extremely tiring.

The trick is, to grab the handles, and push down on the depth bar. This pins the rotovator down and stops it moving forward, with very little effort from you. Because it can't move forward, it digs down (limited by the tine depth) when it has reached where you want it, release some pressure from on top of the handle. It will now move forward. Balance the push down motion with the letting go forward. It should then dig and move forward at an even combination.

All you have to do, is keep a little balanced downward pressure, to get the mixture of digging and moving forward right. Get this right and it's easy.

Yours RH

20 years with Honda (UK) Power Equipment (Lawn & Garden) and 10 of those as area manager.


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Old 11-04-2015, 08:43 AM
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I agree with the others, it's partly down to having the right machine and yes I think it's unfortunate you were not shown how to correctly use the depth bar as Road_Hog has explained.

Better luck next time, if you haven't been put off for life!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Road_Hog[_2_] View Post
On Friday, April 10, 2015 at 7:38:49 PM UTC+1, Another John wrote:
[color=blue][i]
four-gang job, with a sharp disc at either end of the digging axle.

So ... I've a few questions for people who are used to using these
beasts:
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Old 11-04-2015, 11:00 AM posted to uk.rec.gardening
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Posts: 175
Default How to use a rotavator properly - ? (long)

OP here -- thanks to all, in particular to Road Hog: yes, if I'd had
your post _before_ the operation then all would have been well!

No, not put off doing it again: keen to have another go, better prepared
as I now am!

The hire company should provide a copy of the basic operating
instructions with the machine -- they themselves knew nothing about
operating it. And it cost 62 quid plus VAT for the day!

Thanks again
John
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Old 31-03-2019, 10:22 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
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Posts: 1
Default How to use a rotavator properly - ? (long)

On Saturday, 11 April 2015 11:00:46 UTC+1, Another John wrote:
OP here -- thanks to all, in particular to Road Hog: yes, if I'd had
your post _before_ the operation then all would have been well!

No, not put off doing it again: keen to have another go, better prepared
as I now am!

The hire company should provide a copy of the basic operating
instructions with the machine -- they themselves knew nothing about
operating it. And it cost 62 quid plus VAT for the day!

Thanks again
John


Wish I had read this before. I reckon I learnt most of it by practice today, but it took a few punishing hours of wrestling with it before the "lean on the rear" approach became obvious, though even then there's still a fair bit of humping the thing about to do.


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