Monday, 28 April 2008

The Other Half of Yesterday – the Rotovator

I finished at the alambic at around 2 pm, I realised that the sun was still shining and the clouds were still high and white. The rain wasn’t coming in for a while so I headed back home to grab a few hours in the garden.

It was time to get the rotovator out and see if I could get it started. I’ve decided that there is a knack to getting pull start engines working. I have the Briggs and Stratton engines down to a fine tee and can usually get them going on the first real pull. The rotovator has a Husqvana engine and I battled with it last year.

In fact, last years experiences left me wondering why on earth do people use a rotovator; they just don’t work, as mine happily walked over the surface barely leaving a mark. Usually this was after me battling for half an hour trying to get it started and I would be left resembling a jelly that’s been left out in the sun.

I’d read a bit about what to get so had bought a reasonably powerful one, 5 hp, with about 2 ft of ‘cut’ and a reverse gear. The first problem became apparent when I tried to move it after putting it together. I could barely lift it! Then came the fun of trying to disengage the front wheel (transport wheel) to move it up out of the way, I still can only just get the spring to stretch enough but I keep telling myself that there is no danger of it dropping down while rotavating.

So I heaved the rotovator round to the side garden, moved the lever to the start position and pulled…and pulled and pulled the cord. Nothing. I checked the fuel again, that looked fine, I checked the spark plug cap was back on correctly, it was. Time for a cup of tea and thought. I decided to put more, for that read this years, petrol in and was really surprised by how much it took. The outlet from the tank must be quite high. There was a lot in there but it thought it was out of fuel. After a few more pulls I finally got petrol through the system and it started.

The weeds have sprung up in the last month to six weeks while the ground has been unworkable there is still a lot of wheat germinating from when this was field a year ago.

In my naivety when watching people rotovate I though it was just a case of starting up the machine and walking behind it while it did all the hard work for you. I was oh so wrong, if you do that it does just race off over the top of the ground leaving a few little cuts to mark its passing.

No the technique is quite simple, you have a 5 hp engine that just wants to shoot off away from you and your job is to stop it, act as its brake and force it to scrabble into the ground. So anyone out there thinking of tractor pulling or acting as anchorman for a tug-of-war team, I think this would be a admirable warm up exercise.

It was hard work and I was really thankful I’d got a reverse gear; about every two metres I would be unable to hold the machine back and it would skip forward and not dig a bit. With the reverse gear I could back up easily without having to drag the machine back. It’s about as heavy as me and to the top of the handles it’s about three quarters my height and is very unwieldy. But eventually I got the first area done although I had to stop after every two passes of the 30 ft stretch. I now have an impressive set of calluses on my hands too, I don't usually use gloves as I find it really difficult to get any that fit and still be able to feel what I'm doing but I very quickly found a pair to give my hands some protection.


Stinking Billy said...

I wish I had the technical expertise to give you some advice, but I can't even solve our own problem - a high-pressure garden hose which has quit on us. Our neighbour says thay are useless, he had one and had to get it repaired three times before he threw it out.

aims said...

Oh Deb - I just can't imagine days like this. I'm exhausted just reading it. I started and had to lay down for a nap and now a couple of hours have gone by and I'm back.

Stew said...

We bought a second hand one. Bloody marvelous they are. The reverse gear is a MUST