Thanks got to Vinny for this account of his efforts to bring our very own Merry Tiller back to life.


“I spotted the Merry Tiller  when Stuart showed me round the common tool shed, I factored this in to my plans for clearing my plot (No 33) once all of the heavy workload was complete (weed clearance and moving an overgrown grass path.)


So I got the Tiller out of the shed and attempted to start the machine but to no success, at this point Stuart came over and we conducted a brief inspection in to the non-starting engine which resulted in the removal of the engine (only once I had electrocuted Stuart with the condenser / spark plug) ha, ha…  I then agreed to take the engine home and have a look at it (semi -committed)… but it was turning in to personal challenge as I couldn’t return empty handed!

DSC_2073I went through the 101 of engine repair and looked at the electrics and found that the spark plug was a bit cracked, so I change this out to no avail, as we had a spark but no engine turnover. I then concentrated on the carburettor and the fuel system where I stripped the carburettor and checked it was working correctly…everything was in good working order?

I then removed the cylinder head  and found the valves and piston gunked up, so I cleaned them up thinking the fuel / air mixture was compromised due to the carbon deposits? I then noticed that the piston was not moving up and down when I pulled the start cord…hum! I suspected there was something major wrong with the engine  internal parts?

DSC_2075I  removed  the crank case and found the piston connection rod totally destroyed ( I think the engine oil had run dry). At this point I started to look on the internet to source the engine manufacture and parts required to repair the engine. I did a bit of digging on some Woolsey Merry Tiller enthusiast web sites, where the information pointed to the engine being manufactured by Briggs and Stratton? So I contacted Brigs and Stratton in the USA who informed me (after sending photos of the engine) that this is a Tecumseh engine (French / Italian).

20140914_185156With this info I contacted a distributor  in Poland who confirmed the engine manufacturer and the model type. From this contact I learnt that the engine was manufacture in the early eighties (1982) and that the factory that built the engine in was no longer standing.  With this new info I was able to find an online manual and identified the part number for the piston connection rod. With a bit of internet wizardry I sourced a new OEM part on the UK EBay, but the new part was not enough to fix the engine as  I had to grind and polish the crank shaft and blend  the piston head as this had been badly scored when the connection rod exploded.

After some TLC I got the engine to rotate freely by hand and then added fuel and crossed my fingers as I pulled the rope? The engine didn’t start on the first five or six pulls but then it bust in to life…Hoorah.

With a large grin on my face I left it running and vibrating around my back garden patio for 10 minutes (to the amusement of the kids and annoyance of the wife) and then I started it again to ensure it was not a fluke…the rest is history.

I really enjoyed fixing this engine as I am an engineer by trade, albeit electrical biased and now in management (promoted out of the coal face), but this is as fantastic piece of solid British garden machinery  that all the plotters can now use to lessen the burden of tilling the land. And as new acting authority on Tillers I can offer instruction on the use and maintenance of the Tiller if required .

I am not a qualified engine mechanic but I have worked on Tornado F3 and GR1 jet aircraft engines in a previous life (12 years RAF 1990 to 2002) so I can turn my hand to most engineering type things. If anybody on the  site requires assistance please just ask?  But I don’t work for free…cups of tea, jam, chutney or biscuits are all tradable goods!”