As a brand, Troy-Bilt has a long and storied history dating back to well over eight decades. The story begins in the 1930s, way back when the brand was still named Rototiller Inc. The company was formed in a time when The Great Depression set in, and people were looking for ways to become more self-sufficient, so gardening and growing vegetables became ever more popular.
In such a climate, the owner of Kelsey Automobile Company, C. W. Kelsey, was approached by a former employee of his and introduced him to an interesting and innovative German-made product – the so-called “earth-grinders”. Interested in the potential of this new type of tiller, Kelsey established Rototiller Inc. in 1932 in Long Island, New York, immediately becoming the sole distributor for Siemens rotary tillers.
As the business progressed, still importing and distributing the Siemens products, Kelsey started to make improvements and modifications on the tillers, eventually patenting the modifications and starting to make his own line of rotary tillers under the Rototiller name.
About five years after being established, the company moved to Troy, NY, when a rich local businessman, George. B. Cluett, invested in factory space, thereby backing the move. In this period, and up to his retirement in 1957, C. S. Kelsey encouraged the company to release a new model every year, which was a business habit he had taken from his time in the automotive industry.
However, somewhere around this time, he decided to change the strategy and focus on manufacturing and marketing home garden sized tiller, partly inspired by Ed and Carol Robinson’s book about escaping the urban for the rural way of life The Have-More Plan – A Little Land, A Lot of Living. Kelsey hired Ed Robinson to design the company’s new marketing campaign, which first resulted in a pamphlet A Little Power – A Lot of Living, And Not Long after a second one entitled How to Do Wonders with A Little Land.
Two years after Kelsey retired, at the age of 77, Rototillers Inc. became a public stock company, changing hands, names and location as many as three times, until finally a few of the original Troy plant Rototiller employees brought it back to Troy in 1961, under the name Watco Machine Products.
Under this name, the company marketed and manufactured tillers under the auspices of Lyman P. Wood, who was a friend of the Robinson’s (whom Kelsey originally had hired to manage the marketing), and a man who shared their interest in the self-sufficient rural way of life. He, along with some partners, established the Precision Marketing Agency (PMA), which eventually came to own the majority of stocks in Watco Machine Products.
Finally, in 1967, the Troy-Bilt brand was born through a series of not so auspicious circumstances. When PMA took the helm, they started an energetic marketing campaign through mail order, with the newest model and flagship being The Trojan Horse (Troy – Trojan Horse, get it? Yes… not one of the smartest moves, or original, for that matter).
Soon enough, the company faced a trademark dispute, losing it, and were forced to change the name. Troy-Bilt was proposed, as a way of paying homage to Troy, NY, where the company had originally started producing and distributing tiller as Rototiller Inc. thirty years earlier. Watco Machines Products filed a trademark application for the name on October 3rd, 1967, and received it on June 4th, 1968. Thus, the Troy-Bilt brand was born.
The company changed its name to Garden Way Manufacturing, Inc. and had acquired the Bolens brand by 1968. Bolens was – and still is – very well-known throughout the States for their lawn tractors, which were originally introduced as early as 1919. In September 2001, Garden Way Manufacturing, and through it, both the Troy-Bilt and Bolens brands were bought by MTD Consumer Group, an Ohio-based outdoor power equipment manufacturer for the mass market, and has been one of the biggest money-makers for the company since.
Why Choose Troy-Bilt?
Even though the brand started with only a tiller, it gradually grew to encompass a variety of powered and non-powered chore equipment, hand tools and related products, ranging from garden tools to lawn care gear, and from clean up and snow cleaning equipment, to spare parts, odds and ends, as well as a patented line of all-season 4-cycle engines and accessories – the Flex Power Base.
Besides the traditional forward- and counter-rotating tillers, the brand now sticks its label to a variety of garden cultivators, cordless hedge trimmers, as well as a variety of pruning and digging implements. As far as lawn care equipment goes, consumers have a choice between a vast array of riding and walk-behind mowers, as well as the convenient zero-turn mowers, in addition to string trimmers, lawn edgers, and assorted trimmer attachments. There’s also a wide range of clean up equipment, from handheld, wheeled and cordless leaf blowers, through pressure washers and generators, to log splitters and chipper shredder machines.
There’s also a number of snow thrower lines of products – single, two and three-stage throwers, as well as the already mention FLEXTM power base and related attachments. In a nutshell, whether you need help tending to your organically grown veggies, cleaning the lawn, or trimming down the neighbor’s shrubbery that somehow always finds its way over the fence and into your yard, Troy-Bilt’s got you covered.
Alternatively, when the snows set in, and the garden goes to sleep, turn to your Troy-Bilt snow thrower, and send your teenage kids to play outside with it. Preferably, up and down the driveway and patio. Then, when spring comes to town again, use the Troy-Bilt chipper shredder, such as the heavy-duty Troy-Bilt CS4325, to get rid of all the branches that fell during the winter, and reduce them to useful mulch for your flower beds or tree bases.
Troy-Bilt CS4325 250cc Chipper Shredder
The machine makes use of the puissant 250cc engine capable of chipping anything from the fairly soft pair, through pussy willow (great for mulch), to pine trees, which are a pain to chip. The machine is great for use in home gardens, particularly for people who have a lot of trees overhead and who are constantly dealing with falling branches every which way. The machine cuts it all down to size and shreds to manageable and nutritious mulch that you can use in your garden, helping you save time and energy for other, more important projects.
First thing’s first – the CS4325 is very safe to use, despite the powerful motor and the danger that entails. The 12 replaceable cast steel flails that it uses for shredding are at the end of a very deep feed, which makes it impossible for you to even intentionally, let alone accidentally, get your hand snagged, so you can feel very comfortable with it.
The same goes for the two chromium steel knives in the chipping section and their respective chute. Naturally, you should make sure nonetheless that you take all the safety precautions – wear gloves, goggles, and ear muffles at all times, and only clean and tinker around the machine when it’s off. To start the machine, choke the carb, and pull on the ignition in one strong and fluid motion. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get it on the first go, this machine is a bit hard to start. So, in case you’re not confident you can do it “all by yer onesies”, ask someone to help you. However, once started, the machine will eat up almost anything you throw at it. The side-mounted chipper chute admits limbs, branches and stalks up to two inches in diameter, irrespective of how green or dry, soft or hard the wood is. The chips coming out of the discharge chute are about the size of a man’s thumbnail and smaller. The smaller branches tend to go through the chipper largely unscathed, but you can sift them later and use the rest for compost, or just leave it to decompose. To avoid clogging, for one, don’t go over the recommended 2-inch limit, but also make sure to eliminate all the Y joints and cut the branches to as straight chunks as possible prior to chipping.
As far as shredding goes, the reduction ratio is 10:1, meaning you’d have to collect around 50 bushels of organic debris to fill the extra-large 5-bushel collection bag that comes with the purchase. The top-mounted hopper feed works well with twigs, vines, leaves, even cardboard, though avoid putting wet cardboard or rain-soaked leaves, as that might clog up the shredder. Also, be careful to feed it gradually, as putting too much at one go can also cause jams. This is where we come to the biggest drawback of this machine, as accessing the inside of it to clean the jam is very time-consuming. A trap-door near the bottom of the machine would be of great help here.
One great thing is that Troy-Bilt put the basic instructions on the machine itself, so there’s no need to constantly consult the user manual, even if you needed to read them more than once.