YOUR SOURCE FOR
bcs tillers, bcs sickle bars, bcs lawn mowers, bcs snowblowers, bcs brush mowers, bcs sweepers, bcs chipper / shredder
bcs attachments & bcs accessories
rotary plows, mini hay balers, hay rakes, spaders, cultivators, flail mowers, seeder, potato digger plow, utility trailers & more!
It is a super-compact, 2-wheel (single axle), walk behind version of a 4-wheel farm tractor, made with the same automotive-style construction (automotive type clutch, all gear and shaft drive) and versatility (accepting many different implements) that you would find in a farm/utility tractor. An additional feature of our walk-behind tractors is their ability to have the handlebars fully ”reversed” to give the tractor front or rear-PTO capability. For example: soil working implements perform best in the rear (so tire tracks are eliminated), while mowers obviously work best in front of the tractor (mowing before the tractor pushes the material over).
Many names are used to describe the same machine: Walk-behind tractor, 2-wheel tractor, single-axle tractor, hand tractor, walking tractor, pedestrian tractor, pedestrian controlled tractor, foot tractor. We have chosen “walk-behind tractor” simply because it seems the most accurate and descriptive.
For small farms and properties, steep or rough areas, walk-behind tractors simply make more sense from several standpoints: 1. Size 2. Cost 3. Safety 4. Efficiency 5. Versatility and even on larger farms/properties or even in cities, Walk-behind tractors have a place due to their extremely compact nature and versatility. For example:
One of the questions we get asked all the time is: "why would I choose a Diesel Engine?" Well, here are some reasons to mull over:
First, we'll do diesel PROS:
And, to be fair, here are some 'CONS' to the diesel engines:
Most of the time, the choice comes down to Economics: how long will it take for the cost savings of running a diesel to pay for the higher initial investment? Typically, folks who are putting a lot of hours on the tractor (200 to 250 plus hours per year) would be well advised to consider the diesel, because the extra investment will pay off in a reasonable amount of time. Of course, the higher the price of fuel is, the quicker it pays off! (even if diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline, the fuel cost savings still add up--more slowly, of course--but keep in mind that the diesel uses 1/2 to 1/3 the fuel of the gas engines.)
If the tractor is only used 50 - 100 hours or so per year, diesel is really not an economically desirable option...it would take a lifetime (or more) to pay for itself. (Unless, of course, you would choose the diesel solely based on other reasons, like being able to use a biofuel, etc.)
One way to answer this question is: “How much time do you have?” Since you are not likely to wear out a walk-behind tractor quickly, no matter how much land you are using it on!; But in practical terms, you wouldn’t want to use a walk-behind tractor to mow 30 acres or till 10 acres; those scales are better suited to 4-wheel tractors, perhaps in combination with walk-behinds. In terms of using a walk-behind tractor as your Primary Tractor, most of our customers are soilworking an average of 1-3 acres, or mowing/haymaking an average of 5-15 acres. Now, there are exceptions, of course: We do have customers using primarily walk-behinds for tillage on larger acreages, but usually with multiple walk-behinds. And we have some users making hay on 20 acres plus, on terrain too steep/rough/wet to use 4-wheel tractors effectively. (One customer of ours was relying on a neighbor and his 4-wheel tractor to bale his hay, and the neighbor was only able to make hay on 10-12 acres because of the 4-wheel tractors’ limitations on the terrain. Now, with walk-behind hay harvesting equipment, he hays over 20 acres of his land and has much better quality hay because it gets harvested at its prime, not when the neighbor has all his own hay done!)
With certain implements, yes. There is a “mowing sulky” which attaches to the engine end of the tractor (which is the rear when mowing) and allows the operator to sit and ride while mowing, raking hay, etc. (The geometry of a walk-behind tractor does not lend itself to a “vulky”, [stand-up sulky/platform] – we have tried this!)
IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS THOUGH:
The mowing sulky does have a place, however, on larger, flatter areas with a minimum of obstacles to maneuver around. It detaches and re-attaches quickly (within a minute), so you can “drop it off” when the going gets tough. As much as we mow with a walk-behind tractor on our own farm here in Kentucky, though, we never use a sulky – the hills are too steep, and besides we prefer walking – agreed by doctors worldwide as the best exercise for humans.
Now, there is another way to ride a walk-behind: With a utility trailer or a “transport sulky”. Both of these attach with the tractor in the “rear-PTO” (soilworking) mode. The utility trailers have a built-in seat and footrest to allow the operator to safely ride while hauling goods. The transport sulky has extremely limited use, as it will haul nothing but you; it’s only redeeming feature is that you can transport the tractor while certain soilworking implements are attached (tiller, moldboard plow, swivel rotary plow) to get from Point A to Point B quicker. (No, you cannot use the tiller with the transport sulky attached! The sulky holds the tiller/plow out of the ground while attached to the tractor). The trailers are far more practical (and fun, since now you can more effectively and safely use the “transport” gear of the tractor to zip around hauling stuff), although you cannot have any other implement attached to the tractor while using it. (Well, I guess you could toss 2 or 3 implements into the trailer and head out to the back 40!).
P.T.O. stands for Power Take Off. This is the part or flange on the tractor where the tractor powers the implement (tiller, mower, etc.) via a rotating shaft. The P.T.O. on walk-behind tractors is engaged by a control independent of the wheel drive controls, so the PTO (and therefore the implement) may be operated whether the wheel drive is engaged or not, and conversely the wheel drive may be operated with or without the PTO (and therefore the implement) operating.
8. If the tractors accept rear-PTO and front PTO implements, does that mean they have a PTO on the front and rear?
No. There is only one PTO on the tractor, and it is located on the end of the tractor opposite the engine. The thing to remember is that the entire handlebar assembly on the tractor reverses (swings around) 180° so that the handlebars are either opposite the engine (rear PTO, or “soilworking” mode) or on the same side as the engine (front PTO or “mowing” mode). The PTO does not change locations, except in relative terms; only the handlebars change.
Not the Brands we offer at Earth Tools! Worldwide, several walk-behind tractors use either belt and/or chain drives, but these systems are not reliable and, in the case of belts, rob 10-20% of available horsepower through friction.
10. Aren’t belts good because they allow slippage to absorb shock, so other components won’t be damaged?
In the case where shafts, gearboxes, etc. in the power train are of inferior quality, YES. However, in the case of the tractors WE offer, the entire power train is constructed of through-hardened precision-machined gears and shafts supported by ball bearings, all in full oil bath: SUPERIOR QUALITY. Amidst the pressed-powdered-steel or cast iron gears and cold-rolled shafts supported by brass bushings that the lawn & garden industry’s disposable“gearboxes” (transaxles) are full of, it’s virtually impossible to find components of this quality any more. With a gear-train as sturdy as what our tractors offer, the automotive-type clutch provides what slippage/shock protection is needed. Some implements do have belt-drives for extra shock-protection (Flail mower, chipper/shredder, hayrake/tedder) and the rotary mowers have swinging “breakaway” style blades, just like a full-sized tractor “bush-hog”. A few implements also use a shear bolt in the PTO input shaft for extra protection….again, just like a full-sized tractor.
It depends on many things ... and in some cases, it may boil down to personal preference! To us, the real question is: What implements do you want to be able to run with your walk-behind tractor? (Note: Make sure to think into the future about this: an investment in this tractor as a power source is going to last you many, many years, so think about what you may want to add in the future). The larger the tractor, the more implements it will effectively run – up to the BCS 853/Grillo G110. (While the largest units in both brands are better suited for certain applications, they are actually not as well suited to as many tasks overall as the second-to-the-largest tractors). So the implement choices and sizes will be mostly what dictate the size of the tractor you need to drive them.
It should also be mentioned that BCS originally started it’s company building motorized mowing equipment, while Grillo started theirs producing motorized tillage equipment. While both companies have adapted/refined/evolved their tractors over the years to handle a multitude of implements and applications, it is interesting to note that some of the early design “paradigms”, if you will, are still in place. For example: in our opinion, Grillo builds better tiller implements than BCS, but BCS builds better cutter (sickle) bar mower implements than Grillo. Also, the BCS tractors are designed for good operator comfort with ALL implements (front- or rear-PTO) while in the Grillo line, some tractors are a bit more awkward for front-PTO implements (such as the Grillo G131).
PowerSafe™ is BCS’s brand name for a new “hydro-mechanical” clutch system introduced by BCS in Europe in 2011, and in North America in 2012. It appears in North America on the BCS models 739, 749 and 750. It is a clutch that uses hydraulic pressure to press the clutch plates together (rather than spring-tension, like in any “standard” clutch) to transfer power. Therefore, tractors with the PowerSafe clutch have a built-in hydraulic micro-pump, which circulates oil through an oil filter and to the clutch. This type of clutch is also in an oil bath, so it is cooled by the circulating oil (rather than just by air) and is therefore supposedly harder to overheat.
This type of system has never been used before in a walk-behind tractor, and frankly, we at Earth Tools do not know what the durability will be over time. As I can see it now (Joel, Earth Tools owner, writing 1/12/2015), here are lists of the advantages/disadvantages:
One further note: the “safety” system on the tractors with standard clutches is what you have been used to for the last 30 years, if you operated any power equipment at all: When you let go of the “safety” handle on the handlebars, the engine quits. This passes all North American safety standards for walk-behind power equipment. AND: If the operator needs to walk away from the machine while it is running, there is a provision to do so: Simply squeeze the clutch handle, and engage a small latch, which keeps the clutch handle in the “squeezed” position…this automatically keeps the “safety” lever down and allows the engine to run….but with the clutch handle squeezed, no power can go to the wheels or implement. If the clutch is released, the safety lever pops up instantly, and kills the engine. (I mention this because BCS America’s website implies that the PowerSafe-equipped tractors are the only models where you can walk away from the handlebars and the engine will not quit. This is a complete fallacy!! BCS is just trying hard to market the technology that they recently invested so many millions of Dollars/Euros in.)
The bottom line is this: As stated above, we don’t know how the PowerSafe clutches will hold up in the long run. They may be great, they may be a bomb…but without several years of service to look at, we just don’t know. What we DO know is that the standard clutches have been around for many years, and when used properly, they can easily last up to 2000 hours of service….and that they can be replaced pretty easily by anyone who has basic mechanical skill.
So, take your pick…we stock all models (and we stock plenty of PowerSafe oil filters, too!)
Not necessarily. One of the benefits of this type of equipment is the availability of a simple and straightforward design (no hydro/hydraulic systems [unless you choose one of the new BCS models with the PowerSafe hydraulic clutch…which we are frankly not sure about yet], no belt-drives, no complicated electrical systems) which allows for easy servicing by the owner. Even with rudimentary mechanical skills, owners of these machines are typically able to replace what parts are needed themselves. And if you have trouble: We’re a phone call away! (We have even walked our customers through transmission teardowns [extremely rare, but I can think of a few instances] over the phone). We keep over $100,000 worth of spare parts on hand, and since walk-behind tractors and implements are all we do, we know these machines inside and out.
In the rare case that this well-made equipment should have a warranty failure in the field, we will send you replacement parts at no charge and pay the shipping to get the defective parts back to us, if needed. For complete info, please see our WARRANTY section.
The walk-behind tractor market in Europe is very much like the 4-wheel tractor market here in that usually, companies that produce the tractors seldom produce the implements that are used on them; most of the implements are made by independent manufacturers. Some implements are purchased and private-labeled by the tractor manufacturer so to appear to have their “own implements”. Sometimes, if the popularity of an implement makes it cost-effective to do so, a tractor manufacturer will actually produce certain types of implements. For example, BCS and Grillo both produce their own tillers and cutter (sickle) bar mowers. BCS also produces their own lawn mowers and single-stage snowblowers, and recently started producing their own power sweeper after buying it for many years. The chipper/shredder, 21” and 26” brush mowers, moldboard plows and utility trailer that are sold under the BCS brand are all produced by different companies.
Now, to answer the question!: Once we at Earth Tools became aware of the dozens of companies in Europe (primarily Italy) producing implements for walk-behind tractors, we began importing these items directly in order to increase the versatility and usefulness of the walk-behind tractor. We now deal with about 20 different implement or accessory manufacturers in order to offer the selection shown on the website.
Boy, wouldn’t that be nice! Unfortunately, No. Every single brand is different. Grillo and BCS used to share the same PTO when the companies were working together, but BCS has now changed theirs. However: All the independent European implement manufacturers deal with this issue by simply offering an implement with an interchangeable PTO flange and shaft. That way an implement dealer doesn’t have to stock, say, 15 different rotary plows to fit all the Italian tractor brands; he just stocks one or two plows and 15 different PTO flange/shafts. In the case of implements that are manufactured by the tractor company; the PTO flanges are typically not removable, but cast into the gearbox housings … so they will only fit “their” tractors. In some cases, an adapter can be used (if available) to adapt implements if the PTO shaft turns the proper direction! Believe it or not, not even PTO direction (or speed, for that matter) are standard on walk-behind tractors, although most of them are the same. In the case of the BCS and Grillo implement compatibility, it goes like this: Rear-PTO implements (soilworking tools, wood splitter, pressure washer and sprayer, etc.) can usually be interchanged with an adaptor. Most front-PTO implements cannot, however – because when the forward direction is reversed on the Grillo G85 through 107, the PTO turns the opposite direction as well. (The BCS PTO does not reverse when the wheel direction is changed). Therefore, the only mowers that can be interchanged are the cutter (sickle) bar mowers, which have reciprocating blades, so they don’t care which way the PTO turns.
17. If the PTO shaft on the Grillo machines does backward when you put the wheels in reverse, won’t that ruin the gearbox in the mowers because the blade has to reverse direction?
They already thought of that … and the fact that a walk-behind tractor does not have a “Live PTO”, like most modern 4-wheel tractors do. How they deal with it is this: On all rotary type mowers (lawn, brush, disk and flail mowers), there is a “ratcheting” mechanism built into the mower gearbox, which allows the PTO shaft to only turn the blade one way. This also serves to let the blade “freewheel” as soon as you pull the clutch on the tractor so the blade momentum will not drive the tractor forward. Therefore, the Grillo G85 / G107 / G110 tractors will not mow while in reverse, because the PTO is turning the wrong way to drive the blades while in reverse. Compared with the BCS tractors, which will mow while in reverse, this could be seen as a nuisance OR as an extra safety feature ... take your pick!
It depends on the size of your property/application, but more importantly it depends on your desired implements.
A larger walk-behind tractor is not necessarily more durable than a smaller one; in fact many of the components are the same … the main difference is the number of features (wheel speeds, horsepower, etc.) the tractor has.
There are two basic classes in our spread of walk-behind tractors: two-working-speed (2ws) models and three-working-speed (3ws) models. Additionally, the 2ws models are divided into ‘non-differential’ and ‘differential’ types.
The BCS 710, 718, 722 and the Grillo G85 series are all 2ws tractors with two speeds forward and reverse in both front and rear PTO modes. (Hey-wait a minute, you may say … the specifications for these tractors say they have 3 speeds forward!! … well, 3rd gear on these tractors, which only functions with the tractor in the rear-PTO mode, is a transport speed [7-8 mph] and not considered a ‘working’ speed. Hence, our classification of “two working speed” tractors).
2ws tractors are good for soilworking applications, and also for snow removal, chipping/shredding, wood splitting (any ‘stationary’ application), but are good for only limited mowing applications because of their limited speed … top mowing speed (2nd gear) is anywhere from 1.4 to 2 mph, depending on the particular model. That’s fairly slow, and most folks wouldn’t want to mow 5 or 10 acres (much less 2 acres) at that speed.
The 3ws tractors are the Grillo G107, G110 and the BCS 739, 749, 852 & 853 and 750 (the Grillo G131 is sort of in a class by itself, and we’ll get to that later). Here, the versatility is greatly expanded by the addition of a faster ‘working speed’ of around 3 mph (the slower gears in the 3ws tractors are essentially the same as 1st and 2nd gears in the 2ws units), which allows larger mowing applications and haymaking to be accomplished much more efficiently, as well as having the slower speeds for soilworking. The third ‘working speed’ also gives the option of a slower transport speed. (4th gear in the 3ws tractors, if so equipped, is the same fast transport speed as the 2ws tractors have in their 3rd gear). The greater horsepower of the 3ws tractors is also more conducive to operating rotary mowers, which tend to consume lots of power. Also, the 3ws tractors all come standard with differential and steering brakes, which greatly assist when mowing (particularly on hillsides). (EXCEPTION: the BCS 739 does NOT have steering brakes, so it is questionable for mowing applications on hilly terrain)
The Grillo Model G131 is geared primarily for soilworking applications, and has 4 working speeds forward for tilling/plowing (plus a 5th ‘transport’ gear) and only 2 forward speeds for mowing/front PTO applications. Also, reversing the handlebars on this machine takes more time because the gearshift levers must be changed (so reversing the handles takes 10 minutes instead of 1 minute), so while mowing is certainly possible with the G131, it is less convenient. The main application of the G131 is its ability to run a reciprocating spader and also handle other heavy soliworking implements, because it is the heaviest-duty walk-behind tractor we offer.
The 749 is essentially the “European” version of the 853. The 749 has the PowerSafe clutch system (see FAQ #12), NO transport speed, and a parking brake that can be set with one hand. (The 853 has parking brakes as well, but it takes two hands to set the brakes) The rest of the features are the same: 3 working speeds in each direction, independent steering brakes, lockable differential, etc., and the tractors share identical internal gearing, same length handlebars, etc.
No. The 750 and 749/852/853 share the same main transmission housing and internal gears/shafts. The standard gas engines are the same, as are handlebar dimensions. The clutches on the 749 and 750 are the same. The differences of the 750 from the 749/852/853 are as follows:
750 has a heavier PTO mounting: An oversized, integral quick-coupling system, which accepts high-vertical-thrust soilworking attachments (namely, the reciprocating spader and the 33” tiller).
750 has larger standard wheels, when comparing to 749/852/853 gas-engine models (of course, wheels can be upgraded on the 749/852/853 for a nominal charge).
750 has external gear-reduction units on axles to reduce ground speeds. Comparing the 749/852/853 with its standard wheels vs. the 750 with its standard wheels, the 750 is about 20% slower. The slower speeds are desirable for some soilworking implements, particularly the spader.
750 is designed to accept factory-made cast-iron front-end weights (mounted directly behind engine) to counter-balance heavy soilworking implements such as the spader and power harrows. (The weight shown for the 750 on the BCS America website INCLUDES these optional weights, which is why it seems so much heavier than the 749/852/853!! It is NOT because the transmission is heavier….in fact, the transmission housings and all internal gears are IDENTICAL SIZE on the BCS 749 and 750)
These differences result in the following advantages/disadvantages on the 750:
Advantage: The 750 will run the reciprocating spader and the 33” tiller. The 749/852/853 will not run a spader and will accept a maximum of the 31” tiller. (A few years ago [when the 945, 946 or 948 was the “big boy” of the BCS line, the 33” tiller had a definite advantage in durability, because it actually used a much heavier gearbox and tines. With the introduction of the 750, however, BCS “skimped” on the 33” tiller: Now it has the same gearbox as the 31” tiller! And while the tines are slightly heavier than the on 31”, they are not as heavy as what USED to be on the 33”…they’re about halfway in-between.
Disadvantage: The integrated quick-coupling system on the 750 is unique to only this tractor model. What this means is that implements configured to fit any other BCS machine will not fit it without an adapter, or possibly two adapters. Also, while we offer implements from several manufacturers with an “integrated quick-coupling” to fit BCS 749/852/853, NO implement manufacturer produces implements with an “integrated quick-coupling” for 750, because worldwide sales one this one model are so low, it is not cost-effective for them to produce such a coupling. Therefore, even if you are buying new implements from us, it can cost more to make them fit a BCS 750, because there may be an adapter (or two) needed. HOWEVER, if the implements being purchased with a 750 are BCS-brand implements, there is a promotion for “Free” quick coupling components for implements on this model, like many other BCS models (see specials page)
Disadvantage: The 750 is rather slow for mowing applications of any size. The gearing that the 750 is equipped with is with soilworking in mind (particularly spading, which requires very slow ground speed).
Disadvantage: The two 38lb. optional front-weights, if installed, need to be removed for virtually all front-PTO implements (mowers, snow blowers, etc.) because they make the engine end of the machine too heavy for proper balance with those implements. The factory-made weights are also pretty costly: About $125 for the pair. (By contrast, we offer our own low-cost front-weight systems for the other tractor models we sell, which can also fit the 750, and accomplish the same goal…see our Accessories page)
In short, there is a reason why our 749/852/853 to 750 sales ratio is around 100 to 1. For the correct application (running a spader, as well as a variety of front-PTO implements) the 750 is the right machine. But the majority of the time, in the BCS line, the 749/852/853 is the better all-around choice.
EARTH TOOLS, Inc.
1525 Kays Branch Road
Owenton, KY 40359
(502) 484-3988 tel.
(502) 484-3357 fax.