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Discussion Starter #1
The wife wanted a Mantis so we headed over to Sears State-side to have a look. They had two Mantis models, a small 2-cycle and a much larger 4-cycle. She really hates 2-cylce engines and the 4-cycle was just too big.

A Goldilocks Craftsman 4-cycle caught her eye. It is model 316.299371 that I think may have been made by Ryobi. I haven't put gas and oil in it yet so can't really give a review but it looks like she should be happy with it. The only down-side I noticed so far is the tiny little hairpin cotter on the clevis pin that provides the height adjustment on the wheels. It is difficult to remove by hand and I can see that getting lost.

She already told me she wants her own Goldilocks gas can. All I have are 5 gallon cans for straight gas and 2 1/2 gallon cans for 2-cycle mix.

If she lets me use it, I'm going to try it out on my compost pile this weekend.
 

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Curiosity got the better of me so I put gas and oil in it and fired it up. The specs in the manual say it runs at 6800 RPM WOT and idles around 3000 or so but it sure didn't sound like it.

I tried it out on my compost pile that's been been untouched for a year. There were quite a few tree roots that invaded it and I was expecting the roots to tangle around the tines like they do with my rear tine Troy-Bilt. The Troy-Bilt is a real PITA to get the tangle of roots off of but this mini-cultivator was a breeze. The tines are held in place by linchpins so no tools are needed to take them off.

The mini-cultivator tines tend to chop up the roots rather than tangle up in them which is good cuz the wife's vegetable garden has been invaded by tree roots.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
One of the features the wife liked about the Mantis was the edger kit that's available for it. When she inquired about an edger for the Craftsman, they said it was discontinued and no longer available. I thought it was going to be a show-stopper but told the wife I would make one if she really wanted it.

Anyway... today the guy from the Sears store called to say he found one back in the storeroom and did we want it? He marked it down from $40 to less than $10. Couldn't pass it up at that price.

I'm really liking this mini tiller. Took it out again today and finished tilling the compost pile. The fast spinning narrow tines do a really good job of turning it into a fine powder. Works much better than my big Troy-Bilt rear tine tiller.
 

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I dredged up this old thread first off to see what year I bought it and to see if I had updated it with a long term review. Looks like I was remiss on the latter or perhaps started another thread on it that I have yet to find.

I don't recall now exactly when but this unit did suffer from a busted crankshaft. Unit was still under warranty so Sears replaced it at no cost.

Anyway, for the long term review. The unit has served me well the last 6 years, always easy to start and ran well until just now. This is the first time it had a hard time to start. I think the primer bulb is nearing EOL from methanol poisoning and due for replacement soon. It hasn't busted but is not as pliable. I don't think it was pumping any gas up into the carb. First press was no different than the 20th. Maybe there are little flapper valves in the carb that dried and warped that was to blame.

I pulled off the air cleaner to see if there was too much gas from all the pumping. Did not smell any gas but there was considerable amount of oil from the crankcase vent recirc. (Note to self: change the oil.) I washed the filter and put it back on soaked in gas to aid in starting. That did the trick and it fired right up. I will need to test run it without the filter in place to see if the oil was from excessive blow-by or just from splashing/foaming from all the jumping about from the torture I put it through.

If I was looking for something to complain about, I can find only two. The choke position is not clearly marked with black on black lettering. With my aging eyes, I've taken to mark my other OPE with a Sharpie but I have only black which won't work on a black background. My other complaint is how the tines jam up on the D shaft from the way they are stamped. Sometimes they need to be given a whack to loosen.

I have yet to try out out the edger attachment that the wife was so insistent she had to have. I need to put down some landscape edging so plan to use the edging blade to cut a groove for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I pulled off the air cleaner to see if there was too much gas from all the pumping. Did not smell any gas but there was considerable amount of oil from the crankcase vent recirc. (Note to self: change the oil.)...
I wish I would have taken note of the oil level back then but alas, I did not. I started the following new thread.
https://www.mytractorforum.com/214-tiller-talk/1305371-craftsman-4-cycle-mini-cultivator-too-much-oil.html#post12083329

I need to change how I check the oil from now on. Old procedure was to remove the fill plug when the unit is vertical and slowly lay it down towards horizontal to see if oil comes up to the threads at which time I upright it again and put the plug back in. If not done on a level surface and laid all the way down, that procedure does not reveal an overfull condition.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The unit has served me well the last 6 years, always easy to start and ran well until just now. This is the first time it had a hard time to start. I think the primer bulb is nearing EOL from methanol poisoning and due for replacement soon. It hasn't busted but is not as pliable. I don't think it was pumping any gas up into the carb. First press was no different than the 20th. Maybe there are little flapper valves in the carb that dried and warped that was to blame.

I pulled off the air cleaner to see if there was too much gas from all the pumping. Did not smell any gas but there was considerable amount of oil from the crankcase vent recirc. (Note to self: change the oil.) I washed the filter and put it back on soaked in gas to aid in starting. That did the trick and it fired right up...
Today when I took it down from storage, no amount of yanking on the starter rope would utter even a sputter. I don't recall if I put it away without gas in it but I put in a bit of fresh gas and a shot of seafoam. The replacement primer bulb was pliable but it took a lot of presses before I saw gas get pumped through the lines.

I got the speedstart drill adapter and tried cranking it with the drill and still could not even get a sputter so I soaked the foam air filter in gas and that finally got it going. My guess is the rubber parts inside the carb were probably dried out and stiff so not pumping gas. It might need a rebuild kit soon.


I have yet to try out out the edger attachment that the wife was so insistent she had to have. I need to put down some landscape edging so plan to use the edging blade to cut a groove for it.
Again, I had a need for the edger to cut a narrow slit in slightly frozen ground. It got the job done.
 

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Joe
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I've had a thirty year love affair with Mantis tillers and they've all been two cycle except for one and it was the 16" Honda powered XL. I bought it only as a flip machine. The throttle was broken due to PO not squeezing the little unlock button. Well, a couple months back I found another Honda powered 9" Mantis and it is the very best small tiller I've owned. What a great little machine. It is probably the last mini tiller I'll own and actually keep. I really liked the two cycle Mantis' but they do have their issues. Very finicky fuel systems. I made a pretty good profit buying non running two strokes and repairing them and selling them. Mantis' are the only mini tiller I fool with.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Today when I took it down from storage, no amount of yanking on the starter rope would utter even a sputter. I don't recall if I put it away without gas in it but I put in a bit of fresh gas and a shot of seafoam...

I got the speedstart drill adapter and tried cranking it with the drill...
Almost an exact repeat of last year. Took a lot of cranking with the speedstart and a lot of presses on the primer bulb before it started. I'm keeping the speedstart chucked up in the drill until I get the carb rebuilt.
 

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Almost an exact repeat of last year. Took a lot of cranking with the speedstart and a lot of presses on the primer bulb before it started. I'm keeping the speedstart chucked up in the drill until I get the carb rebuilt.
Who'da thought the speed of the drill mattered. Well... apparently it does. At low speed the magneto doesn't generate a strong enough spark. I chucked up the speedstart in a faster drill and it starts much quicker.

After using this mini-cultivator for 9 years, I came to the conclusion it could use a little more weight. I popped the wheels off the axle and stuck 5 pound barbell weights to the inside of them. It really helps to keep it from jumping around so much when the tines take a big bite.

2454253
 

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I picked up ten 5 lb weights in the dump for free but they were the solid ones and I needed the webbed style to zip tie through so I paid full retail for those two.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
There are washers welded to the axle which would need to be ground off to use setscrew collars.

What really annoys me about those wheels is the deep treads. Why do they think the wheels need any treads at all? All the treads do is build up with clay and become harder to clean off. I am tempted to go dumpster diving for slicks off of old LawnBoy mowers.

The thought crossed my mind to get rid of those wheels and to put bushings inside the barbell weights and just use them as the wheels. I could make bushings with a hole saw from UHMW or HDPE.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm keeping the speedstart chucked up in the drill until I get the carb rebuilt.
Finally got around to stripping down the carb. Unfortunately, it is going to need rebuilding or replacing. The rubber has gotten hard and curled so the little flapper valves don't work like they should. The rubber tip of the float needle is shot as well.

I've not had any luck finding a rebuild kit and suffering sticker shock on the price that they want for a new carb.

I am also tempted to remove/defeat the duckbill valve in the gas cap. I keep forgetting to loosen the cap when I put it away and it builds up pressure, pushing fuel through the carb, diluting the oil.
 
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