Adding to the BCS family

About a year ago, we bought a used BCS 830 tiller off Craigslist. It was a typical used-market purchase for me: I paid too much for something which ultimately had too many problems. It will be an excellent little tractor when finished, but at the moment it’s in pieces in the barn and I’m still “tilling” the garden by hand.

It’s not that I gave up on fixing it. I just let other projects divert my attention for the last 11 months. However, with summer on the horizon and another season of fighting loosing battles against the weeds, I decided it was time to order the remaining replacement parts from our local BCS dealer.

This put thoughts of BCS tools back in my mind–a subject that I tend to get very enthused about. (I think it’s the absurdly awesome mental image of cutting hay with a blue garden tiller mounting a 5 foot sickle bar while being towed on a sulky.) So, one thing led to another … first I was browsing (and drooling over) the implements list, then I was searching Craigslist, and finally I came home with this:

That would be a BCS 725 tiller with an 8HP Kohler engine and the BIO100 chipper/shredder attachment. I got both for less than the original (still not working) BCS 830 cost. The BCS 725 is at least 18 years old and uses the older spline PTO attachment. Spline-to-3-jaw adapters are readily available, so it’s not a big disadvantage. (If you are looking at a used market BCS tractor, you should consult the BCS model chart available here to determine age, compatibility, and basic features.)

My particular BCS 725 was a single owner machine, bought from our local dealer and serviced there regularly. The tiller sat indoors, as evidenced by its near total lack of rust. The motor still starts on the first pull. The seller said he barely used the tiller implement, which I confirmed by checking the tines:

They are practically new. Funny how much easier it is to buy something used when you are familiar with the product. Immediately after we got home I took the tiller out to the garden and shredded some grassy walkways. This may be the first year our garden doesn’t look like a sod farm.

The chipper was left outside more (thus the rust), but with only two moving parts there’s not a lot that can go wrong. I have to admit that I’ve wanted one of these BIO100 chippers since I first read about them. The chipping blade can handle 3″ limbs. Behind the blade are 28 swinging hammers and the main flywheel weighs 37 pounds. It’s built like a tank, weighing 210 lbs before you attach the tractor, and the design has changed little in the last 20 years. There’s just one problem: they cost $1600 retail. Fortunately, through the wonders of Craigslist, I got the tractor, tiller, and chipper for about 2/3rds of that.

I may not have a garage full of Italian-made sports cars, but I now have a shed full of Italian-made garden tillers and that seems so much more practical!

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25 Responses to Adding to the BCS family

  1. Ali says:

    Ha! I love that, a shed full of Italian-made garden tillers. You make these machines sound so very appealing. I would love a chipper shredder…..

    • lee says:

      Well, I should disclaimer my post by stating that I have very little runtime experience with them so far, but they do get glowing reviews online from owners. I have been very impressed with the build quality while working on my big BCS 830.

  2. Ann says:

    I swear, that chipper brings a tear to my eye…I covet your chipper immensely. Unfortunately, Eric doesn’t share my vision, which is why I still have 2 burn piles to take care of. Insert “Le Sigh” here. Alas.

    I think you really lucked out with that BCS. Way to go. I’d rather have it in the garage than a Ferrari or Lambo.

    • lee says:

      I think Robin was actually more enthused about the chipper than me. We have the same problem with burn piles that sit around for ages. There’s only a narrow window of time in Oregon when you can burn, between the time it dries out sufficiently to light and the time that they ban burning for the summer. There’s also a decent argument to be made for time savings. Robin spent most of an afternoon this week tending a single large brush pile fire. We have two more similar piles to deal with, and that’s not even counting the effort to build the pile at a central location.

      Technically … I’d rather the Ferrari or Lambo though, as it could be sold to help pay down our mortgage.

  3. Ron says:

    Nice find! They sure look like nice machines. You got a great deal on that.

  4. lyssa says:

    I also covet your chipper ­čÖé It really isn’t necessary or practical for our city farm, but it looks so cool!

    • lee says:

      Well, I suppose its practicality could be debated for us too, but at this price I could probably sell the tiller without the chipper and break even. I am excited about some of the potential uses such as chipping woody materials for chicken bedding and mulching green material (such as garden debris) for compost.

  5. sweet looking rig Lee! If I ever finish making/clearing a garden I am going to look for one of those (especially if I can find one that is red because then it will go faster through the work! hehe)!

    • lee says:

      Well, the red ones would be Troy-Bilt. If you find an older Troy horse they are also very well made. Troy tractors don’t support the same range of implements and there are certain mechanical advantages to the BCS design, but the last I heard my parent’s 20+ year old horse is still running fine.

  6. Woody says:

    SWEET! BCS was bought by Ferrari so you could say that your garage is now a stable.

  7. chris says:

    be careful with that chipper. about 20 years ago we set our woods on fire with one of those.

  8. Pingback: Glorious gardening | Farm Folly

  9. Mark says:

    Good luck with the 725. I have had one for years now and love it. A very versitile machine for me, does everything I ask it (just a little slower than a four wheel tractor). I keep expanding my implement collection, bought a rotary plow this year, as no matter hwat type of tractor you have it’s not much good without tools. Keep us posted on how it works out.

    • lee says:

      We’ve been really happy with the 725 so far, but it’s nice to hear from other BCS owners. So far we have used the tiller to break new garden beds and keep the walkways clear of weeds. I’m hoping to use the chipper in the next couple weeks. Our next implement purchase will be the 54″ sickle bar mower, which we’ll mount on the BCS 830 I’ve been fixing.

      That rotary ploy is an amazing implement. If we keep expanding the garden, I’m eventually going to talk myself into buying one. It seems like a huge time savings, both for breaking new soil and re-establishing raised beds or furrows.

      • Mark says:

        I have a bio-100 for mine also. Works good – but it is a small chipper. As with most small units you are limited on feeding due to power. I use mine extensively to shred newspaper to create bedding material for animals. It works very well for that and free newspaper cuts down on my bedding costs.

      • lee says:

        I’ve heard several recommendations about shredding newspaper for bedding. I’m going to have to give that a try.

  10. carol says:

    I see a pto shaft in the photo. IF YOU REPLACED OR EVEN TORE DOWN TO THE SHAFT on your 830, PLEASE PLEASE CONTACT ME. thanks

    • lee says:

      That spindle in the first photo is the transverse shaft from the tiller gearbox. I haven’t disassembled any BCS tractor from the PTO side.

  11. Kurt L. says:

    Hi Lee, dang, your site came up in a Google search for “Rebuilding BCS 830,” and I was hoping to see the results of a head-first dive into the disassembly of a BCS… no doubt you’ve come close to that, but just haven’t found the time to blog it. I just bought an 830; it’s my second BCS, as I find that they break down from time to time, and I can’t stand the down-time. In my experience the weakest part of BCS designs is the PTO control: there are safety interlocks on my 852 to keep the tiller from backing up over the operator’s toes and stuff like that, and invariably when I loan the equipment to inexperienced friends they manage to break stuff when they try and force something. Some of the crucial parts in the linkages are plastic, unfortunately.

    My BCS stable is huge at this point: I’ve been collecting implements since I bought the tractor in 2005, and now includes the tiller, the chipper, a single action sickle bar mower, the wide double action sickle bar mower, the 38″ finish mower (needs rebuilding, got it cheap), the potato harvester, and a cultivator tool set. And now the backup 830 (that seems to have a leaky seal, hence the rebuild search).

    I’m in the mid-Willamette valley, contact me via email if you ever want to talk BCS in person or try something out.

    • lee says:

      Hi Kurt,

      Sorry, no rebuild pictures yet. The BCS 725 has been so reliable so far that I haven’t alloted time to actually work on the 830. I hope to change that this summer. I’ve got a new Honda engine and clutch for it, so mostly it’s a matter of swapping out the big pieces and fixing some of the controls. The PTO control in particular, refuses to be rotated and lots of the cables are problematic.

      How do you like the double action sickle bar vs the single? I’m leaning toward the 47″ double action sickle for mowing a few acres a few times a year.

  12. Mike says:

    Nice! Very practical machines. Prior to BCS there were Ferrari’s (i.e. Super 72’s). No kidding. The PTO attachments look very similar. They used a different engine and came with either a 12 or 14 hp single cylinder Lombardini diesel. Newer ones were electric start and had compression release and older ones were pull start and no compression release. Engines were super expensive to repair but run very well and when run often with clean, clean diesel had few problems. When left set in a shed or outside for a few years, or fed marginal fuel out of a can, whooo boy, break out the wallet.

    • lee says:

      I don’t doubt you on the Ferrari reference. Some of the repair parts still arrive in Ferrari packaging. You can also buy them with diesel engines, but they are made by Kohler now instead of Lombardini. I’ve been really impressed with the old Kohler on this unit, so I would bet their diesels are good too. It starts on the first try every time, except this spring when the fuel pump was dead. I cleaned everything else before checking that, then bypassed it and topped off the tank and it again started on the first try. A diesel two wheel sounds amazing, but too expensive for my purposes.

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