Revised 8 April, 2009
Graham-Paige & Frazer *
Rototiller, Inc. *
Watco & Troy-Bilt *
The Other Players
Ariens Links & Vendors
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In the early 1930's with America and the rest of the world sinking into The Great Depression only three companies were involved in the walk behind rotary tillage industry. One started as a distributor of European machines, one modified European models and renamed them, and the last as a manufacturer.
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I would like to thank Daniel Ariens, President of Ariens Corporation and his staff for providing additional information and correcting a few historically inaccurate details.
109 Calumet Street
Brillion, Wisconsin 54110-0157
Brillion Iron Works Inc. of Brillion, Wis. was a foundry started by Henry and Christine Ariens in 1893. One of their three sons, Mando "Steve" Ariens became President of the company in 1929 leading it to become a major contributor in ductile iron casting technology.
In 1932 Brillion Iron Works declared voluntary bankruptcy, as did many companies during the Great Depression with all operations ceasing in 1933
Steve Ariens had developed an interest in the manufacturing of a rototiller. The family business reorganized in 1933 as the Ariens Company in Henry Ariens' garage and Steve Ariens' basement.. The other two sons Francis and Leon were also cofounders of the new company.
The first walk-behind tractor-tiller proto-type made was 30" wide powered by a 14 h.p. V-4 cylinder engine.(Ariens Corp. Website)
Like other tillers made in the U.S. up to this time a large tractor drawn tiller the
Multi-Tiller was produced. In a 1930's promotional film Henry Ariens is described as the President. Steve Ariens had accepted a postion with the WPA, and left the company
The earliest Ariens rototiller ad I have is 1939. There were three commercial models offered; the Model "A", first introduced in 1933, with a inline 4-cylinder 14-1/2 h.p. 30" cut at $725.00 or a 36" cut at $750.00. The Model "B", introduced in 1934, 8 h.p. 20" at $515.00 or a 24" cut at $540.00, with skeleton steel wheels subtract $20.00. And the Model "C" 5-1/2 h.p. 14" at $420.00 or the 20" at $445.00. The Model "A" and "C" price was the same with air tires or skeleton steel wheels. All using Wisconsin engines.
Between 1937 and 1941 Ariens introduced new and redesigned machinery. The Multi-Tiller was redeveloped into the Model J tractor powered tiller. The Roller-Tiller and Agro-Mix was introduced, I have no additional information on these. Also in a attempt to compete with the Rototiller Inc. one-wheel Wheelbarrow Cultivator Ariens markets a light weight, single row front tine tiller called the "Jitterbug".
Like Rototiller, Inc., Ariens made a "soil-cement" tractor powered tillers called the Aggmixer until WWII when the factory was converted to help the war effort by making 75mm Shell Buggies and Wheel Axles for Tanks. Ariens was awarded the Army Ordinance Award for speed and efficiency in manufacturing tools and materials in 1945.
Ariens didn't forget the farmer, in 1946 the Tillivator was introduced. The Tillivator was used to cultivate between multi-rows of growing crops. Available in 2,4,6,8 or more rows and for many makes of tractors.
After WWII the ownership of a home increased drastically in the U.S. and the practice of having a "Victory Garden" had become very popular. All types of machinery to maintain the home garden came on the market. Rototillers, garden tractors, and rotary mowers were being made by the thousands and by hundreds of manufacturers.
The Gardeneer model G2 was powered by a 2.5 h.p. Briggs & Stratton
Model 8 engine. Implements include standard rotary tiller, sickle bar mower and 25" lawn mower was introduced in 1950.
The Yardster, introduced in 1952 was powered by a 2.0 h.p. Briggs & Stratton Model 6 engine. Implements include the 12" rotary tiller, 20" rotary mower and a 17" rotary snowplow.
Ariens introduced their Trans-A-Matic models TA20 and TA28 in 1954. The Trans-A-Matic transmission featured a non-slip differential that provides power turning and positive traction on both wheels at all times. Other tillers have a solid axle and must use wheel clutches to aid turning.
||The TA20 is a 8.1 h.p. 20" tiller, powered by a Wisconsin AEN single cylinder engine. Later versions the TA20A had a upgraded Wisconsin model AEH rated at 9.0 h.p. engine
|The TA28 is a 16.5 h.p. 28" tiller, powered by a Wisconsin TF twin-cylinder engine. The later TA28B had the Wisconsin model TH twin-cylinder also rated at 16.5 h.p.
||The Deluxe Mulimatic 16" had handlebars swung 180 degrees for two direction use. Optional Insta-Hitch attachments were available,
|The Standard Multimatic did not have optional attachments.
In 1958 Ariens introduced its new front tine line called the Jet with a 3 h.p. engine. The Super Jet 4 h.p., and Deluxe Jet 5 h.p. also had tine reverse drive.
1960 Ariens introduced the Rocket 5-1/2 h.p. rear tine tiller. In 1964 the Rocket VI 6 h.p. was introduced. Within two years the TA-series was discontinued.
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Ariens Vendors & Contacts
Ariens & Gravely
David C. Antram
734 Antram Road
Somerset, Pa 15501-8856
Tel: (814) 443-6468
Call or Email for a FREE line card showing all of the equipment lines and parts we carry.
655 West Ryan St.
P.O. Box 157
Brillion, Wis. 54110-1098
Yetman's Lawn & Garden
A must see Website
Check this one out
M.E. Miller Tire
Tel: (419) 335-7010
New parts for some old and most modern lawn equipment.
To find your nearest dealer go to:
For more information order my book:
The Rototiller in America
You can ordered the book directly from the publisher,
Infinity Publishing, website www.bbotw.com,
a Print On Demand (POD) publisher.
Copyrighted 1998-2009 Donald A.Jones
I don't have the time to answer everyones email so I started a forum where you can ask your questions, receive answers from other collectors, even make new friends. You don't have to join the forum to post a message but to get an email reponse it helps. Check back often to see what is being discussed.
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