Dec 052007

BCS 948 walking tractor

At double the price of the Troy-Bilt “Big Red” Horse, the top-of-the-line professional series BCS 948 walking tractor is quite the market garden machine. I haven’t tried or even seen one of these, but I’d love to. BCS is the biggest of the European 2-wheel tractor manufacturers. They have a full line, including a Horse equivalent. The walking tractor is an order above the North American big rototiller, they’re built as full-on agricultural equipment. The 948 is a true small-scale tractor, the difference found in the engineering, construction, and range of add-on implements. On this tiny farm, the Horse and the Kubota compact tractor cover the BCS from either side, to get an even wider range of smaller to larger jobs done, but the 948 could replace both for all of the most critical market gardening tasks, like tilling, cultivating and clean-up for several acres.

  • Terry B

    I have a BCS 830 that I use for tilling garden beds, mowing my orchard, and blowing snow. Amazing little machines these things are!

  • Mike (tfb)

    Hey Terry B, Yeah, the BCS and Grillos are looking mighty good. I could’ve gotten one instead of the used Kubota compact tractor. A new BCS 948 with all the attachments I’d need would’ve been HALF of what the used Kubota cost. The only advantage of the Kubota I can see so far is the front-end loader…

  • Julie

    Hi..I’ve done some research on various tractors, equipment etc. and the BCS 948 sounds like a very good all-in-one piece of equipment in terms of running an organic farm …Does anyone know if the tractor and it’s snowblowing attachment can handle a fairly steep driveway (thirty metres long with steepest part about 1 in 4 slope) The blower could work on the way down, but I’m wondering if 13hp is enough to get up an often icy slope?
    Any comments appreciated.
    Thanks, Julie

  • Buck

    Try the dual wheel approach. There is plenty of power, its traction that you need.

  • James

    Hi, I found your blog on this new directory of WordPress Blogs at I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, i duno. Anyways, I just clicked it and here I am. Your blog looks good. Have a nice day. James.

  • scott

    I’ve been using a BCS 948 this year for the first time. I got the diesel engine so that I can run bio-diesel. (Only run B20 so far) I love it! With the 34 inch tiller it is a great machine. The motor can certainly handle a steep icy slope, it’s the wheels i’d worry about. I think that if you put chains on it that the weight of the machine plus the blower will help it grip on to the ice with no problem. This motor is do powerful that I was backing up and caught the rear guard of the tiller on a small tree stump… before I had time to disengage the clutch I got a serious bend in that rear guard on my nice new tiller. It’s a tank. I highly recommend one.

  • Court

    I have the BCS 853 with only the tiller attachment. In my opinion the power will not be the problem but traction as Julie stated. When I have traction it will pull very large loads, I have dragged large piles of branches, logs and debris. I don’t recommend the dual wheels as it will make it harder to maneuver and will likely be wider than the blower packing the sides of the cut as you go and spilling snow back into what you just cleared. I would also recommend chains, and extra weight. Friction is a function of weight so the heavier you are the better traction (but the more you have to push). I have seen the single stage blower used and it throws the snow at least thirty feet.

  • Court

    The dealer for BCS in my area uses it for his parking lot and states that many people stop on the highway just to ask what he is using they are so impressed.
    One other thing to consider; the sweeper will handle several inches of snow, in wider and will leave a cleaner surface. It will not handle a deep deposit though.

  • ryan

    I am considering one of these tractors bu tthe one thing that I worry about is how much land that I could prepare with it. Does anyone think a machine like this is adequate for a 5 acre market garden?
    Also, does anyone know how much diesle they burn?

  • Bill

    That 948 is a brute. Too much for most users. I have an 850 and 730 and really like ‘em. The 850 is plenty powerful and the locking differential and turning brakes are worth their weight in gold. The instant reverse on both machines is really handy as well.


    This machine is capable of maintaining 5 acres easily. It will take longer than a 4 wheel riding tractor, but it can be done. For 5 acres, a diesel is a no-brainer. Check out It’s the website of the biggest, most knowledgeable dealer of BCS in the US. Joel will probably steer you away from the 948 into an 853. It’s a smaller machine but will do almost everything a 948 can and be more maneuverable at it. He also sells other equipment lines that fit BCS. You can even buy a round baler for one if you’ve got 9K to blow.


    I agree with the previous posters about getting chains for an icy slope. Rubber tires just aren’t ideal for slippery conditions. You should also be wearing some sort of cleat on your footwear. Power won’t be an issue. With the gear speed choices, if it starts to bog down, you just downshift.

  • Bob Due


    I have most of the equipment that fits the BCS tractors. The main difference between the 948 and the 850/853 tractors is the gearing. The 948 is slower and I find that a disadvantage.

    For tillage, I now have the rotary plow and power harrow. The rotary plow is worth every penny for anyone growing for market and the harrow is indispensable for preparing a seedbed for precision seeding.

    I use the baler to make mulch. The bales are easy to role out between the rows and I space my rows to accommodate the width of the bales. The mulch eliminates cultivation and really goes a long way in drought-proofing our crops.

    On the snow blower, the 13hp will handle it and chains will handle the ice under the snow.

  • liz

    For folks who rely soley on the walking tractor, how do you go about turning your compost piles?

  • Darren

    Just got the 853 with the Yanmar diesel. Have 11 hilly acres of once logged property with lots of rough ground, under bush growth, and lots of brush clearing to do. 
    The problem I found right from the start is ground clearance. It doesn’t take much of a rut or buried log to get the wheels up in the air, spinning.
    The engine guard bottoms out easily, with no ability to raise the brush mower to an adequate height, allowing for clearance. The whole unit simply gets grounded time after time with the stock tires quickly digging ruts an becoming  airborne. I simply found it next to impossible to clear most obstacles, with the going next to impossible on anything less than fairly level surface. Even loading on my pick up with ramps is a challenge. 

    What tires/ rims can be recommended for clearance issues and riding over the soil without digging in so easily. ?

    Also the orange power cut off handle is very flimsy, bending with usage, with the cable being very difficult to pull.
    Operating the clutch or the hand brakes isalso very difficult, with the power cut off  frequently disengaging with attempts to do so, as the hand  reach to the levers are extreme, and require significant effort to operate.  The clutch also seems to not engage fully at times, with the wheels continuing to drive. 

    Is there an metal option for the orange power cut off lever and can the levers be adjusted for easier use ? Has anyone else experienced the clutch issue ? can it be easily adjusted ?

  • Bob Due


    I would suggest you contact Joel at EarthTools.  He can advise you on the brake and clutch issues.

    Do you have the 10 inch wheels?  If so, the 12 inch wheels will give you better clearance.  Better yet, put some wide tires on and it will go just about anywhere.  I have some wide tires on mine that are the same diameter as the standard 10 inch and it handles much better.  You can get the taller tires in a wider width.  I think you would like them.

    Your clutch problem may be something that I have had with heavy mower applications.  Sometimes the clutch will stick.  I have found that when I start to do really heavy cutting, it won’t stick if I disengage the clutch shortly after mowing and doing so again after a few minutes.  Apparently, if a little corrosion from oxidation is on the clutch the disengagement  several times cleans that up and prevents the sticking.

    Just in case you are not aware, when the BCS units are not in use, the clutch always should be locked in the disengaged position.

  • Darren

    thanks Bob

    found out a few things.

     seems that there is an issue with the Yanmar, with the spring on the safety switch being very strong. The plastic safety switch is too weak to pull it. It bends easily and frequently needs replacing. Weakening the spring prevents the engine from operating, so there is not much of a solution. There no metal replacement switch, and would need to be fabricated. The solution would be an electronic fuel cut off , but it was never added. 
    Also the yanmar hangs 1.5 inches lower and is about fifty pounds heavier than the honda, causing limited ground clearance as well as significant  balance and maneuvering issues. It is nearly impossible to operate the tough safety switch without hoisting the front end in the air, especially going up hill. 

    between this and the clearance issues, it is practically unusable.

    Likely I will need the 12X6 tires. 

    the best solution however would be a new engine. 
    I am seriously considering taking advantage of the 15 day satisfaction guarantee. 
    With the Yanmar on board it is nearly impossible to operate.
    I have been told that the difference in ease of operation between units with the the honda(or lombordini) and the yanmar is night and day. 

    thanks for the clutch storage tip. 

  • Jillian

    would the BCS be repetitive to using a compact tractor and cultivating tractor on small market production? i’m looking for a walk-behind to till small gardens of new ground, prepare ground in greenhouses and blow snow in winter.

  • Bob

    I am not sure what you mean by repetitive?  As far as a walk behind for the uses you mentioned, the BCS would be the best thing I know of.  The really big advantage of a walk behind over a rider is the lack of all that weight and the compaction that goes with it.

  • Ted

    Looks awesome! Pretty amazing piece of farm equipment built into a small package.

  • Bob Due

    In reference to the BCS 948, there is no need to look at this model unless you are going to put the spader on it.  The 853 is the best selling tractor that Joel at Earth Tools has.  It is the newer version of the 850 and will handle any implement except for the spader.  I have the 850 and I am more that pleased with its performance.  I have the 13hp Honda engine.  The attachments that I have for this tractor:  Tiller, swivel rotary plow, power harrow, rake, baler, 5 foot cutter bar, flail mower, rotary mower & home made disc furrower.  If any of you would like to chat with me about any questions you have about any of these implements or the tractor, please feel free to contact me through my website.  By the way, I am not on any commission for Earthtools.  I love the idea of this equipment and the quality of it.  I am a market gardner in the Knoxville, TN area.

  • Tchristopher06457

    I have a smaller model, the 732 with an 11 hp Honda engine. I use it not only for tilling the garden but also for mowing brush, plowing snow and for preparing customers’ lawns for seeding with a “stoneburier” attachment. This is a great, versatile tool that is expensive but which has paid for itself many times over.

  • Collineduchene

    Make no mistake about it, BCS tillers are Ferrari !

    Altough I don’t suggest buying the hefty 948, it as a special PTO coupler that doesn’t fit any other implements (very useful) that can fit on models 853 or smaller.

    Consider paying an extra for larger wheels (you will wish you had later!!!) and putting on the Quick coupler to change implements without tools. (In less than 2 minutes).

    I have a 853 for 5 season now, changed the tines during the last winter (and hit lots of rocks with it in 4 years). Keeping it clean and well maintained will let me work 2 acres of vegetables easily for a long time more.

    The driving gears on the BCS are solid brass gears, not straps or chains.
    Everythin on it is heavy duty, altough I wish there was a better throttle adjustement control lever on such a good thing as a Ferrari, (my only deception about the machine) because it is more of an old school 10 speed street bike than a luxury car.

    The Honda engine has always been flawless for the last five years, with a minimal maitenance for winter storage.

    A well made Italian machine designed for professionnal growers who will use it intensively!

    Cyrille, Ferme de la Colline du chêne, Bromont, Québec

  • Bobaloo Jones

    I can’t say how good they are because I haven’t bought one in 32 years. Let me explain. In 1981 I bought a model 715 8 horse with the Italian Acme motor. I grew produce for about 7 years, a couple of acres a year, since then I’ve had large home gardens. I also use the sickle bar cutter to maintain my property. After 32 years, it looks pretty beat up but mechanically the difference is that it now starts on the second pull instead of the first. The engine is still all original, except for the carb I knocked off on a gate post. Simply, by far, the best investment in tools I’ve ever made. One happy customer.

  • Bobaloo Jones

    I forgot to add that while they are very expensive new, and I did buy new at the time, they are commonly available at 1/3 to 1/2 price almost new off Craigslist, etc.

    • News Reporter

      I’ve been searching Craigslist for a month and cannot find anything with that kind of discount…. unless you buy something that is a BCS antique, severely beat up, rusted, no guarantees what-so-ever. Which means it has major problems that need to be fixed. I found one unit that was a year old, but the price wasn’t worth it. Could buy a new unit with identical attachment for just a little more.

  • CMfarms

    Grillo Walk Behind tractors are considerably cheaper and are for the most part the same as BCS check them out at Earthtools. same Transmission as BCS and not a lot of difference in tractor other than price

  • oldcyclist

    BCS, Grillo, or Ferrari all are very capable machines. These are not rotor tillers that can do other things. These are tractors with a wide range of abilities! Mowing, mulching, log splitting, plowing, tilling, rough mowing, the list goes on. The question for th end user really is how much tractor do I need or want? Fro those working 3 acres or less I think the “walking tractor” is the way to go. Of special note, if your terrrain is very rugged you will want to go with a bigger machine as ground clearance can be an issue when the tractor is using a front mounted implement, bush-hog, flail mower, finish mower, etc.

  • chris-the-sweep

    Hi I know this is an old topic, but I just want to let people know that I have a ferrari 330 with ferrari tiller and a 5 tine harrow, that will be up for sale soon as we are selling up and retiring, it has the Acme 11hp Italian engine, 3 speed forward and reverse, dif lock, all the usual bcs features, low hours, I would estimate less than 100, I have owned since new, our small holding is located in British columbia if anyone is interested in giving this equipment a new home please contact me
    by email or phone 250 992 2938

    • Andy

      If still selling call me at 618 579 8586