Setting Up and Maintaining the AE400 Aerator

ae400Billy Goat’s AE400 is tough enough for professional use, but even the best machine will break down after hours of punching through the soil, hitting the occasional rock or pavement edge. Here’s how you can get your new AE400 ready to use and keep it cutting through the toughest soil.


1. Assemble the handle. On Honda-powered aerators, tilt the upper handle into position and slide the lock loops into place. On Briggs & Stratton models, remove the bolts and nuts attached to the upper handle joint. Tilt the upper handle into place and install the nuts and bolts in the upper handle and hinge joint. Leave the bolts loose enough that the handle can be folded for storage.
2. Slide the ends of the lift rods into the lift handle, then push lynchpins into the rod ends.
3. Fill the water tank.
4. Move the tine engagement lever down so the aerator sits level. Check the engine oil and gear reduction oil levels.
5. Connect the spark plug wire. Set the engine stop switch to “ON.” From now on, you’ll use the stop switch on the handle to shut off the engine.

Tine Row Removal

1. Remove the four nuts holding the top guard on the frame. Set the guard aside.
3. Release the tension on the chain by loosening the nut and bolt on the tensioner sprocket and pushing the sprocket forward.
4. Remove the pairs of bolts and nuts on the ends of the tine reel bearings.
5. Lift the reel and slide the chain off of the end sprocket.

To reinstall, follow the previous steps in reverse.

Tine Row Replacement

1. Remove the tine reel (see above.)
2. Remove the nut at the end of the reel shaft.
3. Remove the tine rows and spacers to reach the parts you want to replace, keeping everything in order for reassembly.
4. Swap out the damaged parts for new ones.
5. Reassemble the tine reel, keeping the parts in the same order they were removed.
5. Tighten the nut at the end of the reel shaft to 100 ft. lbs. Try moving the tine rows by hand. There should be no movement if the reel was reassembled correctly.
6. Reinstall the tine reel and set the chain tension.

Billy Goat recommends coating the tines with a rust-preventing lubricant. This increases tine life and makes the tines easier to replace.

Single Tine Replacement

If you need to replace a few tines, they can be removed without taking out the tine reel.

1. Loosen the outer nut and carriage bolt that secure the tine, followed by the inner nut and carriage bolt. Remove the inner nut and bolt, but leave the outer parts in their place
2. Using a small pry bar, push the tine plates apart. The tine should slide out.
3. Slide the new tine in place and secure with the inner nut and carriage bolt.
4. Tighten the nuts and bolts.

Belt Tension

1. Remove the four nuts holding the top guard on the frame. Set the guard aside.
2. Find where the clutch cable attaches to the belt idler assembly. When the clutch bail is engaged, the spring connected to the idler pulley should move ¼-3/8 of an inch.
3. Use a 1/2″ wrench loosen the two nuts that secure the clutch cable.
4. To increase belt tension, turn these two nuts until an added ¼ inch of adjuster thread is sticking out of the assembly. To decrease tension, turn the nuts until there’s a ¼ inch less adjuster thread sticking out of the assembly.
5. Reassemble the aerator and perform a test run. If the tension is correct, the belt will pull the aerator up a 15-degree slope without slipping, but will still stop the aerator when the clutch bail is released.

Chain Tension

1. Remove the four nuts holding the top guard on the frame. Set the guard aside.
2. Locate the bolt and nut that hold each idler sprocket to the frame of the unit. One sprocket sets
tension on the wheel drive chain and the other sets tension on the tine drive chain.
3. Loosen the bolt and nut. Sliding the sprocket toward the rear of the machine increases tension while sliding it toward the front decreases tension. Each chain should have 1/4-3/8 inches of slack.
4. Tighten the bolt and nut.
5. Reinstall the cover.


Use a grease gun to apply lithium grease to the bearings. Apply SAE 30 machine oil or penetrating chain oil on the chains.

Get Everything You Need for Your Equipment from One Source

As an authorized Billy Goat, Briggs & Stratton and Honda Engines dealer, is able to offer all the parts you need for your aerator under one roof. Our site makes it easy to find parts by showing you listings and factory diagrams specific to your model. We ship across the United States and Canada.

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