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  1. #21
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    102
    Location
    Northern VA
    Tractor
    Kubota 3540

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    I've had a CR for a few years. Our results have been mixed.

    Good: general build quality is good. No issue with the fabric bag (but see note below). Foldable nature really helps with storage. Customer service is excellent. If the leaves are not thick it does a great job of cleaning a lawn -- small twigs and everything.

    Not so good: My model has the tecumseh engine, not the B&S which I think is the new one. The tecumseh is a piece of junk. The choke/throttle system is held together by what looks like a large paper clip, which is impossible to adjust properly. The only way we can keep ours running is with a bungie cord that must be taken off/ stretched every time we turn the machine on and off (which is every few minutes to dump the bag).
    The original bag design had a zipper all the way around the back for unloading. That worked great but the zipper broke. The new design uses velcro and snaps, which work,BUT are almost impossible to open with gloves on. The plastic snap units should be larger.
    I think there is a new bag out that is larger. Mine is too small -- it will fill up in less than 10 minutes; makes for a lot of time spent dumping.
    We have a ZTR mower and it was very difficult getting the CR to hook up to it -- it just isn't designed well for a ZTR (they did warn me about this). As such ours clogs a lot -- you have to mow half widths and go very slow if you have more than a sprinkling of leaves.

    Tip: If you have a lot of leaves like we do, here is what we do: blow the leaves into big piles with a backpack blower. Then use the CR vacuum hose, but instead of blowing into the CR bag, blow into a larger container; you can use another hose attached to the output. For a larger container you can use a pickup with a tarp over it (to keep the dust down). I built a large box on a small trailer with a hole in it for the hose. It holds about 10x what the CR holds.
    hope this helps.

  2. #22
    Super Star Member J_J's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
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    18,919
    Location
    JACKSONVILLE, FL
    Tractor
    Power-Trac 1445, KUBOTA B-9200HST

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    Quote Originally Posted by SkunkWerX
    I built my own unit using a 10HP Cyclone Rake Impeller housing.

    Forget about lack of chopping, that big impeller spinning around at 3000 rpm destroys dry leaves. I had contemplated cutting Vee grooves in the top edge of the impeller for some shredding action, but, it's not needed. To truly shred and get a big ratio reduction you would need flails, hammers and a grate they move through.
    Honestly, I don't get the reduction I would with my leaf shredder, but it's pretty good.



    If you are concerned with doing some drastic leaf reduction, do a pre-grind:

    Make a blocking plate for your mower deck discharge.
    On a dry day mow, using the blocking plate. This will grind leaves at about a 5:1 reduction. Set deck high enough that it doesn't clog if grass is still tall and green.

    If the grass was green and tall, and you cut more than 1 inch off, then wait one day for the grass to dry a bit.
    Install your vac Unit, and go back over the area, the unit will vac up all the stuff you grinded the day before, and will go 2 to 3 times the distance before needing to be unloaded, since you did the Pre-grind chore a day or two prior.

    As dry as it has been around here, I'm not even going to bother with the pre-grind. The dry leaves will self-destuct inside the impeller housing just like you crushed them with your hand.

    That 9HP unit will be plenty powerful, my 10HP unit is quite powerful, as it was able to lift my plywood box up several inches. I repalced the entire top with 1/2" x 1/2" mesh and run the unit at 3/4 speed.

    Good luck, sounds like you got a nice machine there!
    I tried to purchase the Cyclone impeller and housing to build my own system, and they refused to sell to me. I guess they thought I would build a better system than theirs. I wanted to build a system for loading into a pick-up truck with enclosed back. I was disappointed in their attitude. Parts is parts and business is business. Did you order you housing direct?
    J.J.

    When I works, I works hard. When I sits and thinks, I goes to sleep.

    Git er done.

  3. #23
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    102
    Location
    Northern VA
    Tractor
    Kubota 3540

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    forgot to mention: hoses. Mixed results. for any of the hoses that are usually in a 'straight position' (like the vacuum and discharge hoses) these have held up very well. but any hose that has any bend in it for a period of time (specifically, the hose that goes from the mower to the vac) doesn't last. it basically just rips at the bend. we basically replace ours every year.

  4. #24
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    22
    Tractor
    Ford 1220 4WD HST; John Deere GT235

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    Just saw this thread (haven't been on in long while); some disjointed comments on our experience with a Cyclone Rake Commercial (6HP Tecumseh) which we've had since 2001:

    Generally positive, though not as enthused as we were initially. Over the years, several parts have given out:

    1. Metal latches used to attach parts on original machine wouldn't stay closed; were replaced under warranty.

    2. Original fabric container tore around the rear zipper. Although just out of the warranty period, the company replaced it for free with the redesigned container which uses velcro straps and plastic buckles. That one works better and has held up for several years without significant wear. Interior deflector on new bag seems much stronger than original as well.

    3. Heavy-duty double wheels failed. (In retrospect, I realized that O-ring which sealed wheel bearing raceway had fallen out almost immediately. I'd found the large O-ring on the lawn, but no one at Cyclone Rake or our tractor dealers could identify where it came from.) Had to pay for replacement wheels; factory initially sent incorrect replacements. However, when they learned I lived about an hour from the factory, they had an employee meet me at a local coffee shop on a Saturday morning to hand-deliver the correct replacements. Was impressed by the service, though not by having to pay for the defective wheels.

    4. Main plastic impeller housing cracked during storage over one winter. Had to purchase replacement and take apart entire assembly (engine, impeller, housing, etc.) to repair. Unfortunately, replacement housing is only partially machined, so had to machine additional required mounting holes, etc., several in very inaccessible locations. Although I'm fairly handly, it took quite a bit of work. I'm now somewhat dubious of the plastic construction.

    We purchased the heavy-duty mower deck, pick-up, and discharge hoses; the first two have shown little wear after several hundred hours of use. We haven't found a need for the discharge hose, and it still remains in the original carton. Recently, we've stopped using the vacuum pick-up hose to any great extent; for our hundreds of feet of stone walls, pachysandra beds, etc., we've found that a back-pack leaf blower is faster and less tiring. (We blow the leaves onto the lawn, then run them over with the mower deck.) The discharge hose is a pain to transport; even with several bungee-cords, it never wants to stay in place on top of the Cyclone Rake.

    The Cyclone Rake isn't as effective if the leaves have gotten too thick (over say 5" deep, they just start riding up over the top of the mower deck), or on smoother surfaces (on pavement, or where the grass is sparser, leaves tend to blow out from around the mower deck). We generally have to overlap passes by about a half, and find it most effective to mow in a clock-wise direction (the blown-out leaves which escape are gradually pushed to the center of the lawn). In general, it takes less total time to go out on two days and mow our lawn with fewer leaves twice, than it does to mow it once if the leaves have gotten really heavy.

    If we wait until the fabric container completely fills, shredded leaves blow out the horizontal vents in the tube running from the impeller housing to the container, making a mess of the already cleared lawn. If completely filled, especially with damp leaves, the bag can become very difficult for my wife to lift for emptying. Emptying the bag is a bit of a pain in any case, but much harder if the bag is completely filled; the leaves wedge in tightly, and we have to work to get them out.

    The original Tecumseh 6HP engine is annoying since: 1) the exhaust exits towards the operator; our clothing and hair stink by the time we're done, even though we tried adding a metal sheet to deflect the exhaust to the side; and 2) maximum engine speed (and therefore vacuuming ability) seem to have been decreasing; we may have to try the bungee-cord system mentioned above. Since I gather they've replaced these engines, these may no longer be issues.

    The removable jack-stand/wheel assembly, used to support the Cyclone Rake when it isn't attached to the tractor, is invaluable.

    The Cyclone Rake spews out large clouds of dust and tiny leaf bits. Everything in the area (cars, freshly painted house siding, etc.) gets covered.

    Overall, our Cyclone Rake is much more effective than our older 8HP push leaf blower, but I'd definitely look at some of the alternative brands if replacing it now. (They weren't available when we made our purchase.) The Cyclone Rake has done a pretty decent job, and the factory has generally provided good service, but a significant number of parts gave out earlier than they should have. On balance, I'd give it a B- grade after 6 years.

    AndyH

  5. #25
    Veteran Member Rara Avis's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
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    2,038
    Location
    VT, ND & OH
    Tractor
    John Deere

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyH
    4. Main plastic impeller housing cracked during storage over one winter. Had to purchase replacement and take apart entire assembly (engine, impeller, housing, etc.) to repair. Unfortunately, replacement housing is only partially machined, so had to machine additional required mounting holes, etc., several in very inaccessible locations. Although I'm fairly handly, it took quite a bit of work. I'm now somewhat dubious of the plastic construction.
    AndyH
    Did you/they ever determine what caused the crack???
    Moisture?
    Previous damage during the season?

  6. #26
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    22
    Tractor
    Ford 1220 4WD HST; John Deere GT235

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    Paul:

    No, they didn't even inquire. There's a slim possibility that a rock could have been vacuumed into the unit just before it was put away for the winter, and cracked the housing when it impacted it. However, we're pretty careful what we vacuum, and didn't hear or notice any damage when storing it (vacuumed sticks, etc. make a real racket, so it would be hard to miss a rock hitting the inside of the housing hard enough to crack it.) There is a metal plate attached inside the housing where vacuumed material enters, to prevent debris from hitting the plastic directly. While the metal plate showed normal wear from several years' use, it didn't have any big dents consistent with having a large rock slam into it hard enough to crack the whole top of the housing.

    My own suspicion is that it was related to cold temperatures in storage over the winter; we also had small pieces break off the plastic boot which attaches the mower deck to the mower hose. It appears to be made out of the same material. The Cyclone Rake is stored in an unheated garage, but I doubt the temperatures dropped below -5 degrees at worst.

    The impeller seems to be made out of something stronger (and undoubtedly more expensive). Too bad they can't use that material for all the parts.

    AndyH

  7. #27
    Silver Member
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    May 2007
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    102
    Location
    Northern VA
    Tractor
    Kubota 3540

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    Echoing and adding to some of AndyH's experience, and some tips:

    metal latches: ours also don't close all the way (see below for tip)

    wheels: one of ours also failed (locked up). had to buy 2 new ones since the newer style is a different height. New ones seem very sturdy but do not have grease fittings.

    Impeller and housing; we have had no problem with cracks even though we also store outside in an unheated barn. hopefully AndyH's experience isn't common.

    hoses: he had better luck with mower hose! As I said above we replace it every year.

    overflow: same experience -- once the bag is full, stuff flies out of sides of top port. what makes it worse is you have to get off the tractor and walk by the stuff shooting out at you to turn off the vacuum.

    also: alumimum u brackets that hold the bag; these broke after a few years. easy to replace.

    TIPS:

    latches; use bungie cords to wrap around the hoses at the latches to hold the hoses in place.

    filling; although it is hard to tell when the bag will fill, as soon as you see stuff coming out of the side ports, stop mowing immediately. turn off the vacuum before going to dump it.

    emptying; we keep a garden rake at the dump area. First tilt the bag back, and use the rake to pull out some leaves from the top of the bag. then with the bag still tilted, drive the mower a few feet foward and continue to use the rake. At the very bottom of the bag you should be able to just drive forward and the rest will come out.

    How we use the long discharge hose (not the one that goes from the vac to the bag, but the long one that is used for emptying). we use this as a transport hose two different ways. first, if you have leaves say on one side of your driveway and need to get them into the woods, we run the discharge hose from the output of the vac to the woods. then we use the long vac hose to vac up the leaves. the leaves go from the vac hose through the vac and out the discharge hose to the woods. the second way is to run the long discharge hose into a larger trailer. this is our primary use --- we line up the mower, the vac, and then back up a second trailer to the vac. the discharge hose runs over the back of the vac to the secondary trailer (bypassing the CR bag). this way a lot more leaves can be picked up, although you do lose the mulching effect of the mower.

  8. #28
    Elite Member hazmat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    4,028
    Location
    West Newbury, MA & Harrison, ME
    Tractor
    Kubota L5460HSTC

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    Quote Originally Posted by J_J
    I tried to purchase the Cyclone impeller and housing to build my own system, and they refused to sell to me. I guess they thought I would build a better system than theirs. I wanted to build a system for loading into a pick-up truck with enclosed back. I was disappointed in their attitude. Parts is parts and business is business. Did you order you housing direct?
    Trac vac, giant vac, billy goat & little wonder (as well as a few others) all make "leaf loaders" or "truck loaders" that comercial lawn guys use to suck leaves into thier trucks. Prices start a little south of $2K and go up from there...
    Hazmat

  9. #29
    Elite Member hazmat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    4,028
    Location
    West Newbury, MA & Harrison, ME
    Tractor
    Kubota L5460HSTC

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    interesting thread. I bought a used trac vac (11HP their top of the line uit 1080) this summer. It has been a dissapointment.

    Part of the problem is my 72"MMM has low lift blades & doesn't get the leaves off the ground. kubota doesn't offer high lift for my deck & so far I haven't been able to find any aftermarket blades that will fit (w/o modification to center hole).

    The other problem is that when you dump it, the leaves don't come out w/o having at it with the pitch fork. The clamps holding the output chute to the trailer busted & I replaced them with sheet metal screws, so I can't even "dump" it anymore.

    The third problem is it doesn't fit in my shed so the local mice decided they'd hole up in the shroud & snack on the coil wire ($200 repair).

    With the slow emptying I'm not sure I'm saving any time vs. using the leaf blower & tarps. I currently have the unit for sale. If it doesn't sell, I will remove the blower from the trailer & mount it on a skid to be used with my country manufacturing dump trailer. Kind of like JackIL has done


    Jack's trailer




    Hazmat

  10. #30
    Veteran Member
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    Sep 2005
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    1,380
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    In the palm of Michigan's Lower Peninsula
    Tractor
    Kioti CK30HST, KL130 FEL, turf tires

    Default Re: Pulled the trigger on a Cyclone rake

    Quote Originally Posted by bill333
    overflow: same experience -- once the bag is full, stuff flies out of sides of top port. what makes it worse is you have to get off the tractor and walk by the stuff shooting out at you to turn off the vacuum.
    I have a tow behind trac-vac. The only way to know the trailer is full, without getting off the lawn tractor and looking into the trailer top, is when a large volume of leaves start shooting out from under the mower deck. By then the hoses have blocked up with leaves and need to be disassembled, cleared and reassembled (a real pain). So, from my experience, the overflow sounds like a rather reasonable alternative.

    Don

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