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  1. #21
    Veteran Member CHDinCT's Avatar
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    Connecticut
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    Kubota BX25

    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    If you consider a non-PTO leaf vac, take a look at the cyclone rake models. I have a smaller unit but the top of the line XL model goes for under $1,700 with a Briggs Vangaurd 9HP engine. Don't let the pic's of it matched to a rinky-dink lawn mower fool you. I have one and can vouch for the quality of the material, steel, etc. They make a hose attachment in 17' and 35' lengths, and you can upgrade the hose material to commercial quality. They also offer a 3PH mount. Good luck whatever you decide. Link below.


    The Cyclone Rake XL. The King of Lawn Vacuums.
    Chris

    2 acres and a mule, er, Kubota BX25, and too many other toys,er, tools to list.

  2. #22
    Gold Member TerryR's Avatar
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    JD 870

    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    Quote Originally Posted by yankeerider View Post
    I suspect it was my fault for Billy Goat being introduced. I can understand your desire to buy a "packaged" system, and I should have clarified that a leaf loader is definitely not the same thing.
    No problem, Jerry. I understood what you were describing, and that makes perfect sense for someone with the tools and inclination to create a self-built system.
    Having a number of years experience with my 8 hp Giant Vac with 7" hose, I avoid feeding it leaves directly. That's not to say I don't do it, but i have found it to be much more prone to clogging when collecting whole debris than that which has been shredded by the mower deck.
    That's a concern I've not heard before. Perhaps that's why Trac Vac at least makes the extension hose that the manual pickup uses a size smaller than the main hose it connects to.
    I have also seen a number of complaints about ease of emptying the collection trailers. Nobody seems to make a non-commercial size vac like mine with a hopper discharge that gravity unloads very well.
    Trac Vac says there trailer is wider at the back than at the front to help with that, although Ron says his doesn't tip high enough for good unloading.
    Finally, I think avoiding "another engine to maintain", which I read on this site a lot, is much ado over nothing. One oil change per year and make sure it has fresh gas is pretty much all the two Briggs engines (leaf vac and log splitter) and Tecumseh (Ariens snowblower) get and they give me no trouble.
    You're supposed to change oil every year on those things? My generator has had its oil changed once in 10 years.

    Yes, I know I should, but the reality is I never do it.

    Terry

  3. #23
    Gold Member TerryR's Avatar
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    JD 870

    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    Quote Originally Posted by lhfarm View Post
    I have a similar situation; 1400 foot drive with about 1000 feet of that in the woods, along the side of a hill. I'm trying to figure out how to mount the hose so I can drive the tractor along the ditch, without stopping. I'm envisioning a metal frame off the side of the tractor with the hose hanging from that and a "wand" attached to the hose. I would position the hose end by moving the wand. What I would like to avoid is stopping the tractor, sucking leaves, getting back on the tractor, move a couple of feet, repeat.
    I had the same concern, and initially thought about trying to mount the pickup off the tractor somehow. Then I walked the ditch in question. It varies from a broad shallow shoulder just below the road to a sharp ditch 3 feet or more deep. In one spot it's several feet off the road. It looks like in the shallow area one would have to swing the pickup from side to side to collect everything.

    Then I talked to the distributor who said small gravel that washes into the ditch would not be an issue, but golf-ball to fist size rocks can be picked up and they are. All that made me wonder if a remotely controlled pickup is really feasible. My current thinking is I'll entice my wife to drive the tractor as I walk along side with the pickup.

  4. #24
    Elite Member Gittyup's Avatar
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    Kioti CK25 Shuttle Shift, loaded tires, JD X739

    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    Quote Originally Posted by yankeerider View Post
    In reviewing the thread, I suspect it was my fault for Billy Goat being introduced. I can understand your desire to buy a "packaged" system, and I should have clarified that a leaf loader is definitely not the same thing. Having a number of years experience with my 8 hp Giant Vac with 7" hose, I avoid feeding it leaves directly. That's not to say I don't do it, but i have found it to be much more prone to clogging when collecting whole debris than that which has been shredded by the mower deck. It may be that my impeller is worn and not performing as well as it should. A leaf loader is designed to ingest "whole" debris. A vac intended to be used behind a mower may not be as effective.

    I have also seen a number of complaints about ease of emptying the collection trailers. Nobody seems to make a non-commercial size vac like mine with a hopper discharge that gravity unloads very well. That's why when mine needs replacement I'll be going for more vac cfm and a similar hopper style trailer to what I have. The only way i'll get that is a build-it-myself.

    Finally, I think avoiding "another engine to maintain", which I read on this site a lot, is much ado over nothing. One oil change per year and make sure it has fresh gas is pretty much all the two Briggs engines (leaf vac and log splitter) and Tecumseh (Ariens snowblower) get and they give me no trouble. Many others on this site complain about those brands, so results obviously vary.
    The distinction between a leaf loader and a tractor vacuum is a very good point. Sounds like TerryR would benefit most from a leaf loader. Of course these are meant to be mounted to a truck bed and are not PTO driven. So, he'd have to build his own cart and live with the extra motor.

    I suppose one could modify a leaf loader vacuum to reach down into a ditch while controlling some sort of boom-mounted hose from the tractor seat. I envision 1" steel tube frame, hinged in the middle for storage, with the hose attached. The end of the hose would have a wedge-shaped opening. Maybe a gauge wheel at the end too, or some sorta sled apparatus so that the hose could float just above the ground. The operator would have a handle to swing the hose, or just lock it into place perpendicular to the tractor. A kinda "offset vacuum" thing. But, that would require a lot of custom fab. There are shops that will make such gizmos for ya, if you have the basic workings and know what you want. That's what i would want if I had a lot of ditch to do. Otherwise, a helper to walk along side of the tractor would be needed. But, then I've operated one of the hoses by hand before (and still do). They still work you pretty hard, almost as much work as using a rake.

    Used leaf loader listed here yesterday for $600. Put on the 3ph and hose it into my hydraulic dump trailer. Add the boom contraption. Pretty awesome set up, it would be.
    Last edited by Gittyup; 01-08-2009 at 04:01 PM.

  5. #25
    Gold Member TerryR's Avatar
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    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gittyup View Post
    I suppose one could modify a leaf loader vacuum to reach down into a ditch while controlling some sort of boom-mounted hose from the tractor seat. I envision 1" steel tube frame, hinged in the middle for storage, with the hose attached. The end of the hose would have a wedge-shaped opening. Maybe a gauge wheel at the end too, or some sorta sled apparatus so that the hose could float just above the ground.
    I don't see a wheel or sled type depth control working - the bottom of most of the ditch is very irregular. It's got a pretty good grade, and half of it is rip-rapped with 6 to 8" stone with lots of drop-offs around that size. I don't see a way to avoid manual depth control.

    Terry

  6. #26
    Veteran Member CHDinCT's Avatar
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    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryR View Post
    I don't see a wheel or sled type depth control working - the bottom of most of the ditch is very irregular. It's got a pretty good grade, and half of it is rip-rapped with 6 to 8" stone with lots of drop-offs around that size. I don't see a way to avoid manual depth control.

    Terry

    I have numerous tree groves that make driving the tractor with leaf vac around in impractical. What i do is use a backpack blower to blow the leaves into a pretty large pile, then lay my 17' hose extension at the edge of the pile and use a rake to keep feeding the leaves into the suction tube which handles them as fast as I can feed it. Once I get to the point there's too little to rake into the tube, I then manually use the suction tube with shoulder strap to clean up what's left. I find this most efficient for large areas where I can't load the trailer vac via the mowing deck hook up.
    Chris

    2 acres and a mule, er, Kubota BX25, and too many other toys,er, tools to list.

  7. #27
    Elite Member Gittyup's Avatar
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    Kioti CK25 Shuttle Shift, loaded tires, JD X739

    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryR View Post
    I don't see a wheel or sled type depth control working - the bottom of most of the ditch is very irregular. It's got a pretty good grade, and half of it is rip-rapped with 6 to 8" stone with lots of drop-offs around that size. I don't see a way to avoid manual depth control.

    Terry
    I was suggesting something that would float on the ground, rising as needed on its own, or even raised by the operator on occasion. In the case of rip-rap, obviously a wheel wouldn't work, unless it could be set back far enough so as not to be in the rocks. But, I think a large, smooth trapazoid shaped "foot" might. It would have to be large enough and shaped so as to slide across the rocks and not hang up on them. Or, again kept back out of the rocks. Rip-rap is a tough problem, for sure. I have some of that and I'm sure glad I don't have to clean it out very often. Maybe a blower first would be what you'd need to get them out of the rocks first.

  8. #28
    Gold Member TerryR's Avatar
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    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    Quote Originally Posted by yankeerider View Post
    Finally, I think avoiding "another engine to maintain", which I read on this site a lot, is much ado over nothing. One oil change per year and make sure it has fresh gas is pretty much all the two Briggs engines (leaf vac and log splitter) and Tecumseh (Ariens snowblower) get and they give me no trouble.
    Jerry,

    After thinking about this I find you have clarified the issue of getting "another engine" very well for me, though probably not in the way you might have expected.

    As I said before, I've changed the oil once in the generator I've had for 10 years. It only runs maybe 5 hours most years, but no doubt should be changed a lot more often.

    I've had a DR string trimmer on wheels for maybe 8 years, and I don't remember ever changing the oil in it. It probably runs 30 to 50 hrs. a year. I did change the air filter after I used it on a side-hill so steep the oil came up the crankcase vent and saturated the filter so badly it fouled the plug.

    I bought a wood splitter a year and a half ago with a separate engine after failing to find a pto model and getting the drift that running one off the tractor hydraulics wasn't very satisfactory. Since it's only a little more than a year old the fact that its oil hasn't been changed doesn't really count.

    My push lawn mower doesn't count since I've not used it in five years.

    Clearly, the failure to spend an hour a year isn't rational. And I "get" that a lot of folks enjoy keeping their equipment in good shape. But some of us don't. Avoiding "another engine" isn't about avoiding that maintenance - we're not going to do it anyway. It's about not feeling guilty about failing to do it, and not having to worry about whether we either ran the fuel tank dry or added stabilizer to it. For us, the extra cost of a PTO unit (because you can't find them used, or make use of some of the other cost saving ideas raised in this thread) is well worth it.

    Thanks again for helping me get clear on that.

    Terry

  9. #29
    Veteran Member MJPetersen's Avatar
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    YM 1510-D

    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    Terry,

    Trust me you are not alone in that and you said it almost eloquently.

    I have been following this because I am determined to have another way to clear the yard of the Fall debris before another Fall comes. I am thinking that vac would be just the thing, but am not sure how to do it yet.

    Mike
    "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Solomon
    YM1510D, YM 1202 tiller, The following home made tools: Quick Hitch, KK copy dirt scoop, imitation Gannon rollover box blade, Forks on 3pt, a Rear Blade with gauge wheels and a 1.5 yd dump trailer.

  10. #30
    Gold Member TerryR's Avatar
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    JD 870

    Default Re: PTO Leaf Vac?

    For those who were interested, or who may come across this thread, I'll post "the rest of the story."

    I ended up buying the Trac Vac PTO unit with the "remote pickup" - a 12 ft. length of 6" hose with a handle that connects to the main 8" hose. I took delivery in the early winter and finally had a chance to give it a couple of fair trials the past couple of weeks.

    Conclusions:

    1. I'm very happy that I got the PTO unit after spending an hour trying to start the wood splitter thee weeks ago.

    2. The idea of a floating remote pickup might work with a grassy ditch, but could not in my application with a ditch of varying cross-section and lots of stone in it, varying from gravel washed off the road to 6 to 8" rip-rap. This thing will pick up fist-sized stone with no trouble, but the blower doesn't like them at all. You really need to manage the end of it to get the leaves lodged in the stone without picking up the stones themselves. That means you really need to recruit a tractor driver because climbing on and off the tractor gets old fast.

    3. The standard 12 ft. remote pickup attached to the 8 ft. of 8" hose may work for occasional use, but is far from ideal as the main way of working. The 8" hose is stiff, and the connector is a heavy steel thing that's a real pain to drag around. I'm working on getting a 20 ft. length of the smaller hose and mounting it directly on the blower.

    4. Picking up leaves directly is probably a bit more problematic than using the unit with a mower deck. As advertised, it is not a shredder, and while the blower does some shredding if the leave are pretty dry, they are clearly not as fine as if picked up with a mower deck. As a result the bin fills more quickly. On the other hand, I was worried about clogging with twigs getting picked up with the leaves. That has not been much of an issue. Twigs that don't catch in the inlet don't seem to seldom clog the hose, and the few clogs I got seem easy to clear by straightening the hose and giving it a good flip.

    5. I've found the unloading issue to be real. Unless you can face the trailer up hill, it doesn't raise far enough to dump well. I've not yet worked out a solution to that.

    6. I find it mildly annoying that it's a category 0/1 three-point hitch. Even after building out the pins with as many washers as they would take I still have to adjust the arms in to fit it.

    7. If you take delivery in January and decide to test it on piles of wet leaves frozen to the ditch, expect disappointment.

    I find the unit well-built, and using it much less frustrating than trying to blow leaves up the bank, especially if there is any wind. But using it to clear ditches is still a goodly amount of work. The composted piles of leaves from my spring cleanup are looking very useful, and I'll have a lot more of them after this fall.

    Terry

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