Pros: walk-behind, blower attachment, ample bag capacity, not ear-splitting, mulching ability
Cons: price -- if your yard is small
It's a fact. You'll have no more leaves in the gutter or anywhere else 'round your place if you employ the Craftsman Yard Vacuum 6 HP 77055 ... along with someone to sashay back and forth across your lawn to complete the work while you sit back with a mug of hot cider and a doughnut or two.
All the Leaves Are Brown ... and the Sky Is Gray
Yes, it's true. Fall is in the air, and so are the leaves. If they're in the air, it's for sure they're blanketing your yard, too, in fall fashion. While brown is a wonderful, warm fall color, brown grass come spring time doesn't usually bring smiles of joy. It's for this reason we hung up our rakes and took up with the Craftsman Yard Vacuum 6 HP 77055.
With a bit over an acre of usable lawn space that includes a dozen large maples trees, another dozen birch and a few odds and ends, we couldn't take another autumn of back-breaking raking. Add to that 6 giant pines pitching their long or short needles to carpet our walkways and lawn and a rake doesn't make a dent. In fact, it just rearranges things a bit and makes for more frustration than progress. When gray skies loom with hints of rain, those leaves need a quick ushering to a refuse bag or compost heap, and the faster the better. Who knows what mold will begin tossing spores around your property once a wet blanket of leaves has its way.
With these things in mind, Husband of Mine pulled out his wallet and scrounged for his Sears card, garnering an additional 10% off for the purchase of this fall's saving grace.
This push mower-turned-vac does a quality job without hours of hard labor literally every time we turn around. It's not a walk in the park, nor is it self-propelled, but it makes much shorter work of those leaves than we ever could by hand, with an 10:1 packing ratio for those who bag their leaves for curbside pick-up.
This is Not the Vac That TroyBilt
We shopped for several types of leaf mulcher/vacuums this year and even brought home a gas-powered harness type that acts as a traditional leaf blower with a reverse mechanism that allows for vacuuming, too. In theory, a workable model. However, in practice, the unit didn't handle the job, even with the dryest of leaves on the calmest of days. Our children could pick up leaves with their hands faster and with more accuracy than the standard strap-on-your-shoulder leaf vac.
We also shopped for price and for comparison with several manufacturers. Craftsman, above all others, offered more power for the price and a cheaper extended warranty on top of it, making it the top of the leaf pile in our heap of choices.
Here's what the Craftsman Yard Vacuum 6 HP 77055 brought us:
vacuum hose, similar set-up to a household vacuum, but larger and oh-so-much-more powerful with a 24-inch adjustable nozzle.
ability to work as a chipper for branches up to 1-1/2 inches in diameter, something useful for those small branches that sometimes fall along with the leaves, as well as for clean-up after general pruning jobs
the impeller/rotary assembly with 2 flail knives (mulching of leaves, other lawn debris) and 1 chipper blade (small tree branches, twigs) that chops up everything to just the right size -- allows for particles to compact and save space when bagging
vacuum allows for 5 position height adjustment (3/8 inch to 4 inch) to match your ground conditions -- moderate height is great for our terrain, with slopes, a few bumps and lots of tree roots
Briggs & Stratton engine -- 6.0 hp -- plenty of power and not as much noise as we expected
1.5 quart fuel tank -- 3 or 4 runs around our yard fit into this size tank
2-bushel bag capacity -- plenty of space when you consider it's compacted material and you'll have to push it around a while as well as unload it! Remember it's a 10:1 ratio of leaves in there ...
solid workmanship (118 lbs. worth) with chute and body made of steel coated in baked enamel ... 'nuff said
A one-year warranty tidies up this package with the special Sears extended coverages available at your discretion.
A Leisurely Stroll with a Craftsman By My Side
Now, I won't pretend that I am the main user of this particular leaf vehicle. I have been allowed to take it for a spin on occasion and take several passes on the lawn with it. But, as you may suspect, the Man of the House is in charge of this power tool for the yard. He tries to imply that it's his duty to do all the hard work, but really, I've tried it ... it's not difficult stuff. It's a few hours of solitude, if you ask me, with the noise of the motor droning enough to allow for some thinking time. Not fun, necessarily, but you get the job done and see the results of your work in almost no time flat.
The Craftsman Yard Vac isn't a lightweight by any means, 118 pounds on an empty bag and maybe 50 more than that fully loaded. When you push it along the lawn you know it means business.
Once revved up (with one pull on the starter), the 6 hp engine doesn't exactly purr, but it's not roaring, either. My husband and I can communicate by just talking loudly over the sound of the motor -- which, by the way, does not shut off when you release the handle.
In all, a quality machine. Dependable, easy to use and keeps our lawn leaf-free.
The Rake Stops Here
Yes, we do still own a couple of rakes ... only because we can't use the yard vac in our perennial beds effectively all the time. The hose attachment lets us clean up in the beds really well, but in some cases a rake does become necessary, mainly for raking up mulch and smoothing everything over for the cold months. We also keep a few bushels of leaves around for protecting some of our fruit-bearing plants, so raking up a few bushels for that use works for us.
But, for all intents and purposes, this Craftsman Yard Vac is a time-saver and a back-saver. We'll be revving it up every fall for clean-up after we enjoy the look of a yardful of colorful leaves.
Yes, I said "enjoy". We no longer view those fallen leaves as drudgery waiting to happen. And in the end, we have fewer bags of leaves at the curb, a plus for those of us bagging them and I'm guessing a plus for those disposing of them for us.