Pros: easy to assemble, high performance, excellent value, time saver
Cons: more expensive than a rake and a tarp
In this day of everything made overseas, and customer didn't from a call center staffed by people that have no clue about the product they are supporting, it is truly refreshing to come across a company that builds their product locally, supports it locally, and actually uses and believes in it.
I spent many years in commercial lawn maintenance, and believe that good support is very important, anything less ends up costing more money than it possibly saves
I had requested the catalog, and video several times, each time I read through it till it fell apart, its a beautifully detailed brochure that is quite educational, if nothing else, call and request their information package.
After way too many seasons of deliberating, I called to order, talking to the woman on the phone was like talking to an old friend, she related to me in a personal basis, and assured me that the cyclone rake was for me, having ran a commercial lawn maintenance business for the better part of 20 years, that was a tall order, she understood what my expectations would be for a machine, and helped me select the options that would best suit my needs
of course, I went for the biggest, and the best, upgrading to the double wheeled casters, and commercial strength hoses, the extra length cleanup hose. The delivery company contacted me the day after I bought it, holy cow, order it yesterday, get it today, my kind of company.
now the best part, putting it together, the whole setup showed up in 7 boxes, since I didn't want to trundle them all back to my garage by hand truck, I backed my pickup to the back of the truck, and we transferred boxes to my truck, each box labeled one through 7, how thoughtful was that, box one even had a note that said open this box first, assembly manual enclosed, now we are talking, this was going to be easy, the assembly manual comes in a three ring binder, and is so simple to go through, heck, they even threw in a small tool pouch with all the tools I would need to assemble it, these folks thought of everything, systematically, I went through the manual, following the steps one by one. The manual is so clearly written that I would imagine anyone with any degree of aptitude and a willingness to go step by step could do it, as I got to the box that held the engine/vacuum assembly, I noticed a label suggesting to "hold on to this box" Great idea in case you ever need to return it for any reason, I cant say it enough, they thought of everything, with each part of the assembly process, I marveled about the engineering that went into it, and how durable a product I got for the money spent.
I took my time on the assembly, and paid attention to what I was doing, all together, I probably spent about 90 minutes setting it up, and then I was off looking for leaves, I ordered it with the extra long hose, so the first thing I did was clean out the leaves in the beds, this machine has so much suction that it gets down to bare earth, picking up everything in its path, and with the long hose, I have a large range that I can collect from before having to move the machine, the impeller does a fine job of shredding the leaves, and the large hopper lets you spend more time collecting leaves and less time dumping them, a great feature on a large property where your compost pile is very far from where you are cleaning up, the fact that the machine pulverizes the leaves is a benefit as your compost pile will not become out of control.
On the lawn, I hooked up the short hose to the mower deck, I have a 23 horse craftsman hydrostatic drive 54 inch tractor, I went over the lawn at the same speed as I always do,since it hitches to the trailer in a rigid connection, when you turn, the back swings out wide, so it will take a bit of getting used to so as not to hit anything from turning too soon, but this connection is a tremendous benefit when backing up as the tractor/vacuum combo doesn't jack knife, anyone who can mow the lawn can operate this machine without any difficulty and the machine picked up everything that came out of the discharge shoot, when I slowed down, I even noticed it picking up those pesky acorns which seem to accumulate all over the place, I manage to cover about 1/3 of an acre on a heavily wooded lawn before needing to dump it, this is compared to dumping at least 30 times with the regular mower catcher.
I have had this machine for 2 seasons now and have put over 100 hours on it, cleaning up my yard, as well as a several of my neighbors and friends. Ive used it for cleaning up leaves, removing wood-chip mulch from planting beds, collecting grass clippings from the lawn and in each situation, the machine has performed in a way that I would expect from a commercial piece of equipment The poly impeller shows no sign of wear, and nothing has failed yet, from the construction, I do not see anything failing anytime soon, the machine is built stronger than it needs to be for what a homeowner would be doing with it.
I think this machine is a great value, on an acre property with 80-90 trees, it takes me no more than 2 hours to clean up, including blowing out the beds, and perimeter, compare that to a tarp and a rake which I know to take 2 full days, and there is no comparison, this machine will pay for itself in time savings alone.
In short, the machine is everything they say in the brochure. any premium you may pay over a "home center" vac is well worth it