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Poulan Weedeater Barracuda Electric Blower/Vacuum (24761015516)
(1 Epinions review)
Good blower/vacuum/mulcher for small yards
Mar 9, 2003 (Updated Mar 31, 2003)
Review by rdx2000
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Great blower, adequate vacuum, good mulcher
Cons:Collection bag difficult to handle
The Bottom Line: For small yards and shorter people, this blower/vac works just fine. However, there are better units available.
Last year, I was tired of raking leaves then bagging them into trash bags. I purchased the Barracuda blower/vacuum to speed up the job, primarily as a vacuum. As a vacuum, the manufacturer claims the mulching blades will reduce 16 bags debris into 1. Handling fewer bags sounded good to me...
Recommend this product?
Construction and Assembly:
The motor assembly is self-contained in a rigid plastic housing. A standard extension cord plugs directly into the assembly. There is a molded "loop" for looping the extension cord through so the plug will not pull out during use. Both the vacuum and blower tubes come in multiple sections are assemble easily. The tubes are a softer plastic and feel cheap but remain functional. The collection bag is lightweight "breathable" fabric with a narrow strap. A zipper runs along one end of the bag for dumping out debris.
When used as a Blower:
Simply attach the blower tubes to the discharge port on the motor assembly. Orient the nozzle however you want, turn power on and go.
When used as a Vacuum:
The motor housing has a spring loaded, hinged cover over the fan blades (so you don't chop your fingers off when using it as a blower). Open the cover using a screwdriver or narrow tool. Holding the cover open, attach the vacuum tube. Attach the collection bag to the discharge port (same place you attach the blower tubes) and secure in place using the velcro strip sewn onto the bag. Adjust the strap on the bag to fit your shoulder, turn power on and go. To empty the bag, just unzip the bag completely.
I paid about $70 for the Barracuda, but I have recently seen it around $50. As a blower, it works quite well. But the vacuum/mulching function is the primary reason I bought it. As a vacuum, it works okay. Not great, just okay. I used it to vacuum and mulch grass clippings, live oak and dogwood leaves as well as pint straw. I expected it to have trouble with the pine straw, but it posed no problems. Pine straw and leaves, in large quantities, can cause the vacuum tube to clog, so pace yourself.
I had no trouble with small twigs (3/16" or less in diameter), but it did nothing for acorns. If you hear objects rattling around, more than likely it is acorns, small stones or something heavy that won't go through the mulcher blades. I simply turn off the motor, let the objects fall out, then start it back up. Despite the manufacturer's claim, the mulcher only reduced debris from 4 bags to 1 (not 16 to 1). Of course, this will vary depending on what you're vacuuming/mulching.
The collection bag was a pain. The strap wasn't long enough for me (I'm 6' tall), so I hold the strap in one hand rather than putting it on my shoulder. My shorter (5'6") wife has no trouble putting the strap on her shoulder, but it slides off periodically because it is too narrow (about 3/4"). The bag is awkwardly oriented 90 degrees to the vacuum tube. You want to hold in one direction but it inflates in a different one.
The bag connects to the discharge port using a narrow velcro strap. Just like the shoulder strap, this strap begins to slip off every so often. When it does, mulched leaves fly out of the exposed gap. Emptying the bag was no trouble. I would place a trash bag around the base of the collection bag then unzip it. One day while rezipping the bag, I accidentally zipped up fabric from the bag and messed up the zipper. It still zips and unzips except for about 4 inches. Because the opening is 4 inches smaller, it makes emptying the bag more difficult.
Handling and emptying the bag caused my back to hurt from carrying its strap in my hand and fighting to empty the bag with the smaller opening. As a result, I could only use the vac for a limited time. Last issue, it works okay as a blower OR a vacuum. However, you may find it cumbersome if you plan to switch back and forth frequently.
It worked as advertised, although the 16 to 1 mulching claim is probably a bit overzealous. The collection bag is awkward, and my frustrations with it were exacerbated by the damaged zipper (be careful with yours). The taller you are, the more difficult it may be handling the bag. As a blower, it works great. Frequently switching between vacuum and blower modes is not very efficient.
NOTE: The busted zipper finally got to me. I could not find replacement bags locally (not even sure the manufacturer sells them separately), so I moved on to a Black and Decker model (Leaf Hog BV9000).
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