BLEC/Harley power box rake

As the BLEC's representative unloads this machine from the lorry, he tells us the BLEC/Harley power box rake is one of the company's biggest sellers and that it is not often that he has to put it back on the lorry after completing a demonstration. Half an hour later we can see why that is the case.

The BLEC/Harley power box rake is a time saver. It is a three-in-one, single-pass machine and works as a rotary tiller, a box grader and a stone rake - all at the same time. We test the T-6 model; it requires a 25-45hp tractor, features hydraulic bi-angling to left or right and has a 1.82m working width. It is also available in 1.27m, 1.45m, 2.1m and 2.3m sizes.

We put the power box rake to work on a spare piece of grassland. The first things we notice are the simple design and remarkable strength built into this machine. We are talking heavy-duty frame, oiled-bath double-fifty roller chain and triple-sealed bearings. The teeth on the rotor are carbide-tipped and shaped to give the best possible tilth. On our grassland site, the machine has no trouble tilling into the hard compacted surface, pulverising it and leaving a perfect "fluffy" seedbed.

Speed and depth of cultivation can be matched to soil conditions. You can also choose the size of material you want to leave in the seedbed. Adjusting the gauge wheels also allows for skimming if you want to overseed.

And with this power box rake, what you see is what you get. There are no hidden extras. The unit comes with all electrical and hydraulic connections included. We reckon this implement represents serious value for money.

This is a machine you should look at if you need to increase work rates when creating areas for seeding or turfing. In addition, BLEC offers a laser system to give total accuracy in preparing new sports pitches.

The review panel

Rob Pinion
, grounds person, College of West Anglia, Wisbech

Barbara Welbourn
, assistant grounds person, College of West Anglia, Wisbech.

Carrying out a test of cultivation equipment in December was always likely to be plagued by the vagaries of the British weather. That is why we chose to test the equipment in the eastern part of the country. But even at Wisbech the rain can be torrential - so much so that the normally free-draining soil became saturated.

Although the conditions for testing could hardly be further from ideal, we were able to look at six items of cultivation equipment. In the pedestrian section we chose the Husqvarna CRT51 as an example of a wheeled rotary cultivator. It turned out to be a surprise when it came to coping with sticky, waterlogged soil.

The Husqvarna T200 compact and Mantis tiller were selected as examples of small, narrow-width rotary tillers, while the Efco MZ2090R is a full-width tiller. Finally, we looked at two machines from BLEC. The BLEC/Harley power box rake is a tractor-mounted, PTO-driven unit for preparing seedbeds and the BLEC SR3H pedestrian rotor rake is a walk-behind unit for use with Honda power tillers.

The rains eased for the duration of the tests but the soil remained saturated throughout this time. The wind was a cold easterly.

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