Blowers, Vacs and Sweepers: pedestrian and tractor-mounted kit

These machines offer a step up in power for those tackling bigger clean-up jobs and can help to keep costs down, Sally Drury explains.

Little Wonder: ProVac SP litter and leaf vacuum has capacity to bag 180 litres of debris - image: Schiller Grounds Care UK
Little Wonder: ProVac SP litter and leaf vacuum has capacity to bag 180 litres of debris - image: Schiller Grounds Care UK

Handheld and backpack blowers, vacuums and sweepers are all well and good for quick jobs, especially those tackled by mobile crews. They are ideal where there are small amounts of litter and debris, when clippings need clearing from pavements after the mower has passed or for pushing trimmings back into the hedge bottom.

They are perfect for sites with limited access or where there are obstacles such as picnic tables and playground equipment in a park or display benches in the outdoor sales area of a garden centre and they can be used for other tasks such as drying off seating after a shower of rain or cleaning down machinery before it is stored in the shed. But sometimes something bigger is required.

Autumn gales can quickly deposit vast amounts of leaves and debris across sports facilities, golf coursesand large ornamental lawns. To reduce the risk of turf diseases, leaves should be removed as soon as possible. Then there is the man-made litter — rubbish left after events and pop concerts. Just witness the tons of litter left at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. 

It seems people, even environmentally conscious youngsters, are reluctant to bag it, bin it or take it home. For these sites — large areas with volumes to be collected — pedestrian, ride-on and tractor-mounted blowers and sweepers come into their own and will help keep costs down.

"Clearing up litter after events, around amenity areas and sports venues, can be time-consuming and costly. Bottles, cans, glass and general debris left by the public is inevitable following large gatherings and it usually falls to councils, grounds care staff or specialist contractors to clean up," says Schiller Grounds Care UK director of commercial sales David Goose.

"Our Little Wonder self-propelled ProVac SP litter and leaf vacuum will make a big impact on the process, claiming as it does to be 30% faster than its nearest competitor. Superior airflow created by the powerful Honda 9hp GX270 engine creates the vacuum to fill the debris bag without loss of suction and, because it’s self-propelled, it will work at speed — up to 4.2mph (6.76kph) forwards and 1.8mph (2kph) in reverse — with far less fatigue for the operator."

The ProVac SP features a swivelling front wheel for manoeuvrability, heavy-duty-tread rear tyres for traction on all surfaces and slopes, automatically adjustable nozzle height and the capacity to bag 180 litres of litter, bottles and cans.

"It will swallow post-event debris in a flash and, of course, take the drudgery out of collecting autumn leaves in parks and estates," confirms Goose. "With the power of a hurricane sucking up the rubbish, there’s a safety windshield to divert dust to ground level. For operator comfort the arched paddle handle will suit users of most heights."

Trilo DSC0268 - image: Trilo

Hydrostatic drive

Cramer UK, based in Southampton, supplies the German-made LS 5000XP leaf and litter, hydrostatic-drive, petrol-powered vacuum for use in commercial and industrial environments as well as within estate grounds and gardens.

The key feature of this unit is the "Silent Wings" fan that is claimed to reduce noise by 75% and fuel consumption by 25%, yet maintains 100% suction power. It also boasts a clever design that avoids using electric micro safety switches. Fully complying with CE regulations, the vacuum has one lever to close the fan outlet for safety and automatically shuts down the
Honda Pro GX160 engine to idle.

"This allows you to slide out the collection bag and empty the vacuum with the engine still running, ready for the next cleaning run," says Cramer UK general manager David Jacobs. A gulley brush attachment is available for self-propelled models to help clear edges against kerbs and walls. Cramer also supplies gas-powered models for indoor use in environments such as workshops, packing sheds and storage facilities.

New from Cramer is the LS 5000ESW leaf and litter petrol-powered vacuum. It is powered by an emissions-free, low-noise, low-vibration 3kW electric motor.

Several mower companies, such as Gianni Ferrari and Etesia, offer sweeping kits to fit on their ride-on grass-cutting machines, but when it comes to extensive turf areas such as sports pitches, golf courses and estate grounds, the game is usually upped to tractor-mounted kit.

For just such situations, Trilo launched its second-generation S4 trailed vacuum sweeper earlier this year. Now available with larger radial tyres, a bigger air inlet, mechanical driveline and range of shaft options, it provides greenkeepers and groundsmen with a multifunctional unit to perform difficult cleaning work in a straightforward manner.

The new S4 is available with 1.8m, 2.1m and 2.4m suction head options, which are also compatible with larger models from the S-Line range of machines. One of the main adaptations is the switch from a hydraulic to a mechanical driveline, offering a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Not only that, but this change also allows a range of shaft options to be fitted, including a finishing mower, verticut and heavy-duty flail. Depending on the option fitted, it is possible to sweep and collect, cut and collect or scarify and collect in just one pass.

But it is the 1.5m-wide S3 with 3cu m hopper that course manager Robert Cleisham uses at Northenden Golf Club in Manchester. The parkland course with 18 USPGA-spec greens is heavily populated with trees and dealing with their leaf-fall is one of Cleisham’s biggest bugbears. He calls the Trilo S3 a "revelation". "Seeing the improved course presentation once the leaves are collected is rewarding," he says. 

"The wander hose is particularly useful for getting down into the ditches, taking even wet leaves easily in its stride. Thanks to the S3, the job of clearing long stretches of ditch, which used to take the best part of a day, now takes just an hour or two."

The modular design means users can tailor elements of the machine, including brakes and tyre options, to their specific requirements. It comes with the options of a scarifier, flail shaft and gulley brush rotor, giving the ability to conduct multiple turf maintenance tasks with the one unit. The heads are interchangeable and can be swapped in and out in under an hour. At 1,200kg, the S3 only needs a 30hp compact tractor.

Wiedenmann Super 600: can cover multitude of tasks - image: Wiedenmann

Multifunctional unit

Wiedenmann’s Super 600 is also a three-in-one flail mower, collector and verticutter. "It instantly suits amenity managers who find by investing in just one machine they can cover a multitude of tasks," says Wiedenmann UK sales manager Chaz Ayres.

For those whose tricky terrain hampers journeys back and forth to empty loads, the massive 4,500-litre tank means that it takes a lot longer to fill and consequently requires less time to empty. Even its sister model, the Super 500, boasts a very respectable 2,500-litre tank.

The 2.1m-high dump facility comes as standard to both models and has infinitely variable settings, allowing easy tipping into bins and trailers when discharge is eventually required. Two optional kits are available for the Super 500 and 600, both of which can be bolted on after purchase and both taking just 15 minutes to fit.

"The golf course kit is fitted to the front roller and replaces the two tyres and enables the customer to
get the best of the machine, allowing the multifunction head to follow the contours more accurately,"
Ayres explains. The Super contour kit assists those who have sites with deep ridges and furrows. It comprises an additional back roller with extra anti-scalp rollers that fits inside the rotor drum and brings the anti-scalp wheels even closer to the centre of the rotor drum so they follow contours with precision. 

Mega Twister and Votex blowers: using the tractor to generate a hurricane

Wiedenmann Mega Twister - image: Wiedenmann UK

Reduce turf disease risk

Wiedenmann’s Mega Twister (pictured) is described as "incredibly manoeuvrable". With 230° of swivel, it blows a mighty 390cu m per minute, making a significant impact to collecting and efficient work management.

It offers two add-on features. Firstly, there is an easily attached goose-neck spout so the wind nozzle can be set parallel to the floor, the alternative position optimising the output.

Secondly, it can have electrical operation to the nozzle, allowing tractors with just one double-spool valve to operate the left-to-right swivel action hydraulically and the up/down motion via an electric ram. Users can also direct the outlet spout to different angles depending on conditions — a useful feature on undulating ground.

Votex B20, B40 and B60 blowers available from Campey Turf Care Systems are designed according to the "forced-air guidance" principle. A double-sided inlet enlarges the air intake without enlarging the turbine. Although capacity is high, the weight of the rotating parts is low.

This prevents the tractor power train overcharging when thrown into gear. Requiring tractors with a power rating from 20hp to 60hp, these blowers can fit several power take-off speeds and directions. An optional 180° hydraulic swinging chute is also available.

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