Buffalo KB3

The Buffalo KB3 is designed for performance – the blower produces blasts of air up to 185mph

Has clearing leaves ever been this much fun? The expressions on our testers' faces say it all. There's a look of total bewilderment when they see the KB3 arriving for test. It is hitched behind a small motorcycle; and the motorcycle is complete with turf tyres. We don't really know whether to believe what we are seeing.

The Buffalo KB3 is made in the US, where there are some 4,000 used in grounds maintenance operations, and is made by Buffalo Turbine - a partner company of racing-car manufacturer Horschel Motorsports. And like its motorsport counterparts, the Buffalo is designed for performance. This blower produces blasts of air up to 185mph, or nearly 300km/h, and shifts 10,500cu ft (297cu m) of air every minute. That means 10 minutes of blowing is equivalent to the volume of air breathed by the average person in a year. Impressive figures - but is the Buffalo up to the job?

There's little doubt the Buffalo is well made - it is a heavy steel construction, powder-coated for durability. Power comes from a Kohler Command Pro 23hp V-Twin engine, backed by a 25-litre fuel tank; but the key feature is the 360 degs rotating nozzle assembly. This means there is no need to reverse the towing vehicle or make non-productive runs. At the headland, simply turn the nozzle in the other direction and make another run to continue moving the debris in line for collection. Rotation is controlled via an electrically powered gear motor. A new feature is a waterproof, wireless remote for throttle and nozzle control.

Now, considering the volume of air being moved and the speed at which it is travelling, you might expect the KB3 to sound something like to a jumbo jet. Well, it doesn't. For a blower, this Buffalo is remarkably quiet. Yet in our test it blows heavy rain off the grass. This one would make a great option for clearing dew prior to mowing.

The KB3 comes with a 30cm round nozzle as standard, but options include a fishtail nozzle to distribute a lower velocity over a wider area and a rectangular nozzle to move heavy or wet debris, soil plugs and topdressing material.

We can see lots of uses for the Buffalo in lots of situations. In addition to leaf clearance, this machine could be used to tidy betting slips after race day or sand that has blown from the beach after a storm. Whether or not you use it with the motorcycle is your decision.

The motorcycle used in the test is actually a Hog Bike and, like the Buffalo KB3, is supplied in the UK by JK Inc of Royston. The bike will set you back less than £3,000 and we reckon that if you are looking after a large estate, golf course or campus, it could be worth it. The Hog Bike does an astonishing 100 miles (161km) to the gallon.

Of course, the KB3 could be hitched to an appropriate quad bike, utility vehicle or compact tractor. A PTO version is available, requiring 16hp, and front-mounting kits are offered for use with Toro, Ransomes Jacobsen and John Deere mower units.

Specifications
Engine: 23hp Kohler
Air speed: 300km/h
Air volume: 17,820cu m/h
Fuel tank capacity: 25 litres
Accessories: Optional nozzles
Contact: JK Inc on 01763 208142

The review panel
Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Steve Hasell, machinery lecturer, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Hugh Murray, head greenkeeper, Cannington Golf Club
Ashley Hale, apprentice groundsman, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater
College
Mark Ekin, horticulture area manager, College of West Anglia, Wisbech
John Tangye, instructor and NPTC assessor, Littlefield Manor Training
Centre, Guildford

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