Hako Citymaster 90 and Citymaster 300

In their grey and scarlet livery, these machines look very business-like. Beneath the stylish exterior, these powerful suction machines shine with innovative features and offer a level of manoeuvrability that is hard to beat. What's more, they are remarkably easy to operate.

Starting as an agricultural equipment maker in the 1920s, German firm Hako didn’t move into sweepers until the 1960s and more recently entered the outdoor cleaning market. But it’s something the firm is doing very well. It currently offers three models of outdoor sweeping machine, the smallest of which is the Citymaster 90.
With a larger sweeping width and higher speed, the Citymaster 90 provides a truly economic alternative to pedestrian-operated machines. It’s also extremely nippy. Its slim dimensions mean it can pass through narrow gaps, while a new type of hydraulic rear-wheel steering provides for a remarkably tight turning circle — less than the machine’s length. You are not going to get stuck in a corner with this one. The manoeuvrability is definitely a key selling feature.
“The steering feels peculiar at first but you get used to it in no time,” says our tester. “And it’s clever the way the machine decelerates when you have a full lock on the wheels.” The deceleration ensures the manoeuvrability factor of the 90 is not abused and ensures stability when turning on cambered surfaces.
A two-cylinder, water-cooled, diesel engine powers the Citymaster 90 and generates 14.9hp at 2,700rpm. The 300 model has a three-cylinder Lombardini diesel engine. Both machines are built to take a lot of punishment, yet they are light on their feet. The low weight of the machines, combined with the large low-pressure tyres, means these units can be driven across sensitive surfaces, such as cobblestones, with little fear of damage. Taking a short cut over amenity grass areas isn’t beyond feasibility, either. Both machines are capable of climbing kerbs with ease.
The Hako sweepers have two large plate brushes at the front and a powerful vacuum turbine to lift litter into the hoppers. There is a choice of bristles.
We use the poly-steel brushes in the test. Brush pressure can be adjusted and water from a clean water tank is sprayed over the brushes to suppress dust that might otherwise rise as they rotate. A handheld suction hose means litter can be easily cleared from under benches or shrubberies.
So what is the sweeping performance like? We give the machines the tough challenge of sweeping a pine avenue.
“The results speak for themselves,” says a tester. “These machines are simple but effective. Look at them ripping up the mud and moss in the gulley, as well as dealing with the carpet of pine needles.” The volume of needles means the machines soon need emptying.
The Citymaster 90 has a built-in hopper of 120-litre capacity. It is raised on a scissor-lift for a high-dump facility into skips. We find that the solid mass of needles, because it is tightly packed into the hopper, needs a little help from the on-board scraper tool.
The Citymaster 300 shows thinking on a completely different level. This machine carries its own wheelie bin. Unique to this sweeper, the idea sets the machine apart from any other. Yet, while the 300 may seem a step away from what you normally think of as an outdoor sweeper, this machine has all it needs to place it successfully in the gap between typical road sweepers and pedestrian-operated machines.
The 240-litre wheelie bin means grounds managers can plan how best to do the work in their situation. On a campus, business park or industrial estate, empty wheelie bins could be left strategically around the site to enable the full bin to be swapped with an empty one as needed and the full bins collected later or visited by a refuse lorry. Alternatively, councils maintaining town and city centres could plan sweeping operations to coincide with the movements of the refuse lorry so the sweeper and lorry can meet up for emptying when necessary.
Either way, manual lifting of the bin is not required. A flick of a switch in the cab drops the platform at the back so that the full bin can be wheeled out and replaced by an empty one. We simply tip it into the undergrowth.
Manoeuvrability is another positive feature that sells the 300. This machine has a two-piece chassis, articulated in the middle and with hydraulic steering. The engine and hopper are in a trailer that forms the rear portion of the machine and it just follows the tractor unit wherever it goes.
“I like the steering. It’s an incredibly manoeuvrable machine. You can turn really tight circles,” confirms our man behind the wheel.
Both machines have meaty impellors,  tungsten-tipped for added strength. Hako also uses a dry filter system on its sweepers. The filters, or socks, are accessed by lifting the top of the machine and can be hosed clean. They also slide off their springs for washing or replacement. The system is designed to clean the used air, separating out 99.5 per cent of the dirt and dust, and then recycling it to create a blast of air at the suction mouth. In wet conditions, the filter system can be bypassed. There is also a filter shaker to loosen dirt. When working, we find these machines are incredibly dust-free. There is nothing uncom-
fortable or unpleasant for bystanders and noise is not a problem.
Both machines give a convincing ride and much thought has gone into operator comfort. It’s disappointing that the 90 has no cab but the plus side of that is affordability. An optional roof cover and windscreen are available, which give some protection from the elements.
The Citymaster 300, on the other hand, offers refreshing levels of operator comfort. It has a soundproof, low-vibration cab with air-conditioning, heating and ventilation. The operator’s seat is sprung and adjustable.
There is nothing difficult about the driving of either unit. Drive is hydrostatic, so there is only a forward/reverse pedal to move them around. Sweeper controls include brushes up/down, brush rotation, water on/off and hopper lift/lower. Our two apprentices, Our testers, have only been working in grounds maintenance for three weeks, but they pick up the controls instantly and within a few minutes are driving the machines with a remarkable degree of competence.
The position of the operator’s seat directly behind the twin brushes, plus the lack of clutter in the line of vision, mean there is outstanding visibility of the sweeping operation. A window in the floor of the driving platform allows a clear view of the suction box. The window lifts upwards to enable the glass to be cleaned.
Easy-to-remove covers give access to all the important components on both machines. Daily checks and maintenance should be quick, and enable the units to be brought into work with little delay in the morning.

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