Trilo SG400

If you need a machine that has an insatiable appetite for clearing autumn leaves, but that will earn its keep at other times of the year, be sure to put this one on your shortlist. The SG400 is an intermediate machine, popular with greenkeepers and local authorities. It has been designed for open areas such as golf courses, parks, sports and show grounds. It is compact but versatile, so it will not have to sit redundant in the shed for 11 months of the year.
Hand-built in Holland and imported into Britain by Trilo UK, this machine has the performance and productivity to tackle leaves in November and December. And it is capable of digesting the tins, fast-food wrappers and other litter left after rallies and concerts. But within 20 minutes, different reels can be fitted to convert it into a scarifier or flail mower — with the hopper collecting the thatch or cut grass.
It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design and construction of this model. It is easy to see why this is one of the most popular machines on the market.
Starting at the front with the PTO shaft, we immediately notice the attention to detail. This model has a wide-angle PTO with over-run clutch. What is so special about that? Well, a common problem suffered with trailers is “knocking” when the shaft has a 50? knuckle.  That is not the case here. The SG400 is fitted with an 80? knuckle, so you can turn as sharply as you like with the machine still running. The over-run clutch means that as soon as you switch off, the machine winds down of its own accord. The drawbar is extendable so the height and pitch can be altered to keep the machine level.
There is only one set of double-acting spools to the tractor, which is fine — nine times out of 10, that is what the tractor will take. It also serves as a safety feature because, by employing a switch-over valve to divert the oil flow, changing from suction to unloading becomes a conscious decision. There are clips and covers to keep the spools out of the dirt.
At the heart of the SG400 is a high-capacity impeller. This hardened steel, hard-faced fan gives the machine its remarkable performance. It is big — 850mm in diameter and five-bladed — and we are told it should last five years with hard use and 10 years or longer when used only to collect grass and leaves. Manganese plate is used as the catch point and there is also rubber to absorb the impact of stones or metal objects and eliminate denting.
The impeller is driven by four V-belts. This is the “give” point. If the fan becomes blocked and you try to put it into gear, the V-belts will give and you will know there is something in there.
Running along the side is an O-ring chain connecting to a double sprocket that takes the driveline to the hood to power the brush or scarifier. Because the brush only needs around 800rpm but the scarifier requires 2,000rpm, there is a second double socket to take the chain when converting the unit from vacuum sweeper to scarifying mode.
Trilo has really tried to keep things straightforward when it comes to using the machine, swapping over the attachments and the regular maintenance and servicing of the unit. For starters, there is the patented V-belt tensioner. It is basically a spring tensioner and takes a 24mm spanner to wind down the tension. There is also a chain tensioner. Again, it is simply a case of winding it down and it pushes the whole spring out to reduce the tension of the chain.
Double-acting rams on either side of the unit replace the original wire-rope system. When the hood sits on the ground, the rams push out to give the slack in the chains so the hood, with its in-line wheels, can follow the contours of the ground. The height of the hood is adjusted by a bar and, when working in a thick layer of leaves, the throat can be opened up to enable the suction to get a hold on the material and eliminate that annoying “bulldozing” effect.
There is a wander hose with switch-over valve, so it is just a case of pulling a pin to move the plate and send the air up the hose rather than into the hood.
The hopper is of sound construction and sits nicely balanced on the machine. It has a 2m-high tip facility for emptying into trucks or skips. The four-tonne ram may seem like overkill, but it is reassuring that whatever you have collected is going to tip out. Inside the container there is a drainage point for water.
The machine in its standard format is carried on 15in (38cm) tyres, though 19in (48cm) tyres are also available. Perfectly suited for use on turf, the tyres are ready-filled with foam so there should be no worries about punctures. To keep costs down, the machine comes without brakes, but hydraulic brakes can be fitted where the unit is expected to travel over 32km/h.
There should be no hunting for the grease points. They are all clearly marked and accessible. There are even lashdown points so if you need to transport the unit by lorry, there is no head-scratching while you seek out the best way to secure your load.

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