The TM1 was introduced at Saltex in 2005 and is designed to pick up light, loose material from turf and hard surfaces. In time, it could do even more. The idea is that there will be a range of heads. The head we are using today is actually designed for collecting cores off a green. By developing further heads, the TM1 could become a multi-tasking machine. That is an exciting prospect.
Our tester fires up the engine. It seems a little noisy at first — probably not something you will want to use in the confines of a shopping precinct — but this is a powerful engine (13hp) and it is moving a vast volume of air compared with some machines. Everything is driven off the engine — the transmission speed, the rate at which the hopper tips and the fan speed. And it is generating fearsome suction. Wet leaves beware.
Our tester steadily guides the machine across the car park, collecting autumn debris as he goes. The head has a 96cm-wide, rotating polypropylene filament agitation brush. In its standard position, the suction head rests 25mm above the ground, with the brush’s filaments just touching the surface, but it can be raised to a maximum of 75mm by adjusting the rear roller. This means you can match it to different lengths of grass when working on turf surfaces. The large orifice at the front makes it easy to push the machine into piles of deep leaves.
There are a lot of knobs and levers on the control panel but nothing more than necessary and it is all clearly laid out.
From the safety angle there is, of course, the obligatory operator presence control (OPC) lever. In fact, there are two — one on each side the handlebars. They work exactly as you would expect — releasing the levers brings the machine to a halt and stops the fan. Only one lever needs to be held down to ensure the running of the machine, making it convenient to start the machine and to work alongside it if need be.
The throttle control incorporates the choke, idle, full-speed and stop positions. There is also the transmission drive engage/disengage lever that drives the wheels, and the separate control for travel speed and direction with forward, neutral and reverse clearly marked. Speed is variable up to a maximum of 8km/h forward and 5.5km/h in reverse. We like the fact that it has reverse — it significantly increases the machine’s manoeuvrability.
There are also separate levers to engage/disengage the suction impeller drive and to engage the brush. Turning a small handwheel on the control panel allows you to control the speed of the fan. The impeller is 325mm in diameter and turns at 2,500rpm. If we were collecting light material, we could back the fan off and use more ground speed. For the wet leaves today, we have it at full speed. Two further levers control the hopper to allow lifting, lowering and tipping.
The tester has no trouble mastering the TM1 — all the controls are at his fingertips and he is using the machine with confidence right from the start.
Because the debris passes through the vacuum impeller on its way to the hopper, the material is pulverised. Maximum load capacity is just 0.65cu m. That means it can collect up to 200kg of cores ready for recycling into top dressing. The collector empties at a height of around 1m, which gives sufficient clearance to tip into a low trailer or utility vehicle, but not enough to tip into a skip.
Carrying out maintenance on vacuum sweepers can sometimes be difficult. But Turfmech has a done a good job of giving accessibility to the necessary parts by whipping the front off. It is also easy to check fuel and filters and to reach the grease nipples. This machine has a 6.5-litre fuel tank.
Turfmech’s engineering know-how scores top points in both the design and construction. We are also impressed by the way potentially high vibration levels have been reduced.
Attachments could include a weed- and gulley-brush set or an edging tool. The future looks exciting.
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