Cyclone Rake on our X324
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Thread: Cyclone Rake on our X324

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    GTT Vendor Artillian's Avatar
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    Cyclone Rake on our X324

    Hey All,

    This week, we finally followed through with a goal I've been working toward for a couple of years; getting a Cyclone Rake for our ~1 acre of fall cleanup. Upon speaking with one of the customer service people, I was recommended to get the Commander; the second model up.

    Last night I finally finished the assembly and preparation (took about 3 hours altogether). The engine started right up on the first pull. We are very happy with the quality of this machine. There is nothing about it that makes you think, "why the heck is that this way..." It is all laid out with much thought. There were a couple of very minor imperfect parts. I emailed the company and they are sending new pieces forthwith.

    Last night, I finally got to give it a try. The blower/mulcher was amusingly powerful. The exit passageway from the inflated catcher felt like jet wash. I don't think this machine will have any trouble handling heavy leaf buildup when the season goes into full swing here.

    Unfortunately, I think the person who recommended this model for us was trying to sell us up without listening to my needs. We have awful hills with lots of obstacles. On the back of the X324, the Commander is monstrous. This would be fine if we had flat open land but that is not the case for us. I wanted to know what the worst case was going to be so I mowed and mowed and mowed until the catcher got quite full, up and down one of our large slopes, and across it as well to see how stable the machine is off camber.

    As it turns out, once the catcher gets 3/4 full or more, the weight of it severely hinders the ability for the small X324 to handle it. Instead of the front wheels steering across the hills, the weight of the Rake starts pulling down hill and control is lost. Even trying to pull the massive beast straight up the hills was fruitless. The rear wheels of the tractor just spin and the transaxle gets a real workout when it does have traction.

    Another aspect that I didn't consider about these machines is that the rigid mounting scheme is great for backing up (on flat land) but it is IMPOSSIBLE to use this machine at the edges of landscaping. If you have an inside turn, the bagging cart has to step over the border. In my case, it was a small stone retaining wall that first showed me this limitation. In trying to follow the edge of a turning/climbing garden bed, the caster wheel was swept right over the edge of the retaining wall, hanging in free air. It's a good thing this happened at the beginning when the catcher was empty. If it had been full, I don't know what might have happened.

    We are planning to exchange the machine for the smallest size available. We'll have to empty it more often, but at least we'll live through the work. I'll report more when there is more to share, and also get some pictures asap too.
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    RandyM's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review Chris.

    Here is a tip for cleaning up around your obstacles, we use a good backpack blower and blow everything clear of walls, fences, and landscaping. Then just follow up with the vacuum in the open spaces. It is all safer and easier on the equipment. I am in the process of making our setup work better as well.

    http://www.greentractortalk.com/foru...ghlight=vacuum

    Here is my first attempt.

    http://www.greentractortalk.com/foru...ghlight=vacuum
    Last edited by RandyM; 09-29-2011 at 07:00 AM. Reason: added second link
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    GTT Vendor Artillian's Avatar
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    Hey Randy,

    Yes, I have, or have had, just about every piece of huffing and puffing machinery to be had for leaf management. I used to use the 13 (or 14?) bushel bagging system on the 2305 but it was a dreadful mechanism that doesn't hold more than a whisper of leaves. It had to be emptied every few minutes. The biggest problem was that it doesn't mulch the leaves up so emptying the bags always reminded me of piles of hair on the barber shop floor because they were so light.

    I always thought the Cyclone Rake (aka CR) was a very innovative machine, especially the storage convenience of it. I don't know where I'd put one of those huge traditional trailer type leaf mulchers for the other three seasons.

    I have normally used my (awesome) Stihl backpack blower to clear the drive and garden beds, and then follow back with the 2305 for load after load after load of leaves.

    But at least with the 2305 I was able to mow the lawn all the way to the edges. With the CR, it's not happening. So what my smarter half came up with was to mow around the perimeter once or twice, blowing the spew inward, then hook up the cart and suck it all up. That's what we'll do but I'm pretty confident that we will be stepping down to the smaller one, even though it has less power and a smaller hose diameter. I'm not too concerned about the volume of the catcher as the machine does a really good job of mulching and compacting.

    It's too bad that CR sells direct because it makes it tough for folks to go and lay a finger on the thing and pick the one that suits us. Instead, we're depending on their customer service recommendation, or possibly going to see one at someone's house locally at the recommendation of CR. That's still awkward and incomplete because there's no comparison taking place.

    By the way, that's a really nice looking do-it-yourself system you made there. I had no idea you were so resourceful - and had so much time on your hands!
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