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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just curious if anyone has recently purchased a Protero PV18 PTO dump catcher for their subcompact. I'm curious about purchasing experiences. I go back & forth like a seesaw on the need and want for one. This would be for summer mowing collection as well as the fall leaf cleanup.

From helpful posts by users over the years, it is evident that the performance is strong. I'm just not excited to deal with the hassle that purchasers have experienced in getting the complete kit and unknown timeline. I'm also not excited on the potential for the system to arrive beat to sh*t from a freight trucking company which has been my experience for 5 out of 5 items delivered by freight.
 

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I have also been looking at both solutions. I am more concerned over the power to the blower. From the deck vs rear pto. I am on the side of rear pto. But with the MCS being a JD product it tilts back in the other direction.

On big question I have is the total with of the deck. I have a 60 inch deck and need to fit though a 7 foot gate.

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True statement on the power. The PTO will definitely give you more than the belt off the deck to the powerflow. I have used the JD powerflow since about 2006. I have very few problems with plugging.
The only issue is driving too fast with very wet, heavy grass in the spring. If you slow down a bit, you will be fine. Leaf cleanup I have never had any issues with that material. The powerflow is going to add some width to the deck. If you like, I could measure how much mine adds to the width of the deck.
 

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True statement on the power. The PTO will definitely give you more than the belt off the deck to the powerflow. I have used the JD powerflow since about 2006. I have very few problems with plugging.
The only issue is driving too fast with very wet, heavy grass in the spring. If you slow down a bit, you will be fine. Leaf cleanup I have never had any issues with that material. The powerflow is going to add some width to the deck. If you like, I could measure how much mine adds to the width of the deck.
If you get a chance that would be great.

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Another vote for mcs20

I also purchased a mcs20 this fall and it does a fantastic job on the lawn. I previously had a cyclone rake which also worked well but the whole setup was so long it was cumbersome to get around all my trees. With the mcs20 I’m 6ft shorter and setup is literally a couple minutes to setup and take down. I have the 60” deck and I park in a shed with a 6’ wide door, with the powerflo on its too wide but that powerflo comes off in a minute or two so it is no problem. Though I never plugged the shoot with the cyclone rake, this fall with the mcs20 I plugged the shoot a few times. I think there is a learning curve. I found I can not go very quick through 6 inches of maple leaves when the hopper is getting full. But the dump from the seat option makes up for it :thumbup1gif:
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks guys. I like two things about the PV18 over the MCS20: 1) the additional suction offered by the rear PTO-driven blower (it is physically a larger blower I believe) and 2) the fan unit not hanging off the side of the deck.
 

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I'm spending more time dumping than collecting

There's another thread where I describe purchasing and repairing a hydraulic dump MCS - http://www.greentractortalk.com/forums/implements-attachments/122210-jd-hydraulic-dump-mcs.html. Now that leaf collection season is here, perhaps you might find a few observations helpful and may inform your decision. For the record, I was considering purchasing a PV18 when I found the JD unit - I made the decision strictly on price. I have quite a few large oak trees; the leaves cover my yard completely - sometimes more than 6" deep.

On to some "feedback":

  1. The unit takes up a lot of space. Its kind of in the way when not in use. (I know - build a bigger garage.)
  2. The blower has more than enough capacity and power to keep up with my 60" MMM. Having a separate engine allows me to unhook the hose from the deck and use it to suck the the last piles of leaves.
  3. The unit performs as advertised. Leaves are deposited in the bin and I don't have to leave the seat to dump.
  4. The unit fills up very quickly - I'm spending more time emptying than filling because I have to drive to the end of my yard to dump it.
  5. The first time I used it, I just mowed over the leaves. They were not particularly well shredded so it fills really quickly and they some were blowing out under the edge of the deck requiring some manual raking. I think this is a function of oak leaves.
  6. The second time, I mowed over the leaves and let the mower shred them and blow them into a "windrow." This worked better - a lot of time dumping but fewer trips. Definite improvement in shredding. Once shredded, the piles are much smaller and will compost quicker.
  7. There's a lot of small sticks that come down with the leaves. I'm concerned about damage to the deck and/or blower. So far no issues.
  8. I'm on the fence about time savings. I have a backpack blower - between it, a rake and a tarp, I can move a lot of leaves to the woods in short order. Less work on the tractor but took about the same amount of time. And there's places the leaves get blown into the tractor can't reach so I have to blow them out anyways.
  9. There was one task it excelled at. We have a lot of flower beds. This year, we cut them down and raked them into piles as usual. Instead of taking the refuge to the compost pile, I mowed them and sucked them into the MCS. It shredded everything quickly and saved a lot of time and effort. For some reason, plant refuse seems heavier than leaves when dragging a tarp.
  10. I've managed to clogged the chute once. There's enough air pressure that it cleared itself after the bin was empty.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with it but not as impressed as I thought I would be.

BTW, I'm using Gator blades on my deck.

As a point of comparison, my neighbor hired somebody to clear his leaves. They showed up with three people, all with leaf blowers. it took about 45 minutes to blow all the leaves into a big pile in the street. They used a commercial blower to suck them up and into truck. There is a small strip between the driveways that had a few leaves on it. They unloaded Skag ZTR with a commercial leaf vac. So, of deep leaves the pro used backpack blowers, not the fancy ZTR/leaf vac system. I think there's a lesson there.
 

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I have the MCS20, as well. In the past, I've had the AgriFab leaf vac with the tongue mounted engine/blower and the MC519 cart with the deck powerflow on the 455.

While the AgriFab unit had a great amount of capacity, that is where the pluses ended. The turning radius is very large, you cannot corner around anything, and the long tongue length makes it difficult to backup for dumping, especially over rough ground and tight spaces (in wooded areas). I also experienced a lot of trouble with sticks & twigs plugging the hose between the mower deck and the blower.

The MC519 with the powerflow was a vast improvement over the Agrifab unit. It is a rigid mount and substantially shorter. As such, it is far easier to corner with and backup. It was a lot of length aft of the rear axle which you have to keep in mind when cornering, to prevent the cart from swinging into things. With the powerflow at the deck discharge, it virtually eliminated issues with sticks/twigs plugging the chute. It is difficult to know when the cart is becoming full, so I typically just collect until I saw leaves blowing out from the deck. This plugged the chute, but it comes off as part of the dumping process, is a rigid tube, not corrugated, and clears just by holding vertical.

The MCS20 performs very similar to the MC519, as they both utilize the powerflow. With it's hopper being a 3-point mount, it further shortens the length aft of the axle which helps with cornering and far less "swing". In my opinion, the powerflow units performed better picking up leaves than the tongue mounted engine blower as it is right at the discharge opening of the deck.

This was my first year with the MCS20 and I was utilizing the standard blades that came with the 54D deck. Like JAllen, I have a ton of Oak leaves. They didn't appear to be shredded as well this year as they had in the past with MC519. I did have gator blades on that deck. So I'm going to attribute the difference to the blades. It is not enough that I'm going to change to gator blades until I wear the standard blades out.

I didn't have any issues with leaves blowing out from the deck as JAllen mentioned. The powerflow kit did include an additional baffle to be installed on the mower deck perimeter. I'm going to gather JAllen doesn't have this as he acquired hydraulic dump MCS used. He may want to investigate adding it. I've heard others with aftermarket collection systems report the same issue.

I have a Stihl chest pack blower. I wouldn't want to attempt to do all my leaves with it. Once they start to layer, it becomes difficult to move them. I utilize mine to blow the leaves out from under the deck and other places I can't access with the tractor. I then pick them up with the MCS20.

My neighbor contracts her leaf removal. It is typically a crew of four. Three have chest pack leaf blowers and the fourth utilizes a hand cart mounted engine blower. When they are about half way, the leafs are layering and they really slow down with the chest pack blowers. By the time they are to the remaining 25%, they are just too deep to move with the chest pack blowers and they make huge pile in the middle of the yard. Eventually, they return with a truck mounted collection system and vacuum the pile up.

Our yards are about the same size. While it goes quickly for the contractor compared to me, that is four men verses one. When figuring man hours, the MCS20 beats them hands down. Of course, as I have a place to a dump, I have the dump time they don't. Likewise, they have the pile collection time with the truck and the "mop up" of doubling back to collect the leaves that blew off the pile.

The only instances I plugged the chute with the MCS20 is when the hopper became full. Again, it is rigid and clears just by holding vertically.
 
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