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Discussion Starter #1
So for my thin grass I got a set of hi-lift blades to put on my 60D. They did a better job than the standard blades for mowing but now we're in the leaf time of the year. I picked up a used trac-vac a few weeks ago for collecting the leaves. Used it today and it does a great job picking up everything but when I dump the trailer especially when I get into more leaves and less grass the leaves don't seem to be very well chopped up. Now i'm wondering if the high lift blades may not be the best choice taking care of leaves with the vac. Wonder if a set of mulching blades would have enough push to blow the leaves out into the vacuum chute but chop them up better than the high lifts.

Anyone have experience doing this?

Thanks,
Dean
 

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I have "Gator" mulching blades on my GX335/48C and OEM blades on my 1026r/54D. I get decent results bagging with the Gators but have no bagger for the big tractor. The OEM's work fine for chopping leaves with my "blocked off chute/mulching system" on the 54D. I'd give what you got a go and see how it will work with the vac...

The MAIN THING mulching/bagging is doing it when the leaves are mostly DRY and Wide Open Throttle (PTO Speed).
 

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I have been using a Trac Vac for about 18 years. I have used it with regular blades & gator blades. I could not tell any difference in the leaves in the trailer. If the leaves are not dry, they will not break up. If they are dry, they will crumble into small pieces. If you want to chop them up, get Gator blades & mow with the opening on you mower deck blocked of, then go back & pick them up with the Trac Vac. If you do this you will have a lot less to vac up.

This is how I blocked mine off.
 

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Dean you are confusing me, (though easily done) but why are you concerned with shredding the leaves if you are picking them up? :unknown:
 

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I have been using a Trac Vac for about 18 years. I have used it with regular blades & gator blades. I could not tell any difference in the leaves in the trailer. If the leaves are not dry, they will not break up. If they are dry, they will crumble into small pieces. If you want to chop them up, get Gator blades & mow with the opening on you mower deck blocked of, then go back & pick them up with the Trac Vac. If you do this you will have a lot less to vac up.

This is how I blocked mine off.
To reinforce what Chris is saying, about 12-15 years ago I was pulling my homemade vacuum unit over my yard sucking up leaves & clippings. A friend I was storing three of his garden tractors and a bunch of attachments came out to help. I had been mowing and vacuuming and filling up my cart every 8-10 minutes. Buddy had Gator Blades on his 50 inch deck. When he'd get to a place with lots and lots of leaves the Gators were PULVERISING them into dust! By the time I went over the places he mowed I'd get a few leaves, whatever was left but I could run 18-20 minutes to get a load and cover a L-O-T more ground, which was the goal of the work we were doing.

I would not worry about mulching the leaves at all with your Trac-Vac. Mulched they take up less volume in the cart, but if you burn, or compost, or just dump them in a hole or ditch to rot away, whole leaves or tiny pieces of leaves don't make much difference. On my 2+ acres with 80+ trees I was getting 40-50 loads in my 42" x32" x36" cart. Reducing that number a bit, to say 30-40 loads saved me a lot of time and gas.

I was using a standard mower blade that had a small wing at 35-40 degree angle about 4-5 inches long. I welded a small blade to the top of that wing so it would move much more air and material into my vac. Worked great, it would suck leaves under the mower deck from 4 to 6 inches away from the front edge of the deck.
 

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So for my thin grass I got a set of hi-lift blades to put on my 60D. They did a better job than the standard blades for mowing but now we're in the leaf time of the year. I picked up a used trac-vac a few weeks ago for collecting the leaves. Used it today and it does a great job picking up everything but when I dump the trailer especially when I get into more leaves and less grass the leaves don't seem to be very well chopped up. Now i'm wondering if the high lift blades may not be the best choice taking care of leaves with the vac. Wonder if a set of mulching blades would have enough push to blow the leaves out into the vacuum chute but chop them up better than the high lifts.

Anyone have experience doing this?

Thanks,
Dean
I've used both the standard side discharge blades and the mulching blades to bag leaves. The mulching blades chop the leaves up really well and allow the powerflow blower to pack the bags full and heavy. My leaf blower/vac turns leaves to dust. It's electric however and can't reach everywhere.

No matter which blades you use be prepared for some blowout of leaves from the right front of the deck. There is no guard to prevent this unless you make something yourself.

The mulch blades also don't lift grass up as well. Because of this I'm actually looking at a set of Gator G6 blades for next mowing season.


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Discussion Starter #8
The problem i'm trying to solve for is the trailer on the Trac Vac fills up pretty quick when it's just leaves because with the high lift blades the get picked up and thrown right out. Almost don't look like they got hit by the blades at all. I've got 5 acres of mostly leaves and it's an awful lot of trips to empty. Looking for better blades to fill the trailer instead of have it full of air and a few leaves.
 

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The problem i'm trying to solve for is the trailer on the Trac Vac fills up pretty quick when it's just leaves because with the high lift blades the get picked up and thrown right out. Almost don't look like they got hit by the blades at all. I've got 5 acres of mostly leaves and it's an awful lot of trips to empty. Looking for better blades to fill the trailer instead of have it full of air and a few leaves.
You could try mulching blades without the mulch baffles. Either the John Deere mulch blades or the Gator blades would work for that.


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You say you bought a used Trac-Vac. Have you checked the condition of the impeller blade. I have a Trac-Vac and it grinds up the leaves pretty good. Maybe the impeller is worn down enough that it is allowing a good deal of whole leaves pass through.
 

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I'd say you just have to experiment with it. In theory, gator blades will promote re-circulation (what with their little winglets) on their own but with the secondary airflow source of the trac-vac you might not get a re-circulation effect.

How about adding serrations on the trac-vac impeller?
 

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You say you bought a used Trac-Vac. Have you checked the condition of the impeller blade. I have a Trac-Vac and it grinds up the leaves pretty good. Maybe the impeller is worn down enough that it is allowing a good deal of whole leaves pass through.
Good idea. I thought a trac vac should shred leaves. I missed that it was a used model.


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A Trac Vac is just a blower & container of some sort. Other than getting beat up from going through the hoses & blower, there is noting in Trac Vac to chop up leaves.
 

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I'd say you just have to experiment with it. In theory, gator blades will promote re-circulation (what with their little winglets) on their own but with the secondary airflow source of the trac-vac you might not get a re-circulation effect.

How about adding serrations on the trac-vac impeller?
NOOOOO! Do NOT modify that impeller blade! It is perfectly balanced on the drive shaft, if you change the balance and make it wobble you will eventually destroy the driveshaft on the Trac-Vac engine!

I've had 2 versions of the trac vac, one with the chipper and one without. With the chipper the impeller is much closer to the surrounding housing inside and does a much better job of shredding. The non-chipper has more room betweem impeller and housing and doesn't shred quite as well.

As someone above said, dry leaves shred best. If they are damp/wet, as they tend to get in November, then they won't shred as easily.

19 years of Trac-Vac experience here. on almost 5 acres.. Will NEVER be without one!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for all the replies! I think i'll give a set of the gator blades a try. I'm emptying way more often than I'd like. The trac vac is the blower without chipper type but has less than 20 hours on it. Almost perfect condition.
 

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I have gator blades on, honestly, I don't see the difference.
 

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NOOOOO! Do NOT modify that impeller blade! It is perfectly balanced on the drive shaft, if you change the balance and make it wobble you will eventually destroy the driveshaft on the Trac-Vac engine!

I've had 2 versions of the trac vac, one with the chipper and one without. With the chipper the impeller is much closer to the surrounding housing inside and does a much better job of shredding. The non-chipper has more room betweem impeller and housing and doesn't shred quite as well.

As someone above said, dry leaves shred best. If they are damp/wet, as they tend to get in November, then they won't shred as easily.

19 years of Trac-Vac experience here. on almost 5 acres.. Will NEVER be without one!
In my humble opinion you are over-thinking it. I am talking about small serrations, not removing large chunks of the impeller.
 

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I have gator blades on, honestly, I don't see the difference.
Same here. the only benefit is I always have a sharp set of blades to switch. But I do notice the tractor grinds up the leaves better driving over them in reverse. I don't know why but it does. Try it yourself. Regular JD blades do just as well as Gator. The Gators do seem to stay sharp longer.
 

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Same here. the only benefit is I always have a sharp set of blades to switch. But I do notice the tractor grinds up the leaves better driving over them in reverse. I don't know why but it does. Try it yourself. Regular JD blades do just as well as Gator. The Gators do seem to stay sharp longer.
Not just the big compact tractor decks, but also the first thing I noticed on my GX335/48C deck. Backing up the leaves get sucked in the "high side" of the deck, get pre-ground and float up into the deck in little pieces. Going forward the air is already trying to exit the deck under the front lip as the suction is towards the rear so the bigger leaves can blow out. Just the nature of the beast.

FWIW (not much!:laugh:) With block off plate on the chute, I added piece of 1.5" plastic well pipe across the front of the 48" deck one year for laffs. It did help some with the blow out but dozed lots of leaves ahead of the deck. Had to lift the deck every few feet to take in the crowds in front.

Come on JD figger out this age old problem and do an actual "redesign of mower decks" instead of rehashing same 50 year old ideas. THAT would be a REAL SELLING POINT for the slick videos! Why of course we'd be willing to pay for it, we're buying these old top dollar ones already...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So an update, I ordered a set of Gator blades and finally got to put them on today then suck up leaves.

The good part is they really do mulch the leaves up better, i'd estimate between 30% and 40% greater reduction in volume vs the JD high lift blades. With approximately the same leaf coverage on the ground I was able to cover quite a bit larger area before having to empty.

Now the nothing is free part. When I started using the Trac-Vac with the high lift blades I was amazed how much was picked up, the lawn was immaculate, not a piece of leaf left. After switching to the gators there is a fair amount of small mulched up pieces of leaf left. Well at least it looks like a fair amount compared to how it was with the other blades. I guess that's not a bad thing, a little mulch will provide some nutrients to the lawn.
 
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