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The French company, Haemmerlin, have been around since 1867 and are one of the largest wheelbarrow companies in the world. In France, at least, they were the first to manufacture wheelbarrows. They specialise in other areas too but the barrow, now that is something special. Can you imagine how many gardeners they've supplied wheelbarrows too? A lot I should think. There was great-grandfather that used one and grandmother that had the same, the very same, and that was still going when it was stolen from the shed somewhere in the 1990's. I might be using that barrow now if it wasn't for thieves with a taste for premium products.
Get your barrows in lovely colours:
These days the wheelbarrows can be purchased in different sizes, materials, and in unusual colours such as lilac and pink - funky! The prices vary from around thirty pounds to one hundred which means they cater across the board for budgets.
I went for the normal looking, old fashioned type wheelbarrow probably in memory of the last one. I have owned this for several years and no longer recall how much I spent but I do know that if I need a new wheelbarrow I would be happy to get another Haemmerlin.
From poo to criminals:
I've seen use of this wheelbarrow on a farm to muck out the horses. It's a smelly barrow now but it does the job. I have another friend who uses it for removing the rubble on their various projects which always get started but never seem to be finished. So Haemmerlin wheelbarrows in their various sizes have the thumbs up from the horse poo remover, the DIY guy, the ancestors, from me and the thieves.
Engineers know a thing or two:
This wheelbarrow is deliberately light weight yet sturdy and with excellent load capacity. I'm no engineer but I can tell you that whatever has been done to create the perfect weight distribution on the wheelbarrow is just right. The tyre is large and solid and goes over bumps and lumps and uneven driveways just fine. The wheelbarrow takes the bulk of the weight so that I don't feel that I am doing any lifting.
The barrow never falls over with any load, no matter how messy and unevenly the pile of garden waste is. I find it easy to tilt up. I keep my gardening gloves on so I don't have any issues with the comfort of the handle bar but those that don't use gloves might find it less comfortable to grip.
There is rust on mine. I have left it in the garden by mistake, on occasion, but I don't think the rust matters as it still does what it is designed to do. I just did two days of heavy duty gardening over the bank holiday before this new April snow made an appearance. It made a huge difference being able to wheel the barrow from the back to the front of the house where the compost bin is. If I had to carry the brambles, and tree branches, I'd have been more scratched up, more aching in the back and generally fed up from extra work that the wheelbarrow spared me. Every gardener soon realises that the tools used can make a huge difference to the ease of the work.
The cat that sat in that:
Finally, Izzy, my neighbour's cat, likes to jump in the tray, and go for a ride around the garden. She gives her seal of approval too, 'Meow' and, in translation from the feline language to English, that makes a rating of five stars!
.........I'd Haemmerlin in the morning and the evening (and in fact I do!)
I consider myself to be a heavy user of wheelbarrows as I use them for horses. Currently I only have a couple of horses to care for but at one time I had a few and I was finding that the wheelbarrows I was using just weren't up to the job.
Not having tools that are up to the job can be very counterproductive and although it is easy to just go out and replace each broken barrow with another cheap one, there came a time several years ago when I decided to bite the bullet and fork out (pardon the pun) on one of these Haemmerlin beauties. I believe they currently sell for around £160 which is lots of money, but mine definitely cost under £100, about £75 from memory. As I mentioned, that was a good while ago though!
Since I bought the Haemmerlin, I have never looked back. There are a few things that are great about it:
== Capacity ==
For a single wheeled barrow, this has a huge capacity of 150 litres. Most regular sized barrows take about 90 litres so I instantly noticed the difference when using this one - far less trips to the muck heap! You can get two wheeled barrows which are enormous and have even bigger capacities, but I particularly wanted a single wheel as:
a) They are lighter
b) They are more manoeuvrable, and
c) Sometimes I need to wheel it up a single plank onto a muck trailer and this is an impossible feat to achieve with a 2-wheeler!
This large capacity is achieved through a wider and slightly deeper pan than the regular ones. This is in preference to a deeper narrower one which some people might rather have but for me this is easier to manoeuvre, once you get used to it, and also gives you a bigger area to aim for when chucking muck out from the stable to the wheelbarrow!
== Weight and Load ==
Being made from metal, this barrow isn't quite as lightweight as the popular plastic ones. It is far more hardwearing though. It is still much lighter than you'd expect however, weighing in at 21.5kg, and I don't find it heavy to handle at all.
Because of its sound construction, it also has a strong load-bearing capacity of 200kg. I have never tested this to the limit (I'm not sure I'd be able to push it along with 200kg inside!) but I have certainly put 60 -70kgs on it extremely regularly, which is a lot, and it has never baulked.
== Wheel ==
The wheel is a spoked metal wheel with a 4-ply pneumatic tyre. It is very well made and definitely assists with the light handling of the barrow. This wheel is clearly a large part of why the barrow survives as well as it does as the wheel has to bear the load a lot of the time. I can honestly say, in the 8 years or so that I have owned this barrow, I think I have had to pump up the wheel maybe two or three times, and that is with daily use. The wheel is sturdy and robust and really assists in being able to bounce the barrow along when it is full of, well how best to put this, erm..... horse poo?!
== Handling ==
Being larger than average, this barrow is wider than your normal barrow so the handles are slightly further apart than regular plastic barrows. This doesn't bother me one bit and, as the pan is wider to accommodate the extra capacity, this makes the whole barrow wider which I think gives it more stability. It does take a short time to adjust to the different size and balance of it but, once you've used it a few times, you will be hooked!
== Durability ==
Eight (or maybe a bit more) years of daily use and:
1) The plastic handles are still in place
2) The metal pan is in near perfect condition (and I rarely wash it down, although you can do this if need be)
3) The tyre has had to be pumped up 2 or 3 times
4) The wheel is in perfect condition
5) One bolt came loose and got lost, which I had to replace
6) One of the cross bars on the metal frame has broken just recently. This doesn't affect usage but does slightly affect the balance of it when it is resting on the ground as it is no longer holding the legs in exactly the right place. I will get around to having this re-welded at some point which will certainly be worth it.
One final point - my barrow is left unattended at the yard while I'm not there. I have reason to believe that it is regularly kidnapped and returned in my absence. In fact, another shiny and new one just like it turned up just recently. This barrow coveting speaks for itself!!
Money well spent.
(Review will also appear on Ciao)