Newest Review: ... Of course, that means that it all passes through the impeller, so leaving the airway subject to potential blockage by larger ite... more
Flymo GardenVac 1500 Plus
Member Name: grahamt
Flymo GardenVac 1500 Plus
Date: 23/06/04, updated on 23/06/04 (4044 review reads)
Advantages: It does what it says on the box...
Disadvantages: ..just not very well and..., ...with less than impressive reliability
We are surrounded by trees and that's even after we've cut four down (a sycamore surplus to requirements, a mountain ash and an apple tree that died and a wimpy tree that was blocking the view of a beautiful plane tree).
In our old house in Southport we could get by with a rake. Not here. Something with far more ooomph was definitely needed. After a new fridge/freezer, a garden vacuum was a definite necessity. But which one?
The selection wasn't great. One simple choice, there was no way on Earth I was going to buy anything by Black & Decker (A lifetime of experience of their products has taught me not to touch them with a bargepole). Of the rest the Flymo looked OK and was definitely at a favourable price. I bought it.
Actually, despite the title of this piece (which relates to my opinion of the product rather than its mode of operation, if you hadn't guessed) the Flymo doesn't suck, it blows, and that I think is a part of the problem.
The nozzle is an unusual design. With most garden vacs, the motor drives an impeller that sucks air up the tube and with it the debris. Of course, that means that it all passes through the impeller, so leaving the airway subject to potential blockage by larger items.
The Flymo tries to overcome this by avoiding the issue entirely. The nozzle is divided in two. A smaller upper passageway is separated from a larger lower passageway along its entire length. The motor blows air down the upper passageway.
So, how does that enable debris to be sucked back up t
he lower passageway? There is sliding flap that partially covers the outlet of the upper passageway and redirects the air back up the lower passageway. The intention is that the flow of air will create enough of a draft that debris will be sucked into the airflow and travel up the nozzle to the collecting bag.
As with most garden vacs, the Flymo can be made to blow instead of suck. This is achieved by a pulling a knob that retracts the flap at the end of the upper passageway. Without the flap to redirect air back up the lower passageway the air simply blasts out the end. If you simply want to blow leaves off of the lawn, for instance, this is how you would do it.
So, if the leaves don't pass through the impeller, do they simply end up whole in the bag? Well, no. There is a boss fitted to the end of the motor, which sticks out into the lower passageway just before it reaches the bag. This boss holds a thin plastic rod that stretches across the passageway and, as it revolves, bashes the debris to pieces just before it enters the bag. The rod inevitably wears down and so is replaceable. This is easy to do. You get provided with several replacements and can buy more if needed.
So, what's it like in use? Well, I believe that the design is the problem. I found that the Flymo simply didn't do a very good job of shifting the debris. It appears that the method of redirecting the air to create a reverse airflow simply doesn't create enough suck to do a decent job. I always felt that it was taking far too long to do what seemed to be a very simple job.
Don't get me wrong, the Flymo does collect the rubbish it just seems to take such an effort over doing it. The leaves and twigs certainly get well mashed and the bag holds a decent quantity before needing emptying. The bag simply unclips with a lever by the handle. Th
e motor also has a cut-out linked to the bag that prevents the motor running unless the bag is in place.
The whole device is quite heavy and so the shoulder strap to support the majority of the weight is a must, especially because of the length of time cleaning up the garden takes. It is also possible to buy a little wheel that can be fixed to the end of the nozzle so that the Flymo can be wheeled along rather than being carried.
So, it does a fair although not brilliant job but why the title? The biggest problem I found with the Flymo was the dismal quality. I've had two. You may find that surprising but when I tell you that the second was a replacement for the first under the guarantee, it having failed (motor seized solid) within a year, you'll realise that the second one wasn't a choice.
The second one I've had only three years and that has now failed as well. The symptoms were similar to those that caused the demise of the first one. It does seem to me that the build quality leaves a lot to be desired.
The Flymo has now gone to the great garden in the sky (in other words, the local tip) and, it will come as no surprise, it has not been replaced with a Flymo.
Had I known the problems I was going to have there is no way I would have bought the Flymo in the first place and I recommend you don't either. I know that Flymo produce several different models but they seem to share the same basic design. I have no intentions of taking another chance.
This time I've gone for the Champion. I've got one of their lawn mowers and it's very good. Initial opinion of the Champion garden vac is excellent but I'll leave a review until it's had more use.
As for Flymo, you have been warned.