It's gardening time again: Well, when the rain stops long enough for the ground to dry up a bit so that you can get out and cut the grass, trim the bushes, weed the flowerbeds and the rest.
For me, as I'm not really a big gardening fan, doing it more out of necessary than pleasure, mainly as the wife tends to go on about how the garden needs tidying up so many times it's easier, and quieter, to get out and do the tedious jobs.
But one thing I really really don't like about gardening is raking up all the 'dead' grass and leaves that are left behind. So this is were a lovely little gadget has made my life in the garden a lot easier, although when I say little, it's not really that little.
Anyway, this gadget I am talking about is in fact called a garden vac, which may sound like I take the vacuum cleaner outside to clean up the debris but it's a special kind of vac that is designed just for the garden and not for your indoor carpets, (although I've not tried it on indoor carpets as yet, but maybe one day).
This particular garden vac that I have been playing with recently is actually from that well known company who are best known for the rather bright colour of the casing that most, if not all, of their products come in; that colour being orange... yes you've guessed it, the company is Flymo with this product being the Flymo Garden Vac 2700 turbo.
It comes in a long box and when you open it you'll instantly see that it will need to be put together. But in the box there is the main unit itself, being made of a sturdy orange plastic with a little black 'knob' on the top of it, which I will go into more detail about later. Then there's a black contraption which looks a little like a welders mould, only I would weld near it as it's made of plastic and will melt in no time at all.
Then, in the box, there is a black bag, which looks a bit like one of those bags for life you get from Asda for a pound, only this one's black.
Also, there a handle with two bolts and two plastic covers and finally there's six little straw like cutting blades, plus a strap so that you can carry the entire unit with ease.
And there's a leaflet, instructions and the usual bits and bobs so you can register the device to activate the 12 month guarantee.
The thing it doesn't have is the little wheel to attach to the front so that you can roll it around instead of carrying it... this is a disgrace as you have to buy this as an extra, which is diabolical really as the image I saw had the wheel attached to it and I assumed that the wheel would be with it... but it wasn't and I'm not too happy as I'm having to carry this now instead of rolling it. Disgraceful and surely false advertising in my eyes for sure.
The wheel itself only cost around a tenner but for me it should have come with this vac, even if I had to attach it myself.
Putting it together..!
This may look a little daunting, with the bits being dropped loosely in the box, the bolts and paper work in a plastic bag. But when you get the few bits out and have a quick look at the destruction booklet, although this booklet could be a bit clearer, you'll see just how easy it is to assemble.
The bolts slot into the two grooves on the side, with the adjustable handle slotting over the top and held in place with the two plastic caps.
Then it's a matter of getting the black bag attached to the frame which attaches to the main body. This is best done when the frame is not yet slotted onto the main body as I found it simpler to get the little slots on the tops of the bag to fit over the catches on the frame. But once done the frame then locks onto the main unit with a click, pushing it on at the front first then locking it into position at the rear
That's it, you're now ready to plug it in and get sucking, or even blowing, or maybe even both if you really want to.
The machine itself...
The entire orange unit is just over a metre long, from the start of the 'mouth' to the end of the handle, and 140mm wide.
The trigger is house underneath the handle, which allows for both and easy reach and continuous pressure to keep the machine going without losing any grip. Also, just inside this handle, there is a little 'gap' with a space for the wire to slide through and catch onto a small knob, which helps keep the wire safely away from anything on the ground.
The second handle, which is adjustable by loosening the side plastic locking screws, pushing the handle into the position you want, then relocking the plastic screws, is pretty sturdy indeed, allowing you to move the machine around with ease as you suck or blow the leaves and stuff in you garden.
Inside the machine there is a great way to help 'mulch' what ever you're vacuuming up in the garden. This is done using a simple plastic flexible rod which spins away, chomping at the leaves, twigs and grass that is sucked up, chomping it into a finer more compost like material instead of a wheelie bin full of large pieces.
These plastic rods are quite strong and can last some time as long as it's only your basic garden waste that it is dealing with, but if it tried to chomp on anything harder, like a can or even a stone then there will be a lot of flexible plastic splitting and flying around inside the bag. But don't worry, you get some spare rods and they are only a few quid for a dozen more.
The machine is controlled by the 'T' shaped knob in the top of the unit, which has arrows on it to let you know which way is suck and which way is blow, but when you have pulled or pushed the knob back or forwards it clunks into position and stays there.
The trigger is on the underside toward the rear, or more the end which is opposite the nozzle area.
The nozzle area is shaped like a rectangle on it side, which is half covered by a piece of plastic. This piece of plastic moves up or down when you pull or push the knob, and this is how the blow/suck is chosen.
If you purchase the wheel for this then you simply slot that onto the front of the nozzle, clipping the side sections of the wheel onto the sides of the vac.
What about it's power..?
This is has an astonishing 2700watt motor and it shows, especially when it's on the blowing action, managing to send leaves, bits of paper, cans and, god forbid, dry dog poo, flying down the garden at a rate that is near equivalent to a jet fighter taking off, (alright, maybe not that powerful but it doesn't half have a kick in it). Sadly though the sucking, or 'vac' action falls a little short, considering the power under the hood, but it can still suck the eyes out of a midges head if it gets too close.
Is it easy to use then..?
In a word, Yes.
It couldn't be easier in fact.
You simply plug it into the mains, put the strap around your shoulder, grab the handle on the top and the handle at the end, then slide the T bar to either suck or blow, then just pull the trigger and away you go.
That's it, the machine will do the rest.
It can weigh a bit, especially if the leaves and stuff are wet and the bag gets a little too filled, then it can weigh a bit much. The shoulder strap does take a bit of the weight off your arms but as the strap doesn't have any form of comfort, such as a padded section to stop the material digging into your shoulder, the strap can begin to feel uncomfortable after a while. But, if you do what I did and take the padding off something else, such as an old rucksack, or even a guitar strap, then the comfort of this vac strap can be made a lot better.
So how do you make it lighter..?
You empty the bag of course, which in itself is as easy as unclipping the black catch on the rear, which should release the plastic casing that the bag attaches to. Then simply empty the bag where ever you put your garden waste and simple click the plastic casing back into place, which slots in at the front then locks in at the rear.
Once you've done it once you'll see just how easy it is to do and the second time you'll do it a lot easier.
So how much will this cost me then..?
Well, for the sake of less raking, which leads to less back ache and more time to sit and admire your beautifully manicured garden; or is manicured the right word..?. The cost of this sucker/blower is a mere £60.00, or there abouts, with the wheel selling for another tenner.
Is it worth it..?
If you have a lot of leaves and dread the autumn season, or maybe you tend to mow the grass quite a bit and hate raking up the grass, then yes, this is worth the money as it should last quite some time. Plus, as it does a great job slicing all the garden waste into what can only be described as 'mulch' it saves on space in your wheelie bin or even your 'composter' at the bottom of the garden.
In all, some one said that 'the future's bright, the future's orange' and with this time and energy saving device that saying could go well with this.
© Blissman70 2012
I have very large leaf hedges, to which picking the leaves up after cutting them down can be a real pain. I bought this from Argos , and paid a lot more for it than their own brand.
It was very heavy to carry, and when trying to get the bag attached to the actual unit and you have to kind of force a thin bit of plastic into very small slots at the same time.
It works by using a very high vac, which then passed through a rotating bit of plastic, the plastic rods were very thin and didn't last very long at all. It did struggle to pick up smallish twigs, although leaves were no issue at all.
I bought it in the summer 2010, I came to use it this year bearing in mind you only use them say once and twice. To my horror the unit was sparking and making a burning smell within the unit, it had been stored in a very dry place so cant see a reason for it. In the end I bought a store own brand, it was a lot less and loads better.
It seems like only a couple of years since I was writing about a Wickes' own brand garden vacuum/blower. On checking, I see it really WAS only a couple of years! Well, two seasons worth of use have seen the poor thing off. I wondered why it cost £24 in a sale. I work that out to be around £6/hour of usage, since it really only gets pressed into use once the avalanche of magnolia leaves in my front garden has stopped getting any larger.
Through an admin error, I also bought the Flymo 2700 at the same time. Going from memory, it was something to do with the on-line order that I'd placed seemingly disappearing until, that is, the goods turned up on my doorstep, and my credit card being charged. Being a firm believer in the CBA principle, (Can't be Arsed) I put the Flymo into store in the loft and until today, forgot about it.
Whether the Wickes version sensed that its replacement was waiting in the wings or not, it gave up yesterday in an alarming puff of smoke and a smell of molten plastic whilst tidying my Mum's garden, and so down came the Flymo from mothballs.
FLYMO 2700: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Big bugger, innit? There's something weirdly sci-fi about the orange body shape of the main unit, and as other writers on this subject have remarked, with its collection bag fitted, it looks somewhat like a pelican, or maybe the love child of a pelican and Dale Winton or Kilroy-Silk given its extreme orange-ness!
I wasn't too impressed with the assembly instructions. Fitting the gasket of a floppy bag seemingly with its own agenda to the bag holder was a real chore, since many of the parts successfully located kept popping back out as you neared completion. Someone writing about this model on Amazon resorted to a pop-rivet gun to keep it there!
Fitting the handle and strap was a bit more straightforward.
You also fit the first of five supplied trimming lines to a rotor that becomes hidden once the bag is fitted under the pelican's chin. These are designed to flail mercilessly at any leaves silly enough to be sucked up, mulching them down to get three times as much garden waste into the bags supplied by our council. If you know in advance that your going to be sucking up harder material, and the blurb even shows it devouring drink cans, then remove the trimmer otherwise fitting the next one is going to come around rather soon!
This system is far preferable to that employed by both the Wickes and an even older B&D model I've owned. These used the vacuum's actual turbine blades to mulch down any soft waste and woe betide you if you picked up a pebble by mistake. You didn't take long to learn not to do this!
DOES IT WORK?
No not really, although it does suck, but only in the American vernacular sense. Yes, it does a great job of blowing all your leaves up against, say a wall, when set to 'Blow' but then so does the vacuum mode!
At first I thought maybe I'd read the instructions wrongly, as there's a three-way setting to consider.
2. Vacuum and
3. Vacuum Jet, the latter leaking out a smaller blast of air pressure to loosen debris allowing a slightly depleted vacuum mode to suck it up.
You select these with a very business-like t-bar feeling rather like shouting 'lock and load' as you do so, but no, I'd read it right.
It appears it's just rubbish at....errrr....picking up rubbish.
I think the problem lies with the method by which the vacuum is created. Basically, all air travels forwards first, and when set to Blow, it continues on its way out of the nozzle. For Vacuum or Jet Vacuum, the air flow is diverted backwards by a kind of roller blind situated immediately at the nozzle end operated by the t-bar control.
Switching the air to double back on itself ought to work, but I can't help feeling that the turbulence created is self-defeating. The overall effect is that your neatly arranged pile by the wall is then redistributed all over, with only the leaves and other debris directly below the nozzle being sucked up, and then not very quickly. This is all very vexatious since with a 2700 watt motor (i.e. about 3.6 bhp if it were a petrol equivalent) you'd expect it to eat the wall for lunch, let alone a few assembled leaves.
"LOOK MUM, THAT MAN'S GOT A DEAD PELICAN ROUND HIS NECK!"
Given the lack of success I'm having, a dead albatross is more like it. There's a neck-strap that slips neatly through the handle so that the bulk of the machine's weight can be supported by your neck. However, there's no wider softly padded bit, which means that it feels like it's cutting in after a while. As the other writer has mentioned, the 'nose wheel' to guide it and keep it the right distance from the ground costs another £15 including postage (on an item that cost me £55? I don't think so!)
COULD I RECOMMEND IT?
As a blower, yes. As anything else, no. It takes way too long to vacuum up anything but isolated leaves, especially since you've got to chase them first thanks to the stray air originating from the nozzle .
The pity of it is, it's been in the loft unopened for so long, the warranty has expired, and of course, the invoice is history too. An object lesson in not keeping stuff that 'might come in handy later'.
Should have palmed it off on e-Bay as an unwanted gift!
Before anyone says 'have you checked for correct fitting of the air bag, or other leaks?', yes I have.