Don Selby has been with DR Power Equipment for eleven years and has been our head of product testing for the last six. He and his team are key contributors to our product development process. We spoke with Don just as the new Leaf Vacs were in the final testing stages.
What’s your number one impression of the new units?
Well, the suction is phenomenal…much better than any other product I’ve tried. And I’ve tried them all! It’s strong enough that you actually have to be a little careful when you’re using the manual vac hose, because it will take in a pretty good sized rock if you let it. You just have to respect its power.
How about hooked up to the lawn tractor?
It was great. Picked up pretty much everything we took it over. We did a lot of spring testing…winter leftovers like thick, wet matted leaves…lots of sticks and small branches—it was a really windy winter in Vermont, so there was a lot of random stuff on the ground—and we had no problems picking it all up.
How was emptying the load?
The dumping action is awesome. We dumped leaves, dry grass, wet grass, sawdust and anything else we could find. It dumps clean every time, and you don’t have to rake anything out—EVER!
Our engineers went after really easy, one-handed unloading for the average user. Successful?
Yeah, for the most part. Now, if you fill it ALL the way up, you will get some resistance at the start of the lift and will probably need both hands to get it started. But once you get it past that first six inches or so—and the power of the gas springs kicks in—then you’re home-free. I guess if you really want to keep it super easy, I’d recommend unloading before it’s 100% full.
I really prefer the single-point hitch; like almost all trailers out there. It handles much better. Trying to steer in and out of all the obstacles you’d find on a typical property without side-swiping stuff, or backing up constantly to get out of jams, is a lot more difficult with a dual-hitch system.
If you’re operating in a wide open field and have all the room in the world to maneuver in, then a dual-hitch is fine. But that’s just not the way it is. We’re testing around trees, and shrubs, and buildings, and stone walls, and raised beds…and all the other stuff people have on their properties.
What about backing up with the single point hitch? Any trouble with jack-knifing?
Jack-knifing was never a problem. I mean, it’s a trailer. I suppose if you’ve never used any kind of trailer before, you might have the usual learning curve…but you’ll figure it out soon enough.
On the other hand, even my guys—and they’re obviously very experienced operators—have had the occasional mishap with dual-hitch towing. It’s just not intuitive, and it’s really hard to do with any precision.
Any other thoughts on the new design?
We all really liked the way the top of this collector is designed. You can’t vacuum up dry leaves without producing dust, and the cap that’s over the mesh top channels all that stuff to the back away from the driver. And—this is really important—it shoots it out horizontally so it settles quickly to the ground. Some other products shoot it all straight up in the air…so as you go around your yard that stuff is raining down on you…and you’re breathing it in while you work. I don’t like making the guys wear particle masks, but with some of those products, I had no choice. With the new DRs that’s just not a problem.
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