I am really happy with mine. I have now done 90 aerations with it and I think it is worth every penny that I paid for it. There is definately a learning curve. The more I use it and get used to it, the more I like it. I too at first was using too much pressure which was causing me to occasionally tear up turf. I now am usually between 200 and 300 psi and pull nice 2"-4" plugs depending on soil moisture. I have had several comments from many happy customers at the size of plugs that this thing pulls. Most are very surprised.
Here are a few more tips:
1.Don't try try and aerate bone dry lawns and just increase pressure. This will only cause the machine to lift itself and you up off the ground with all the weight on the tines. This pressure on that system is what will cause the pushing of hydro oil up through the resevoir cap. This is the suposed fluid leak issues that some may have heard about.The rear wheels need to be on the ground. This will prevent that issue.
2.For zero turns, I have grown to prefer to just lift the tines, do a zero turn and then engage again. I feel it is faster with less chance to tear turf and not put any pressure on the chain system. Which brings me to my second point. If you hear clicking, stop doing whatever your doing. I believe the problems anyone has had with the drive or tine chains has been due to they really think they can drive this thing any way they want with the tines down. That is just too much pressure on the chains.
3. Make adjustments early before the chains get too loose (this will only increase their chance of breaking once they get loose).They are going to stretch in the first 25-35 hours pretty significantly. I had to adjust the drive belt and all chains in this time frame. This machine ran even stronger once I made these adjustments.
4. #3 has really helped with hills. This will climb steep hills, but first reduce pressure and reduce speed. I will sometimes also feather the tine engagement up down a little if I feel the pressure on the chains is getting too high. Down is no problem at all and sideways is real nice as long as not too steep to throw off your center of gravity.I have learned to take hills pretty well. Alot of it is just getting comfortable on the machine on hills.
I was out all morning and into the afternoon moving leaves and mowing. I was feeling a little fatigued and went and did some aerating before heading home. It was a real break from the days earlier work! How many times has aerating lawns been the days easy work?!!!
I have a soccer field that I just picked up scheduled for aeration and fertilizing friday. 2 1/4 acres. And looking forward to it!
Now I only wish I could do this all year.