I've used QDS Ultravac on 23hp Exmark 50'' year round since September 2011. Keep extra belts nearby always, and engage pto at 1/2 throttle. I have replaced both hydro pumps on the machine this year--possibly due to extra weight? Maybe just age--has almost 1100 hrs now. Have also replaced the pto clutch since purchasing the vac due to engaging pto at full throttle...also, you engage and disengage pto switch fairly frequently with a vac--just be aware that it does put extra stress on the machine. Read the product manual for maintenance, they are all different. Sharp blades do clean ups better than dull blades. As for the unit itself, it is still all original expect for the belts. I've probably replaced 5 or 6 impeller belts in 15 months. You'll start to hear a squeak when you engage the pto before the belt goes.
On a large property we set out multiple tarps on different areas of the yard to dump on faster. I have gained the sense of when the bag is full and can now dump before the tube gets clogged up--it sucks when things get clogged. When I have to empty the tube with dry leaves or grass, I will clean it, put pressure on the seat, and engage pto to see if impeller is clear. It it is, disengage and reinstall the tube, if not clear the impeller. I've found that its hard to collect wet grass, heavy leaf accumulation, and pine straw. For heavy pine straw and leaves, I'll go over twice knowing that I've clogged the tube to chop it up. After the first pass like this, clean the tube and check impeller then suck up debris. Working passes in reverse then forward on the same pass also helps if you want to do a sweeping motion at the same time. When blowing away from obstacles, you'll learn to level the pile out to pick up in one pass. Also, the front weights on exmark have slots through them---the slots work well for tying a tarp to and move a full load across a lot or to the truck; I do this without leaving the seat. I've sucked up garbage, dirty diapers, cig buts, dead squirrels, etc.
Landscape management, design, and installation
Horticulturalist with Specialization in Landscape Management
25 years old 7 years in business ownership