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Aerator troubles

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by MikeKle, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. MikeKle

    MikeKle LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,253

    I had some yards to aerate today and I was using a Bluebird 530A type aerator,This thing is a BEAR to use!!! I am a pretty strong guy and this thing took all I had to "man-handle" it around!If you get it on just a slight grade,it always wants to tip over because of the set up of the front middle wheel.and the drive mechanism is extremely jerky,almost impossible to keep it at a constant speed.My inner thumbs have some good callouses forming! I dont want to think about what Im going to feel like in the morning! I am going to have to use something else if I continue to offer this service.Is there any aerators that mount to a hydro walkbehind or something similar to that?Also the bluebirds width is only around 20" so it also takes forever along with beating you to death!What do you guys suggest using? I think i could probably fabricate something to mount to my turf tracer but turning around would be the problem.I would be interested in seeing some pics if anyone has ever made one.Thanks.
  2. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858


    Welcome to "Running an aerator 101".

    That's how most of them operate, speaking of the rear "drum" tine types. No, they are no picnic, and you get one hell of a workout. No, they aren't good on side slopes either, better to go up and down if you possibly can. If no choice but to go across the slope you have to try to manhandle it as best you can and overlap your passes a little to catch the high side that didn't pull plugs well.

    Not sure what you mean about maintaing a constant speed though. You just pull the handle all the way back and go. 1 speed. you can "feather" it a little when nosing up to things, but otherwise you just run it wide open.

    No one ever said this work was easy!
  3. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    check your manual. You can download one from bluebird if you need one. It says how you can adjust it to be less "jerky" and responsive. You'll lose some top speed but it wont' wear you out as badly. These are hard machines to use, the Ryans are about the same.

    Anything really easier to use is also really expensive so be sure you're in it for the long haul. I would go with one of the cam driven machines that punch holes in the ground and get the model with the ride-on sulky if I were doing a lot of lawns. So far I don't think there has been a super-successful ztr front mounted aerator. They all seem to have some problems, but ask around.

    As you know going accross hillsides it seems as if it will roll over and also only aerates about 10" wide, so try to go up/down where possible.

    Wear a set of mechanix type padded gloves and your hands will not get as beaten up. Try to feather the control lever a little too. Good luck.
  4. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    I did 15 houses yesterday, which average about 3k of turf. Rented a Ryan... and man, it really knocked the snot out of me. Same issues, a "too sensitve" throttle, and a beast to manevuer. These properties have a lot of obstacles,,, beds, trees not to mention water metters and sprinkler heads.

    Still, it's quite profitable, so I will continue to offer the service every fall. My trailer set up is lousy for an aerator too... I sorely need to upgrade.

    I was able to slow it down from doing wheelies a bit by keeping one hand on the throttle and the other one UNDER the throttle handle. After about 4 houses, I was done trying to pivot on the water tank roller... I found it was easier to just drop the rear wheels down every time I made a turn. Still... I am SHOT today... but still have to go slit seed 5 houses. Obviously, getting a late start... body refused to get out of bed this morning!
  5. younga

    younga LawnSite Member
    Messages: 34

    Has anyone tried the Billy Goat with the casters on the back? I think they call it the EZ model. I've ran a Bluebird before and it is a workout. One of our local rental stores here has the Bill Goat and it looks like it'd be easier and more stable to operate.
  6. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,463

    On the bluebird take out 1 weight if your going sidewas on a slope. I know its a hassle swithcing the weight but its the only way to get good penetration
  7. SB Gary

    SB Gary LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Call your Plugr dealer for a demo. The Plugr units are a lot less work to run. Try the PL800 Pro 30 inch.
  8. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878

    Mikekle, If you are going to get into "Aeration" and not just offer it as an add on you need to get serious about your equipment. You can rent Ryan and Bluebird but it is usually worn out or at least tired. In turn these machines will beat the crap out of you. They were designed (Ryan) in 1977 and Bluebird copied them with little changes since. At that time they were EZ compared to the old Ryan L-15. Today there are some easy to operate options out there that drive using brakes, lift themselves out of the ground and you can ride behind them. But they cost money and make money if you have enough accounts. Say 10 to 15 a day for 30 days will make you some serious $$$. Come see us in Louisville, Ky Oct 23 to 25 and see what I mean. Or visit turfco.com to take a peek. http://www.gie-expo.com/ to register we will all be there. Turfcobob
  9. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Are you folks going to get into the rental biz? Or is your machine not suited to the rental market for full service solo LCO's such as myself?

    Niche markets are dwindling in my local market area. People want all their apps and maintenance from ONE LCO. That makes the Turfco out of my price range in my particular business plan and market, as I simply can't justify spending that much for a machine I might use for 4 or 5 days a year. So, I guess I'm struck with the old aerators.... 95 bucks to rent, 15 houses in a day, at about an average of $95 per house... and live with the limitations of my power rake for other jobs such as dethatching and slit seeding.

    Do you have a dealer on LI, NY?
  10. Turfco Tim

    Turfco Tim LawnSite Member
    Messages: 101

    If you can promise your local rental guy that he will get a return on his investment in a TurnAer I am sure he will be happy to buy it. The problem is we make the TurnAer for a higher intelligence level than the average homeowner who rents an aerator. If a homeowner can't figure it out rental stores have no interest.
    We sell everything direct from the factory.

    Tim Gray

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