Have you built a leaf vacum?

   / Have you built a leaf vacum? #1  


Elite Member
Feb 12, 2006
Central New Hampshire
Kubota B3030HSDC
Its getting close to leaf pickup time here. I've been browsing at leaf collection systems and have thoughts of building my own. Has anyone here built one that they can post pictures of? I've been looking at vacs on Ebay, such as the 10 - 13 hp "Billygoat" style leaf suckers the lawn care guys use. I have a Woods L59 belly mower on my tractor, and i'm thinking i need a fair amount of vacum to suck up everything in its path. Would one of these larger units be overkill? Or... would 6 -7 hp be more appropriate? I've been browsing at the DR, Cyclone rake, etc. for ideas..... but still thinking i'd like to make my own. I will need a self powered unit, my mower is powered off of my rear PTO. I also THINK i like the type that use a couple large , plastic, industrial sized trash cans to collect the debris...... instead of a tow behind type of hopper. I'm looking to clear about an acre and a half.... not a huge area.

Any thoughts?
   / Have you built a leaf vacum? #2  
The gadget we all need is a vacuum with a mulching capabilities, mulch and vac at same time.
   / Have you built a leaf vacum? #3  
Have not built one myself, but my last house had many trees and I wanted to buy a Billy Goat. Then found one to rent for a weekend. The land was average sized suburban lot but so many leaves I had to stop and dump that darn thing every 30 seconds. It was exhausting. After that I just did it the old fashioned way. Definately find a way to mulch and carry as many leaves as possible, maybe in a dump trailer.
   / Have you built a leaf vacum? #4  
I've not built one, but I'm the neighborhood keeper of an old Trac Vac that three of us use ( Trac Vac Quality Commercial and Residential Lawn / Leaf Vacuum 's ). It has a 10.5 hp B&S engine that runs a really nasty cast iron chopper/blower. The intake is a 10-inch hose. The output goes into a covered dump trailer. I fix it enough to feel like I've built it -- the quality is very good, it is just old and abused.

It has attachements that can be used with most any riding mower/tractor to suck up anything coming out of a side discharge mower deck. I mostly use my loader and rear blade to push my leaves into really big piles. Then I suck them up with this machine, which also chops them. If a branch will fit up the hose, the chopper will mince it. Rocks and things don't bother it. A big pile of leaves is well less than 1/4 its original size after I run it through this thing.

When this thing is fired up, you better make sure your dogs and cats are a long ways away. It doesn't hurt to wear suspenders and a tight belt either. It really sucks.

I've seen these things sell on ebay for a couple hundred dollars. They are well worth it if you've got as many leaves as I've got. I actually have to plow my 1/3-mile driveway because it gets covered with several inches of leaves that are slippery, and if I don't remove them, they really make a mess when I plow snow.

I've also got a leaf picker-upper with the two bins on my Cub Cadet lawn tractor. The bins can be lined with bags, or they can be dumped. As far as I'm concerned, it is not worth the effort. The bins fill up way too quick and they just don't hold enough. It jams a lot too if there is damp grass growing under the leaves.

My father-in-law has a walk-behind Billy Goat that I've used at his house. It is good for a 1/4 to 1/2 acre city lot. It does a much better job than my Cub Cadet system. But, I have to wear a respirator when I use it. It stirs up a lot of dust, plus it has to be emptied fairly regularly. When emptying it, the bag is really full of dust.

Happy Leafing,
   / Have you built a leaf vacum? #5  
I've built one that I'm still perfecting: JD rider mower- fabricated collector from 1/4" angle and 22g sheet that attatches to deck outlet. Then 6" reinforced dust collector tubing from Grizzly to dust collector fan mounted to 5hp Honda engine orphaned from POS powerwasher-fan assembly same size as engine shaft-creates incredible suction. Then more hose to trailer built with 1/4" wire mesh.

Will post some pics if you would like.

Good luck.

   / Have you built a leaf vacum? #6  
Dale I'd like to see some pics.
   / Have you built a leaf vacum? #7  
Do you really get that many leaves in your house? I heard Dryson makes a good vacuum. Cost about as much as a tractor! ;)

I would feel a lot more comfortable on this site if I owned a tractor!
   / Have you built a leaf vacum?
  • Thread Starter
I have a couple really BIG old maples that drop tens of thousands of leaves. Not to mention the smaller trees. I may need something bigger than two or three industrial sized cans to collect them all. Though.... i plan on going over it several times in the next month or two, so perhaps a smaller capacity might suffice? I have a fair amount of shrubs and whatnot to work around, and this is why i was thinking "away" from something that tows behind like a trailer. Though i like the DR unit.... i've never seen one in action, so i can't say for sure that would be ideal for me. Plus.... i had dreams of making something with more suction for less money than the DR or CR. BUT..... that is why i was hoping others had done something similar. Perhaps five or six horse would be more than i need ???
   / Have you built a leaf vacum? #9  
Trahere said:
Do you really get that many leaves in your house? I heard Dryson makes a good vacuum. Cost about as much as a tractor! ;)

Dyson makes a great vaccum (the best we've ever had IMHO), but I'd wouldn't use it for leaves ;) BTW, the Dyson vacs are a little more, but you'll save money in bags and it will outlast the cheap ones. And you'll actually use it too!

Trahere said:
I would feel a lot more comfortable on this site if I owned a tractor!
Ummm...eerrrr...not actually owning a tractor?.....is that allowed here? :0
   / Have you built a leaf vacum? #10  
I built one out of an old giant vac. What I did was cut the housing off the engine frame and reweld it so the out put was pointing straight up. I than made high sides for my lawn cart and made a vented top for the box. The connection to the hopper box was 6 inch plastic pipe. All this was bolted to the cart and used a factory discharge boot for the mower deck and a lenght of 6 inch flex tube. It worked very good for a few years but was in constant repair [the plastic pipe wouldn't hold up]. I since bough a clyclone rake and never been happier, as it works great. I know they are costly but worth every penny in my book. I like the fact that they fold up and has the caster wheels for the trailer. It worked good with my old craftsman tractor but super on my CC 5252 w/60mmm. Leaf pick-up is now an easy task.