Trac Vac | My Tractor Forum

I’ve shared several videos of my Trac Vac 880 in action, and I often get questions about it. From design, to durability, effectiveness, to the very subjective: “how I like it”. I’ll try to consolidate a review here.

I bought this slightly used Trac Vac 880 quite a few years ago from a gentleman who used it one year then switched to a Zero Turn mower. The company Palmor Products does not change their products very often, so my 10 year old model looks pretty much exactly like the one on their web site. So, for anything you might care to research from the Manufacturer’s perspective:

Trac Vac 880 ->Trac Vac Model 880 Lawn Vac

Here is with a few of the minor supporting cast, ready to tackle a lawn of leaves:

My 880 is a trail behind where the 8 hp B&S Intek engine sits on an extended tongue, and rides between the 17 ft³ trailer and the tractor that it is hitched to. A couple notes on the trailer. The front of the trailer is 34″ wide, and the rear of the trailer is almost 40″ wide. The better to facilitate the dump/empty of the trailer. The trailer also has a substantial galvanized metal top screwed to the top of the trailer. The top adds significantly to the volume yielding an advertised 50 ft³ of leaf and debris hauling capacity. This top has a kind of screened moon roof to let the air out, and keep the leaves in.

Another question that has come up relates to the dump ability of the cart. The connection of the main 10″ metal fan exhaust tube is held in place with snap connectors so you can unsnap, and disconnect the tube for dumping. And another question I’ve been asked is whether the rear bottom edge of the cart is rolled down and might catch on the ground if you try to drive away during an unload. The answer is yes, the rear of the trailer does have the edge rolled more than an inch down, but, the design incorporates a ramped metal brace on either side that not only reinforces the edge, but would slide over debris lawn, dirt, or to eliminate the edge catching. I think you can see the ramp in the first picture. Turns out, I almost never use the dump capability, rather I back the loaded trailer off the edge of my driveway and down a steep hill side where I let the leaves tumble down and self spread:

Saves a little time for me.

As I mentioned, the tongue is kind of long to accomodate the engine. It is also length adjustable with a very sturdy pipe and sleeve for extension. Once of the very few modifications I made was to add a ball hitch to the end of the tongue. I think it lets the Trac Vac follow the contour of lawn and hill better:

A second modification was to make a wheel to carry the weight of the tongue for me to move it around easier in my shed (more about storage later). I took a piece of redi-rod a Lowes caster wheel some nuts and washers and made something that I just sit the tongue on, taking advantage of the extra vertical tube which is there so the Trac Vac could handle left or right discharge. Note, I left the tongue stand on the Trac Vac, but it is of little use when manually moving the equipment around in the shed:

I’ve shared my impressions of the 8 hp B&S Intek engines in other threads. It has run flawlessly for my 10+ years of service. Since this piece of equipment basically runs every week in November, then sits in a shed for 11 months I am particularly happy with how well the engine starts. I run the tank and carb dry at the end of each season, then check oil, fill tank with fresh full, set the choke, and give it a single pull on the first deploy each November. It has never failed to start:

The concept of the Trac Vac is to collect leaves and other lawn debris from the mower deck with an attachment chute. In my opinion Trac Vac could adopt the HP Printer sales philosophy and practically give away the Trac Vac and make all their money on the chute (they are very expensive). Here is the proper one for the JD 62c deck I currently own. I had to replace the one that I had on a 54″ deck on my 445.:

Note, I did not have to remove the deck deflector, it just folds up when the chute is attached. No holes had to be drilled, the connector bolts into existing holes in at least this deck. The mower deck does whatever level of mulching it does depending on your blade selection.

Then the Trac Vac engine sucks the leaves and debris which a large body fan via the 10″ hose into the blades where the leaves and debris is further reduced before blowing them into the trailer:

It works great, here is a typical Saturday in November before and after:

It does not complete a perfect pick-up of leaves, primarily because the JD x728 exhaust blows some leaves away from the path of the deck, and also because the 62c deck blows a few stragglers out of the wrong side. But, since my leaves are never quite finished falling, I could never get a perfect pick up completed anyway.

The Trac Vac is the perfect tool for my annual right of Autumn leaf clean up. It captures small sticks, pine needles, acorns, hickory hulls, apples, grass, and occasionally one of my pups chase balls.

So, where is the down side?

  1. It is expensive, I was lucky to find a used one from a guy who wanted it gone
  2. It is a gigantic foot print piece of equipment to store somewhere for 11 months, then use for one month

Bottom line, I can easily remember my leaf battles from before I bought this. It wasn’t pretty, and I had a couple kids at home to press into service. Now, this duty is all me, and my mechanical advantage. I am glad I have one, the only better plan would be if my uber rich neighbor had one and left me keys to his barn to use it when I needed it. Heck, I’d even change the oil for him or her.

One final note. If you don’t already use hearing protection when mowing, you will definitely want to add it when you are running the Trac Vac:

Want to see it in action? I’ve posted a couple videos and other threads here on MTF:

Here is a 3 minute video of me making a round. I did this before I learned any editing, so there is a slight delay at beginning and end while I jog to and from the camera:

Mechanized War on Leaves

If anyone has any other questions, or wants a picture of this from another angle, let me know. I’ve got one more weekend of leaf duty before this gets buttoned up for the year.
Stay safe out there folks.

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