The Cyclone Rake is sold by Woodland Power Products and used to collect grass or leaves by connecting to the discharge on the deck of a mower capable of towing it. All the leaves and grass clippings are further shredded and mulched by the Cyclone's power unit and collected in its container. You can visit their site for more details. This presentation describes my experience with the installation of the replacement bag. There are many websites that give various opinions and ratings of the machine, but that is not the intent of this article.
Problem: The old bag was worn and some of the stitching was coming apart, it had been damaged and stitched (with fishing line!) when the unit was nearly new after picking up and shredding an unseen beer can, and the zipper had finally given it up after several seasons of heavy use. To be honest, the original bag (and zipper) lasted longer than I expected. I thought the zipper would fail much sooner than it did due to the amount of dirt, dust, and ground up leaves that pass over it, not to mention the heavy weight of the mulched leaves contained in the bag. It was often difficult to unzip when the bag was full. Last year the zipper finally started separating, but with a little tinkering you could get it to zip. By the time I had collected and moved the last of my leaves it was beyond anymore zipping.
Solution: It was necessary to either replace the bag or the entire unit. I considered constructing some type of container to replace the bag, but I didn't want the weight that most materials would add to the bagger. I found a forum in which some other Cyclone Rake users stated that the new bags no longer had a zipper. I called Woodland Power Products and confirmed the replacement bags had been redesigned and the zipper was no longer used. That was good news, but not a surprise. The new bags have four flaps with straps and buckles: two inner flaps that fold horizontally and fasten together, and two outer flaps attached to the sides that overlap and buckle together. There are Velcro strips that hold the flaps out of the way while unloading. Nice touch. The new bag (October 2005) was $75, which I felt was reasonable. Shipping was another $12, and I had the bag in 2 days! Woodland Power Products also has a kit to install the larger commercial bag (285 gallons) on the standard unit for $110, including the larger bag.
Removing the old bag: Remove the left and right tubular frame sections by unbolting them from the front and rear corners, and unbolt the two front braces. Unzip the top loop and slip the frame hoops out of the old bag. Release the bottom straps that hold the bag to the frame of the unit. If the power unit is in place, release the buckles from the upper boot if you haven't already.
Installing the new bag: Installation is simple and only takes a few minutes. I found it easier to lay the new bag on the frame and slip the tubular frames into the loops on the new bag, zip the top loops around the frame, and reattach with the bolts I had removed. Attach the straps underneath, and fasten the boot to the new bag. That's the condensed version, but it really is that simple.
These photos show the bag support frame being inserted into the loops on the new bag.
The left photo shows the right bag support frame already slipped into the bag and the top loop zipped around the frame. The right photo shows the top loop unzipped. There would be no way to get the support frame into the front and rear loops and the top loop without the zipper, or at least no easy way. The U-shaped bracket on top of the frame is one of the attachment points for the bag support frame.
Both support frame pieces are in the new bag (left photo) and ready to be reattached to the frame. In the right photo, the support frame has been bolted on. Notice the brace in the right photo. There should be a hole in the area exposed between the two loops to attach the brace... and there would if the support frame wasn't on backwards. Do it right the first time and you don't have to take it back off and turn it around.
A top brace was included with the new bag (left photo). It keeps the support frames pushed outwards and the bag stretched tight. The original bag did not have this, but could have used it. The flaps that close the bag are folded back on the sides and top and held by Velcro. Nice touch! The bottom flap is folded down over the frame. The right photo shows the inner flaps in place and buckled together.
The left photo is another view of the inner flaps and the new top brace. The right photo shows the outer flap being pulled loose from the Velcro on the side of the bag.
In the left photo, the outer flaps have been closed and buckled together. This was one of the things I was anxious to see before I ordered the bag. The Cyclone Rake website does not show any replacement parts nor give any description of these improvements. I would like to have seen these photos before I ordered. If I had, I would have ordered the new bag with no reservations at all and probably a long time ago. The right photo shows the power unit reconnected to the bag.
The left photo is another view of the completed installation. The right photo shows the hose from the boot on the mower deck connected and ready to collect leaves.
Between the time I took these photos and actually got them on the website, I have collected 17 loads of leaves. I can honestly say the new bag design is a big improvement. The zipper was probably faster to open and close, but the flaps, straps, and buckles have to be more durable.
The buckles are a little hard to unfasten using one hand, but if you squeeze them using your 2 index fingers and squeeze from the top, they pop right open. Smaller fingers might help, too. The buckles, by the way, are removable from the straps. That means they can be replaced easily if they are ever broken.
The double closure does a good job of keeping the leaves inside the bag, but be sure the two inside flaps are fastened with the upper flap behind the lower flap. Otherwise, some debris may come through the gap where the flaps meet and collect between the inner and outer flaps, and since the outer flaps are open at the top and bottom you may loose some debris until the bag is full enough that the weight of the leaves pushes the panels together. Out of 17 loads that only happened to me once and it was due to the bottom flap being inside the top flap. My bad.