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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
1,388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(If you want to skip the review and just look at the pictures, just scroll down)

I ordered the Brinly 48" Plug (Core) Aerator (model PA-482BH) on 4/3/10 from Home Depot online for abt $130 out the door (thanks to "Albertj03" and originally "andyb" for posting about the sale and promo code here)

It arrived earlier this week and the box sat in the garage beckoning to me for several days while I was waiting for an available evening. We got a good dose of rain yesterday and the day before so I put it together last night so I could take advantage of the moist soil conditions today for better penetration.

Assembly wasn't particularly difficult, but was a bit tedious -- about a dozen major parts, 32 spoons, and around 200 hardware bits (nuts, bolts and washers). Assembly took about 2 hours using power tools, not counting the half-hour I spent in the middle of the project putting together a new tool cart (which was still in it's box at the start of this project) which came in handy as a rolling work surface for the inverted aerator.

Using a cordless electric impact driver with a socket driver attachment was a lifesaver.. without it, fastening all those bolts and nylon nuts and crimped nuts probably would have taken at least a half hour longer and would have turned my arms to noodles. I used a hand-operated ratchet to back up each bolt on the opposite side from the electric driver.

The materials seemed pretty sturdy, and I like the fact that the spoon "sprockets" rotate independently (well, as 4 double sprocket spindles) to minimize scarring during cornering. In fact it corners very well (highlighted in a couple of the pics below).

So this morning I loaded it with about 150 lbs of stuff (bags of concrete powder and lawn fertilizer) and took it on it's virgin tour. With moist sandy soil, overcast skies and 50 deg temps, It penetrated between 2" and 2.5". In fact, that's about the max depth I could get regardless of weight because the wheels, in their max retracted position, were already riding on the ground at that depth.

The "transport" lever (wheel retract/extend) worked ok but does require getting off the tractor to operate it, and I ended up needing to do this maybe a half-dozen times during the job. I did recently by a 12v remote operated electric winch and I may fab up a mount and use it to operate the extend lever remotely sometime. This will require removing the transport pin that normally locks the transport lever into place in wheels-down position.

I was able to aerate both forward and reverse, and my i-Series tractor's zero turn capability came in handy during reversing to make sharp corrections before the unit could jacknife. Also, the aerator's drawbar is a very strong "V" shape so there were no issues with hitch or drawbar bending in reverse like I have read in another posting about an older Argi-Fab core aerator with a single-piece drawbar.

When the job was done I took a little time to clean out the spoons (one of 32 had a stone lodged in it) and stood the unit up on it's end for storage in my shed. It takes very little floorspace this way (maybe 1 sq foot) and the tray portion nestled nicely between the open space between unfinished studs inside my shed, with both the transport lever and the drawbar laying flat against the wall on either side of the tray (see pic). The spoons point into the shed in this position which isn't ideal, but they aren't too sharp (at least not after using them in my sandy soil) and bumping into them is no worse than bumping into a pitchfork or chainsaw or any other random object I have in my shed.

This is my first core aerator (first aerator of any kind, actually) so I can't review it's performance as compared to other aerators, but it worked out quite nicely for my needs and I'd recommend it to others, especially at the discounted $120 pricepoint.

(At the bottom of this posting I link to a few other posts on core aerators, including this model)

Now for the photos...

Here's the box before unpacking:

Box opened:


Exploded parts diagram:

All the parts, laid out on a table (and leaning up against it):

Parts, parts, and more parts (note the bags of yet more bolts and nuts). Note after everything was assembled there was exactly 1 spare 3/4" bolt, washer and nut combo. That's it. I guess I should be thankful there was a spare anything.

Assembling the weight tray and side support parts of the frame. Putting this on top of my new tool cart really saved my back. I sat on a little rolling stool and could turn the work around and get a good angle on bolts, etc.

Inverted, with drawbar and center support attached:

Starting the spoon sprocket assembly process. 8 spoons were assembled to a single rigid double-sprocket spindle with a hollow shaft. 4 such spindles would later slide over a very heavy single solid steel axle, with thin nylon bushings at each end of each spindle.

Here are the 4 spindles, assembled. You can see the axle near the back edge of the table.

Axle and spindles attached to supports:

Wheels and transport lever attached:

Fully assembled:

Attached to the tractor (Cub i-1050), rear view:

Attached, side view:

Loaded with about 150 lbs of weight:

Loaded, view 2:

Then I took it out for a spin....

Here's a closeup of a soil plug that it took out. Medium glove in view for scale. This plug is about 2" long:

Here's what the core pattern looked like on a particularly bare part of my lawn:

Same shot, wider view:

Coming along for a 2nd course:

Gotta watch out for the water(cleanout) hazard. I actually straddled this between two spoon sprockets on the next course, but it was close.

This was about the tightest I could turn (going forward) but it's pretty tight --- I'd say about a 5 to 6 foot turning radius.

Same turn, from above:

Another patchy area, post-aerating. I followed up on these patchy areas with some grass seed followed by a hand rake to loosen up the soil and cover the seeds. It's a losing battle to keep grass under my big maple shade trees but somehow I keep making the attempt..

Here's a closeup of a spoon after 1 use.. note the paint (or anodizing) is already worn off the first 1.5". Oh well, can't look pretty forever.

And finally, as put away in storage in the shed. The weight tray fits nicely between the shed wall studs and the drawbar (left) and transfer lever (right) lay flat against the wall, out of the way. In this orientation it takes up only about a square foot of floorspace. You just have to be careful with all the spoons sticking out into the room.

I'm probably going to fab up some kind of shield to put around them. Or I guess I could get little rubber endcaps for each spoon but I don't think I want to be adding and removing 32 end caps each time I use this...

Some related MTF postings about this and other core aerators:

[04/03/10] 48" Brinly Plug Aerator $119 + free shipping
[01/18/10] 48'' Brinly or John Deere plug areator
[01/21/08] Brinley plug aerator at Home Depot
[07/04/05] Tow-Behind plug aerator?

Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
1,388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks all for the kind feedback and suggestions.

@dstephens - I'll let you know what it did for the lawn in a couple weeks. Right now it just looks like a bunch of geese camped out in my yard and left behind a few thousand goose-chips.

One thing I thought was strange was how the roles of holes in the lawn weren't evenly spaced...

I just checked the owner's manual again and, yep, it looks like I put half of the spoons on the wrong side of the square plate (at least I got half right). Strange, since the "right" way (all spoons on the same side of the plates) is not symmetrical, but it would make the rows come out even.

I posted two pics from the manual below. What would you have done if you were just going by the one figure that only shows spoons installed to one plate of the two? Would you have put the 2nd set of spoons on the opposite side of the opposite plate or on the same side? I picked "opposite".

Of course, the 2nd figure that shows all 4 spindles shows the spoons on the same side of each plate, but that was on the next page where you're putting the spindles on the axle.. *after* all the spoons are already installed. Grr.

I may still go back and fix this.. I'm not looking forward to removing and reinstalling 16 spoons, but it should go quicker the 2nd time.

The only thing I'm concerned about is some of the spoons may have assumed a certain curvature upon installation when I torqued them down due to the inside end of the spoon interfering with the fillet weld between the spindle plate and tube, and if I reverse that spoon it may not lay flat against the other side of the plate.

Oh well, I guess that's what hammers are for.


Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
1,388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
[...]You may want to try to level the tray while in the transport mode like the manual says (it doesn't look level in the pictures, but maybe it is!)
I did level it later using the bolts you refer to.. but that was after taking the photos, so you have a good eye in that it was not yet level in those pics.

I leveled it while in transport mode but also while attached to my 2nd (upper) drawbar hitch (used with my Cyclone Rake) which is about 3" higher than the actual tractor's tongue that I use for the aerator. That way, when attached to the intended (lower) hitch and taken out of transport mode the two ends both lowering cancels out and it's still level.

Now I just have to fix the half of the spoons that are reversed...

Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
1,388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
[...]The assembly manual says to mount the spoons on the side opposite the welds.
Unfortunately not the manual I have. I just looked again and no such language. It's mostly pictures, with a few notes here and there but none about spoons vs welds. Argh.:banghead3

Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
1,388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #30 ·

I just leave the plugs where they are.. given my soil conditions (very sandy) and that I live in an area with periodic rains, they will dissolve after a few weeks.

Some who have a lot of clay and not much moisture find the plugs just sit there, and may need some further mechanical action like dragging a section of chain link fence over the lawn to break them up.
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