Alright, following on the "grass thatch & clippings" thread we had going I thought I'd start a new one with a review about my decision. (Otherwise the review might get lost inside the other thread.)
First off, to my shock and delight BOTH the sweeper and de-thatcher are made in the U.S.A. Brinly only makes this known by way of two little stickers on the units themselves...I don't think it's even on the box. WHY THE HECK NOT?!?! Someone in their marketing department needs to get shot, because they clearly don't "get" something elemental about their customer base. In 2013, if yer makin' it in the U.S.A./Canada, you need to holler about it. Some of us -- I'm guessing essentially ALL users of this forum -- care about that.
OK, that said, after about 2 hours worth of fairly straightforward assembly (the instructions are decent, and requires only 1/2 and 9/16 sockets + wrenches and a small pair of pliers)...I took her outside to sweep up the lawn clippings left from cutting the prior day.
THIS THING WORKS. I guess I feel the need to say that in BOLD print because after reading through such a variance of reviews in many places about both this model, and these products in general...my head was spinning with doubt.
The sweeper works well, and it lifts up with enough clearance for traveling when not in use, or over the gravel driveway, that I was comfortable trailing it at moderate speed all the way down to my dump sight about 4 acres away. I just slowed a bit for bumps and took it easy.
After doing that I thought it time to test the tine de-thatcher, so I lowered it and went to work. THIS TOO, WORKS PRETTY WELL. As well as one of those estate-style mini-hay rakes? Well, probably not. But after two go-rounds I had taken up a HUGE amount of brown/yellow thatch grass, as well as a ton of fresh clover (a side benefit). Who the heck can argue with that for $79? And the precious storage space I save by having a 2-in-1 tool is much appreciated.
OK, so yes it works. But the bad, and I suspect the reason for so many negative reviews in other places, is the quality of the components. NOT the design, mind you. I find the design to be well thought out and effective (of course others who've owned it longer than 2 days will have a more informed opinion of this). But the component quality is just not great.
In truth, I imagine this is the case because (a) the competition is made in China, and (b) because the breadth of buyers are suburban 1/4-1/2 acres folks who don't need "farm" quality machinery.
What someone (hopefully Brinly, being U.S. made) needs to do is introduce a higher level line of "property sweepers" made of tougher stuff, featuring a larger hopper. My MF GC2600 will tow it's own weight with ease, so a sweeper weighing 300 lbs. rather than 90 lbs, which can haul 200 lbs of stuff when loaded rather than 50 lbs...would be great. Would that mean PTO driven rather than ground driven? I don't know. Whichever works. But I KNOW they'd sell like hotcakes for $850-1,200.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The sweeper, and the optional de-thatcher attachment, both do what they're supposed to do. For a grand total of $350, if this thing gets me 20-25 sweeps a season, and 3 de-thatches a season, for the next 5+ years...that's a win. Heck, I'd buy another one then. Of course the big question is IF it lasts that long, or IF parts (some of which are plastic) break on me. Then, it's only a "cool concept."
I like it, but I just wish I could own something better. Man, WHY does stuff have to be built this way?
Hope people find this worth reading.