Introduction: Build a Vacuum Wagon for Spring Cleanup
This instructable helps you create a mini version of a sucker truck. I have spent many long days walking around cleaning up leaves and gravel wishing there was a better way. I love the power of my lawn and leaf vac but I hate dumping it. By turning my lawn cart into a bigger vacuum chamber and powering it with my leaf blower I get the best of both. I used this to suck up gravel from my lawn that got plowed into it this spring. Because the vacuum chamber comes before the blower, it is okay to suck up rocks and wood chunks. For leaves it may be better to pass things through the fan first and put the exhaust into the cart.
30ft of 4" Solid Polyethylene Flexible Drain Pipe
Approximately 12ft of Foam stips to use as a gasket.
Leaf blower with vacuum function
Loctite Power Grab Construction Adhesive
Optional: 1-1/2 pvc pipe for a nozzle
Step 1: Trace Out the Perimeter of Your Lawn Cart on a Piece of Plywood
I used 3/8" plywood and it did not collapse when the hose was obstructed. It is tempting to try this with my pickup truck next... I had to make a tailgate for my trailer. Hopefully your trailer has on already.
Step 2: Glue Foam Strips Inside the Perimeter You Traced
I had some instrument case foam that I cut into 3/4" thick strips on the bandsaw. I have found that Loctite Power Grip construction adhesive is the bomb for gluing up foam pieces. I holds great and makes a flexible bond. I put down a bead all around the peimeter of the cover about a half strip width in from the traced line and then just pressed the foam onto the bead.
Step 3: Cut a Short Length of 4" Drain Pipe for the Blower Connection
I bought a roll of 4" diameter polyethylene flexible drain pipe. It is handy stuff with a hundred uses. It is easy flexible enough to use as vacuum hose for this application. I cut a 30" piece to connect the leaf blower and vac to the wagon.
Step 4: Trace the Hose Outline on the Cover in Two Opposite Corners of the Wagon.
The inlet will be closest to the tailgate of the trailer so that rocks or other thins that are collected are easy to dump.
Step 5: Cut Opening for Connecting the Flexible Pipe.
After I traced the perimeter of the hose connections on the wagon, I drew on small crescent shaped bumps about the size of a half quarter. When I pushed the tubing into the holes, it could be crushed a little and forced past the bumps. Once it was pushed in a few inches, the bumps settled into the grooves on the drain pipe. This might be a good argument for NOT using plywood thicker than the ribs in the pipe. My 3/8" plywood was just right (by sheer luck!) Drill a hole in the plywood and the use a jigsaw to cut the openings.
Step 6: Attach the Le Af Blower to the Flex Pipe
I put the pipe on the "vac" inlet connection. A liberal application of gorilla tape made for a good connection. I slit the pipe im about 4 places to make it easier to stretch around the inlet and then applied the tape.
Step 7: Make the Pipe Connections to the Plywood Cover
The conections depend on what you would like to accomplish. If I wanted to suck up leaves and have them shredded to compact them before going into the wagon, I would have wanted to connect the vacuum port to my long hose and then put the blower exhaust into the wagon. In my case, I wanted to suck up gravel from my lawn. Putting that through the fan on my blower would have been disaster. I connected a 25ft piece of hose to the inlet port at the rear of the wagon. I connected the port at the front of the wagon to the vac port of the leaf vac.
Step 8: Put the Cover on the Wagon
Put the cover on the wagon. If air is being pulled OUT of the wagon, just a few bungee cords should be enough to hold the lid. I used 2" spring clamps to clip the perimeter of the plywood in about 4 places. A couple of bungee cords keep the blower in the right spot on the lid.
Step 9: Profit!
I added a piece of 1-1/2" pvc pipe on the inlet end of the long pipe to use as a nozzle to pick up rocks. They would accumulate in the hose and then I walked them back into the wagon. Rocks are too heavy for the slower air flow in the 4" pipe to carry them all the way back to the wagon. Leaves and thatch went all the way back to the trailer. A pickup truck sized version would be great for leaf season. This saved me a lot of bending over getting the rocks I had plowed into my lawn this winter. I think it will also be very handy for leaf season. If may double nicely as a mulch shooter too :)
Thank you for the time you spent looking over my instructable. If you have read this far and are thinking, "This was great and totally worth a buck" You can help me continue to make more instructables by making a donation using this link to my ebay store. Thanks, and keep building! -- Yeltrow