I built this catcher a few years ago and want to share it with others. It's very simple to build and does a pretty good job of clearing my yard of fall leaves.
Step 1: Build It and It Will Suck
Youll need a riding lawn mower and a pull behind utility cart.
I own a Craftsman18hp Garden Tractor and a wagon, I bought from Northern tools
Step 2: The Box
I build the box out of 1/2 plywood and 2x4s. Very simple box construction using exterior screws. I think it took me less than 2hrs to build the box.
I left 1/4 of the box opened, in the front, and covered it with screen to allow air to escape, when mower is discharging leaves into the box. The back of the box has a door attached with inexpensive hinges . Notice the high tech locking mechanism!!
I originally tried to use 6” flexible duct, purchased from the local hardware store. 6” is the diameter of the first stage discharge chute, on the lawn mower. But leaves would clog the duct pretty quickly. So, I bought an eight foot section of 10” diameter hose, that’s specified in the link below. (heavy duty vacuum hose).
This worked pretty well- didn’t clog as easily. But I mounted it too low on the cart (see the picture) and it didn't fill the box very high. So I mounted the hose as high as I could on the box, pushing the hose in far enough to kind-of point down. I can now fill the box up to the hose level with leaves and grass no problem.
Step 3: Fill'r Up
The Craftsman’s mover deck has enough suction and discharge power to throw leaves into the catcher, as long as the hose is not constricted in any way. Taking a sharp right turn while vacuuming up a large pile of leaves will constrict and clog the hose. Also, the leaves need to be dry, wet leaves are too heavy and clog the discharge chute. Large piles of pine needles also tend to clog the chute pretty easily.
I use the non-mulching cutting blades on the Craftsman. This might give it more power to lift the leaves into the catcher.
This system dose a pretty good job of clearing leaves in my yard. I find myself clearing the chute 5 or 6 times during the 1 1/2 hrs it takes me to clean up the yard. Because the flexible hose just sits over the first stage of the Craftsman’s discharge chute, it only takes a few seconds to pull off the flex duct and shake out the clogged leaves.
What would be real nice is a pony motor, with a mulching blade to help with the suction problem, and give those leaves a second mulching. But with only a limited budget (the whole project came in at ~$175) I'll take this.