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Author Topic: debating on buying a hydroseeder  (Read 540 times)

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Offline jeffreymartin01

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debating on buying a hydroseeder
« on: Wed April 29, 2020, 05:48:10 PM »
need your opinions/expertise. I do lawn grading on the side of my regular job, get about 40-50 jobs a year, mostly new construction and small commercial.  been in business about 12 years. 90% of the yards i grade the front is always sodded per covenants in my town and I seed drill the back and sides. its around 3,000 to 7,000 square feet that i end up seed drilling. Have gotten requests in the past (mostly commercial) to hydroseed, I rent a Finn T60 about 30 miles away for the day. Have been getting more inquires the past few years on asking if I do hydroseeding. I normally have to turn them down because its not economical to rent a hydroseeder for a yard or two. I have a late 90's seed drill thats about on its last leg. I looked over the winter to buy a new seed drill and they are about 7-10k for a new one and around 5-7k for a decent used one.  starting looking into a hydroseeder instead of a seed drill because I saw some new/used ones in that price range. spoke to the builders i normally do business with and they said i could definitely hydroseed the back and sides of the houses instead of seed drilling..... but they wouldnt pay over what they pay now. so i locked into around 10 cents a square foot. getting a hydroseeder opens more doors on the commercial side, i already turned down 4 this year and saw they had hired a company out of chicago which is 2 hours away. No one in my area offers it. Have tried to do as much research as I could, on the jet side i have looked into turbo turf, VSI, and epic. emailed/called each company to get quotes and as much info as i could. Found alot online and on here about turbo turf but on couldnt find much of anything on VSI. anyone ever use them or anything good/bad there. the mechanical side I have emailed/inquired on Finn, Bowie, Turfmaker.  Never heard back from Finn, spoke to Larry at Bowie who was very helpful. got some quotes/info from Turfmaker.  I have a siteone nearby (about 15 miles) which has EZ Wood Mulch 70/30 Blend and LESCO Seed Starter 3 Mulch instock majority of the time. so i have that mainly to work with. i figure it will cost around $110-$140 to fill a 300-400 gallon hydroseeder with mulch/seed/tack/etc so still profit on my side. I dont have ability to store skids of mulch in my shop (which is a 3rd car garage, did i mention i am pretty smalltime here...  :) ) . i live in central illinios, its flat more or less so leaning towards a jet hydroseeder.  my questions to everyone here is what would you recommend, a new seed drill or a hydroseeder ?  and if a hydroseeder what should i go with. I want something that will last 10-15 years so if i have to spend a bit extra, thats fine. Thanks everyone. Jeff.

Offline Turboguy

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Re: debating on buying a hydroseeder
« Reply #1 on: Thu April 30, 2020, 03:04:31 PM »
Well, I will share my two cents and try to do it in an unbiased way.  All of the units you mentioned are pretty good units.  It sounds like you have been doing a good job of researching.  You mentioned you talked to Larry.  He is a really good guy and very knowledgeable.  You asked about VSI.  They are one of the newer manufacturers and probably don't have as many units out as the people who have been around for 20-30 years but they make a pretty nice unit. 

As far as jet vs mechanical goes.   Jet units have their advantages and disadvantages.  One of the advantages are that they are almost maintenance free.  They are also very easy to run.  Basically someone hydroseeding for the first time is going to be doing it perfectly within a few minutes of starting. I think you can also trim with more precision with a jet machine.  Typically they require less investment.  They are also lighter.  Another advantage that I really like is you can see how much material you have left just by looking back at the unit since the tanks are somewhat transparent.  They also require less clean up and you never have to worry about the tank rusting.  The disadvantages are you can't load full bales.  You need to break them up a little to add them and they handle a fairly thick slurry but not quite as thick as a paddle unit.  The amount of material you can use depends a little on the pump and engine on the unit.  For instance we make 300 gallon units with an 8 H.P and 13 H.P with a 3" pump and a 19 H.P and a 27 H.P. with a 4" pump.  I would estimate that each increase in power would let you use 10 pounds more mulch per load and at the high end you are probably close to the same slurry thickness you would be with a paddle unit.    The other disadvantage of a jet unit is that you are limited to paper mulch.  It is possible to use a blend 50/50 or 70/30 in some machines once you know what you are doing but paper is a much better way to go with a jet unit.

The advantages of a paddle unit are that with many you can load full bales without breaking them up.  Just take the plastic off and push the bale in.  You can use any material, paper, wood, BFM's Flexterra, pretty much anything that can be hydroseeded.  There is more maintenance since you have more moving parts.  Anything with a gear pump which would typically be Bowies, Turfmaker or our T series or Harv series you need to grease the pump about every 4 loads or so.  Over time you will lose power and you need to pull the front cover off and remove a gasket or two and that typically brings the power back up to like when it was new.  You need to grease the agitator bearings.  Finn is the main one using a centrifugal pump but I believe theirs does have at least one grease fitting on the pump. 

As far as paddle machines go I think everyone building one has a really good unit.  Finn's are top notch but not cheap.  Bowie makes a nice little unit.  I think Bowie may push their small unit more up in the New York/New England area but it should be available anywhere.   Turfmakers are quite good.  Our T series has a drive similar to the Turfmaker but has a poly tank which speeds clean up, cuts the weight, and lets you see how much material you have left.  The poly tank just holds the liquid and the paddles are on heavy steel supports that make them very sturdy. 

Basically I don't think you would go wrong with any of the machines you talked about. 
Turbo Turf HS-400-XPW

Offline jeffreymartin01

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Re: debating on buying a hydroseeder
« Reply #2 on: Sun May 03, 2020, 01:09:06 PM »
thank you for the info. very informative. going to look at jet units, majority of the time it will be used on residential/small commercial where I won't need wood mulch. will look at VSI/turbo turf a little more. will be loading LESCO Seed Starter 3 Mulch from siteone into it, so is it worth getting the larger the pump/engine so I won't be loading bales into it all that much ?  looking in the 400 gallon range, looked at the turbo turf HS-400-EH/HS-400-XPW and debating whether the lower end 13HP/3in pump would be what I need or the 19HP/4in pump is the better option. VSI only offers a 13hp/3in pump in the 400 gallon range.

Offline Turboguy

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Re: debating on buying a hydroseeder
« Reply #3 on: Mon May 04, 2020, 02:08:42 PM »
For what you are doing the 13 H.P. should be fine.
Turbo Turf HS-400-XPW

Offline Turboguy

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Re: debating on buying a hydroseeder
« Reply #4 on: Wed May 06, 2020, 11:31:17 AM »
It isn't always easy to be unbiased when you are involved with a product but I will do the best I can to tell you what I think the differences between the Turbo Turf and VSI units are.

Pumps are the heart of any jet hydroseeding system.  We use a cast iron pump and the last I saw VSI uses a plastic pump so I would give use the edge on the pumps but the pump they use is fine too.

The tanks we use are different.  They use a stock oval tank which is fine.  We have a custom molded tank with a bale tray built in that makes it easier to add seed and mulch without spilling so again I would give Turbo Turf the edge on tanks.

They have pond fill kits standard where we don't and only offer that as an option so I would give VSI the edge on that. 

They use plastic plumbing with clamps to hold everything together where we use cast iron plumbing which is threaded.  Now as far as the plumbing goes the cast iron lasts forever.  I have seen 25 year old machines that the plumbing has never been touched.  I doubt plastic plumbing will last 25 years.  Now where the quick connections VSI has might be handy would be if you ever need to replace a ball valve.  It would be a bit easier on the VSI.  They also use plastic ball valves where we use brass.  I don't see the difference in ball valves being a big deal.  People consider brass to be the premium valve but we used plastic ball valves from 1990 to about 2001 and they were fine.  I would rate the differences in plumbing to be a toss up.

They have quick connects on their hose and gun.  I guess that could be a plus.  There is a downside however.  If you look at the female side of a quick coupler there is a pretty good restriction which could make it more likely to clog.  We get requests for quick couplers but won't supply them even as an option.  My feelings are the best way to go is free flow (Skovil) couplings which we have on our paddle units so personally I am not a fan of quick couplers in the hose but there are pluses to them. 

One other thing is that the Turbo Turf warranty is one year.  I am fairly certain that the VSI warranty is longer.  Warranty is not much of an issue with ours and I doubt it is with theirs but it would be a plus for VSI.

Both machines are excellent and whichever you pick I am sure you will be happy with.  The guys at VSI are top notch and I am sure their customer service is excellent.  We also try to bend over backwards to keep our customers happy. 
« Last Edit: Wed May 06, 2020, 11:56:58 AM by Turboguy »
Turbo Turf HS-400-XPW

 

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