Want to clean up an acre of deep leaves in one afternoon? Want to avoid getting ripped off by a contractor? Go big or go home.
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Being an interstate trucker often means being unavailable to perform a husband’s usual homeowner chores. (I’m careful to regularly complain about this to Andrea.) That is why, exactly one year ago, Andrea contracted our regular lawn guy to clear all the leaves from our one-acre lot. He and his crew did as arranged, but then we both gagged at his bill– over $600! That reflected his labor cost, the lawn guy claimed. It seems that the wind was blowing so hard that they kept pushing the same leaves around for several hours. I refused his explanation, told him to keep the $300 deposit we paid for snow removal, cleared the lawn myself by hand, and then found another contractor who then reliably plowed our driveway last winter and then mowed our lawn all this past season.
And then, of course, came the Autumn of 2022– and the leaves again fell, exactly according to nature’s schedule.
I spent a pleasant early November afternoon clearing all the leaves from our front yard by hand, enjoying the fresh air and exercise even as I blistered my thumb with our rake. (Truth be told, the next day I felt as though I’d gone skydiving without a parachute. 64 might be the new 44, but it’s still 64.) And then, right after I went back on the road for a week, our front yard filled completely with leaves from a neighbor’s notoriously productive red oak–
No way was I cleaning this by hand again! It was time to go big or go home. After a few minutes of online research, I found my kind of leaf blower, highly rated to boot– a back-mounted, commercial-grade 80cc Echo. It was out of stock everywhere, of course. However, I found an absolute gem of a local mower shop– Brighton Mower… so old-school that they don’t even have their own website… just some old guys (i.e., my age) who know everything about their products, including how to fix them. They didn’t have the Echo I wanted, but they did have a literally identical Shindaiwa… it was news to me that they are identical products, albeit with different names. (As confirmation of this, the owner’s manual is just for the Echo.)
For a little more than what last year’s contractor tried to charge us for one single leaf clearing, I now own a Shindaiwa EB910. Less than one hour after finalizing its purchase, I was merrily blasting leaves off my front lawn and into the back.
When the front lawn was done, I started at one end of our gigantic back yard and blew all of its leaves down into the adjacent ravine. Then my next-door neighbor– no doubt inspired by my accomplishments– came out to clear his front yard with his new electric leaf blower. I couldn’t resist jumping in, and an hour later his lawn looked like an Augusta fairway in full Masters trim–
Which brings us, finally, to my product review. Spoiler Alert: This leaf blower is nothing short of AMAZING!
The Shindaiwa EB910’s power-to-weight ratio is exceptional– 12 pounds of force and a 220 MPH wind stream at the nozzle from a backpack weighing only 28 pounds fully fueled. This made it possible to get (literally) tons of work done, as it was perfectly comfortable to wear for many hours at a time. The inherent vibrations of such machinery are nicely mitigated, and I experienced none of the finger numbness I’ve come to expect. It is most definitely quite loud– 80 Decibels– but that’s what two-stroke engines do, and what ear protection is for.
To summarize– if you do your own lawn work AND you have a good-sized lot with lots of trees nearby, this Shindaiwa EB910 is a huge time-saver and well worth the money. It ran and performed flawlessly… and should that ever change, I am confident that the old and sure hands at Brighton Mower AND the manufacturer’s 5-YEAR warranty will keep it running nicely for many years.
Just one little cautionary note– this might be just a matter of personal superstition, but I avoid buying USED equipment powered by 2-stroke engines. In exchange for their superior power-to-weight ratios, they run at screamingly high RPM’s, which, my intuition tells me, causes premature aging and deterioration invisible to untrained eyes like mine. I’m happy to buy, say, a vintage Troy-Built Rototiller with a ponderous and clunky 4-stroke mill, but I stick to brand-new when it comes to things like chainsaws and leaf blowers.