Looking to buy a machine for use on clay. Anyone have any experience with ball machines and their reliability on the dirt? I'm concerned about the dirt eating up the unit. Which is the easiest to clean etc...
I'd be concerned about the wear and tear and long term survivability of any machine used extensively on clay. I use my machine only on hard courts and vacuum the ball fuzz out of my machine about every two or three uses as it tends to accumulate and cover all the internal parts. Not only fuzz gets in there but also stuff like grass, pine straw, and leaves which cling to the balls on the court find their way into the machine. I would hate to think of all that fuzz et al plus har-tru or clay inside the machine. If I had no choice other than to use my machine (an SP Star fwiw) on clay I'd vacuum it out after every use which I think would be a big PITA.
I have a playmate machine and this machine is rugged. All parts are quite spacious enough for u to clean up when needed. I only use mine on hard court but had seen playmate machine use in clay courts tennis center for years. Blowing out dirts and fuzz is easiler than vacuum.
I live in Southern New Mexico where the courts are not clay, but are usually quite dusty. The balls pick up a lot of dirt when used on our courts.
My SP Star seems to deal with it quite well. At the end of my sessions, I tilt it over on its sides and front and rear for all the dust and fuzz to fall out.
I have seen as much as several teaspoons full of dirt come out of the machine and after almost two years of use, I cannot find any fault with the machine because of dirt of dust on the courts. The propulsion motors are fairly well sealed and seem to stay that way.
Per the previous poster, I have heard great things about the Playmate, but it did not fit my budget. If I were a club or teaching pro it might be different.
ironically, the answer is a discontinued lobster tournament model (used a vaccum motor to propel the ball). Why is it better? Because any clay on the ball is ejected out of the machine, never staying inside of it and gumming up the insides. Any wheel machine will work on clay, it just might not last as long as you like