Nilfisk Attix 33: Mobile M-Class vacuum performance

NO review of a Nilfisk vacuum should fail to point out that the company has been making vacuums (and other cleaning machines) for over a hundred years and therefore has a LOT of expertise and experience to draw on. Therefore, in my view, you can buy a Nilfisk machine with confidence, and my own experience of them has always been very positive, writes PETER BRETT.

Since dust has come to the forefront as a major safety hazard on jobsites, trades have been forced to get to grips with the necessities of protecting themselves and their clients from its dangers. An M-Class vac is now considered a minimum requirement since it should collect 99.9% of fine dust when used correctly.

Having now got used to this collection standard, I find that the jobsite experience is a more comfortable and cleaner one and I, for one, wouldn’t go back to the old standards.

M-Class machines are, by definition, more complicated than a simple vac that collects dust into a bag (or not) and the key difference between M-Class machines, in my view, is how well they manage all the parameters. Everything from how the hose and cable are managed and how easy it is to clean and unblock (it does happen) becomes important on a jobsite where time and efficiency are important.

Attix 33 – handling and mobility

The Attix 33 looks very similar to all of the others in the Attix 33 and 44 ranges, so users need to ensure that they choose the right one for their needs. The addition of a ‘pram handle’ on the mobile version for example does help to move the machine around easily but may be an issue when packing it in the back of a crowded van, for example.

Mobility and handling are definitely two parameters that are important for me. The Attix 33 I tested scores well for ease of movement, even over rougher surfaces, because of its large rear wheels and castored and braked front wheels. Perhaps I shouldn’t do it, but I do end up pulling it along by the hose – a bit like a small elephant pulled along by its trunk – but it works and it is very easy to steer.

With a weight of nearly 15Kgs and a fair amount of necessary bulk (all that collected dust has to go somewhere) it is handy to move the Attix on its wheels whenever you can. But inevitably there will be stairs and other obstacles on jobsites where the well-centred lifting handle is needed. Having had to manoeuvre the test machine down a very steep and narrow cellar staircase this week, I think it does the best in the circumstances.

With any vac there is the ‘what to do with the hose and cable’ scenario. The anti-static hose on the Attix is over 5m long and Nilfisk offers several solutions for end users on how to store it. A single hose hook can be screwed to the top right hand side of the motor housing. It has three hollows in it that grip the hose tightly as it is wound around the body and I found it worked well enough for me as it held the hose quite securely. Alternatively, Nilfisk shows some other ways in which the bungee (supplied) can be used to attach the hose to the body during transit.

With over 6m of heavy duty cable to take account of as well, I found the easiest solution for me was to store it by using the hooks and attached bungee on the rear of the machine. It certainly helps to speed up the process of clearing up at the end of the day.

The hose and cable combined give a working radius of around 12m which is a generous amount, even on a big jobsite.

Because the top of the motor housing has a flat surface, Nilfisk designers have allowed the possibility for users to attach tool cases there. Again, using the supplied bungee and the built-in loops it is easy to secure a tool case for transport to the jobsite.

The flat HEPA filter is stored at the back of the motor housing and is easy to get to by simply unlocking a plastic latch. It is a doddle to lift it out for either cleaning or replacing and doesn’t take up any valuable space in the base that is needed for dust collection.

Although it is possible to use the machine without a dust collection bag, I always prefer to use a bag wherever possible as it helps keep the filter clean and also makes it easy to dispose of collected dust with minimal danger to the user.

The all-important controls

The switches and controls are mounted on the front of the motor casing and are more complicated for being an M-Class machine. A rotary switch is used to select the hose diameter being used. Some power tools only need smaller diameter extraction hoses so it is important to match extraction speed to the suction power available.

There is also a single power take-off plug socket for use with extraction from a power tool. When using it, the user needs to select the correct position on the switch as well as the speed of the suction needed. Too much suction on a sander, for example, tends to pull the sander too hard to the sanded surface and impede, rather than aid, sanding progress.

And so…

There is no doubt in my mind that this Attix machine is a high quality professional product with an enormous amount of suction volume. It literally whistles from the nozzle in full extraction mode!

By using it with the supplied floor and crevice tools, I was able to do a very efficient job of cleaning up on the worksite as well as collecting dust from power tools. The dust collection nozzle for attaching to power tools deserves special mention for being very well designed, since it provides flexible and secure attachment to the tools as well as being easy to attach and remove from the hose end.

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