We invited a number of the leading spray line marking manufacturers to bring along their machines to the Wolves Training Ground for testing by the club's groundstaff. The testing took place over a week at the end of March. This allowed the staff plenty of time to get familiar with each of the line markers and judge them on their merits and performance.
The testing involved setting up the machines for use and marking a standard football pitch.
A score of between 1-10 (with 10 being the highest) was awarded against given set criteria (see below). Seven markers were put through their paces using the companies' own recommended paints and mixing ratios.
The manufacturers set up the machines for Wolves' Head Groundsman, Wayne Lumbard, and his staff, demonstrated the use of the machine and explained how to adjust the settings.
The sole purpose of the testing was to evaluate the performance and handling of the line markers; we were not evaluating the performance of the paints supplied.
Over the week, Wayne and his staff (Terry Carver, Ken Bates and Chris Lane) put the machines through their paces. One of the days was organised as a demo day for a number of local groundsmen and contractors, allowing the manufacturers to demonstrate their respective machines to potential customers.
Machines on Test
Topline TXE 252 - manufacturer Vitax - Guide price £600
Topline TXE 505 - manufacturer Vitax - Guide price £650
Topline XCEL - manufacturer Vitax - Guide price £950
Titan - manufacturer Grassline - Guide price £515
Kombi - manufacturer Fleet - Guide price £595
GMX - manufacturer Bowcom - Guide price £625
GM10 - manufacturer Bowcom - Guide price £775
Testing Criteria and Results
Each of the staff was asked to evaluate the markers using the following criteria:
1. Pre use checks: Tank capacity; Battery, connections and charging times; Noise and vibration.
2. Controls of the machine: Control cables/levers; Electronics (switches); Weight.
3. Time to set the machine up ready for use: Mixing paint and filling; Setting line width.
4. Machine Performance: Handling (controls); Manouevrability: Changing line width; Spray jet nozzle performance; Pump performance; Battery performance; Build quality.
5. Marking quality: Brightness of line; Sharpness of line; Duration of line.
6. Cleaning: Ease of cleaning; Servicing requirements.
The maximum points total possible was 200 (170 in the case of the Bowcom GM10 due to it not having electronics and a battery). There was also the opportunity for comments from the user(s).
The results, with Wayne's comments, are as follows:
Vitax Topline TXE 505 - total marks 188 - The differences between this model and the 252 is a larger battery and there is no separate wash tank. It has adjustable discs. This machine is designed for multiple pitches and, like the 252, is very simple to operate, set up and use. It is advertised as the lightest marker on the market, and gives you all the features needed. Guide price £650.
Vitax Topline TXE 252 - total marks 187 - Very easy and simple, but very effective with an excellent end result. The nozzle size and type decides the width of the line with no worry of measuring width of discs or paddles; flick over the knib/nozzle and you have a narrower line for cricket or tennis. It is lightweight and moves well over the pitches, and also has a separate wash tank for ease of cleaning. This is set up to do a couple of pitches with a 25 litre tank and a smaller battery. There is nothing complicated about this machine. Guide price £600.
Vitax Topline XCEL - total marks 185 - This is an engineer's heaven, with state of the art technology, a marker ahead of its time. No mess, no mixing, no waste. You can leave the paint in the marker for next time without it going off or getting contaminated; it mixes from 1:8 to 1:20, if required, by turning a knob as you walk. Well presented, well thought out, with a fantastic quality line, excellent clarity and sharpness, but felt heavy to manoeuvre. The technology speaks for itself and is very environmentally friendly. Guide price £950.
The Titan - total marks 185 - The Titan is an easy to use, well thought out spray marking machine, simplicity in itself. Some individual features of this marker worth pointing out are the separate 2 nozzle operation, by which you can spray both the top and the underside of the leaf at the same time, allowing you to double mark in one pass. Also, there are set holes for 2inch, 3inch and 4inch widths without having to use a ruler. The battery can be easily be lifted off the marker for convenience. Rugged, with a steel chasis, the front can also be lifted up to protect the nozzles. Guide price £515.
The Kombi - total marks 185 - The Kombi overall was a very good machine to use, simple to fill and clean, gave us the required finish we were looking for. It had all the features you would expect from a spray line marker. You can also have the knib on the side if required, which makes life easier when marking in your quadrants. Very user friendly and works under all conditions, can also be used as a chemical sprayer. Guide price £595.
Bowcom GMX - total marks 182 - The Bowcom GMX is an easy to use, well put together machine. Lightweight to pivot and tip back, with a tank you can take out separately to wash out, and separate tank may be used for herbicides etc. with a separate attachment. The on/off button is placed in a good position so as not to get knocked etc. Also has a useful, separate isolation switch. Guide price £625.
Bowcom GM10 - total marks 158 (out of 170) - This machine is strong, well built, easy to operate and has the features of a spray jet marker but with no electrics. Pressure is built up off the back wheels for about 20 metres then, as you continue to walk forward to mark out, this keeps and builds the pressure up, simple. It is easy to set up, clean, service and operate. It has a very good bright line, with excellent clarity. It also has a separate wash bottle. Guide price £775.
As you can see from the marks awarded, all the markers performed very well and all, in fact, produced a quality, clean crisp line during testing. To be fair there was not much to choose between them. They are all well built with their own unique features and selling points.
Each member of the Wolves' staff did have their own favourite machine, and each one was different. Some liked the simplicity and lightness of a machine whilst others favoured the technical advancements in the paint mixing and washdown systems.
My thanks go to the manufacturers for allowing us to put their machines through their paces and, of course, to Wayne and his team (Terry Carver, Ken Bates and Chris Lane) for undertaking the tests in such a practical and professional way.
A full range of Line Marking materials and Marker can be seen in the Pitchcare Shop :- Linemarking