Austral Foldaway 51
Rotary hoist outdoor clothes dryers are a boon to many people due to the practicality and convenience of their design, some stay away from the standard format with fixed frames because of the relatively large area they require—virtually unaware that semi-portable, foldable airers of this format exist.
There are a few high capacity foldable hoists available on the market but on our end, the best selling one so far is the Astral Foldaway 51. We figured it’s time we do a brief review on the overall experience with using it so you can have in depth knowledge about this outdoor clothes drying rack and find out if it will actually bode well with your needs.
We think we’re off to a good start here—not every person who purchase outdoor clothes drying racks are very technical, reading a manual can be a little daunting unless you are a geek like us so the really good advantage of the Foldaway 51’s design is that it requires minimal assembly.
Upon taking it out of the packaging, there was a bit of untangling to do but it isn’t as bad as digging for your smartphone charger in a box full of cables. As you may have guessed, the lines are already preinstalled and the whole thing is shipped in just one box but disassembled into three separate parts which consists of the ground socket, main shaft/column, and the head section.
The Foldaway 51 is a little on the light side for a rotary hoist but by no means does it feel flimsy, it is adequately substantial to give off a sense of sturdiness. This outdoor clothes dryer made of galvanized steel by Galvabond (the same folks behind Colorbond) so the 10 year warranty is nothing to scoff at.
It’s worth noting that this outdoor clothes dryer is available in classic cream, woodland grey or heritage green. We tested the woodland grey and we think it looked sleek, we didn’t worry about the color so much since this thing can be lifted off the socket anyway.
We were able to designate an area for the unit at the corner of our test yard with enough space for the frame to spin freely when hit by wind, Austral recommends at least 500 mm on all four corners but we reckon you’ll be able to get by with at least 300-400mm if space is a real concern.
Note: It is best to follow the manufacturer’s advice to make sure your outdoor clothes dryer works as intended.
With the head section unfolded, the foldaway 51 spans 5 meters, add to that the required clearance of 500 mm for all corners, to give you an idea, that totals to a 6 meter wide space needed in your backyard.
Since it is foldable and can be taken off of the ground socket like a portable airer (apart from the fact that it needs a dedicated base/ground socket for mounting), the space can be utilized when you’re not drying your clothes, the whole thing can be hidden inside your tool shed or leaned against the wall so you don’t have to worry about wasted real estate.
The only real challenge for most rotary outdoor clothes dryers is the work needed to mount it into the ground, if this is something that you won’t be able to do you can ask for the seller to have it installed for you.
We dug a 250 mm wide square hole that’s a bit over half a meter deep, around 600 mm to be exact, added some gravel at the bottom to facilitate rainwater drainage and dropped in the ground socket. We filled the sides with quick setting concrete for a more convenient approach, aligned the socket properly using a carpenter’s leveling tool then let it set overnight.
The next day, the concrete base/footing has already cured enough so we can finally mount the outdoor clothes dryer completely. Attaching the head section to the main column was quite easy thanks to the simple latching mechanism, inserted the end of the column into the ground socket, installed the crank and other plastic finishing attachments, unfolded the head section then we’re pretty much done.
We didn’t load the airer until the day after for fear of cracking the concrete base, the Foldaway 51 was able to manage around four big loads of laundry too, we tried hanging most of our heavy articles on one side of the drying lines for the sake of testing purposes and we didn’t witness any creaking, it stayed straight as an arrow even with an imbalanced load, silently turning when the occasional breeze decided to show up.
We’d like to note that raising the head section even when fully loaded was quite smooth and easy courtesy of the cranking mechanism, the crank is made of heavy duty plastic and feels well built, it also didn’t take long for our clothes to dry out which is not surprising for its design but we noticed that the line sagged a little upon taking everything down.
This is normal for new airers in most cases and we didn’t really mind, this is the part where the built-in line tensioner showed its worth. It was quite convenient to use but due to the way the cord was looped through the arms, we had to fiddle with the lines to get them to tighten up, it’s a little tricky to explain but it’s akin to fixing uneven shoelaces.
It was not difficult at all, albeit, a little time consuming so we suggest taking the head section off outdoor clothes dryer and resting it on the ground before tightening the lines because looking up and stretching your arms out for a certain period of time can cause some straining your neck, mostly if you’re an elderly or not a very tall person.
We were able to dry four queen sized bed sheets on the outer lines, king sized sheets can be dried too but not without some creasing—something to put in mind.
Taking off the Foldaway 51 for storage was an effortless affair, we just lowered the head section, unlatched the locking mechanism then folded it down, turned the main column clockwise, lifted it off the ground socket and placed the socket cover to keep it from being filled with water or dirt. The space is now ready for a weekend barbecue!
Once again, there is a considerable amount of effort involved to get the Foldaway 51 up and running compared to typical wall mounted fold-downs, for a DIY savvy person this isn’t much of a concern but for most of us who might not have the time to do it, seeking aid from a professional installer will do the trick.
This outdoor clothes dryer also has multiple moving parts compared to the standard rotating hoist so a bit of TLC is needed to keep your outdoor clothes dryer in tip-top shape, if you decide to go with an outdoor clothes drying rack which has any sort of joint or metal moving parts like the Foldaway 51, it’s a good practice to apply oil or grease to the moving parts every now and then to prolong the life of your investment mostly if you live in regions where it rains frequently.
The best thing about the Foldaway 51 is that it can take on big laundry drying tasks when you need it to and you can still use the precious living space it takes up should the situation call for it, the line tensioning system is also a good thing to have, it will let you get more use out of your polycord and virtually gets rid of line sagging. It is a rewarding option for an outdoor clothes drying rack because there’s little compromise to encounter.
- 100% designed and built in Australia
- Big drying capacity in a compact space
- Foldable and can be stored when not in use
- Built in line tensioning mechanism to keep line sagging at bay
Price: $361 AUD