The North Wind Doth Blow, And We Shall Have Snow Blowers!

The news that snow is already showing its soft, white and freezy little face on the higher ground of Scotland comes as no surprise and I am told we are all to expect a rather harsher winter than we experienced last year. Mind you, this is from the same people who used phrases like ‘barbeque summer’ and ‘there will be no hurricane…’ so all bets are well and truly off.

However, as we always say, in this business, it’s mad not to be prepared and, let’s face it, when it comes, snow can cause total chaos to domestic and work schedules (as well as severely affecting your gardening). But it only causes chaos if you are not ready for it and, as they say in Scandinavia, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’ – and they are not talking about track suits and flares!

What better way to be prepared for the oncoming cold stuff than a Snow Blower. These machines are built for one purpose and one purpose only. Break up awkward snow (and often ice with the bigger petrol machines)  pick it up and throw it somewhere else… preferably not right in front of you or in your neighbour’s garden.

My colleague and old beer appreciating pal Dick (he doesn’t appreciate old beer, he’s just an old pal) has already pointed out some of the good quality and efficient petrol snow blowers we stock, so I thought it might be a decent wheeze to whizz you round a few of the features and so on, that you might find on one of these handsome and specialist machines.

Below is a classic petrol powered dual-stage snow blower, from experts and all round quality-mongers Stiga. They’re Swedish so they know more about snow than you could shake a ski-stick at.

Thar she blows...
Thar she blows…

For this example I have chosen a dual-stage snow blower as they have more functions. Most of these will be the same as single-stage machines, with some differences. The main difference is that the dual-stage models have an impeller that sits behind the auger (not visible in this picture. For your information, here is where the impeller sits.

Vlad the Impeller
Vlad the Impeller

It is a like a big fan, mounted on a disc which spins on the vertical and throws the snow up the exit/discharge chute

If you have a look here, you can see one of the Stiga machines in action.

The smaller machines, the single-stage ones, are also effective.

Electric blower... it's not for your hair
Main electric snow blower… it’s not for your hair

They come in petrol and mains electric versions… (see left) these are ideal for the smaller household or premises and operate in much the same way but without the rear impeller. They can still throw snow an impressive distance though. They are also often described as ‘back to black’. This does not mean they are Amy Winehouse fans, it means they have heavy-duty rubber covered augers and can take the snow right down to the tarmac on paths and drives.

Finally, every machine has it’s own jargon and som eof the terms asscoiated with Snow Blowers might not be familiar. So I thought I would dip into  my knowledge bank and offer a short glossary of Snow Blower terms and terminology.

Auger – A bladed cylinder, rather like the one in a cylinder lawn mower, that revolves forward on a horizontal axis and clears snow,pushing it back into the body of the blower, and either up and out of the blower (single stage) or back to the impeller (dual stage)

Auger housing – Also called the snow intake hood. This is the hollow casing at the front of the snow blower inside which the auger -and impeller in dual stage blowers  – is fitted

Clearing width – The width of the hood and auger and the path in the snow it will clear.

Deflector – An adjustable extension or flap on the end of the exit chute (see below) that directs the angle of distribution of the broken snow stream. Usually adjusted by hand or wit a rod, very occasionally in top models it is remotely electronically controlled.

Exit chute – The chimney or pipe like part of a snow blower that channels the broken down snow away from the machine. It can usually be revolved to change the direction and will also usually have a control to change the height of the flow

Intake height – The height of the intake hood and therefore the cut off for the depth of snow fall that can be tackled Intake hood Also called the auger housing. This is the hollow casing at the front of the snow blower which gathers the snow and inside which the auger is fitted.  It also houses the impeller in dual stage blowers.

Skid shoes  – Small metal type fixtures, like rimmed plates, that are bolted to the intake hood to lift the hood and help the snow blower glide along on the snow or ice. They are nearly always adjustable and can enable a blower to work on loose surfaces like gravel and pebbles.

Scraper blade or scraper bar. A long strip of metal, (occasionally strong rubber or rubber encased metal) that is fitted to the underneath of the intake hood and removes excess snow or ice

Single Stage. A snow blower featuring just an auger that lifts snow up and out of a chute. Smaller domestic blowers are usually single stage and many are electric

Dual stage (sometimes called double stage or two-stage) A snow blower featuring both an auger and an impeller. The impeller, which is like a kind of cylindrical fan, revolving on the vertical, sits behind the auger and breaks down the snow even further while forcing the broken snow stream out and away from the blower, much further than a single stage machine is able. Dual stage blowers are always petrol and can be very powerful. Professional blowers are nearly always dual stage.

So that’s that. Be prepared, get blowing, keep going and… enjoy your garden.  Drew Hardy.




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