We got about six eight more inches of snow today. School was cancelled, and it was coming down furiously when I got out of bed. I decided to stay home and do some work from the couch. I was pretty sure I could make it to the office, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it back. So I just stayed put.

The snow let up around 3:30 or so, and I thought it would be a good idea to clear the driveway while I still had some light. I shovelled out an area to move my car into, then I wheeled the snowblower out. I added maybe a half cup of gas to the tank, as that was all I had. Further, I store my equipment with the tanks empty. But I thought that might be enough to cut a narrow path through the driveway, and that would be enough for me to get out and buy some gas.

The snowblower started on the second pull. I went about three feet when I realized that one of the shear pins had sheared. So I cut the engine and put in a new shear pin. Then I cranked it back up again and went another ten feet when the other shear pin sheared. Groan. I put in a second new pin. Then I went another hundred feet and ran out of gas. My neighbor was out blowing our other neighbor’s drive, so I asked him if he had any gas. He did, but it was up at his house. So I trekked up there and got it. He keeps his in a 5 gallon can, and it was nearly full. I lugged it back, added half a gallon to my tank, and then tried to restart the engine. Only it wouldn’t start. I just about wore myself out pulling that cord, but it was no use. So I dragged it back up to the garage, and parked it in the yard.

Time for a new snowblower.

I called my neighbor and asked him if he’d give me a ride to Lowes, and to my utter joy, he agreed to. Whew! He had his supper first, and I went and rested up a bit. After a while, he drove down, and I met him at the head of the driveway. We went to town in his van, and I bought a 26″ , two-stage Troybilt snowblower with an electric starter and with headlights. We stopped and got some gas (I filled his tank, plus his gas can, plus mine). Then we came home, parked in the neighbor’s driveway (the one he had cleared earlier), and unloaded my new purchase. Then I cleared the driveway.

When I came in the house afterwards, Beth wanted to go look at the snowblower. I told her it was parked exactly where the old one used to be, but this one was red. She dashed out to the garage, and came back saying, “Yup! It’s red alright!”

My old snowblower was an International Harvester. They went out of business in 1984, so the snowblower had to have been built before then. My guess is that it was built in the mid-1970’s. It was a tank. And when I say “tank” I hope you aren’t thinking of an M1 Abrams tank. It would be better if you thought more along the lines of the Republican Guard, circa 1991. A tank on the side of the road. Burning. The master clutch was gone. I had to jury-rig a new drive clutch. And handlebar. The chute wouldn’t stay down, but rather, as soon as any snow hit it, it would readjust itself so that it would blow snow nearly, but not quite straight up. Even when the chute was properly aimed, it would only throw it about ten feet.

The new one is better. It throws the snow 30 or 40 feet. The family says it’s a lot quieter too, which I have no difficulty believing. I always where ear-protectors when I use the snowblower (or lawn mower). That was critical with the old one, as it would give a jet engine a run for its money on the old decibel scale.

I do need to adjust the shoe-skids on it though so it doesn’t pick up so much gravel. When I let go of it, it quits moving. If I were to let go of the old one, it would keep moving, and it would plow over or through anything in its path, including houses, forests, and large mammals. I suppose it would go until it cut a path into the Merrimack River or ran out of gas.

Now I just hafta figure out how to get rid of the old one.