If we’ve learned two things this week, they are 1) Mother Nature is not to be reckoned with and 2) it’s never a bad idea to have a snow-blower or thrower in your garden shed.
Sure, you may still think this is a piece of equipment that only Keen Kevin’s would actually own, but there’s more reason to go out and buy one of these machines than just clearing your driveway and uncovering your garden; they’ll also let you do the good samaritan thing of helping out your neighbours, clearing the street you live on and making sure your local emergency services can keep being the absolute superheroes they are the next time Old Man Winter (or as we now call him, Emma) decides to dump it down.
But before you do brave the cold and drive to your local hardware store in either a tractor or a tank, there are six things worth pondering; things that will make sure you pick up the perfect snow blower for your needs.
- How Much Of Snow Blowing Legend Are You Going To Be?
If you live miles away from your nearest neighbour and thus only need to clear your own driveway, garden, deck and path, then you’ll be fine with a single-stage machine. If, however, you want to unleash your Dunkirk Spirit and play your part in the battle against this Beast from the East, by which we mean clearing your street, helping your neighbours and making the pavements visible again, you will want to get yourself a dual-stage snow blower. Why? Because these have power, power and much more power, and that’s what needed if you are to make a dent in this storm.
- Where On Earth Are You Going To Store This Thing?
If space is a bit of issue because a) you are a hoarder, b) you haven’t organised your garage or shed in five years or c) you have kids, then you might want to look at some of the smaller machines out there, or at least look for ones with space-saving features, like a folding handlebar, for example. Now, if you’re anything like us, then we know you probably want to get the biggest machine you can, but snow of this magnitude is still pretty rare, and so you don’t want to be a hero for a few days and then have to put up with this space-eating thing for another year. Of course, you could go all out and then donate or sell your snow blower to the local council once you’ve done what you can.
- How Much Snow Has Fallen In Your Area?
We can’t say for sure, but we can probably guess what you’re thinking, “There’s been a lot! Like a lotta lot!” And you’re right. But the reason we’re asking you for specifics is because a single-stage snow blower is only good for snow falls of less than a foot. Anything more than this, especially if it is wet and heavy snow, is going to require you call in a dual-stage machine. Basically, if you let your dog out and she disappears into thin air, you need to go big or stay home.
- Decide On Who is Going To Be The Operator.
With most modern snow-blowers, technology saves the day. We’re talking about high-tech features like auto-turning and headlights and built-in hand warmers, all of which make the responsibility of snow clearing a whole lot easier. If, however, you’re off to get a secondhand machine that doesn’t have these modern tidbits, then you need to accept they’re quite tough to use, physically that is.
- Did You Know There Are Four Types Of Steering?
That’s right. Four types. There are four types of steering, and each of them offers a different kind of manoeuvrability. Anyway, to help you know what you’re getting from each one, we’ve laid out the cliff-notes for you to peruse:
- Solid axle steering: this is where the axle is literally locked to the tires, which means there is no freewheeling (aka, it’s pretty hard work on the old arms and legs).
- Pin-lock steering: this is sort of like a halfway house that allows one free-wheel and one locked-wheel.
- Trigger steering: this is a pretty good option for those that want something as simple as a lever to operate, and that’s because there are levers that unlock an axle on either side, meaning your snow blower can properly turn.
- Auto-turn steering: No levers, no switches, no faffing; auto-turn steering uses a slip differential which, in Layman’s Terms, means it automatically wants to make nice, smooth, precise turns. It’s basically a snow-displacing dream.
- What Are The Best Snow-Blowers Or Throwers To Buy?
Okay, let’s cut straight to the chase on this one. If you have read our advice and decided you just need a single-stage snow blower or thrower, then we recommend you get yourself the Oleo-Mac Artic 52. One of these will go above and beyond your needs, that’s for sure. If, however, you want to be a snow-saviour with a two-stage beast, then there is only one machine you need to get your gloves on: the Stiga Dual-Stage Snow Patrol. It’s an absolute winner.