Over the last 3 years, the UK has seen it's fair share of snow and ice during the winter and there has been a huge rise in the sale of both Electric and Petrol Snow Blowers to combat this. These machines are hugely popular in America, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland and other parts of the world where snow is a usual occurrence if not permanent! But here in the UK there seems to be a general lack of knowledge about these machines which is a shame as they can be extremely effective at clearing snow, especially if the right machine is chosen and it is used at the right time (this may sound ridiculous but I'll explain more on this subject later!). In Part 1 of this Blog we'll cover the various designs, what to look for when choosing your Snow Blower, as well as which manufacturer to choose. In Part 2 we will cover how and when to use your chosen snow blower to obtain the best results......
A Snow Blower (often referred to as a Snow Thrower) is a machine for clearing snow from areas it is not wanted such as Drive Ways, Foot Paths and Walk Ways by Blowing or Throwing it to areas that do not need to be accessed. There is a vast array of size and type of Snow Blower for covering different areas and surfaces and they are generally powered by Petrol Engines however there are now some smaller models powered by an Electric Motor as well as larger models which are "PTO" (Power Take Off) versions that can be attached to a variety of vehicles from Lawn Tractors to ATV's and Agricultural Tractors. The design was first conceived in America as far back 1870 when Robert Carr Harris patented the "Railway Screw Snow Excavator" for clearing train lines. However it was not until 1925 when Arthur Sicard was credited as being the first inventor of the Practical Snow Blower for removing snow from roadways that the idea finally took off.
First we'll take at look at the 2 main variations of Snow Blower......
All Electric Snow Blowers and Entry Level Petrol Snow Blowers are Single Stage. This means that the Auger is solely responsible for pulling the snow in to the machine and throwing it out of the discharge chute. Due to this fact, the Auger of a Single Stage Snow Blower must revolve at a very high speed in order to do these two jobs in one action.
Single Stage Snow Blowers are for clearing light to moderate snow fall up to a maximum of approx 8 inches (20cm) that has not been compacted or frozen.
Most Single Stage Snow Blowers use a Rubberised Auger (see picture) which is designed to come into contact with the surface it is clearing, leaving only a very small amount of snow behind.
This makes them ideal for flat tarmac surfaces or well maintained block paving however, you must remember that uneven surfaces such as a loose paving stone's that have corners "Jutting Up" will result in an impact on the Auger causing premature wear and damage to its clearing edge and drive belt. These Rubberised Augers or Paddles and Drive Belts can be replaced once they have worn, so make sure you choose a brand of Snow Blower that is recognised in the UK and offers full spare parts availability. Single Stage Stiga and MTD Snow Blowers are highly recommended due to their build quality, performance and spare parts supply.
You will also find that nearly all Single Stage Snow Blowers are "Push" machines meaning that you must push the snow blower forwards or backwards with no assistance from the machine itself. Having said that, the way the Auger operates in pulling snow in to its mouth, it does also have the effect of dragging the machine forwards as it goes!
The larger Petrol Snow Blowers are classed as Two Stage or Dual Stage Snow Blowers. They use a much slower revolving Auger (which is the first stage) to cut through the snow and drag it in to the second stage which is an extremely fast moving Turbo Fan to eject the snow out of the discharge chute.
All Two Stage Snow Blowers use a Steel Auger with slotted teeth to cut through deep compacted snow falls up to approx 21 inches (53cm) depending on model.
Skid Shoes on either side of the Auger Housing provide you with an adjustable clearing height but unlike the rubberised auger of a single stage snow blower, these machines are NOT designed to come in to contact with the ground and will leave approx 1-2cm of snow remaining.
The auger should be adjusted to suit the surface, flat tarmac and well maintained block paving allows a low clearing height where badly maintained block paving and gravel surfaces require an elevated clearing height to avoid impact to the steel auger and the scraper bar located behind / below the auger.
In the event of an impact to the Auger, there are a series of Shear Pins or Shear Bolts that are designed to snap prior to any damage being transferred to the Transmission Unit that drives the Auger. These parts can all be replaced as long as you have chosen a recognised UK brand. We highly recommend Two Stage Stiga or MTD Snow Blowers for this purpose.
Two Stage snow blowers are nearly all "Power Driven" and depending on model you choose, can have single or variable forwards and reverse speeds making the job of clearing snow much less of a chore!
In Part 2 of our Snow Blower Blog we will cover General Use and Maintenance to help you get the best results from your chosen your Snow Blower.......
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