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5.0 out of 5 starsJoe Toasted the Snow
ByTad Gallionon January 31, 2015
Package Quantity: 1|Verified Purchase
For years, despite my bad back having the structural integrity of a stack of Bud cans, I shoveled snow all winter long. Standing on icy pavement while chucking snow over my shoulder seemed like a quick route to a life of adult diapers, so I finally decided to get a better tool.
I’m told only idiots buy electric snow throwers. Maybe — but if you are like me, you don’t have $600, a garage, or a good record on getting annual maintenance done, then gas power isn’t perfect. For a quarter the price of a gas machine, I have a little blue thrower that I can store in my basement.
* Delivery: Prime, two days, no problems.
* Appearance: Problem. Don’t expect something manly. The blower looks kinda like you are pushing a big blue toaster down the walk. This device is 100% testosterone free. When you push this past the big gas blowers, you will have post-traumatic flashbacks from junior high school. You’ll feel inadequate. You’ll remember that wedgie. But remember: wallowing on the ground, crying for your wife because your back went out doesn’t look manly either.
* Ease of assembly: Imagine opening a box and finding a big toaster that needs handles tightened. Done in minutes, completely intuitive.
* Ease of Operation: Like a toaster you plug it in. Like a toaster, you push a little lever for it to do its job.
* Safety: Like a toaster you don’t put your fingers where it’s doing its business. Like a toaster look out for things popping out the top.
* Handling the Gas Guys: my buddy took one look and started a lecture on the virtues of gas power. I quickly asked how much he paid for his tune-up last year. He said $275. I told him that was nearly as much as the $150 I paid for my toaster, delivered new to my home. We laughed and talked about something else.
* Use: Snow #1: Storm Iola left about 3 inches of very wet snow last week– the very kind of snow Consumer Reports and reviewers tell me electric toasters fail to manage. I donned my boots and tromped down to the basement and hefted the thrower up the narrow stairs. No problem – about as difficult to carry as one of those old TV/VCR combos you took on car trips. With a couple extension cords I went to work. In under 60 seconds I cleared my walk to the fence, about 50 feet, in two passes. I went on to do my front walk, the walk of my neighbor, my drive and his drive. I cleared a bit of my deck. I then cleared the drive of a second neighbor who owns a snowblower the size of a Buick, but was reluctant to drag it out for only three inches of wet snow.
Snow #2: Blizzard Juno. Juno dumped 18 inches on us in about 36 hours. Mid-storm I went out and blew a nice arc of white powder off the front walk. Then hid till the storm passed and did it all over again. I did my drive, cleared my deck and even cleared a huge mound of snow next to my house that I feared would cause water intrusion. The little toaster did not shrink from its duty.
* Sound: about as loud as a blender on high. You can talk over it and you won’t feel like you just left a rock concert when you are done.
* Performance: It did fine! On the wet snow it did not shoot the snow in a great beautiful arc like my neighbor’s behemoth can, but rather coughed it about a dozen feet. It didn’t clear down to the pavement, but I don’t think they are supposed to. Both snows required a little shovel work to get the last packed half-inch off, if you are inclined to do so.
[About that last half inch. I had good luck pushing a flat gardening edger down the walk, under the snow to make it bunch up, then used the thrower to remove it from the walk. IMPORTANT TIP: as you push the edger along, you’ll be tempted to put the handle end in the vicinity of your pelvis. Do not do this as you will find a pavement line and the handle will joust you there. `Nuff said.]
* Electrocution: Not applicable.
* Cut Electrical Cord: I have brightly colored cords and had no trouble seeing them on the snow. I’m not sure why other reviewers fear cutting a cord – perhaps they have white, or transparent, electrical cords.
* Coming Unplugged: One reviewer said this was a problem, but as there is a plastic fitting on the machine that one loops the extension through to secure the cord I have no idea why the cord would come unplugged.
* Durability: No idea. It made it through two good snows without a problem. I’ll report back should it fail in the coming months.
I am not an Amazon Vine person. I’m not a shrub of any sort for any company. I don’t live in the Philippines writing reviews for $0.25 each. I own no stock in any companies. The opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own, unless they piss someone off, in which case, these opinions are strictly someone else’s.
UPDATE: I feel remiss not mentioning that while clearing deep snow (about a foot or more) it required me to thrust forward, pull back, thrust forward, pull back. While strangely satisfying, its not a steady forward activity.
UPDATE #2: Winter Storm Linus. Another couple feet, the same run of clearing. But I also cleared a 40 foot long, 2 foot deep trench from sidewalk to the house’s oil tank valve. (Don’t ask, it’s a New England thing, but, yeah, our houses need lots of oil). Also, the roof was getting overburdened with snow and ice, so I had to rake snow off the roof on to the deck, then use the toaster to hurl it into the yard. I can’t imagine how many cubic feet I’ve moved at this point. Exhaustion is setting in.
UPDATE #3: Winter Storm Marcus. I’m about to give up. The toaster is doing fine, but I’m beginning to think I’ve offended God. This snow is coming slowly over a few days = but another couple feet expected. The toaster looks completely new, acting perfectly but I observe the little rubber pads attached to the steel rotating bits is wearing down to the metal. They will probably need to be replaced before another snow or two. I’m not sure where to locate them, but a word to the wise – the machine is called a “Snow Joe”, NOT a “Joe Blow”. If you google “Joe Blow Rubber”, for goodness sake, turn off the image search. If I find the pads, I’ll get back to you.
UPDATE #4: Blizzard Neptune / Octavia. Beautiful Boston area Victorian home for sale! Built in 1892, has many original features like windows and insulation! Offers great ventilation all year around! Oil heat! A snow thrower, only a few months old, conveys with property!
Honestly, Boston’s 2015 Biblical proportions winter – something worthy of a snarky Pharaoh – deserves a bigger… and yes, possibly, gas machine. The thrower is doing fine. It’s been sufficient to face this apocalyptic series of snow events, but it’s fighting well above its weight. How long will it last? One reason I made the purchase is it’s portability. But the friggin’ snow won’t stop long enough to carry it downstairs! So it has spent the last 5 weeks sitting on the deck – I could have done the same with gas machine. I bought it because I thought it would handle the occasional 4 inch snow … not the serial 18 inch dumps, week after week. This winter calls for a far larger, faster, machine … but even so, thank goodness I have it. I can’t imagine what sort of rehabilitation center / psychiatric institution I’d be in now had I worked only with a shovel.
Minor issue: For the first time I was working in the dark and I fumbled around trying to make the headlight work — and failed. Regrettably, I had to go to the OWNERS MANUAL. Few things make me feel so impotent as having to go to the written documentation on an bit of machinery. Anyway, the light works by manipulating a little plastic box (which turns out to be flexible, allowing one to click a switch) on the handle side of the toaster – do not grope around on the light side, it will get you no where.
December in Boston this year allowed me to do my final Christmas shopping in my #1 Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, and Keens. But this balmy bliss ended suddenly a couple nights ago with a wintery mess swirling down and leaving an inch of icy snow. I could put it off no longer, I needed to buy “Snow Joe Replacement 4-Pack of Auger Blades” for $39.99, +$8.39 postage, which totals to about 25% of the purchase price of the entire machine. I bet these will be amazing auger blades!
Winter Storm Jonas: My wife and I had dined out at the local pub last night to celebrate the storm, then sauntered home in the winter splendor, with good food and excellent beer warm inside us. The snow was tapering to an end as we neared our home, when we spied the shadowy form of lonely neighbor struggling with a shovel. Perhaps it was the bracing cold, perhaps it was my love of neighbor, perhaps it some inner cry against the struggle of frail man against an overwhelming and cruel nature – I don’t know what it was (probably the beer though) — but I was suddenly moved to do-good. I snatched the toaster from the deck and went to work. I blew down my walk, the golden glow of the blower’s lamp guiding me, then up the walk along the street. With three extension cords snaking though my yard and over my fence, I made quick work of the neighbor’s task. Then I realized this: While the blower isn’t quiet, it’s not loud either … it won’t wake neighbors snug in bed. So I went as far as my extension cords would allow, blowing long pretty snow arcs from drive and walk of this neighbor and that, do-goodering well into the night. Albeit later, no one sleeps so soundly as he who has augured clear the paths of his slumbering fellows.
* Disclaimer: I do not endorse or support the notion of heavy equipment use after the consumption of alcoholic beverages. I’m not sure the toaster is heavy equipment, but I bet it could take a wandering thumb off pretty quick.
Quick observation from the last snow, which fell late on a Friday night. I got up and powered down the sidewalk. The blower had no trouble with the 4 inches of snow and shredded the Saturday edition of the New York Times hidden below with ease. However, if you wish to attempt blowing through a Sunday paper, you might want a larger machine.