The World’s First Two Stage Electric Snow Blower

Battery Powered Snowblower

For a number of years I had a standard Briggs and Stratton dual stage snowblower. I’d store and mix the gas, pull the cord or use the electric start and replace the silence of the falling snow with the roar of a gas engine.

Then various problems would occur. The thing would stall out at the end of my long driveway so I’d crank away at the rip cord only to have it break. Then I’d lug the heavy machine back to the garage for an electric start. Later some bad gas or perhaps a bad mix of oil and gas clogged the carburetor. We moved to New Hampshire and I took the machine into a repair shop. For $90 they stuck a new carburetor on. Next season, it still didn’t work well. At this point it was rusty, cantankerous and a general pain the butt.

I ended up basically giving it away and ordering a single stage, corded, electric snowblower. This worked fine as long as I got outside in the middle of the storm every four inches or so to make sure the snow didn’t pile up too much. It was quiet, light and did the job. Although the cord was a pain in the butt. Since this, I’ve gone electric with all my tools – chainsaw, lawn mower, trimmers.

My electric tool collection:

Best thing about electric is you push the button and it is on. No gas storage or mixing. No noise. No fumes.

Now a Serious Battery Powered Snow Blower

iON8024, the revolutionary next-generation 24-inch self-propelled dual-stage cordless snow blower from SNOW JOE.

iON8024’s groundbreaking, rechargeable 80-Volt power plant and powerful 2500 W brushless motor has what it takes to weather winter’s worst, featuring two interchangeable EcoSharp 40 V batteries to deliver up to 30 minutes (5.0 Ah) | 40 minutes (6.0 Ah) of GAS-FREE and CORD-FREE no-fade performance, with zero carbon emissions for cleaner air.

Snow Joe Battery Electric Snow Blower
Snow Joe Battery Electric Snow Blower

iON8024 starts instantly with a simple push of the illuminated display, to put the legendary power of iON at your fingertips for unparalleled snow-shredding performance, courtesy of its cutting-edge 4-speed digital drive system (3-speed & XPORT). And iON’s integrated illuminated battery indicators mean you’ll never be left in the dark when it comes to having the information you need close at hand.

Snow Joe Battery Electric Snow Blower
Snow Joe Battery Electric Snow Blower

Equipped with a 2-stage heavy-duty serrated steel auger and powerful impeller, iON8024 plows through up to 1000 pounds of snow per minute, clearing a path 24-inches wide by 13-inches deep in a single pass. Ergonomic trigger grips provide optimum comfort and reduce stress from squeezing, and the integrated scraper bar at the base of the unit lets you clear right to the ground without damaging your deck or pavement.

Other exclusive iON8024 features include a 180° thumb-switch auto-rotate chute to direct the snow stream up to 32 feet away, dual integrated 3 W LED headlamps to light the way for safe nighttime clearing, and wide, knobby rubber TracAssist tires for maximum traction in the most challenging winter weather conditions.

Here are the advantages  and disadvantages of the battery powered snowblower as I see it:

Advantages over gas snowblower

  • Instant start
  • Lighter
  • No fumes
  • No gas and oil to store and mix
  • Easier to transport in a car because there is no gas
  • Digital controls
  • Local power – don’t need to drive to the gas station to get more fuel.

Disadvantages over gas snowblower

  • Power outage could cramp one’s use.  Might have to head to the neighbor’s generator to recharge.
  • 40 – 50 minutes of usage on a single set of batteries.

New England Winter Scene with snow, red barn and vintage red tractor

Old tractor in the snow

Behind the Shot:  Classic New England Winter Scene

This is one of those photographs that has it all.  Snow, a great old red barn or more accurately, a maple syrup producing sugar shack and a great old red vintage tractor.

New England winter shots like these require a lot of planning.  Photographing winter in rural New Hampshire among the hills and dales, along the country lanes and over the forested mountains, can be a huge challenge in winter.

Most of the time there is no place to park.  Drainage ditches line the old country roads and snow plows are apt to come by at any moment to bury your car under a pile of slush and snow.

Best to plan ahead, keep track of points of interest that you wish to return to in winter, watch the weather reports and hope and pray that the farmer doesn’t move his old vintage tractor out of position.

These aren’t movie props ya know.  Farm equipment such as this great old red tractor are working essentials to the operation of these farms such as this one in Lyme, New Hampshire with its working maple syrup operation.

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In winter farm equipment might used to move firewood or push snow out of the path to the barn. Although often an old tractor like this one, even if it is still working, is probably used mostly in the summer for hay cutting.

A few tips on photographing classic New England winter landscapes such as this:

  • Plan out your shot before walking around the scene.  You don’t want to create a bunch of ugly footprints in the snow.
  • Avoid bright sun.  Sunlight can be harsh in winter with glare reflecting off the snow.  Overcast days are great for reducing shadows and preventing highlights from creating overly contrasty scenes.
  • Meter for snow.  Don’t let your snow turn gray because you didn’t use exposure compensation.  Add a stop of exposure to make sure your snow isn’t dull and gray.
  • Keep certain locations in mind for future photo shoots in different seasons.  For example this old tractor and farm in Hopkinton, NH is on my list for a revisit once winter sets in.  I shot it in the fall, now for a winter version of this scene.

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New England Winter Photographs by Edward M. Fielding

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A horse and red barn in the middle of a snow storm in the Stowe and Waterbury area of Vermont.

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The photogenic Jenne Farm in Vermont which as graced the cover of many a calendar.

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Trapp Family Lodge, stone chapel in the woods in Stowe, Vermont.

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A scene from the secret cross country area in Lyme,  New Hampshire.  A former scout summer camp, now a warming hut for cross country skiers.

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Hanover green in winter.  A snow covered green scene with bench on the Dartmouth College campus in downtown Hanover, New Hampshire.

All images are available as fine art prints, framed prints, canvas, metal prints and more.  https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/winter

Photography Theme: Remote Cabin in the Winter

Theme: Remote Cabin in Winter
Theme: Remote Cabin in Winter

I shoot book cover images for ArcAngel Images and every winter there is one theme I look for – remote, desolate, old buildings.  The type of places where a mystery or crime could take place.

The scene of some terrible drama that occurs during a howling snowstorm.  A place you don’t want your kidnapper to take you.  A place where no one can hear your screams.

Winter Warming Hut
Winter Warming Hut

Perhaps a place where the rabbits were butchered.  A sex crime occurred. A strange old hag lives casting her evil spells.

Maybe a place of poverty and shame.  Growing up in the shadows of the coal fields or where Grandpa sharpened his knives and axes.  Perhaps the place where secrets or fugitives are hidden.  Maybe shelter for that escaped convict from the local prison, unknown to the little girl sent out for kindling or to feed the goats.

Of course these old cabins in the woods or covered in a blanket of fresh winter snow don’t have to be the scene of terrible events.  They can be fond memories, sugaring shacks for boiling maple sap down to sweet syrup, they can be workshops, warm and toasty vacation spots or even warming huts for cross country skiers.

Snow covered log cabin
Snow Covered Log Cabin fine art photograph by Edward M. Fielding

You can see all of the cabin photographs by photographer Edward M. Fielding here  – http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/cabin

The cabin photographs in this collectin depict remote cabins, barns, shacks and sheds in all seasons including winter, spring, summer and fall.

These fine art photographs, watercolors and paintings are available as prints rolled in a tube, framed and matted prints from hundreds of combinations of mats and frames, canvas prints, acrylic prints, metal prints, wood prints as well as on products such as tote bags, throw pillows, phone cases, greeting cards and more!

Recently sold – Winter in Vermont Artwork

Winter in Vermont - watercolor artwork by Edward M. Fielding
Winter in Vermont – watercolor artwork by Edward M. Fielding

“Winter in Vermont” is a watercolor treated photograph from the Brattleboro, Vermont area that depicts a classic red wood frame period farm house among sugar maple trees under a blanket of winter snow. An idyllic landscape that can still be seen in the villages of Vermont.

“Winter in Vermont” by Edward M. Fielding can be purchased as matted and framed wall art decor in 100s of combinations of framing choices and mats or you can purchase this image as a print rolled in a tube in a variety of fine art papers.

The image can also be purchased as a canvas, wood, metal or acrylic print of museum quality that is ready to hang.  It can also be purchased as a greeting card or custom Christmas card, tote bag, phone case, throw pillow, towel, shower curtain and more.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-winter-in-vermont-edward-fielding.html

Skiing at the Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe Vermont

One of the most beloved movies of all time, “The Sound of Music” starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer came out in 1965 but is still a belo

Based on the memoir “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers” by Maria von Trapp, the movie was based on a real life family. And you can hang with decedents of the Trapp family at the Trapp Family Lodge and resort in Stowe, Vermont.

What is the sequel to the movie “The Sound of Music”?  The Trapp Family comes to America, tours as a singing group. After living for a short time in Merion, Pennsylvania, where they welcomed their youngest child, Johannes, the family dicovered the mountains of Vermont that reminded them of Austria and they settled in Stowe, Vermont, in 1941. They purchased a 660-acre (270 ha) farm in 1942 and converted it into the Trapp Family Lodge.

In the video above, see if you can spot the maple sap lines along the trails leading down to the Trapp Maple Sugaring House where the sap is boiled down to syrup.

Today the Trapp Family Lodge is a full resort with an Austrian flair.  Accommodations from Villas to condos to a hotel with activities from hiking, spa, horse-drawn sleigh rides, Austrian Tea House and even a craft beer brewery and pub.

In the 60’s, fresh from college skiing at Dartmouth, Johannes Trapp is credited with starting the first Nordic ski center in the USA.   Today the cross-country skiing facilities at Trapp Family Lodge have been ranked in the top 50 Nordic ski centers in the country.

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Trapp Family Lodge features over 37 miles of groomed trails and 62 miles of backcountry trails suitable for cross-country skiers of all ages and abilities.   They even have some snow making on the race trails.  You can rent equipment at the resort’s Nordic Center, which includes a retail shop, and take a  exhilarating trip to Slayton Pasture Cabin where you can warm up on the hearth of a roaring fireplace and replenish your energy with homemade soup, sandwiches, and hot chocolate.

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The journey to Slayton Pasture Cabin may be long, but it’s worth it. You’ll know the minute you walk in.

This rustic and cozy log cabin is the perfect rendezvous spot for lunch with family and friends. Take a seat by the hearth of our roaring fireplace and savor some homemade soups and sandwiches.

Then enjoy a hot chocolate, which is the perfect way to warm up after a long day of skiing. Slayton Pasture Cabin is open from 10:00AM-3:00PM daily during the winter months.

We recently took a trip up to Stowe and the Trapp Family Lodge.  Its just over an hour up Rt 89 from the Upper Valley to Stowe.  An exit at Waterbury with all of its foodie attractions including the Ben and Jerry’s Factory, Cabot Cheese outlet, Lake Champlain Chocolates and the Cider House.

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At Stowe we paid our $25 per person trail fee and set off for the Slayer Cabin which makes a great halfway point on a loop up and down the mountain.  Its a tough climb all the way up to the cabin but homemade soup ($13 for two smalls and a large bowl for the teenager), outhouses and a warm fire makes a nice stop.

In the winter of 1968, the Trapp Family Lodge Cross-Country Ski Center opened as the first full service center of its kind in North America. With success came longer trails and construction of the Slayton Pasture Cabin (built in 1971) as a destination lunch and warming facility. Today, the Slayton Pasture Cabin serves soups and sandwiches next to a roaring hearth to guests who are ready and eager to make the 10 kilometer round excursion. For many skiers and hikers, the iconic Cabin represents a special achievement while providing an intimate glimpse into the past of Vermont ski history.

Unfortunately the recent weather – dump of snow and then a couple of warm days followed by cold nights – left the Haul Road trail on the way down rather icy.  I ended up walking down a few sections because the trail was shear ice.   But over all we always enjoy our trips to this beautiful piece of property in the mountains of Stowe, Vermont.

On the way home who could pass up an opportunity to visit Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory in Waterbury, Vermont?

Electric Snow Shovels and Electric Snow Blowers

 

 

Due to climate change we haven’t had winters like we had in the past.  In fact the last two winters had such little snow that I shoveled the driveway by hand.  And my son’s cross-country ski team had to deal with cancelled and delayed meets.  Even this year practices early in the season were mostly running and training in the gym or skiing on a dusting of snow on the artificial turf of the football field.

But now in mid-February we got a string of snow storms that dumped a couple of feet of snow on us.  I’ve been keeping the deck, driveway and front walk clear of snow using a good old fashioned shovel – which is great exercise and a nice and quiet way to enjoy the silence of a snowy day but also with an electric snow shovel and an electric snow blower.

My electric shovel is probably 12 years old now.  I got it originally for vacation house in the North Conway area.  My electric snowblower is more recent.  After dealing with a gas powered, noisy, hard to start and frequently breaking down snow blower for years, I sold it at a yard sale and got this electric one.

We had a long driveway in Maine so the gas powered blower was required but here in New Hampshire the entire driveway is reachable by a long electric cord.  The gas blower was two stage and more powerful then the electric blower but so far I haven’t run into any storm that it can’t handle, as long as you go slow.  The gas blower will chop through anything with its metal blades while the electric blower is made of hard plastic and is designed for smaller jobs.  But still its been fine and best of all its quiet and starts immediately.  Plus there is no gas to mix and spill.

If you have a smaller area to blow and don’t have killer storms, I highly recommend an electric snow blower and shovel.


 

 

 

Essential Winter Photography Equipment – A good pair of boots!

Winter Boots – I typically review photography equipment but the recent dumps of snow we’ve gotten lately (more snow than the last two years!), has made me re-evalute my winter footwear equipment.

At this point we have an inch of ice as a base layer followed by six inches of crust and then a layer of about 8 – 12 inches of fluffy snow.  On the sides of the road we have waist high snow plow created berms and then anything between ice and waist deep drifts of snow in the fields.

Time for new winter boots!
Time for new winter boots!

I can no longer keep putting off new winter boots.  My last pair must be about 10 years old and the soles are nearly worn through, the laces are long gone and water is seeping through holes in the sides.

I have several pairs of shoes for the winter:

A short pull on sneaker like shoe with very aggressive soles for when I’m walking in shoveled area. Mine are kind of like these from Merrell but mine were made by Salomon and have an even more aggressive soul.   When they came out on the market they were an entirely new kind of shoe.  Something you could slip on to go from the ski lodge to the car.  I don’t know why they stopped making them, they were very unique and different than anything I’ve seen since.  Mine and  my wife’s pairs are still going strong after about 12 years of use in the snow.

A mid-height insulated “duck hunter” type boot that great for wet sloppy stuff.  But I don’t like fiddling with the laces!

And a tall winter boot for deep snow, snowshoeing and snowblowing/shoveling the driveway.  Plus for jumping over banks and into drifts of deep snow to capture some winter photographs.

My criteria for winter snow boots is the following:

  • They have to be warm.
  • They have to be waterproof, at least on the bottom few inches.
  • They have to be easy to slip on and off as I’m going out to get firewood and have to come in an out several times.
  • They have to have a good grip on ice and snow.
  • No laces – I’m done with having to lace them or having the laces break constantly or come undone.
  • I have to be able to drive with them on.

I ended up getting these as my replacement for my old used up Sorrells.

Its a basic boot that meet the criteria I need to attack the drifts and climb the snow mounds.  Thick sole, high sides, no laces other than a pull string at the tip to close up the boot to snow, dirt, salt crystals or whatever.  Easy to pull on and off these will be great for tackling the rest of the winter season.

Kamik Men's Greenbay 4 Cold-Weather Boot
Kamik Men’s Greenbay 4 Cold-Weather Boot

The Kamik Men’s Greenbay 4 Cold-Weather Boot – 

Protects to -40! Kamik: an Inuit word meaning “foot covering.” Kamik Boots Company has operated over 100 years and, much like the Inuit, they know a thing or two about staying warm in the deep freeze. Waterproof; Flexible Duration 600 nylon uppers; Lace lock snow collar; Self-cleaning PULSE Rubber HE outsole; Removable Thermal Guard moisture-wicking lining; Rear pull-on loop; Rated to -40 Degrees F.; Each approximately 14″ height, 31 ounces; Imported; Half sizes, order the next larger full size. Kamik Greenbay Men’s Waterproof 4 Winter Boots, Black

You’ll scoff at wintery weather in this high-tech snow boot from Kamik. Constructed with a lightweight yet durable waterproof nylon shell, the Greenbay 4 features a removable felt liner and a lace-lock snow collar designed to keep warmth in and cold out. Rated to -40° Fahrenheit, the boot has a mid-foot adjustable Velcro closure strap to help keep the foot snug and a thick treaded rubber outsole for traction on slippery, icy surfaces.

FCC Disclaimer:  I purchased these boots myself.  No product was provided.

Winter Trip to the Cilleyville Bridge

Here in New Hampshire we recently experienced two blizzards within days with a bit more snow in the forecast. We had more snow this week then we’ve had in two years! So I’m feeling a bit of pressure to get out and photograph it.

The tricking part is finding the time between A. Being ordered by the Governor to stay off the roads unless its an emergency B. Shoveling out the driveway and C. Simply timing the weather.

Yesterday was 18 hours of snowfall, yesterday clouding and digging out but today was a great sunny winter day with temps in the mid-twenties which is down right balmy if you are well dressed. I decide to take a trip to a small covered bridge in Andover, NH called the Cilleyville Bridge. It always has a big American flag hanging on it so I knew that would look great against the snow. Here is what it looks like in the summer months:

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According to the local historians, the structure was built by a local carpenter by the name of Print Atwood. He was assisted by Al Emerson and Charles Wilson. Local folklore suggests that during construction, Emerson and Wilson became upset and cut some of the timbers short, causing the bridge to tilt. On the other hand, engineers might suggest that the tilt is caused by the very nature of the Town lattice truss design.

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The bridge was the last covered, and probably the shortest built in Andover. It was bypassed in 1959 and restricted to foot traffic. Located in the Cilleyville section of Andover, it was originally known as Bog Bridge. A Cilleyville Bridge was nearby, spanning the Blackwater river.

After it was torn down in 1908, the original Bog Bridge became known as the Cilleyville Bridge. The roof was reshingled in 1962 at a cost of $600. On March 9, 1982 the roof caved in from excessive snow load. The town repaired it in July 1982 for $3,400. The bridge was the model for the Shattuck murals of typical New Hampshire scenes which were once located in the State House in Concord. The Cilleyville Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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It was a great day out.  The sun warmed up the roads and melted the snow and ice so the drive over the foothills of the White Mountains on 4A was pleasant and I stopped along the way to photograph around the Shaker Village in Enfield.

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The only problem I ran into was that the snow was so high it kept getting into my 10-year-old Sorrel tall winter boots. I had to reach into my boots and pull out handfuls of snow from time to time which soaked my jeans. But at least it pushed me over the edge as far as buying a new pair of boots which I’ve been putting off. The heels on my old boots were basically gone and there were slashes in the sides. What I liked about the Sorrels was they were easy to slip in and out of and I could use them with snow shoes. What I didn’t like was the laces which never stayed tied and eventually I just removed.

I ordered a new pair of these boots from Kamik which are similar but don’t have any annoying laces. Kamik is a Canadian brand and if its anything the Canadian’s know about, its cold and snow. My son has had a pair of these for a few years and likes them.

 

More Covered Bridges: http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/covered+bridge

Finally a great dump of snow! Nordic skiing in the Upper Valley

After the last couple of years of crummy snow conditions it was great getting trip of blizzards this week!

Some people are getting up tight about snow days and the high school year being extended but who cares? My son’s a senior, his graduation day is set in stone. Bring on the snow!

If you live down in Florida or some place where you don’t have snow, this next video will give you an idea of what you are missing. Sure the shoveling is tough but its good exercise.

During the blizzard I like to stay off the roads and let the snow plow crews do their work. Nothing is worse than having to pull cars out of banks and ditches when the drivers could have just stayed at home or maybe planned ahead for that gallon of milk they do desperately needed in the middle of a blizzard.

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Luckily in my neighborhood I have this great big old dairy barn to photograph. Its wooden red exterior looks great in the billowing snow storm.

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I hiked through the woods, across the road to get these shots of the old red barn in the peak of the onslaught of snow flurries. It was coming down at about two inches an hour at this point and the snow was sliding off the metal roof from the wind blasts.

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Getting up close to the barn took a bit of doing.  I had my knee high boots on but had to deal with an incredibly steep bank created by the plows and then walk through the layers of ice, six inches of crust and then the eight inches or so of powder snow.

In contrast here is what the scene looks like in the summer time.

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Winter Photography

Winter is a great time to get out and explore the beautiful landscape especially if you are lucky enough to live in an area that gets great snow falls. Of course it all depend on if you can actually get out of the house and if the wife takes the four wheel drive car.

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Fortunately I live within walking distance to two great old red New England barns as well as the picturesque Hanover Center with its majestic white classic New England church.

When we can get out and play in the snow we like to head to a beautiful forest property where the owners grow trees, cut firewood and maintain a incredible cross country ski trails on the site of an old girl scout camp.

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Or if we have more time we like to head up to Stowe, Vermont and ski on the Trapp Family (yes the same Von Trapp’s from “The Sound of Music”) ski trails. They have a great network of trails and a cool old log cabin on the way up the mountain that serves soups and sandwiches.

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Another neat building on the property is this old stone chapel in the woods. The story goes that Verner Von Trapp built the “Chapel in the Woods” on a hillside behind the family home, in thanksgiving for his safe return from wartime service.

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We also live near Dartmouth College which presents good opportunities for photographs.

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But as far as getting winter shots in the middle of a snow storm with the roads full of snow and the wind whipping around, its best to set out on foot which is why my neighbor’s barn is such a good subject.

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I avoid being on the roads when its snowing if I can but this shot was taken on Christmas Eve when we were heading back home from Stowe, Vermont. I just had to find a spot to pull over and take a picture of this scene with horses, a small red barn and of course a snow flurry.

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