Tag Archives: snow blower

How to get rid of old gasoline, the hard way

Every other year or so we take the lawn mower to a local business, A. W. Brown, to it have cleaned and the blades sharpened. They remind us that it’s important to run the engine completely dry at the end of the season and not to use the leftover gas the following spring. The same rule applies to snow blowers. So what is one supposed to do with the leftover gas? Put it in the car’s gas tank, says A. W.

It sounds counter-intuitive to me to put old gas in a $25,000 car and not in a $500 lawn mower.  I brought this up at the gas station yesterday and some guy said it was because the car’s gas tank is so much bigger it can absorb the impurities in the old gas more easily than the little gas tanks can. That made sense to me, but what do I know? More to the point, what does he know? This wasn’t the service station guy, just someone getting gas for his own lawn mower. But I trust A. W. Brown and he said that’s what we should do so that’s what we were going to do—for the first time in the sixteen years he’s been telling us that. Maybe if we’d followed his advice earlier we wouldn’t be such regular customers.

I pump my own gas and I love the way it smells, so pouring gas from a can into a car seemed like a simple enough project for me to manage, but I quickly discovered that it required more than two hands. The first problem was that our two-gallon plastic gas can (which clearly can’t be a can if it’s plastic, but you get the idea) was awkward to manage with one hand. But even if I could have, the funnel that we use to get gas into the lawn mower was too short to push open the metal flap that covers the opening where the gas goes into the car.

plastic funnel

To do that, we needed to stick something through the funnel. I had just the thing. Before I’d gotten distracted by what was meant to be a five minute project emptying old gas into the car, I’d been uprooting dandelions with this:

dandelion tool

Even with four hands and the clever application of a tool for something other than its intended purpose, we weren’t quite there. We needed a smaller container for gas; something I could hold with one hand. A quick trip to the basement turned up another, smaller, funnel and a plastic bottle that we were willing to sacrifice to the project.  Thus armed, we returned to the strip of lawn that runs alongside our driveway to attempt transfer number one. Andrew held the smaller funnel in the bottle while I poured gas into it. I got some on my hands and some on the lawn, but mostly it went into the bottle.

Next, Andrew put the original funnel into the car and inserted the dandelion tool through it to push the flap open. I then poured the contents of the small plastic bottle into the funnel. It worked. Elated, we did it again, and again, and a few more agains, until both our good spirits and the gas can were drained. Then it was off to the gas station to refill the can so the cycle could begin again.

Today’s errand? A trip to the hardware store for one of these:

gas can with spout

Welcome to spring!


Blow this!

Raking leaves is my least favorite activity in the universe next to shoveling snow. I’m convinced that shoveling and raking, done the old-fashioned way, are a good way to bring on a heart attack. Even so, we don’t own a leaf blower. We do, however, own a snow blower. I used to stand at the end of my driveway, leaning pathetically on the shovel handle, coughing conspicuously, hoping a passing plow would stop and finish the job for me. Then we got a small, compact snow blower that never seemed to work right, particularly if the snow was too heavy or too high, which was always. A couple of years ago, a family friend downsized and gave us their considerably more macho machine and we were thrilled to be able to trade up.

Now, can we agree that snow is to snow blower as leaf is to leaf blower? If so, why are the former coveted, and the latter demonized?

Residents of my town have been squabbling for weeks now, about a mid-May through mid-October ban on gas leaf blowers, voted on by Town Meeting last spring. Apparently, Town Meeting does not always have the last word. If you disagree with a decision, as did a consortium of landscapers doing business in Arlington, all you need to do is collect a certain number of signatures and you can compel the town to hold a special election. The cost of running a special election, even with drastically reduced hours for the polls to be open, is reported to be between $25,000 and $30,000, which I imagine would buy the town all kinds of useful tools, if we had the money, which we don’t.

There is, however, a trick to a special election. The instigators can’t win, even if they have more votes, unless at least 20% of the registered voters in town vote the way they want them to, in this case, No. As it happens, the No votes missed the required number by the hair of their chinny chin chins. Yes, it was close.

The Attorney General now has up to 90 days to approve the change and, assuming they do, we wait another couple of weeks so the town can advise its citizens of the change through advertisements in the local paper. By then it could be mid-October, and the leaf blowers won’t have missed a day of blowing. And then, I expect the argument will begin all over again.

At first I was sympathetic to those who wanted to reverse the ban. Then I started watching landscapers more closely and discovered that leaf blowers are used to blow all kinds of things, including dirt, off driveways. Dirt. Off driveways.

You know why you don’t hear people complaining that they can’t use their snow blowers in August? It’s because snow blowers are really only good for one thing, blowing snow. I’m guessing we wouldn’t be having this discussion if leaf blowers were restricted to blowing leaves. But since they’re not, I have a plan.

If the people who want to be able to tidy up their property, year round, by blowing dirt, persist in trying to overturn this ban, I’m going to collect signatures for a special election so we can vote on whether or not to rename leaf blowers “everything-but-snow blowers.” If that passed, we’d at least all be arguing about the same thing, and the next time they tried to overturn the ban, the opposition would blow them away.