DIY Invention: Pedal Powered Snowplow
For some of us, shoveling snow is the only exercise we'll get all winter, and let's face it- it's a grueling workout. Why not lighten the load with a create-your-own, pedal-powered snowplow? By using an old riding lawnmower, a plow V-blade, and some old bike parts, you can have a little more fun with one of the most frustrating chores of the season. Unlike snow blowers or gas-powered snowplows, this concept uses no electricity, is 100% free of emissions, and made from mostly reused materials. It's said to be quite easy to operate and maneuver. With a plow blade that can be raised and lowered during operation, clearing a driveway or sidewalk has never been so easy or eco-conscious.
Kevin Blake of Mother Earth News says it took him 50 to 80 hours to complete the creation of his "pedal plow." He says, "Inspired by Monster Garage, I realized that I had access to a shop and the beginnings of a snowplow in my garage."
Blake provides his step-by-step instructions here. It appears you will have to be a fairly handy mechanic to complete the project yourself. Blake recommends you should start with the frame by modifying an old mower that will supply your plow with a seat, wheels, and transmission. Blake created much of his frame from scrap steel. For the drive train, Blake used old bicycle parts. By salvaging the complete steering system from the mower, you can avoid building you own steering system. Obviously, bicycle pedals will be the driving force behind the apparatus. And a new, v-shaped plow blade is ideal.
Blake says, "Using the pedal plow to clear a sidewalk is straight forward. You line it up and head down the middle." This way the V-Shaped blade pushes snow to the sides. For a driveway, however, he says it's a little bit more involved. He recommends driving down the middle, pushing snow left and right. For the next pass, he says to line up the V so it pushes snow in only one direction. Once this has been done, the snow will end up on the edges and at the end (where you'll have to shovel it).
According to Blake, John Gulland, author of "Make Electricity While You Exercise," said it best, "The critical factor in making pedal power a viable option is matching the expectations with realistic output." Blake recognizes that a snow blower is many times more powerful; however, he does describe one instance where he was able to plow his driveway faster than his neighbor who used a snow blower. He claims this is because snow conditions that day were more favorable to the plow.
Blake notes the shortcomings of the plow and also makes reference to plans for future ideas and refinements. Nonetheless, I think this concept is just downright cool. It's effective, fun, man-made, and most importantly - environmentally friendly.