The Kludge that could…
Shortly after the snow blower disappeared (Now You see It Now You Don’t), a friend of mine coincidently asked about a story I had written a while ago so in honor of the memory of Old Orangesides I offer this remembrance.
One large snowstorm ago (it was last year actually) I was battling the three-foot drifts that had accumulated in our driveway – to the extent that you couldn’t really tell there was a driveway at all – just this broad swirling white mesa where our driveway used to be. I was armed with our bright orange snow hurling beast purchased several years earlier when I first realized that reinforcements in the battle against Mother Nature would be required.
Of course that realization did not materialize until we were under siege, well into the winter season. Most of the stores I called were out of stock for the season and practically laughed at the idea that I would be trying to purchase such a machine at this particular time of year.
This reception was reminiscent of the reception my dad and I received when he decided to take me to a Giants football game for my 10th birthday and naively assumed he could pick up tickets at the stadium on the day of the game. Tickets? Are you for real?
Needless to say we returned home listening to the game on the radio with dad trying to console my youthful disappointment.
I continued undaunted and desperate however until I located the last snow hurling machines still in stock in Suffolk County. I knew next to nothing about these machines and was very pleased to have found one. It was big and shiny and equipped with some modern features to boot, e.g., an electric starter which owners of 1912 Cadillacs, the first cars to have electric starter motors learned, are a very useful option. I got the beast home settled in its new quarters and fully satiated with a tank of fresh gasoline, ready to do its business. Several days later we got another 3 inches and its maiden voyage went smoothly. Old Orange Sides became a faithful and reliable servant.
It wasn’t until later when the blizzards from hell hit with a vengeance, however that I realized the beast had more bark than bite… and was not much of a match for the wrath of Mother Nature on the few occasions we got serious accumulations (6 in. and more).
Fast forward to last year’s large storm…to make matters worse the wind was howling and spitting the snow that the snow hurling machine was feebly scooping up right back in your face. And worse yet, there had been some recent precipitation that converted the normally light fluffy stuff into a hard packed, dense Häagen-Dazs-like consistency which the snow hurling machine valiantly battled but armed with just 5 horses under its sheet metal, it was not really a fair fight. There was a lot more physical effort needed to keep Old Orangesides focused on the task and after about an hour I hadn’t made a significant dent. Then she just plain quit as if to say, Are you kidding me? Give me a break…. The motor was still running but the rotor gizmo that spits the snow wasn’t spinning.
After Googling about the problem I learned that the rotor has a shear pin that’s meant to break when the load is too great (to prevent greater damage from occurring when it jams) and here I was with another 60 ft of driveway to go and a 3 in. pin standing in my way. Since finding a replacement pin was out of the question I headed to the corner hardware store for some improvisational wizardry. This called for a good old-fashioned kludge…
A kludge (or kluge), pronounced kloo-ge, is a workaround, a quick-and-dirty solution, a clumsy or inelegant, yet effective, solution to a problem, typically using parts that are cobbled together
So I picked up a big honking cotter pin and lo and behold it did the trick. Not only did I finish off the rest of the driveway but the rest of the season as well. This year’s snow has been relentless so far and Old Orangesides was still chugging away, proud of its inelegant yet effective alternative shear pin.
Fast forward again to this season and the plethora of snow we’re received. After recovering from the shock of Old Orangesides disappearance I immediately began the search for a replacement. But once again I was shopping at the most inopportune time to purchase a snow blower and alas there were none to be had in Suffolk or Nassau counties or on-line for that matter. Sold out for the season. Anyone got any Giants tickets for sale?