The wovel ("Wheel Shovel") is not a software application, but a real life tool for snow removal. My review of it going to consist of two components. A brief, hopefully concise, review followed by a mess of a longer review with backstory and comparative experience with other means of snow removal.Assembly
The wovel comes together remarkably easily. The included instructions (with additional installation tips on DVD) are accurate and thorough. It's an easy, one man job requiring only a screwdriver and crecent wrench. There are 4 positions to mount the wheel on to adjust whether more leverage goes to the scoop or the arms; this is easily changed via quick release in a fashion similar to bicycle wheels. Removing the wheel also makes it much easier to store. There are four positions for the handle to be mounted in to accomodate different operator heights. I initially set it to the highest setting (suggested for >5'7") but might drop it down one.The Assembled Product
While I haven't had it long enough to do an over-time durability analysis, I do believe that it's going to last a great while. It's comprised of well fitting, well made parts. There are no moving parts to speak of short of the wheel itself, so there's really no concern over mechanical difficulty. As with any shovel, the blade will experience wear--replacement parts are sold on their website. You can also purchase an optional metal blade guard to affix to the front of the blade. ( I wish that this was included with the Wovel; the fact that it isn't is probably an indicator that the blade is more durable than I give it credit for, however. )Wovel in Action
After finishing my initial run with the Wovel there were three primary things that were very clear to me.First
, which was a shock for me, was the fact that it could forward plow in a single pass every bit as much snow as the big scoop shovel I'd previously used--quite possibly more. I expected it to be quite the opposite. The Wovel blades vertical orientation, allows it to move a great deal of snow at a time with less snow spilled over the sides than I'm accustomed to. This translates to far less going back over already cleared parts afterwards to clean up.Secondly
, I finished up extraordinarily faster than I'd ever before. No exaggeration, I finished in less than half the time it usually takes me to clear the same amount of snow. The wovel easily plows through the snow and afterwards throws it effortlessly up onto or over the piles. In contrast to the pained plowing of the big scoop and excruciating process of forcing the snow up onto hills, I am absolutely smitten with the wovel. The quality of my driveway clearing is the same as before and the resulting hills are pretty much the same, too. I did the same job faster, easier. While I won't attempt to compete with expensive multiple cycle blowers, I feel comfortable saying I could clear any reasonable sized surface faster and better with a wovel than a single cycle snow blower could.Finally
, the way I felt when I finished. A previous shoveling session left me drained, exhausted and sore. My initial shoveling session with the wovel left me feeling satisfied and invigorated. I worked my lower and upper body a bit, obviously, but nowhere near the point of fatigue. There was absolutely no strain on my trunk or neck.Conclusion
The contrast between woveling and shoveling was, for me, nothing short of staggering. Short of expensive and complicated machinery, the Wovel is by far the best tool for snow removal. Added benefits are physical exercise, you don't emit toxic gasses into the atmosphere, no trouble starting it (or fueling it or oiling it). In a few minutes, I'm going to be going out for another woveling session -- and quite honestly, I'm looking forward to it. For anyone who has snow to contend with and finding their current method less than perfect, I cannot strongly enough reccommend the Wovel.
The narrative-slash-comparitive-slash-digressing Wovel reviewIntroduction
I live in Northern Maine, where winters are no joke. This year alone we've already had over one hundred and thirty inches dumped on is; with a couple months left of snow season, there's more still to come. Subsequently, during the winter months I am resonsible for a significant amount of snow removal. I do not have a plow affixed to the front of my pickup, as so many (Most!) here do nor do I own a snow blower.
The first thing you should know is the amount of snow I have to remove -- if I only had a small walkway to worry about, I wouldn't be scrutinizing the tools I use. I have a two car garage--the drive way, obviously, has a width sufficient to accommodate it and is comparable in length. The surface area that has to be shoveled is more than can be handled with your trusty grain shovel if it's in excess of an inch. Additionally, I have to maintain a walk way for the delivery of fuel for our heater.
Up until now, I have used a "Big Scoop" push shovel -- which is essentially a man powered plow. While it can be used to remove significant amounts of snow, it requires a great deal of effort -- especially when the hills you're pushing snow onto start piling up to masses that look more tractor than man made. A typical shoveling session concludes with me generally aching from top to bottom, panting quite heavily as you might imagine. With it, I could relatively comfortably handle 4 or 5 so inches of light to medium density snow; anything in excess of that (or more than 3 or 5 inches of higher density (wet) snow) would usually result in two shoveling sessions to finish it, each ending in complete exhaustion and fatigue. I'll continue to mention the big scoop throughout this as it is the only other man-powered means of snow removal I am aware of for removing non-trivial amounts of snow.
To keep up with heavy snow fall -- 8+ inches, it's imperative to shovel in intervals, making sure an amount doesn't settle on the ground that is impossible to remove sans heavy machinery. During a heavy snow storm this can mean being out shoveling as often as every three to four hours. Complete exhaustion multiple times a day can really make a body loathe snow.Enter: The Wovel.
The "Wovel" is so named as it is, literally, a wheeled shovel. It's a big shovel attached to a big wheel. I discovered the wovel while searching for a picture of the Big Scoop. While looking at a product listing on Amazon.com, I saw a related product listing--a giant wheel with a shovel affixed. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever seen, had a good chuckle, and proceeded to take a look at it to see what garbage they were peddling to unscrupulous individuals. After reading about it, the testimonials and viewing the demonstrations online, however, my interest was piqued. I jokingly mentioned it to my wife--I was mildly interested, but skeptical. As it happened, they were also running a mid-season sale, cutting the price by 35% -- later that day, my wife informed me my wovel would be arriving in a week. I cringed, still not convinced it would possibly be everything it claimed to be.
It arrived in a white box that featured its logo and web address -- which sparked an amusing little discussion with the delivery man about my having purchased a giant wheel with a shovel on it.
The wovel went together amazingly easily, requiring only a screwdriver and crescent wrench (not included). I've had to put together quite a few pieces of furniture and toys over the years--I have never in my life encountered a product with such clear and accurate installation instructions. There was no second guessing, no scrutinizing over which screw/nut/bolt to use. I remember marveling over the instructions, saying to myself, "If the quality of these instructions are any indicator of its ability to remove snow..."
The Wovel also included a DVD, which is a concise introduction to woveling. It's brief and contains good information on proper use of the wovel to get the most out of it. It even goes so far as to include strategies on various shapes and sizes of surface areas of snow removal. It concludes with some installation tips. Apparently it was meant to be viewed prior to assembly -- fortunately, the aforementioned instructions were more than sufficient for assembly.
After putting it together, a strange thing happened--it didn't snow for two to three weeks. The one time this winter I want snow, it's actually holding off. By the time it snowed--last night--the excitement over the wovel had worn off. I no longer wanted it to snow, and while I was curious about how well it would work I, I was no longer so excited as to hope for snow. It became an untested tool, rather than a marvelous toy. I think this is for the best though--as my initial impression will not be curbed by excitement over a new toy nor will it be marred by disappointment over something I had high hopes for.Woveling
The woveling technique begins with a forward plowing of snow, much like I'd previously employed with the big scoop. What makes the wovel unique, however, is what happens at the end of that plowing. While still moving forward, you press down firmly on the handle to raise the scoop. This is done quickly. Done properly, the snow flies up and forward as the wheel hops off the ground. While it takes a few tries to get used to throwing the snow while moving forward, it is really quite easy to do. The coordination is not difficult and it doesn't require nearly as much physical strength/energy as one might expect. One consideration: be sure to lean forward a bit doing it, lest you force the bar down onto your forward knee. That hurts!
The snow on the ground this morning was, really, the ideal benchmark for the wovel. Three to five inches on the ground, on the heavier end of the mid-weight wetness; it wasn't not slush, but certainly not a light powder, either. It was the perfect "average" snow quantity to remove -- the kind of snow that previously I would finish fatigued and exhausted.
I started with the narrow walkway I maintain for fuel delivery. Really, it was the worst place to start with a new tool as it's just a single shovel wide and the terrain beneath it is uneven as a result multiple snows, drifting, melting and refreezing and receiving less attention than the driveway. The wovel blade is oriented significantly differently than that of my big scoop. The big scoop basically lays on its back and slides accross the ground while the wovel blade is more upright, angling the blade to the ground. Because of this difference in blade orientation, I really couldn't just plow forward with the wovel as I had with the big scoop. This served as good training with the actual snow throwing: move forward a bit til I hit a surface peak, throw the snow to the side, repeat. At this point I realized how little forward momentum is needed to toss the snow. Just a slight forward motion while pushing the handle down is sufficient to send it away. I initially thought the wovel more awkward for clearing that awful walkway than the big scoop or grain shovel. However, upon finishing, two things were immediately apparent to me. (1) That was the fastest I'd ever cleared the walkway (2) That was the easiest I'd ever cleared the walkway. Though working with a new tool, I was already out performing my other tools. The only downside was that I had not yet worked hard enough to get sufficient endorphins to chase my hangover away.
From there I moved on to the real deal, the driveway. My driveway is a much kinder surface than the walkway -- and woveling on it was, quite honestly, a pleasure. In terms of agility/maneuverability, it's on par with the big scoop for the most part. I generally same clearing method/path as before.
After finishing, there were three primary things that were very clear to me.
The first, which was a shock for me, was the fact that it could forward plow in a single pass every bit as much snow as the big scoop (quite possibly more). I expected it to be quite the opposite. The Wovel's blade is the same width, but lacks the big bucket. Its vertical orientation, however, allows it to pile snow higher. The other benefit of this vertical orientation is much, much less snow is spilled over the sides during a pass. This translates to far less going back over already cleared parts afterwards to clean up.
Secondly, I finished up extraordinarily faster than I'd ever before. No exaggeration, I finished in less than half the time it usually takes me to clear the same amount of snow. The wovel easily plows through the snow and afterwards throws it effortlessly up onto or over the piles. In contrast to the pained plowing of the big scoop and excruciating process of forcing the snow up onto hills, I am absolutely smitten with the wovel. The quality of my driveway clearing is the same as before and the resulting hills are pretty much the same, too. I did the same job faster, easier. While I won't attempt to compete with expensive multiple cycle blowers, I feel comfortable saying I could clear any reasonable sized surface faster and better with a wovel than a single cycle snow blower could. And this is without worrying about fuel/oil mixing and mechanical problems.
Finally, the way I felt when I finished. A previous shoveling session left me drained, exhausted and sore. My initial shoveling session with the wovel left me feeling satisfied and invigorated. I worked my lower and upper body a bit, obviously, but nowhere near the point of fatigue. There was absolutely no strain on my trunk or neck. The contrast between woveling and shoveling is, for me, nothing short of staggering.