In California’s present drought, trees are dropping leaves in record quanities. We have always hated leaf blowers, because of the noise they make, because trees are supposed to have leaves around them, and because of the fuel they burn to perform work that is kind of fun to do by hand.
I must admit that there are places we care for where the leaf buildup can become not only inconvenient, but an invitation for fire. An example is my escape barn in the Sacramento Valley, which is crammed with machinery and is surrounded by oak trees providing leaves to be blown into the barn in great heaps. In order to clean the leaves out it is necessary to remove all of the contents of the barn, which is a major job. Another is our driveway and yard walks, which are covered with gravel, and challenge one to rake up the leaves without the gravel accompanying them. So we finally invested in a small, hand-held four-cycle blower (quiet) to loosen up the worst and most difficult to reach areas of dead-leaf accumulation.
But the device turned out to be both tempermental and difficult to maintain. And even it made too much noise, so I decided to permanently take it up to my barn. A couple of days ago I decided to take it apart and find out what its troubles were, and found that it was clearly designed to make it so impossible to repair that the owner would buy a new one. One obvious problem had to do with the pull-rope starting mechanism. To begin with, the first step required removing a large number of Torx screws (fortunately I had the proper tools) and unsnapping a couple of stubborn plastic latches in order to remove a cover which seemed like it was covering the starting mechanism. Upon doing so I found I still had not reached the starting mechanism (and also that the blower fan was loose, but tightening it was rather easy). I then set about to remove the next layer, and naturally a different size of Torx wrench was needed. I then decided to get onto the internet and find a shop manual for the thing, since there must have been an easier way to reach the starting mechanism, but of course I failed. But while looking through the internet I came across a page advertising a leaf blower I had not heard of. It is here.
The Ego Leaf Blower! It sounded interesting. It cost quite a bit, but I am a believer that within a couple of hundred years we will be looking back in disbelief at how dependent on fire we were for energy. And I think the change will be traumatic for some of us. so we had better be starting now. Electricity seems to be the best way we have of distributing energy, so we had better learn how to generate enough of it cleanly and develop the storage necessary to take better advantage of the sun. And after all, one of my sons who is devoting his life to Tesla Motors and the environment had successfully brain washed me, and here was a blower with a decent sized Lithium ion battery. It would not make nearly as much noise as a two cycle (or even four cycle) gasoline engine, and it seemed like it would move some serious leaf piles.
So we went off to Home Depot to look at one, and everything seemed as described on the internet. Unfortunately the store policy prohibited fully charged batteries in the store, so we could not test it. But the Home Depot folk told me to take it home and try it, and I could bring it back if not satisfied—clearly they were sure I would be. So I took it home, charged it up, and asked my wife to give it a short late evening trial. Wow! There are three speeds, low, high, and more than needed, an easy trigger system, and no on-off switch. Just pick it up and squeeze the trigger. And of course no gas and oil to mix and check, no chøke, no warming up, etc. Allegedly a full charge will last an hour, which is more than we need. And it certainly does blow. Tomorrow my wife will check it out at greater length.
I very seldom vouch for a product without using it a year or so, but this one just seems to be nicely timed, since most people I know are fed up with the sound of two cycle gas engines, and present battery-operated blowers are fairly weak. As soon as we use it long enough to discover its shortcomings (there will undoubtedly be some) I will apologize for this post, and give you a more measured impression of the Ego Blower (I do like the name). But I doubt that we will take it back tomorrow.