Publication Date 2-14-19

Okay, enough is enough.

I can take a joke, but this is ridiculous.

I’m getting a little tired of winter. Now, I’ve lived in Minnesota for 64 years. My family has lived here since 1880, and before that most of them came from Norway, which also has winter. Other than about nine people in Greenland, I should be as used to winter as anyone on the planet.
But, it’s barely the middle of February and I could snap at any moment – I’m three snowflakes away from signing up for a trip to Mars


It’s not just the snow. I can handle snow. The world has changed since I was a kid and we now have better tools for dealing with vast amounts of snow. For example, snowblowers. 

The other day, I went out to fire up our skid steer loader that has a blower. It was -17 degrees, but I’d had a heater on the engine so I was pretty sure it would start - probably start better than I had.

I was right, it fired right off. I let it warm up a while, kicked the snowblower into gear, and the engine died right down to nothing. I knew right away what had happened – the fuel had gelled. That’s what has me on the edge of hiding in my basement until May - the combination of snow AND crazy cold is making me a little...crazy.

For those of you lucky enough to know nothing about diesel engines in the winter, here’s the thing.  Diesel fuel contains paraffin. Paraffin is basically wax, and when it gets cold enough, the paraffin goes out of suspension and turns into – you guessed it - wax. Frozen wax does not flow through a fuel line as well as one might hope, and the result is an engine with not quite enough fuel.

There are various methods to work around this issue and I’d done most of them – supplemental heat, additives, etc.

What I hadn’t realized is that using SOME methods wasn’t good enough. I needed to use them all.

Back in the good old days when I still moved snow using a 1954 Minneapolis Moline Z with a Farmhand loader, I wouldn’t have had that problem. It ran on gasoline, which by itself is no guarantee of starting in cold weather, but there were a few more options for getting it running. I was once showed a cold weather starting tip by an old farmer. The fact that he actually died of old age seemed improbable, because his tip involved dipping a corn cob in the gas tank, lighting it on fire, and holding it under the bowl of the carburetor to help the gas vaporize. I’m not saying he wasn’t safety conscious, though. He pointed at the fuel line and said, “Try not to burn through that or we’ll have a hell of a mess.”
Solid tip.

Winter can make you do things that you otherwise wouldn’t consider. I had a friend who would leave a perfectly nice two-bedroom apartment and head to Texas every winter for a few months in a Scamp trailer roughly the size of a loaf of bread. Granted, it was just her and a little dog but…damn. 

Some people say they love winter. They’re out there snowmobiling, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing.

Don’t trust those people. 

Oh, well. There’s only two weeks left in February.  I did a little research and the latest recorded snowfall in Minnesota was June 4, 1935. That means there’s only 79 days of a possible snow season ahead of us. 

We can make it.

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