We ordered a Wovel — a snow shovel with a 35 inch wheel for leverage — just before the predicted east coast Snowmaggedon of yesterday. It came in a huge box from Amazon, but the package inside wasn’t nearly as intimidating:
See how easy it is to use? The wench on the box is wearing a white jacket! No way is she expecting to interact with slush! Or even exert herself!
The Wovel is supposed to be much easier on backs than standard shovels, and also proof against coronaries in the inert who find themselves over-extended once winter hits. Allium has two damaged disks in his back, so this seemed worth a try. We’re not so worried about coronaries, but that may come.
I knew from relentless Internet research that the wheel would come in two pieces, which is why the box was so (relatively) small:
When I lifted the first parts out, the heaviest metal bits flew out of the box onto the hardwood floor. The protective plastic packaging saved the floor, but that reminded me of the first rule of assembly: Flatten the packing box and cover the work area with it.
Why was I assembling this in the house? I”m glad you asked. The tire, which must be attached to the wheel by the purchaser, needs to be warm and pliable for installation. As it turned out, the main rooms in our house, at 65 degrees, were too cold, so I had to take the wheel and tire upstairs and leave them in our much warmer office (68 degrees) before I could finish with it. (Wovel says 72 degrees and up, but 68 proved sufficient.)
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s everything that came in the box:
A few people on the innernets whined a lot about assembly, but this didn’t seem to be an extraordinary number of parts to me, and, although the instructions are IKEA-style, they were extremely clear. And,unlike IKEA’s, included some helpful text, too.
All the bolts are squared at the head, so they are stationery when the nuts are tightened, which made putting this together really simple for one person. Tools used:
The socket extension is highly advised for the bolts around the hub. Assembly involves putting the two halves of the wheel together, wrapping the tire around the wheel, assembling the handle, and then placing the wheel onto a hub, secured by a cotter pin.
It’s all very straightforward. The wheel assembly comes closest to being problematic, but even it was easy. Attaching the tire requires a bit of stretching (it’s why you want the rubber to be warm) and the rubber must be simultaneously pushed along the wheel and snapped into place. The tire must be locked firmly into channels on the wheel. This required some experimentation and some coordination, but I was still able to do it solo.
The Wovel is biiiig. Here it is in our kitchen:
Our model is W0208, which has a folding frame. This was an accident; it’s what Amazon had available. A few years ago — maybe even last year — getting an Wovel involved ordering it from Canada, which looked like something of a nightmare. Which is why we waited until now to get it. Given the size of this baby, though, going for the folding model would probably be smart if you want to maximize your storage options. Folding the handle just requires pulling a cotter pin.
For off-season storage, though, it might just make more sense to pull the cotter pin in the axle. Then you’d have a long, flat handle and the (likewise flat) wheel, both of which would hang easily, and well out of the way, on a garage wall.
Allium tested it an hour ago, and gives it a rave report (“It’s great!”). He says there’s no stress on the back at all, and made for the fastest driveway clearing ever. It’s a hit! I can’t help noting, too, that it’s a marvel of economical design, and that over-sized wheel? Too cool!
There’s an accessory edge for the blade to provide more durability; we bought that, too. It’s easily tapped into place. I couldn’t get to my rubber mallet, so I used a small hammer padded with multiple layers of terry cloth. Worked perfectly.
Wovel has a set of videos online illustrating assembly and use; I was glad I’d watched them last night. As a result, there were no surprises today. A CD comes with the kit; Allium watched it today while I did the assembly.
Using the Wovel is different from using a standard shovel: Basically you jerk the snow off the blade, keeping the Wovel upright and tossing the snow off and ahead of the Wovel. You pivot rather than leaning in order to put the snow where you want. So you jerk, but don’t tilt, and you pivot, but don’t lean.
We practiced in the kitchen. A few passes, and it felt very natural.
Disclaimer: No one has paid, or provided any consideration, for this post.