Janesville81.6°

Roper the snowblower - year 41

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Steve Knox
November 18, 2012

The 7-day forecast looks pretty quiet but I took the time to prepare this afternoon. After mowing for what I think will be the last time I decided to place the mower in the 'finished' position and pulled out Roper…better known as my 41 year old snowblower. There's a bit of debate in the family on the actual age but the owners manual has a copyright of 1971. It's 41 years old in my book.

Roper, with the Tecumseh motor, started snow blowing at my Great Grandpa Arthur Galbrecht's house on Milton Avenue. After Great Grandpa passed away Roper found a home on Eisenhower Avenue. Grandpa Norm Galbrecht used him for almost 20 years before he landed in my parents garage sometime in the late 1990s. Dad used the old fella for a number of years until my buddy eventually wound up landing in my garage.

Roper has served me well. He dug me out of the record snowfall in December 2000. I had a 'wall of snow' built between my driveway and my neighbor's drive. I usually took care of her drive so the wall we created was massive. I think Roper was proud of his construction.

There were times when I thought Roper was ready to roll into snowblower heaven. At the absolute worst times…big snow...I'd pull and pull but he wouldn't start. I'd wear my rotator cuff out, call the best doctor a kid could have (Dad) and he'd magically start Roper in one pull. Of course, he'd never let me live that down.

Recently, I've prepared for old man winter. I'd have the new plug in, the oil changed and the tires pumped well in advance for the feet and feet of power and heavy white stuff. The moment the snow would fly, Roper would start on the first pull. Guaranteed. As I'd engaged my old buddy it was almost like Roper was 'chomping at the bit' to chew some snow. While we haven't had a ton of snow in the last few years, old Roper certainly enjoyed wandering the neighborhood. He especially liked the bottom of the driveways after the plow came by. It's like his molars were in overdrive.

After putting that mower away this afternoon (no name for him), I pulled Roper out so he could take a look at his surroundings. Dad and I replaced a few squares of driveway this fall so there wasn't going to be a massive bump for him (or me). He rested quietly in the driveway, soaking up the sun, as I put a new spark plug in and changed his oil. His tires? Pumped up just the way he likes them.

After about 20 minutes…the moment of truth. I opened his gas line, pumped his primer five times and gave him a pull. A light puff of smoke came from his rusting exhaust, he coughed for a few seconds but then took off…just like Roper always does. I dropped him into the highest gear and we headed to the end of the driveway and back before closing the gas line and letting him take a rest.

Yeah, Roper's ready for whatever old man winter brings this year. Me? Honestly, I enjoy roaming the neighborhood just as much as Roper does. Those nights when all the snowblowers idle in the street while the owners sip on a few chilled beverages is all good. Yeah, we're weird. I'm ok with that :-)

Happy 41st birthday Roper. I'm glad you're ready for the change in seasons.

Are you ready?



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