Push It…Scoop It…Shovel It

Portland-Press-HeraldWinter weather is pretty tricky in Maine. You’ve got your ice storms, your 2-foot-deep slush storms, your all-out blizzards and the always popular snowstorms followed by freezing rain. The latter leaves your driveway looking like a well-baked pie – nice firm crust on the outside, soft and tender inside.

So it figures that to deal with Maine’s winter weather, you’d need some pretty clever gadgets, and a wide array at that. If you’re the kind of person who’d rather not deal with a gas-powered snow blower, or the extension cords needed for some other powered snow removal gizmo, then you might think your options are limited.

Over the last few years, the hottest trend has been the increase in ergonomic shovels, the so-called “back savers” with curved or bent handles for less stress on the back. Wheels, believe it or not, are now an option on snow shovels and snow pushers.

Take, for instance, the Wovel, a new product being marketed by Structured Solutions, a small company out of New Canaan, Ct. The Wovel consists of a 34-inch wheel affixed in the middle of a long shovel. On one end of the wheel is the handle while on the other end is the scoop of the shovel. As you roll the contraption along, the scoop picks up snow. A simple flick of the wrist while holding the handle will dump the snow where you want, says Hank Pohl, marketing director for the Wovel’s makers.

The Wovel is available only through catalogs and via the Internet (www.wovel.com) and retails for $119.95. The whole tool is 6-feet long, and is made of plastic and steel.

The Wovel was created by Mark Noonan, an inventor who has worked for defense companies. He hurt his back shoveling and wanted to find a way to prevent that from occurring again. “You get all the leverage from the wheel, so you’re not using your back at all,” says Pohl. “You just push it along like a shopping cart.”While Pohl says the Wovel can handle any amount of snow; other wheeled snow shovels are designed for lighter snow amounts.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:rrouthier@pressherald.