The Shovel

This forum is for first time users or beginners
User avatar
Igloo Ed
Posts: 329
Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:44 pm
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Contact:

The Shovel

Post by Igloo Ed » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:38 pm

The correct shovel can make it much easier to build the igloos.
A scoop shovel is the correct type of shovel to use. Most backcountry shovels are of this type but most models have deficiencies of some kind.
The current trend by shovel manufactures is to produce avalanche shovels that will dig into hard packed snow that results from an avalanche. The blades are being made to small to work for building igloos with the ICEBOX® and it takes some searching to find a suitable size blade. Also the ends of the blades are being produced with a point or even multiple points to help the shovel penetrate easier into very hard snow. The end of the shovel blade for building the igloos should be flat so the snow can be swept up efficiently and also so the floor and ledge can be made flat.
The blade should be metal as they are thinner than the plastic blades and will penetrate better when digging out the door and trench in hard packed snow.
Some of the larger blades are also being produced with multiple curves in the bucket so the blade is strong enough and can be made of thinner aluminum. These multiple curves make it harder to pitch a nice load of snow into the ICEBOX®. These blades tend to spread the snow out as it leaves the shovel.
The multiple curves in the bucket also serve a function of breaking up the snow as the blade penetrates when chopping out blocks from a hard drift. Breaking up the blocks is fine but the thing I find with them is that the blocks don't break evenly and the shovel ends up twisting and consequently twisting my wrist. I don't like how that feels and I also find it hard to control the shovel well enough to maintain a clean quarry.
The shovel handles are also being made to short for getting the snow to the top of the igloo and also to short, causing one to bend over farther to pick up a load of snow. You will not find a shovel to long.
When we first started building igloos with the ICEBOX®, we used a Life-Link "HMX-T" shovel. It served it's purpose very well over the years but finally chopping some clear ice bent the blade so it wasn't as strong anymore after straitening it again.
After the blade got bent, I was able to order a Life-Link "HMX-D" which was the same exact shovel the T model was except it had a D shaped handle. This D effectively made the shovel a few inches longer and I could tell that it made it easier. I also like the D shape for using with mittens.
Then I started needing another shovel when I had friends come along who didn't have their own shovel. I tried to buy another HMX shovel but they had been discontinued and the "Pit Boss" replaced it. I purchase a Pit Boss and liked it pretty good, mostly because the blade held more snow, but the shovel was shorter and also had the multiple curves in the bucket. It felt great to get a bigger load in the shovel each time but it was the absolute pits trying to maintain a clean quarry when chopping out the snow.
I then figured I'm make my own shovel and see what a difference it makes. I wanted a bigger blade so I used the blade from a Life-Link "Himalaya" shovel and the D handle from the HMX shovels.
This required a bit of adapting as the hole in the new blade was tapered and the handle was a strait tube. To make it fit together properly, I first dipped the end of the handle into hot wax to make it just a little bit bigger and then filled the gap between the handle and blade with epoxy. After the epoxy cured, I put heat through the handle with a torch until the wax melted and I could pull the handle out. I then drilled a hole through the blade and pole in which I used a pin to hold the two together.
The shovel I ended up with is quite the beauty but it is probably just a tiny bit to much. I find the length is just a little bit unwieldy and the snow load can be to big when reaching high to place the snow. But I do prefer it over all the other shovels I've mentioned.
The HMX-T was 41 inches long when extended and the D model was 44 inches long extended. My homemade shovel is 50.5 inches long, which I think is a bit to long at times. I have drilled a few holes in the handle so I can shorten it up a bit and try to find my ideal length.
The blades on the HMX are 10 inches wide and the one on my homemade shovel is just over 11 inches wide. The actual bucket in the blade is longer also by about 2 inches. This results in a lot more snow with each shovel full.
All the Life-Link shovels I've mentioned have been discontinued and I cannot find a suitable shovel on their web page so I did a little looking around and found a Voile shovel that is the closest to correct I've seen. It is called a Telepro Avalanche Shovel and measures 39.5 inches long when extended and the blade is the same length and width as my HMX blades but the blade looks to be a bit bigger bucket because it is not as tapered as the HMX blades.
Here's a link to the Voile shovel: http://www.voile-usa.com/Merchant2/merc ... gory_Code=
The one problem is the curved end of the blade, although it is close to flat, I would suggest cutting the very end off so it is strait.
So far I've been talking about "The perfect shovel" but when there are more people and more than one person shoveling the person putting the snow into the form could use a cheap plastic shovel. The snow would be soft and the shovel doesn't need to be as strong as the one chopping out snow from a hard drift. It still needs to be a scoop shovel but not a metal one.
I found one in a grocery store but the handle is pretty short. The price was right though at $11.50 Here it is on the web: http://www.emscogroup.com/products/category?id=27 The blade is the right shape and size but the extended length is only 34.5 inches but it is better than using a wide sidewalk shovel.
Another trend by shovel manufactures is to make the telescoping tubes some kind of shape so they don't rotate inside each other and can be deployed quickly when needed in an avalanche situation. The trouble that I see with this is when ice gets into the tubes and locks them up. On the round tubes, I just twist the handle and it breaks the ice free. This isn't going to happen if the tubes won't rotate inside each other. The only choice would be to slam it into something hard and break the ice that way.

Hiatus
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 1:29 pm

Re: The Shovel

Post by Hiatus » Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:36 am

I'm going to give this shovel a try: http://www.hopkinsmfg.com/17211.html. All plastic, D handle, extended length 37", blade is 9.5" wide by about 13" long. Very light weight and only $10 at HomeDepot.

I'll let you know how well this works. I might extend the handle. The volume might be too small.

User avatar
Igloo Ed
Posts: 329
Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:44 pm
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Contact:

Re: The Shovel

Post by Igloo Ed » Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:41 pm

Hiatus wrote:I'm going to give this shovel a try: http://www.hopkinsmfg.com/17211.html. All plastic, D handle, extended length 37", blade is 9.5" wide by about 13" long. Very light weight and only $10 at HomeDepot.

I'll let you know how well this works. I might extend the handle. The volume might be too small.
The volume might not be to bad, the bucket is pretty deep and the Life Link length of blade includes the neck for the handle. The correct volume is around ten full shovels full to fill and pack the form full.
Yes, you'll want to extend the handle if you can but if you don't mind stooping over...
You can lay on the igloo to get the top built.
Looks like I might be doing another demo on Jan. 17th in RMNP in conjunction with Jax snowshoe demo. I'm waiting to hear back on a confirmation.

red_dog
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:06 pm

Re: The Shovel

Post by red_dog » Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:39 am

I was down at the Folsom , CA REI store the other day picking up the new Ice Box that I had ordered and I bought a Voile shovel. It is the cheaper one with the yellow blade. Fully extended, the shovel measures almost 40 inches. It might be a little short. I'm just getting started with winter camping and while I'm waiting for some more fresh snow here in the Sierras, I thought I'd get prepared. I'll let you know how this shovel works out.

User avatar
Igloo Ed
Posts: 329
Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:44 pm
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Contact:

Re: The Shovel

Post by Igloo Ed » Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:48 pm

red_dog wrote:I was down at the Folsom , CA REI store the other day picking up the new Ice Box that I had ordered and I bought a Voile shovel. It is the cheaper one with the yellow blade. Fully extended, the shovel measures almost 40 inches. It might be a little short. I'm just getting started with winter camping and while I'm waiting for some more fresh snow here in the Sierras, I thought I'd get prepared. I'll let you know how this shovel works out.
I've been hoping to hear back on how the shovel works.
I've also recently came across a shovel that'll work fine: http://www.avalanche-center.org/store/bca-chugach.html
I just had a friend stop by with one and it looks to be just right.

red_dog
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:06 pm

Re: The Shovel

Post by red_dog » Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:05 pm

I'm leaving for the mountains in about an hour. We had a nice storm that dumped some new snow and I'm taking advantage of it. I'll let you know about the shovel when I get back. This will be my first igloo build, my son is helping.

User avatar
Igloo Ed
Posts: 329
Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:44 pm
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Contact:

Re: The Shovel

Post by Igloo Ed » Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:49 pm

red_dog wrote:I'm leaving for the mountains in about an hour. We had a nice storm that dumped some new snow and I'm taking advantage of it. I'll let you know about the shovel when I get back. This will be my first igloo build, my son is helping.
Start small! Have a good time.

red_dog
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:06 pm

Re: The Shovel

Post by red_dog » Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:40 am

My Voile shovel worked great. My son did the gathering and shoveling. The snow was mostly newly fallen Sierra powder and he could heap the shovel up and the snow packed very nicely. I guess he pretty much conformed to your standard of 10 shovelfuls or less per block. My son is pretty tall and for him, the handle may have been a little short but for me it was fine.

Ken
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:03 pm

Re: The Shovel

Post by Ken » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:38 pm

I found 3 different life-link shovel models for pretty good prices here: http://www.sierratradingpost.com/Life-Link.html
( get on their mailing list and wait for a 20% off one item discount coupon! ... they seem to send one every couple of days)

Ken

shapeshifter
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 8:40 pm

Re: The Shovel

Post by shapeshifter » Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:56 pm

Igloo Ed wrote:I've also recently came across a shovel that'll work fine: http://www.avalanche-center.org/store/bca-chugach.html
I just had a friend stop by with one and it looks to be just right.
my bca chugach pro just arrived today!
somehow totally missed this post while researching shovel options.
feels pretty good to have my assumptions confirmed... yes, i would have to concur, this shovel looks like it will be just right!

Image

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest