Monday, January 19, 2009

Craftsman 1350 B&S 27" Snowblower

Last January (2008) I decided to take the plunge and pick up a snowblower. We had a crazy year for snow in this part of the world and it was getting to the point that I couldn't get the snow out of my driveway because of the size of the snowbanks. 

My selection was limited at the time because everyone else in the world also decided at the same time to do the same. After much searching I found a Craftsman model (Craftsman 1350 B&S 27") that was only backordered 3 weeks. (that was good at the time!) Anyway, I jumped at it. 

It has been almost a year now that I've had it so I thought I would write a review. 

Things didn't start off well with this machine. The 3rd time I used it I had a major failure. A pully that drives the augar snapped in two. Of course, since this was a very common problem in that model (according to the repair guy) I had to wait two weeks (and two major storms) for a replacement.  

Since then it has worked relatively well. 

The good
  • Throws snow like a demon. Easily throws snow 30'. (be careful of cars and windows!)
  • Starts effortlessly with the electric start
  • Doesn't mind the odd stone (I have a crushed rock driveway and thus blew as much stone as snow until it froze)
The bad
  • The controls freeze quite easily and require manual intervention to free
  • Eats gas (I'm not sure if this is common in snow blowers)
  • The drift cutters won't stay adjusted and keep falling
  • The reverse gear is almost useless
I don't have a lot of exposure to these as this is my first one snow thrower. I'm guessing that there are better models out there than this one and I would try a different one next time. That being said, it has saved me a LOT of shoveling again this year and I'm happy every time that can leave the shovel in the garage. 

Friday, January 16, 2009


I thought that I should put a mention in here about a previous article that I wrote for Duckworks Magazine. The article documents my build of my ROAR2 rowboat, designed by  Jim Michalak 

I got a lot of positive feedback from the article. I'm currently doing some maintenance to the ROAR2 because of an ice incident last winter. I'll post on that once I take some pics but I'm basically rebuilding the gunnels, fixing some rot areas and installing permanent seats/storage areas.

New Immaculate Machine albumn coming!

I just noticed that one of my favorite bands, Immaculate Machine, is releasing a new albumn this spring.

If you haven't checked these folks out you really need to. I've seen them 3 times in concert (Victoria, Saint John and Fredericton) and they put on a great show. Definitely one of Canada's music gems that haven't gotten the attention they deserve. All three of them are fantastic musicians.

You can check out some of their tunes on CBC Radio 3 but you should really buy one of their albumns!

Crayon Physics

I've been watching the development of this game for quite a while (through slashdot articles). The final version of the game has been release and I jumped on the download. I was not disappointed. This is a really cool game.

It is in the spirit of one of my all time favorite games "The Incredible Machine" but it is infinitely more nifty. I can't wait for my kids to wake up to show them this! In the mean time I'll familiarize myself with it know... so I can help them out.

RCA HPNC200 Noise Canceling Headphones

An I mentioned in my last post, I received a pair of RCA HPNC200 Noise Canceling Headphones for Christmas this year. My experience with these was much more positive than the wireless headphones.

The good
  1. These headphones are nice and light and comfortable. While the earpieces could be a little bigger for comfort, they are nice.
  2. The noise canceling works as advertised. They claim a 15db reduction in noise. It's not going to get rid of all of the background noise but it certainly cuts down on a lot of it.
  3. They also fold and come with a nice little carrying case for traveling. They certainly aren't as portable as ear buds but they fold up pretty well.
  4. They come with an airline adapter. This is really nice!
The bad
  1. The battery compartment and the on/off switch (for the active noise canceling) are pretty cheap and I can see one of them breaking one of these days. We'll see and I'll post if they do.
  2. They're kind of ugly.
I would recommend these. They sound pretty good and the noise canceling works pretty well too. I think they cost around 40 bucks.

RCA WHP151 Wireless Headphones

So, as part of my Christmas list this year I asked for a good set of headphones. My suggestions for these headphones were:
  • Good quality
  • Full ear
  • Wireless would be nice
  • Noise canceling would be nice
When Christmas morning came I was excited to see that I had received a pair of RCA WHP151 Wireless Headphones from my inlaws. Interestingly I also received a pair of RCA HPNC200 headphones from my parents. (see next post for this review)

The bad
  1. My first grievance with these headphones is that I had to charge them for 24 hours before using them. On Christmas morning I wanted to play with my new toy just like my kids but I had to strike one.
  2. There is a significant hiss from the wireless on these. If you are using them for anything low volume this will irritate you. One of my intentions for these was to use them while practicing guitar. This was not feasible when no accompaniment was playing. I read several posts on this problem so I think it is common. Adjusting input levels to max will help this problem immensely but unfortunately I haven't been able to get rid of it entirely.
  3. The wireless is fairly susceptible to interference. The annoying hiss seems to increase if I am near certain other devices (or if I turn my head certain directions while I type this...)
  4. They aren't the prettiest headphones I've seen by a long shot. Very retro hi-fi looking. I think RCA used the same mold that they used for my parents headphones in the 80's.
The Good
  1. These are pretty darn comfortable
  2. Sound quality (other than this hiss) is quite good. If you keep the volume turned up you'll be happy with the sound quality...if not the hearing loss!
Would I buy They list for around $60-80. That seems way to high considering the hiss problem. I do like using them for practicing drums because of the wireless capability though.