Like many farmers in the area, Jim Weckert's had a problem with drifting snow. As soon as the plow was put away, snow drifting from the plowed walls on either side of the driveway would settle, filling back in his freshly-cleared driveway with snow. Frustrated, Weckert went to work designing his own contraption that would make the drift-prone snow in the ditches along his driveway disappear.
"I don't have any trouble getting the snow off the driveway, it's that bank of snow off to the side that I couldn't get rid of." Weckert said. "I got to thinking, there's got to be a better way of doing this."
Ivanhoe native Jim Weckert invented and constructed his own snowblower out of used farm parts. The snowblower connects to his tractor and drags along snow-filled ditches to blow snow further away from his driveway to prevent drifting.
Mounting a snowblower on a tractor is nothing new, but Weckert's idea was different. Rather than mount the snowblower on the back of the tractor, he began planning a way to mount a snowblower to the side. No equipment existed for what he wanted to do, so Weckert, a self-proclaimed tinkerer, went to work building it himself.
In the summer of 2008 Weckert began planning and collecting parts for the device. Remarkably, he never drew out his plans or developed a blueprint.
"It's all in my head," he said. "I know what I want, and I know how to get about getting there. I can do it just as fast without a blueprint as I can do with."
Construction began in the fall of 2009 using various used parts Weckert had accumulated. For the main frame Weckert used a reinforced anhydrous applicator, the PTO shaft was from an old combine and he bought a used gear box to transfer power.
"it's basically all used parts," he said.
Constructing the snowblower was not without challenges. The gear box originally turned the augers the wrong way, so Weckert had to mount the box upside-down to provide the proper rotation to the three augers.
"There were a lot of challenges," Weckert said. "The biggest thing is the time it takes to deal with it. Every little detail I did myself."
Over the course of two years Weckert welded, reinforced, and reworked his invention.
"I had so many nay-sayers say it couldn't possibly work," Weckert said. "I've pretty much proved that that's not the case."
The most common theory he heard was that dragging the snow blower in the ditch would pull the tractor in the ditch along with it. Weckert shrugged off the claims, confident his design would hold up.
"I would have never built it if I wasn't confident that it wouldn't work," he said. "As long as it blew the snow on my driveway I didn't care if anyone else believed me."
Now complete, the snow blower works better than even he could have imagined, Weckert said. The snow blower hangs down into the ditch with the tractor remaining on the road. A blade on the front of the tractor pushes snow from in front of the tractor down towards the ditch and into the auger.
"One pass down the driveway and I got a 11 foot wide opening," Weckert said. "I can blow snow five feet out in the ditch and my tractor is still on the driveway. I can get rid of that troublesome area."
Removing the snow from the ditch has reduced problems with drifting, Weckert said. The only change he plans on making is adding a rotating discharge unit. In the rush to complete the snow blower by winter, Weckert installed a chute that only shoots out the right or left side.
"I've never seen anything like this," he said. "I dare venture to guess that it is the only thing like it on planet earth."