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Published January 11, 2008, 12:00 AM

Now that’s a snow blower

Neighbors Richard Muscha and Phil Spooner set out in 2000 to build a snow blower that would make clearing their long driveways a snap.

By: Tom Mix,

Casselton, N.D.

Neighbors Richard Muscha and Phil Spooner set out in 2000 to build a snow blower that would make clearing their long driveways a snap.

It took five years of tinkering in their spare time, but the two men now remove snow with a machine unlike any other.

“Most people think it’s pretty cool,” Muscha said.

The engine and cab come from a swather, a piece of farm equipment used to cut hay or crops.

The back tires are from a Cadillac, the front tires from a pickup truck.

The driver sits at a swivel chair in the heated cab. The snow blower is attached in front.

Spooner chose a shiny red color for the machine and included “Budweiser 8” to honor NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“It was kind of like a caterpillar,” Muscha said. “It metamorphosed as it went.”

Muscha’s son Russel, who is trained as a machinist and helped build the blower, estimates it can go 10 mph to 15 mph at top speed.

“I think it works pretty good,” he said, though he has rarely used it because he lives on the other side of town.

The elder Muscha said he can now clear his driveway in 10 minutes. With a regular snow blower, it took him a couple of hours.

His wife, Janice, also likes the blower.

“I don’t have to go out and blow snow anymore,” she said, laughing.

In the beginning, the machine wasn’t supposed to be elaborate.

The men just wanted to build a heavy-duty machine with the snow blower in front. Most farm snow blowers attach behind a machine, Muscha said.

“So you’re always sitting like this,” he said, craning his neck to look behind.

They started with a self-propelled swather as the base partly because swathers are becoming less expensive and parts are available, said Muscha, who works at Arthur Mercantile Co., an implement dealer in Arthur.

Some changes were born of changing interests.

Spooner originally painted the machine black, for the elder Dale Earnhardt. He repainted it after Earnhardt died in 2001 and Spooner began following the driver’s son.

Other changes were necessary.

For example, they added power steering when a truck steering system proved too difficult to maneuver.

“I don’t know if Paul Bunyan would have been able to steer it,” Muscha said.

But that’s what happens with two men who like to tinker.

Spooner said he enjoyed building things as a child. He moved near Muscha in the early 1990s and the two began working on more and more projects.

Spooner even moved the mower to the front of his riding lawnmower.

“Of course that’s all painted Dale Earnhardt Jr. red,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556 Now that’s a snow blower Andrea Domaskin 20080111