I was able to recently touch the new Eskimo Propane Ice Auger, the HC-40. The auger part with the fluting (or “flighting” is spiral part of an auger shaft used for hauling ice chips out of a hole) looks like an auger. I mean, the principle always remains the same. It spins, it drills, it hauls stuff out of the hole. There is not much you can do differently to accomplish this particular task any better. Tweak a blade, add some bracing, but it always looks to me that the end result is about the same: hole in ice. Everybody has their auger shaft designs and I’ve used many different brands and but for dull blades or a damaged part, the result is always the same. A Nils ice auger will be screamingly fast, but none of these augers are a slouch either. If you don’t manage to drive over one with your truck and bend it, they seem to go on forever.
That brings us to the new Eskimo Power head. It’s a little combustion engine that was built specifically for propane fuel. I was under the impression that this motor was built specifically to be an Eskimo power head, but there is a little metal stud protruding from the engine with a bolt in the end of it that does nothing. Obviously, this is a stud to attach this motor to something else or to it. If the motor was built from the ground up to top that Eskimo ice auger shaft, that little benign extra part would not be there. Is it in the way? Not really and I’m convinced that the sales reps who handle that auger every day weren’t aware of it at all. I just happen to notice things like that. Maybe you can use it to attach a fender or something in the future. Who knows?
They fired the little 4 stroke propane motor up in the room and it went round and round. It sounds like a chainsaw motor. Sounded smooth and you can tell the transmission was geared down for ice drilling. The cool part about propane motors is that you can start them in a room filled with people and the fumes you smell are similar to a gas oven in your kitchen. The motor runs with no priming or choke. All you do is pull the cord and you are off to the races. To shut it down, push a button. It could not get any simpler than that.
It weighed about the same as a regular gas auger at 32 lbs for the 8″ and 34 lbs. for the 10″.
I’m pretty sure that the exact rules apply for this auger regarding keeping your 1 lb. bottle of propane warm. If you let it get cold, you will lose pressure. Keep them warm and remove them when not drilling or bring the auger inside the shack. But, like the Jiffy there is the “spark plug up” rule with this propane auger as well. You need to keep the spark plug up to keep crankcase oil from ending up in the cylinder head. Jiffy had an issue with that a while back and everybody seemed to finally adapt to that. Eskimo is the same in that respect, but Eskimo is using a designed-for-propane powerhead. It’s smaller in size and weight than Jiffy’s.
For the money – if you need a propane auger this one should do the job very nicely. Other than changing the oil once a season, there is only minimal maintenance and no stabilizer additives, no gumming up in the carb. There’s also no gas mixing, no spilling gas in the car, no blue smoke anywhere. You might have to change a spark plug every couple years, but even that is a maybe. At the end of the season, hang it on the wall in the garage or your living room if you really miss ice fishing. At the start of the next season, check the oil level, screw on a propane tank, and crank. There is a lot to be said about affordable simplicity.