Here it is, ya bunch of ice fishin’ fools! My keywords have been clamoring for anything and everything regarding the Eskimo HC-40 Propane Ice Auger which is new for the 2014/15 season. So, today, we cracked open the box of a 10″ diameter auger, juiced it up with the included crank-case oil to the proper level, screwed on a one-pound propane tank and I headed down to Jasper Lake with two of my very entertaining friends and the Eskimo HC-40 in tow (spark plug up-read the little sticker). I also brought along a narrow Nils USA Ice Chisel for checking the ice. We’ve had several weeks of freezing, but with light snow on top of the ice, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So test before running out there blindly is what I do.
At the beach, the wind was howling and it was only 3 degrees F. It never really warmed up even though it was now 10:30 AM. There was blowing and falling snow so I wasn’t sure how well the video would turn out, but I pulled down my ear flaps on my goofy-looking, but comfortably-warm microfleece helmet cap and out I bounded north to check the ice. My friends Dave Oliver was right behind me and Paul Haraldson behind him. I went out only about 15 feet from dry shore, kicked off the snow, and stabbed the solid looking ice with my super-cool Nils Chisel. Two pokes and it went through. Dave couldn’t believe it and I think he backed up a little. I poked it a couple more times and, yes, there was very little ice. Maybe just over an inch. Can’t really test a super-cool, propane powered ice auger in one stinking inch of ice, plus the 34 extra pounds of machine may have caused me to take an ice bath. My boys don’t agree with ice baths and neither do Dave and Paul so we all headed five feet closer to shore where the ice measured out at a solid 5 inches. Way enough to drill those much anticipated, 10 inch diameter holes!
I’ve got the vapors already! I REALLY want to sneak out on that ice and set up a pop-up – one of those Eskimo 6120i’s and drill holes around the inside so I can “ice troll” in a nice warm, big ice shelter. Sadly, I’m going to have to wait, although I can’t remember EVER being out on the ice on November 20 with a power auger. So, as climate change sets in upon us, I’m on the water earlier than I’ve ever been with an Eskimo Propane Auger. I guess I shouldn’t be too sad.
Back to the Eskimo HC-40. I like this auger. I point out in the video that it’s “smooth” on the underside and it is. “Who cares?” you may ask. Well, me and guys who haul a diverse load of ice fishing gear in a cargo sled behind a Skidoo. Smooth means protective, deflective and less stuff gets hung up. The lower unit (drilling part) is an Eskimo auger like all of their other augers. It drill holes, has easily re-sharpenable blades (for me with my machinery-here) and they are affordable to replace. There’s not a heck of lot you can say about the auger drill part from what I can see. It either works or it doesn’t. Sure, for some guys, a super-fast hole is important. For me, not so much. I like it to cut well in a reasonable time. The hole should be round. What else can I say?
But the powerhead on the Eskimo HC-40 Propane Ice Auger is what really matters. My understanding is that the difference between this Eskimo propane auger and that other brand of propane auger (Jiffy) is that the Eskimo engine is a propane combustion engine from the get-go. It’s not a gasoline engine which has been converted to propane via carburetor conversion. You can kind of tell because the motor is smaller in size. It’s more compact and it has less bolts and edges to catch on stuff in the sled. That also means that it’s 5 lbs. or more lighter, too. You can look up the Jiffy weights – I don’t know what they are offhand, and I’m having a moment of laziness. Trust me – they are significantly heavier. In it’s box with no propane cylinder attached, the Jiffy Pro 4, eight inch auger weighs in at about 39 lbs. 12 ounces. That is in the box. Take off a pound for the box and packaging. Then add back a pound for the propane bottle and 39 lb. 12 ounces is it. The 10 INCH, (not eight inch) Eskimo HC-40 with a one pound bottle attached weighed in at 34 lbs., 4 oz. That is over five (5) pounds lighter and I attribute it to a dedicated propane power head. Now, one could speculate on the weight of a Jiffy lower unit vs. the Eskimo, that the Jiffy is stronger, thereby heavier. But since I have NEVER had a problem with an Eskimo lower unit, I don’t care how much stronger another lower unit might be. I do know that I like things lighter compared to heavier particularly when I have to lift them.
Out of the box, the HC-40 started in two easy pulls. It’s a high compression, 4-stroke, 40 CC engine that is geared down to 25 : 1 in the transmission. I’m not a motor head, but I thought it ran at a comfortable rotation when drilling. It also sounded pretty darn smooth. At idle, it is quiet. Like I said above, it drilled way fast enough for me. The 8 inch HC-40 should drill even faster due to the smaller diameter and be a little lighter as well. How well will this motor hold up? Only time will tell. It comes with a warranty and Eskimo, in my opinion, is one of the best companies for warranties in the ice fishing world. That’s not to say that they simply take everything back because the customer says so, but they take it back, look at it and have treated our many customers consistently and fairly in our past dealing with them. I wouldn’t put this in writing if I didn’t believe it or experience it. So, I’m comfortable with this propane auger lasting and performing well. The cool part comes in the spring when you have to put it away for the boring season. Dump out the old oil, replace it with new. Disconnect the fuel bottle, hang it on the wall in your garage. It’s that easy. No gasoline residuals turning to varnish in your carb, no using stabilizer, no adjusting for oil mix, or any of that. Just hang and it’s ready to go for fall.
The only two points that you need to remember: 1. Spark plug up ALWAYS when laying it on the ground so that means the throttle handle sits on the ice. Kick the snow away before setting it down so you don’t have an icing issue in the throttle. 2. Keep your propane bottles warm. Disconnect them if you can’t take the auger inside and put them in a soft-sided cooler for insulation. If it’s really cold out, drop a hand warmer in with the bottle in the soft-sided pack. (Same goes for the ION electric ice auger) Here’s the video: