January 22, 2014 - By Dan Shriner
Max Hella is a 14-year-old engineer. His remote control snowplower is even equipped with plow lights. By Dan Shriner (click for larger version)
The old saying that necessity is the mother of invention rings true with Max Hella, a 14-year-old Orion Township teen.
Max loves to build, repair and tinker with just about anything mechanical which parents Beth and Richard have come to accept and sometimes marvel at his ingenuity.
During a recent illness when Max had a temperature of 103 degrees, he still wanted to perform some of his chores, which included shoveling or plowing the family's driveway.
Beth Halla didn't like the idea of Max going outside in the sub-zero temperatures so Max hatched a plan to shovel the driveway from the family living room.
He took a six-inch PVC pipe, cut it and fashioned it into what resembled a mini snow blade. He used two threaded rods to hold the blade and attached both to his Traxxas Emaxx radio controlled truck.
Armed with his remote control, Max easily plowed the driveway, all the while sitting inside the warm house.
"He plowed the driveway all from the living room couch," said Beth.
Max also fashioned a pair of rear wheel snow chains and even attached some small LED lights to the blade to make nighttime plowing easier.
The RC snowplow, powered by two on-board electric motors, can easily handle a few inches of snow with lightning speed.
Max, who is an eighth grader at Waldon Middle School, still isn't satisfied with the plow, however. He wants to install a servo to raise and lower the blade more easily.
"I'm still working on that," he said.
Richard and Beth Halla said Max is always repairing, tinkering or building something mechanical. The pointed to two very old snowmobiles that Max rescued from the scrap heap and is getting running. Neighbors often call and ask for a little help with their mechanical devices.
Max has an impressive tool box in the family garage and even a place inside the house to do his repairs and tinkering.
His Traxxas Emaxx was bought in pieces from a cousin and Max rebuilt it and got it running. He has another radio controlled vehicle that he and his grandfather have painted it to resemble a police car. That vehicle can reach speeds of nearly 60 miles per hour.
Max enjoys putting some of his mechanical knowledge to good use. He has an old tractor with a snowplow attached to clean neighbor's driveways and his families from larger snowfalls than the Traxxas Emaxx can handle.
"He often gets up early in the morning and plows everyone's driveway," in the neighborhood near their home on Hillview Shores, Beth said.
"I enjoy anything mechanical," Max said.