Snow Blowers


Tune Your Snow Blower Engine Now

November 21st, 2015 ernie Posted in Maintenance No Comments »

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Tune Your Snow Blower Engine NowThe best time to make sure your snow blower is ready to go for the season is in October or November before it gets really cold. That’s why we are saying Tune Your Snow Blower Engine Now! The picture on the left, covers most of the small engine types with snow blowers at the bottom of the picture. They all have similar steps, however obviously each is different and requires specific steps to make sure that your snow blower is ready to go for the coming winter. We will go through each of the steps or activities in a bit more detail. Always ensure that there is fresh gasoline in the tank to avoid clogging the carburetor.

Tune Your Snow Blower Engine Now

Inspect The Safety System – check that all levers etc disengage properly, with the engine off check the shear pins, lights work if you have them

Replace or Clean the Spark Plug – replace if in doubt, clean and regap if you reuse the old one.

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Adjust the Skid Shoes if Needed – Check that the bolts are tight and they lift the shave plate slightly above the surface of your driveway

Change the Engine Oil – at minimum once a year in the fall and more often if the engine is used a great deal as per the manufacturers instructions

Adjust the Shave Plate if Needed – it should be slightly above the surface, but not so much that it leaves a significant layer of snow on the driveway

Adjust the Drive System if Needed – check the belts for fraying and cracking, replace as needed and ensure that there is an appropriate amount of tension

Test the Snowblower for Operation – Start it up and let it run for a few minutes and test all moving parts.

Add Fuel Stabilizer – to the gasoline tank and the extra fuel you keep for refilling. This will ensure that your engine runs smoothly and does not gum up.

Following these steps should ensure that you have a problem free winter, unless you have missed a major item that needs an overhaul.

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Snowblower Tuneup For the DYI Consumer

October 21st, 2015 ernie Posted in Maintenance No Comments »

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Snowblower TuneupSnowblower tuneup for the DYI consumer can save you quite a bit of money. It will also give you satisfaction knowing that you performed this activity yourself . This will ensure that your snowblower will always operate when needed. Delaying a tuneup or never tuning up your snowblower just means that eventually it is not going to work and that will probably be on the coldest snowiest day of the year. Don’t procrastinate, do it today when the weather is still reasonably warm, compared to winter time. We are writing this particular post in October so it is still pleasant outside compared to what it will be like in a few months time.

Snowblower Tuneup For the DYI Consumer

The basic things you need to address when tuning up your snowblower are as follows:

Spark Plug – Remove it, clean it up and check the gap. Reset the gap if needed. Replace the spark plug if it is not in good shape.

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Oil Change – change the oil every year as a minimum, follow the manufacturers instructions and always check the oil before starting the engine.

Belt Condition – make sure that the belts are in good condition, that the tension pulleys are operating properly. Change the belts if they are fraying or cracking.

Tire Condition – Check the tire pressure and add air if needed. Remove the tires and grease the axles. If you ever need to remove them because you have a flat tire, you will be glad you did this.

Grease Auger – there are at least two grease nipples on the auger shaft. Give each one two pumps with your grease gun

Test Operation – Once all of the above are complete, start up the engine and test all functions on your particular snow blower. If anything else needs to be repaired, now is the time to do it.

As long as you have done all of the above and your engine starts easily and runs smoothly you should be good for the season. A rough running engine usually means that the carburetor needs to be cleaned or overhauled. This takes more time and will be the subject of another post.

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Just Tuned my Craftsman 10hp Snowblower

October 7th, 2015 ernie Posted in Maintenance No Comments »

Craftsman 10hp SnowblowerJust got finished with a tuneup of my Craftsman 10hp snowblower. This machine is about 15 years old and is still going strong. It is beginning to show its age in terms of rust on the housing etc, bit the engine and the impeller operate just like new. Anyway I thought I would go over the steps required in a tuneup / checkup to help readers decide if this is something they want to tackle themselves or have a small engine mechanic look after for them. We will list them in no particular order and you can tackle each one as you see fit.

Tuned my Craftsman 10hp Snowblower

Change the Engine Oil – Drain the oil into a oil bin and then dispose of it properly at a recycle location. Before you drain the oil, run the engine for a few minutes to warm up the oil. You find that it drains much more quickly and thoroughly if you do this. Add the recommended oil for your engine in the correct quantity. Check the level with the dip stick before and also after running the engine to ensure that the correct amount of oil has been installed.

Check the spark plug – Always take the plug out, check the gap after first giving it a good cleaning. If it is corroded etc, then replace it with a new one after you have set the proper gap.

Check the belts – The belts should be free of cracks, and wear and tear. Check that they are also properly tensioned as per your snowblowers manual.

Grease the Auger – The auger usually has 4 grease points. Give each at least two squeezes from your grease gun.

Grease the Wheel Axles – Remove the wheels and grease the axles and then place the wheels back on, taking care to put them back in exactly the same way. This may seem like a waste of time, however if you have a flat tire and need to remove the wheel,  you will be glad you did this.

Reconnect the Electrical Wires for the Light – Check all of the electrical connections. Reconnect or tighten any that are needed.

Test All Moving Parts – Finally start up the engine, make sure it is running smoothly and test that the auger and impeller are working properly. Check all of the gear speeds to ensure that there is no other maintenance required.

That’s a pretty good check list to make sure that your snow blower will be ready for the season. There is still a chance that it might be hard to start in the cold weather, but at least you know that all of the major things have been addressed in your tuneup.

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Tips for Snow Thrower Maintenance

April 21st, 2015 ernie Posted in Maintenance No Comments »

Tips for Snow Thrower MaintenanceOver the past few weeks we have posted a number of articles about snowblower maintenance. The term snowblower and snow thrower are used interchangeably. We thought we would summarize some of the tips for snow thrower maintenance activities that we have read. Anyone who owns and operates a snowblower should consider.

Safety

Never allow your children or pets to be near an operating snowblower. The Snowblowers can throw rocks, hard ice and the engine sound can lead to deafness. There’s also a danger of slipping into the spinning blades particularly with active dogs. Always read the safety section of the snowblower manual prior to operating your machine for the first time.

Tips for Snow Thrower Maintenance

  • Wear hearing protection and safety glasses
  • Wear excellent grip footwear to stop you from slipping
  • In heavy snow conditions try to clear the store more often or only take a half cut with each pass of your snowblower
  • Always wear lots of protective clothing particularly in windy conditions with dry powder snow.
  • Always clear your driveway of any rocks and sticks or anything else that could damage the snowblower or be thrown.
  • Never point the snowblower chute at windows or vehicles or humans.
  • Lower the speed, the forward speed of the snowblower when you’re dealing with deep snow and heavy wet snow.
  • Always clear all of the snow from the driveway, since any snow left can freeze and make it difficult to clear the snow next time.
  • Always clean the auger and the impeller of snow once you’re finished. Make sure you turn the engine off to avoid any potential accident with the moving auger
  • Always use the proper bolts for shear pins to avoid expensive repairs to the transmission and the gear system of the snowblower.
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Oil change on a Snow Blower

April 7th, 2015 ernie Posted in Maintenance No Comments »

oil change on a snow blowerThe oil in all small engines, including snowblowers should be changed at least once per year and more often if The snowblower is used on a regular basis. Follow the instructions that are included in your manual for the frequency of a Oil change on a Snow Blower engine.

Always check the level of oil in your engine by checking the dipstick. Make sure the snowblower is on level ground, pull up the dipstick wipe it clean with a cloth and put the dipstick back in completely. Wait for 10 seconds and then pull out the dipstick and confirm that the level of oil in the engine is at the correct level. At the same time assess the color of the oil to determine if it should be changed. A light yellow brown looking oil is in good condition while a thick black oil is in very bad condition. You should change your oil in your snow blower a long time before it turns black.

Oil change on a Snow Blower – Owners Manual

Review the owner’s manual for instructions on how to change the oil. Make sure the engine is turned off and remove the oil plug to drain the used oil into a receptacle. I sometimes find that a short piece of garden hose attached to the oil drain serves to make sure that the oil drains properly and easily into a receptacle.

Once all of the oil has been drained, replace the drain plug. Then tighten the plug so that it is sealed properly. Refill the engine with the proper amount of the recommended oil as per your manual. Inspect for leaks around the drain plug and be sure that it’s tight. Once the oil is at the proper level, restart the engine. Let it run for three or four minutes and then turn it off. Recheck the level of oil in the engine as previously mentioned. Top up as necessary or remove if needed.

This job can easily be done in less than 30 minutes. It is something that most do it yourself handyman can do around the home. You can dispose of the old oil by taking it in a proper container to most recycle facilities.

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Basic Guide to Snow Blower Maintenance

February 14th, 2015 ernie Posted in Maintenance No Comments »

Basic Guide to Snow Blower MaintenanceA snow blower properly maintained will last for many years, providing great service and starting easily every time. There are challenges since it is one of the machines which has a lot of down time and needs clean oil and gasoline to continue running at optimum levels. We will review some of the requirements to maintaining a snow blower and provide a basic guide to snow blower maintenance in this post. We need to emphasize that every operator and consumer who plans to conduct their own snow blower maintenance should first read the service manual and follow all safety precautions before beginning any work. They are big, powerful and can damage material and people working on them easily. Be cautious and careful.

Basic Guide to Snow Blower Maintenance

The first step to maintenance in all situations is to disconnect the spark plug wire so that the engine cannot start by accident. This is critical and for your own safety.

  • Change the Oil
  • Inspect and Replace Belts
  • Check scraper bars and skid shoes
  • Change the spark plug
  • Check shear pins
  • check starter chord
  • Fuel system maintenance
  • Tighten all bolts

A few words about each area will help do it yourself consumers complete all maintenance issues:

Change the Oil: at least once per year and more often if you use your snow blower a great deal. Check your owners manual for recommended frequency.

Inspect and Replace Belts: replace any frayed or worn belts before they break in the middle of winter when it is really cold

Check scraper bars and skid shoes: and adjust them to ensure proper scraping of your driveway

Change the spark plug: at least once per two years or more often depending on the owners manual recommendations. Cleaning and regapping is also recommended each year.

Check shear pins: and replace any that are worn or in danger of shearing off. Grease the auger at the same time

Check starter chord: and replace as needed

Fuel system maintenance: Always use clean fresh gasoline, use gasoline products to reduce gum forming in the carb and clean the filter every year.

Tighten all bolts: vibration can loosen bolts from time to time. tighten all bolts that are visible.

The best time for snow blower maintenance is in the late spring, summer or fall when temperatures make it easier to work on these machines. A break down in cold weather is not fun at all especially if you need to shovel a lot of snow and complete repairs in freezing temperatures.

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Snow Thrower Maintenance

June 7th, 2012 ernie Posted in Maintenance 1 Comment »

Snow Thrower Maintenance KitIt may seem like an odd time to talk about,  snow thrower maintenance, however the spring or summer time is actually one of the best times to perform maintenance and implement any repairs that are needed on your snow thrower. The weather has warmed up and it is much more comfortable to work on your thrower than late in the fall when the snow is about to fall. Keeping an engine and all of its components operating smoothly does not take a lot of work or effort. Following the simple instructions in the manual is about all that is needed and only takes about an hour for the standard things that need to be done. If after checking, more serious repairs are needed, you can order the parts and schedule the repairs at your convenience.

Some areas in the mountains are still getting some snow so it may be too soon for them, but the rest of Canada and the Northern US, it is one of the best times to plan your maintenance.

Snow Thrower Maintenance

So what kind of maintenance should you be doing at this time of year. Well there are two sets of activities that should be considered. First items such as oil changes, spark plug replacement and greasing any fittings that have grease nipples should be under taken. These things are pretty straightforward and do not take a lot of time, but will pay you dividends over many years by keeping your engine and augers running smoothly for many years.

The second area that should be considered are any repairs and this is one of the reasons you should do this in the early summer. You have just finished using your snow thrower and you will be familiar with how it was running. Determine what parts you need now and order them so that you can complete repairs in advance of any cold weather.

We had to replace several bushings one year and I can only say that I wish I had done this in the summer time and not in November when it had started to get cold. It was not a difficult job, however it was very cold on the hands and I did not have a place to keep warm while I made this repair.

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Snow Blower Service

May 21st, 2012 ernie Posted in Maintenance 1 Comment »

Snow Blower ServiceIt is time for snow blower service. The winter season is over and before you put it away for the summer, why not do the annual maintenance now when it is warm and easy to work on it? We wrote a post on snow thrower service as well because frankly some people search for that term as well. You may want to read them both since they are slightly different. Bottom line is that you really should read your service manual for your snow blower before attempting any kind of service.

What Snow Blower Service Do I Need to Do

The service you will do will depend on the size of machine you own. Smaller machines will only need an oil change, the gasoline emptied out and any grease points greased. I also spray the blower housing with a fine oil to prevent rust during the summer. Even though the housing has rust resistant paint, it does get scratched and that’s were the rust begins.

Larger snow blowers will require more complex maintenance. You may need to change an air filter or an oil filter as well. A heavily used machine will need more servicing. You may need to change belts and you may need to adjust linkages that have become worn or stretched. Again follow the instructions in your service manual and practice safe maintenance when working around your machine.

A full Service Checkup may include:

  • Oil change
  • Spark plug change or adjustment
  • Filter changes
  • Linkage adjustments
  • Tire pressure checks
  • Empty the gasoline
  • Carburetor adjustments

This may be more than many consumers want to take on themselves. For people in this situation, it is a good idea to find a reasonable small engine mechanic who will service your snow blower once per year to ensure that your machine is always ready to go.

A factor that prevents a lot of people from getting a snow blower serviced is that they are big and they are heavy. You really need a truck or a van or a trailer to move them. For people without access to these kinds of vehicles, it can be problematic for consumers to arrange for repairs. If they need to rent a truck, this is an additional cost that they will have to consider as part of their cost considerations.

Some people do not bother preferring to just purchase a new snow blower when the original breaks down.  This is not a very good economic approach to snow blower service when you consider that these machines can easily run over a $1000. You would be better to pay for snow removal service than purchase a new snow blower every couple of years.

How Long Should a Snow Blower Last with Good Service?

My own snow blower is now 24 years old and still going strong. I change the oil once per year, grease it at the same time and spray it with oil to prevent rusting. It is stored inside when not in use. I have had to replace two bushings and rebuild the carburetor which I did myself. There was also one flat tire which I also repaired by self. There is a trick to doing tires, since e it is unlikely that you will get the tire rim off when they are that old.  i wrote a post on that about repairing flat tires on snow blowers.

The engine runs great, starts every time easily and does not use any oil so I know that the engine is in good shape. Twenty four years is a long time compared to paying $300 a year for snow removal which comes to more than $7000 and that is a cheap price. some are more than twice that price. My snow blower is a Craftsman and probably cost me $500 when I purchased it. I might have spent a hundred dollars on it since I purchased it.

If this is not enough to convince you that regular snow blower service is well worth the effort then I do not know what is. Your comments are more than welcome and any suggestions regarding snow blower service is welcome. For lots more information about repairs and maintenance issues, click here.

 

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Snow Thrower Service

May 7th, 2012 ernie Posted in Maintenance 1 Comment »

Snow Thrower ServiceIt is the time of year again when we put away our snow throwers or snow blower as some people might refer to them and get ready for the spring and summer. In fact in much of the US and Canada this year, 2012, spring came early and many people have not had to even start their snow throwers since Feb when the last snow storm occurred. Some folks in the foothills and mountains have received a lot more snow than they wanted, however for the most part consumers in the mid west and the north east have experienced a very mild winter.

Why would we talk about snow thrower service now especially when our snow throwers have hardly been used?  Well it turns out there are some very good reasons to do your service on your snow thrower this year.

Snow Thrower Service

Here are just a couple of reasons to do it now vs. waiting until next fall when the first snow fall arrives:

  • Old gas will clog your carb
  • Old oil sludge will harm your engine
  • Your engine should be started once every 3 or 4 months
  • Service is a lot easier to do when it is warm compared to cold winter days
  • Beat the rush to get snow thrower engines tuned up

Drain the Gasoline from the Fuel Tank

With gasoline sitting in your snow throwers gas tank and carburetor for a long period of time, the gasoline will deteriorate over time leaving a sticking coating on the engine parts and sometimes clogging the inlets of the carburetor. Left long enough and you will not even be able to start your engine even with a full tank of gasoline. if you have not used your snow thrower since Feb, it could be siting for 8 to 10 months before it is used again.

At the very least drain the gasoline out of your snow throwers gasoline tank or just run the engine until all of the fuel is used up. This will avoid any chance of the fuel clogging the fuel lines and carburetor. Next season you fill the tank with nice clean and fresh gasoline and you are good to go with your engine. It should start easily once gasoline finds its way into the carburetor.

Change the Oil in the Engine

If you are doing an oil change yourself as part of the snow thrower service, follow the instructions in the service manual that came with your snow thrower. Otherwise make arrangements for a small engine mechanic to service your throwers engine.

There is lots of debate about when you should change the oil in a small engine that is not used often. Some people like to change the oil at the end of each season while others will change the oil just before the season begins. Also you may want to change the oil if you are a heavy user of your thrower. As a minimum change the oil once per year since all oil degrades over time and engine gasses will accelerate this deterioration.

Even if your oil in your engine looks fresh and clean and maybe you have only used it for a couple of times in the past year, change the oil. If you do it yourself the cost is only a couple of dollars and you are ensuring that your snow throwers engine will last for many years.

Lubricate All Moving Parts

The last thing you will want to do is to grease all points that require greasing. With fresh grease you are protecting bearings etc from exposure to the air and potentially rusting over the summer.

I also like to spray the housing of the thrower with a fine oil to cover all parts that could rust. This is usually on the housing that have been scratched or bumped and exposed the metal. Stopping rust from even starting will also make sure that it last a long time.

Even though spring and summer are calling, do this little chore now to ensure that your snow thrower service is done now to prolong the life of your snow thrower.

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Snow Blower Summer Time Tune Ups

July 7th, 2010 ernie Posted in Maintenance 1 Comment »

Snow Blower Summer Time Tune UpsSummer time is one of the best times of the year for many activities. Most people do not give a seconds thought about their snow blower at this time of year. There is so much else to do and to enjoy. Yet, this is the best time to tune up your snow blower and make any repairs that you may  need to make. It is warm, it is comfortable to work and you avoid the rush of everyone else looking for parts. There is nothing worse than a foot of snow in your driveway, it is -20 C or 0F and your snow blower will not start. What a depressing thought! So folks the next weekend that you do not have anything planned, get out their and take the time to check out your snow blower for the next season.

We have listed a few of the items that should be on your checklist in terms of a tune up as well as repairs. If you know of others that we missed, please leave a comment and we will be happy to add them to this post.

Snow Blower Summer Time Tune Ups –  Areas to Pay Attention To

The typical things that you should pay attention to when you are tuning up your snow blower include: Changing the oil, cleaning the spark plug, oiling and greasing all linkages that require lubrication, spraying rust inhibitors to  all areas that could rust, checking tire pressure and checking all linkages to make sure there is no wear and tear that should be tightened up or replaced. All of these things can be accomplished in less than an hour with the oil change taking the most time.

All of these things are straightforward to do and can be done by the average weekend mechanic. Always follow proper safety procedures to avoid accidents and follow the instructions outlined in the manual for basic repairs. When ever you are working on any engine, including snow blowers and lawn mowers, always disconnect the spark plug before completing any repairs. This is an easy way to prevent accidental starting of the engine and an accident which could cause severe damages.

Check Linkages for Mechanical Wear

Many snow blowers operate using belts to deliver power from the engine to the wheels and to the blower. Depending on age and the amount of use, these belts will become warn an may cause the performance of the snow thrower to be less than it was when it was new. If you noticed this in the past winter season, check that the belts are tight and not showing signs of wear and stretching.

There is also a friction drive on your snow blower. It is a wheel that presses against a another steel wheel that is perpendicular to the drive wheel. The drive wheel is made of a hard rubber material and can be know to become warn as well especially if there is a lot of slippage. You should observe the condition of this wheel each time as well and replace as necessary.

Check Bushings for Mechanical Wear

The wheels of your snow blower are attached to an axle which turns inside two bushings located on the outside housing of the frame of your snow blower. These bushings are made of brass and over the years will show signs of wear. The axle can become misaligned causing all sorts of problems including causing the wheels to not drive the snow blower forward or in reverse. They are relatively easy to replace.

Also depending on the model there may be two other shafts that have bearings as well. These are bushings and they tend to wear out as well depending on the age of the snow blower. Parts can be obtained from your local small engine repair shop or from the dealer that you purchased them from. Many people will take their machine in for repairs however a word of caution is necessary.

Repairs tend to cost a great deal depending on the hourly rate and what is wrong with your machine. Always ask for a repair estimate first and then decide if it is worth doing the repair or purchasing a new machine.

Make your Repairs Now

Don’t procrastinate. Doing repairs in a cold garage is no fun and taking your machine into a repair shop along with hundreds of others means that you will wait your turn to have your snow blower repaired. In the mean time you will have to shovel the snow by hand or borrow a neighbors machine. So why not do the repairs now before it gets cold.

Snow Blower Summer Time Tune Ups – Summary and Your Comments

Summer time is a great time to complete repairs and tune ups when the weather is comfortable. There are a standard set of things to check and you may only need to change the oil with everything else that you check being in top notch condition. You will be very satisfied knowing that your snow blower is working fine and you do not need to make those repairs when it is really cold outside.

Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions on our blog. Note that any spam comments will be erased. For many more details about repair and maintenance topics, click here.

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