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I refurbish a handful of tractors and snow blowers as a hobby and labor of love.  This site reflects the equipment I've completed and the ethical approach I take in selling these machines.  I also perform service and repairs on tractor-mowers, riding mowers, zero-turns, lawnmowers, and snow blowers.

This Library of Articles enables the homeowner to shop for, care for, and improve the ownership experience. 

Article 11: Snow Blower Maintenance

Maintaining Your Snow Blower

General Information

Always check the engine oil before operating your snow blower.

Use 87 octane or higher gasoline and add fuel stabilizer as soon as possible after purchasing the gasoline.  Add the stabilizer into your fuel container and NOT in the fuel tank.  The mixture ratio is usually one ounce per 2-1/2 gallons.  So if you have a 2-1/2 gallon fuel container, add one ounce of stabilizer.  If you have a 5 gallon fuel container, add two ounces of stabilizer.  Do NOT add extra stabilizer.  This will cause the stabilizer to gum up the carburetor.  Do NOT less than the recommended amount of stabilizer.  This will allow moisture in the gasoline to gum up the carburetor.  Always follow the stabilizer manufacturer’s instructions for adding stabilizer.

During the winter season, fill the fuel tank after each use before putting the snow blower away until the next storm.

Periodically start the snow blower using both the electric start and recoil start (pull cord), especially when snow storms are infrequent.

Changing the Oil

On a newly purchased machine, you should change the engine oil after approximately 5 hours of operation.  After that, with normal use, change the oil once a year or at 100 hours, whichever comes first.

Start the snow blower and let the engine idle for a few minutes until the oil is warm.  Shut off the engine.  Elevate the snow blower bucket by placing a 3 to 4 inch spacer (wood block, plastic container, or other) under the bucket.  By elevating the front of the snow blower, the oil will drain better and it will clear the rear chassis while draining.  If your oil drain is on the side of the snow blower near one wheel, leave the machine in a level position.

Place a drain pan under the drain pipe.  You may use a baking pan or plastic container at least 10 inches  square or in diameter.

Unscrew the oil fill cap to allow air to move through the oil sump for better drainage.  The oil fill cap is where the oil dipstick is located.  Then, loosen the drain plug cap with an appropriate size wrench or socket.  You should loosen the drain cap enough so that you can turn the drain cap by hand before the oil comes out.  Then carefully unscrew the drain cap with your fingers until the oil begins to come out.  Once the cap is off, let the oil drain for about 10 minutes or until the flow has stopped.

Be careful that the drain tube itself does not back out of the engine block when removing the drain plug cap.  This may occur if the drain cap was over-tightened the last time an oil change was performed.  If this happens, retighten the drain tube and use a vice grip or other tool to hold the pipe in place while loosening the drain cap.  When you put the drain cap back on, make sure you do not over-tighten it.  Tighten the drain plug by hand and then use the wrench or socket to tighten it a little further (about 1 turn) so that it does not come off.

Reinstall the drain plug cap, remove the spacer to level the snow blower, and add fresh oil in the oil fill pipe.  The machine will take approximately 19 to 28 oz of SAE 5W-30 oil.  Check your engine Owner’s Manual for the oil capacity.  Always put in a little less than the capacity and then use the oil dipstick to finish filling to the correct oil level.

Yearly or as Needed

Adjust the skid shoes.  If the skid shoes are reversible, i.e., double-sided, flip them over.  The following season, rotate them from the left to the right side and vice versa.  Adjust the skid shoes so the scraper bar is 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the pavement.  If you have a gravel or uneven surface, adjust the skid shoes to the maximum height.  Make sure you do this on a level surface.

Remove the shear pins/bolts from the augurs (left and right side).  While the shear pins are removed, pump grease into the grease fittings if installed.  Rotate the augers to distribute the grease evenly across the shaft.  Put some grease on the shear pins before reinstalling them.  DO NOT over-tighten the shear pins.  They should be snug, meaning the nut should fit snugly on the bolt so it does not come off, but not tightened hard against the axle.

Remove the belt cover and inspect the belts for wear, cuts, or damages, or residual debris from animals.  Clean off any debris or mud.  Replace a belt if it is frayed, cracked, or dry rotted.  While the belt cover is off, engage and disengage the drive lever on the machine and verify that the tension is put respectively on and off the pulleys.  Perform the same for the augur engagement.  If either belt does not engage, i.e., it is loose, replace the belt or adjust the tension.

Inflate the tires to the top of the recommended tire pressure range specified in the snow blower Operator’s Manual or on the side of each tire.  This will help the tires from going flat or developing flat spots during the off-season.

Storage Until Next Season

At the end of the season run all of the gasoline out of the engine.  If your fuel tank is low run the remaining gas out of the engine.  If there is a significant amount of gasoline in your fuel tank and your machine is equipped with a fuel shutoff, turn the shutoff to the ‘OFF’ position.  Usually the knob is perpendicular to the fuel line when in the ‘OFF’ position.  Run the machine until it stalls.  Then open the choke and try to restart the engine.  Run it until it stalls.  The key here is that there should be no fuel in the engine during the off-season.  If you are capable, drop the carburetor bowl, wipe it out, and reinstall the bowl.  Ensure that the bowl gasket seats properly.

Even if you use fuel stabilizer, it is preferable that you remove all of the remaining gasoline from the fuel tank.  If you do not use fuel stabilizer, you must remove all of the gasoline.  You can use a small siphon to drain the fuel tank.  Alternately, you can remove the fuel cap and remove the fuel line on the bottom of the tank to drain it out.  Remember to reinstall the fuel line and the fuel cap when you are done.

Cover the exhaust to prevent debris or insects from getting into the muffler during the off-season

Cover the snow blower with a permeable cover such as an old blanket when it is not in use.  Make sure you do not put the cover on until AFTER the machine has cooled off completely.  Do NOT use a tarp or plastic sheet to cover the machine since these prevent condensation from evaporating, which can cause paint peel and/or surface rust.

Before starting the machine again the following season, perform the yearly maintenance.  Change the oil, remove the belt cover and inspect the belts, and make sure no animals have moved in for the winter.

Check the pressure on the tires to make sure they are even.  Use the tire pressure recommendation from your snow blower Operator’s Manual or from the side of each tire.

Notes

If service and/or parts are required, please have the manufacturer, exact model number, as well as the serial number of the machine before you contact us.  This information is usually located on the top-rear or rear of the unit on a white or silver label.  The model listed on the decal on the snow box or operator panel is NOT the model number, but rather a designation for marketing the product.

If you are interested in obtaining tire chains for improved traction, copy the tire size from the side of the tire before inquiring.

 

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