There are two types of pins to secure a wheel to a snow blower. A klik-pin allows you to use different mounting holes to allow a wheel to lock for improved traction or to allow a wheel to spin freely for better maneuverability. A bolt and nut allow you to secure a wheel directly to the axle shaft. This article is for most snow blowers that do not have a built-in slip differential within the traction drive or one (or both) of the wheel housings, the latter often called “power steering”.
What to Do If a Wheel Pin Breaks or Falls Off
If a wheel pin were to break off, part of the pin might still be in the hole. It is unlikely that a pin would rot out since these are made of strong steel. If you hit a pin against something, the bolt or pin could break off and leave a piece in the axle. However, it's more likely that a pin will fall out. If your snow blower uses a klik-pin and the pin (loop) got into the open position, it would be relatively easy for it to fall off. If it uses a bolt and the nut came loose, it would be fairly easy for it to fall off.
If part of the pin is still in the hole, you need to knock it out. You can use a tool such as a nail punch to push it through. You can also use a strong bolt to push it through with a hammer. A fairly easy tap should push it out. Make sure you do not damage the hole itself.
Determining What Kind of Pin to Use
Assuming part of the pin is not in the hole, meaning it did not break off, you should be able to reinstall a wheel very easily. The pin to hold the wheel on the axle is either a klik-pin or a bolt and nut. Either can be obtained at your local hardware store or Home Depot or Lowes. Here is how you can tell which to use on your machine:
- Klik-Pin: If the axle takes a klik-pin, the axle has provision to either lock the wheel to the axle or allow it to free wheel. In this case, there are two holes in the axle.
- Placing the klik-pin through the wheel and the inner hole on the axle locks the wheel to the axle. Here the wheel is pushed all the way in, leaving the outside axle hole exposed. The pin goes through both the wheel and the inner hole in the axle.
- Placing the klik-pin outside the wheel flange in the outer hole on the axle enables the wheel to move independently in relation to the axle, allowing for extra maneuverability. In this case, the wheel is still pushed all the way in, but the pin does NOT go through the holes in the wheel. The pin only goes through the outer hole on the axle, simply securing the wheel on the axle, but allowing it to spin freely.
- Below are two pictures of a klik-pin. It is basically a pin with a loop attached that flips over the end of the axle to keep it in place. The first picture shows the klik-pin in the open position, which would allow you to insert the pin in the appropriate hole on the wheel and/or on the axle. The second picture shows the klik-pin in the closed position, as it would be once the pin was inserted into the axle with the loop closed over the end of the axle to prevent it from falling out.
- Bolt and Nut: If the axle has only one hole on which to lock the wheel to the axle, typically, there is a simple bolt that goes through the holes in the wheel flange and the hole in the axle with a nut to secure the wheel on the axle. In this case, you can simply purchase a bolt that is sufficiently long, roughly 2 inches long, to fit through the holes and then install the nut to lock the wheel on the axle. The bolt should be either 1/4" or 5/16" in diameter depending on the size of the hole. You should use a lock nut to ensure that the pin does not fall off again. You can use a Nyloc nut (with plastic insert), a serrated face nut, or a simple nut and lock washer to lock the bolt in place.
- Before reinstalling the wheel, I suggest that you brush off and clean the exposed axle shaft. Then apply wheel bearing grease or an anti-seize, multi-purpose lubricant to the axle wheel shaft. This will prevent rust from forming and keep the wheel from seizing on the shaft. Then, if your snow blower has the free-wheel feature, the wheel will move easily. Also, should you need to, you’ll be able to remove the wheel in the future.
- Finally, you should always follow the maintenance instructions in your Owner's Manual. Follow all lubrication instructions in the Maintenance section.
So in summary, if there's only one hole on the axle, simply bolt the wheel back on the axle. If there are two holes on the axle (inner and outer), use a klik-pin. Klik-pins come in two sizes, 1/4" and 5/16", depending on the size of the hole on your machine. The pin diameter is determined by the diameter of the hole on the axle. You can purchase a new klik-pin for a few dollars.
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