Getting Ready For Snow

If you have fuel left over from summer equipment then it is best to use it up in your vehicle. Fuel is blended for the average atmospheric conditions at the time of sale, so winter fuel is different than summer fuel. The formula used for blending fuel changes many times during the year. Unstabilized fuel loses 2-3 octane points per month. This is just one of the problems with old fuel. We have detailed fuel memos available for free if anyone would like a copy.
Before it snows pick up anything laying around in the areas where a snow blower will be operated. Solid objects like pieces of wood will break shear pins if picked up but will sometimes pass through the augers and get caught up in the impeller fan. This can cause major damage. Extension cords or rope are flexible so will cause a shear pin to break. They will be wound up into the augers until bound so tightly something breaks. When removing something from the augers always have the engine shut off. Also be aware that even with the engine shut off the augers can move. Whatever is caught has been jammed by a strong force. When the object is removed the auger can rotate a small amount so be careful with where your fingers are.
Tips for removing stuck items and replacing shear pins are as follows. Shut the engine off. Some items can simply be pulled out if the blower was stopped quickly. If an object is stuck, remove the shear bolt. This will allow the auger to move freely so the object can be removed. If the shear bolt was bent then replace it. Shear bolts are cheap. Augers & gearboxes are expensive. Always use a proper shear bolt. They are designed to shear and protect the system. Some people use a grade 2 bolt but these are stronger and will stretch before breaking. Damage results. We have seen augers that rip into 2 pieces because someone has installed an even harder grade 5 bolt. Expensive. Newspapers are common items to pick up with a snow blower. Normally they can just be pulled out. If they are really stuck the best way to remove it is to bring the blower into a heated garage. When the paper is warm it is soft and can be removed easily. A heat gun or hair dryer can be used if a heated garage is not available. Shear pin replacement: Sometimes when they break there will be a broken piece stuck in the auger shaft. The hole location is not always in a convenient location. With the engine shut off, hold the auger handle down and slowly pull the rewind. This will cause the auger system to rotate. It takes quite a few pulls to fully rotate the auger system once so you may have to pull 3 or 4 times. Once you can see the hole in the auger shaft you can knock out the remains of the old bolt with a hammer & punch then install the new bolt. Always keep some spare shear bolts.
Maintenance pays off. Pre season maintenance is the way to go. Your snow blower is unlikely to give you any problems during the summer. During a major snowfall when a snow blower is really working is the same time that any problems are going to show up. Unfortunately the majority of people run them until they break. It is the same as doing all your automotive maintenance while hooked up to a tow truck after breaking down on the side of the highway. It is always more expensive and never convenient. In our industry we get a flood of broken snow blowers after every major snowfall. Every person wants theirs fixed first because their driveway is full of snow! We recommend having pre season maintenance performed in the spring. That way it is properly stored for the off season and is ready to go when the snow returns. We could add much more to this post so we will revisit this topic again in the future.