TIPS FOR TROUBLE FREE PERFORMANCE
The Gilson Snowblower Shop
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First and foremost make it a religion to police your yard before each snow storm. A stray rope or trashcan lid can wreak havoc with the machine you depend on. This is especially important if there are children who play in your yard.
Before frost is in the ground drive stakes at critical points to prevent you from shreding things such as a rosebush. When there are drifts and banks of snow all around you can easilly misjudge things.
Get your machine serviced! Unless you're really qualified have your machine looked at every few years. I find it hard to justify yearly visits since we often put a relatively few number of hours on the machines. If you've just had a hard winter use common sense, and don't wait for snow to be in the forecast! Many machines have known wear areas and a trained technician can save you from further wear or a breakdown. I know, I've prevented a lot of damage to machines that I've been asked to look at over the years.
Be sure your discharge chute is clean before the season starts. Sand lightly to remove any scaly rust.
Spray the discharge chute with a silicone spray before each storm. A furniture polish such as PLEDGE also works in a pinch. This will reduce clogging and increase the distance you can throw snow .
When you are done, let the machine run for a few minutes with the impeller spinning. This will let the machine dry itself out a bit and help avoid damaging freezups.
Avoid using "snow cabs", they just aren't worth it. They destroy the delicate balance of the machine, make it awkward to maneuver in tight quarters and will come down and hit you in the head if the front end rides up in a hard snowbank!
If you are on flat land and your machine has "agricultural" or "chevron " pattern tires try running without tire chains, you and your machine will be grateful.
While we're on the subject of tires here's something I've realized. While the average life span of a snowblower is said to be 11 years I'm finding that many remain useful for well over 30 years. The other thing I've found is that many vintage machines are being retired early because the tires have fallen apart. This is most critical on machines with hard rubber and semi-pneumatic tires. They suffer cracking, dry-rot and general deterioration over time. In most cases replacement wheels are not available and if available are prohibitively expensive. The only reason I consider it less critical on pneumatic tires is that they are readilly replaced for a modest cost. Here are a few tips to avoid this type of damage.
When your done have a whisk broom handy. AFTER the engine is shutdown remove as much snow as possible before storing. You'll have less mess in your storage space and the warm engine will have a better chance of drying itself off.
If you start your machine and the engine stalls when you engage the "blower" STOP you may have had a freeze up. Check it out with the engine OFF and thaw if needed. Failing to do this can result in rapid destruction of a drive belt and much embarasment when you have the only messy driveway in the neighborhood.
Think about how you're going to blow your snow. Some of this will be trial and error but here are some starting points.
- When not in use (certainly during the off season) block the back of your machine up to get the tires off of the ground or floor. A block of wood under the back of the machine will get the tires up in the air. This will slow the deterioration and avoid have the wheels going thunk, thunk, thunk, for the first storm.
- Do not store the machine where the tires will receive direct sunlight, this is very damaging to tires.
- Do not expose your tires to gasoline or other solvents.
- As much as possible with a 2 stage machine try to blow snow with the natural flow from the impeller. This usually means throwing to your right. If you go against this flow the snow has to switch to a different arc when it reaches the chute and this will cost you velocity and distance.
- Be aware of your winds. This is easy because if you get it wrong you will feel like you fell into a tub of snow-cone ice. In many areas you can count on prevailing winds especailly after the storm. In this case working with the wind will let you do a better job while being more comfortable.
- Try to avoid backing. Consider S patterns of even circles to keep the machine working. Sometime you need to go back and forth but usually you can find a way to keep moving forward. This will save some transmission wear and seem less tedious to you.
- Try not to blow snow twice. If it's heavy snow and you need to blow it in 2 hops you may want to clear the midpoint first so it won't get too deep or packed.
There are a few things you should always have on hand to support your machine. Getting the dealer to throw some of these items in can be a good negotiating tactic.
And finally before you do anything visit some safety links.
- Shear pins: The machine probably comes with a few extra and you may never need them but why rely on only 2? If you use one then you only have one left. Have half a dozen just in case. Don't forget the cotter pins or lock-nuts since they will probably be lost in the snow.
- Gas Can: 5 gallons is a common size for larger 4 stroke machines. 2-1/2 gallons may make more sense for the smaller 2 strokes. Good cans can be had in both metal and plastic each with benefits, the choice is yours. Remember to always place the can on the ground when filling it. This will ground it prevent an expolsion ignited by static discharge. Never fill the can with it sitting in your trunk or the back of a pickup truck.
- Stabilizer: Stabil is the most common over the counter product. There are a few others if you do some research. Add the stabilizer to the can before going to the gas station. The filling process and drive home will provide a good mixing and you won't forget to do it when you get home. This is cheap insurace to keep your fuel system from getting gummed up and to insure consistent performance.
- Motor Oil: You should be checking the crankcase level before every storm and you will need compatible oil to top it off as needed. If your machine is a 2 stroke you will want a supply of that oil.
- V-Belts: I suggest you own a set of belts for your machine for a number of reasons even though you should not need them for years. Belts do fail and if you break one and are able to replace it yourself you can get through the storm on your own. Even if you can't do it yourself you may have a neighbor that can help. Additionally the storm that broke your belt may have broken a lot of other belts and you may get to your dealer to find they are out of your part. Having your own belts lets you remove that risk. Even if it's a warranty repair they can always replace your personal spare belt when fresh stock arrives.
- Other items and tools to consider depending on your machine include silicone spray, polish or other slip sprays for the chute, a spare sparkplug and grease gun.
STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer, 8 ounce
Adding stabilizer to your fuel keeps gasoline fresh and retards the
formation of damaging deposits in your fuel system. This is much more
important for a single cylinder engine than a regularly used
automobile. Add to your storage can before heading to the filling
station and it will come home well mixed. I use STA-BIL in all of my
outdoor power equipment all of the time. That way I never need to
worry about what is in a machine when storage time comes. STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer, 4 ounce
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Created January 2002 **** Updated 2/7/05