My neighbour had an old snow blower in his side yard just sitting there basically uncovered except for a wooden shelf above it. I asked him if it ran and he said it didn’t – I figured that might have been the case as we both were shovelling away last year in the winter and there was a lot of snow last winter. I asked him if it was ok if I had a look at it to try and figure it out. We’d both have a much easier winter!
My first step was to get the manuals online. That was a challenge as I couldn’t find the manual for this machine that has a Home Hardware branded serial number. But someone online mentioned the “Landmark” machines are either MTD or Murray blowers re-branded. So I pulled up some of the manuals for those makes that have 2 stage blowers to see what they had to say. Most were pretty commonly divided into augers and drive gears. Turns out the innards of most snowblowers are pretty basic.
The next step was to get the 10 hp motor running. If I can’t get the motor to turn over I’m basically out of luck. The good news is the motor on this beast is a Tecumseh which is basically the same as my lawnmower, just with more horsepower and made for cold winter use.
Draining the old gas was the first step. Luckily there is a L shaped fuel valve which stopped the old gas from varnishing up the carburetor too much. I discovered that it was leaking really badly when I opened up the valve — this needed to be replaced.
So I drained the fuel, changed the oil put in some fresh gas and crossed my fingers. No luck – she wouldn’t start yet.
I took the carburetor apart and cleaned everything out very well with carb cleaner. There was some sand or salt crystals in there, a bit of rust and the bowl’s seal was cracked and leaking. A bit of oil would help on the ring until I could get a rebuild kit with all the rubber parts and a new needle.
What I forgot to clean was the main fuel screw or jet. My lawn mower doesn’t have any adjustable components so I simply unbolted the bowl and then put the bowl back on. Needless to say the cleaning didn’t work either until I took out the bolt and wire brushed and cleaned out the main jet and adjusted the screws according to the engines manual (same one as my lawnmower – which is awesome as I had it in the shed).
So now that the engine was running I needed to look at the mechanical parts of the snowblower.
The shear bolts were rusted horribly. So I soaked them in WD40 and got one nut off – the other still rusted on. Then using a small sledge and some vice grips I was able to get the bolt out of its seat in the shaft of the auger. Luckily the auger spun freely on the shaft – I was glad to see it hadn’t rusted on tight – that would be bad as the shear pins would be useless at that point. Some 3in1 lube and lithium grease went into the hole to help it spin and prevent further rusting. The second shear pin I ended up snapping off the nut and bolt trying to get it off. This made it harder to bang out since I didn’t have a bolt shaft to hammer through but I got it by putting the vice grips on the head of the bolt really tightly and knocking on the vice grips with the hammer.
Picked up a new fuel shutoff valve, two shear pins and a carb rebuild kit at the small engine pro shop on Wolfdale. Installed them and it was now time to look at the belts and drive system.
Unbolted the belt cover and the drive belt looked like it had been replaced recently while the auger belt was much older. The drive belt is always engaged while the auger belt bows off the drive shaft of the motor when not in use to stop the impeller and augers from spinning. Perfect! I’ll have to keep an eye on the auger belt when we have a heavy storm – I expect it to snap. I lubed up everything that could spin in there – wheels, engagement bolts and leavers – then put the belt cover back on.
Now it was time to look in the belly for the drive system. I put a plastic bag under the fuel cap to stop gas from leaking out the breathing hole and tipped the blower up on its auger housing. 5 bolts held the bottom plate on and I had to disengage the auger leaver and spring to get the plate off.
Inside is the chain driven wheel shaft. Also a hex shaft that holds the rubber drive wheel that engages a steel spinning plate. The spinning metal plate – which is a circle – is connected to the motor. The rubber clutch wheel makes contact on the right or left depending if you want to go forward or back. The further from the centre of the plate you press the clutch wheel into the plate the faster it is spinning so the faster the wheels turn! The clutch wheel shaft is connected to the outside wheels by sprockets and chains. Makes sense!
Lube up everything that moves in there with lithium grease scrape off the rust on the selector shafts. Lube them again as they were rusted stuck when I first tried to move the machine. Be sure not to get any lube on the spinning plate. You need that friction of the plate and the rubber to engage the wheels! Break cleaner or WD40 will help if you make a mistake. I wouldn’t use break cleaner on the rubber itself though.
The mechanism that engaged the clutch wheel to the plate was rusted and didn’t move very well, but some lithium grease and lots of pushing and pulling helped free it up. I then adjusted the engagement wires from the handles to the actuators on the back of the machine. The auger one needs to be loose enough that the belt disengages when you let go, the drive one needs to be free of the spinning plate when it isn’t depressed.
I then lubed up the control panel and sprayed the shoot and impeller with some silicone spray. Attached some new MTD polly multi-fit skid plates I bought from Canadian Tire — there were no original skid plates on the machine just the square bolt holes. Filled the tires with air and we’re good to go for the winter.
Looking forward to the first heavy snow to see how well the blower works! It’s the end of the driveway where all this maintenance work will pay back.