Saturday, December 1, 2007

Removing Snow, the Old-School Way

How many times have you wanted some shiny new tool or other equipment but just couldn't justify the price? That's what I'm dealing with when it comes to my snowblower. I have no idea how old it is, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were over 30 years old. The last time I had it tuned up (10 years ago) the dealer said if it needed parts that I'd be out of luck. Luckily, none were needed.

This thing is big and heavy, and since it's a single-stage blower it can just about destroy anything which hits the blades when they're spinning. I wonder if I can get the cat outside and make it look like an accident... It's old-school snow-blowing at it's finest. If I remember correctly, it belonged to my step-grandmother who gave it to my dad, who eventually gave it to me. I've had it for around 10 years now.

As long as it continues to run I can't justify spending $500 on a new snowblower. Yeah, a new one would be nice and would throw snow farther, but this bastard just keeps chugging along.

Since that last tune up, it always starts on the second pull. Always. Until today, when I break it out to prepare for the first real snow of the year. I figure I'm ahead of the game by getting started on it as the snow just starts to fall. It's always started, why would today be any different?

Hello, Murphy. I see you brought your Laws with you today.

Yup, it doesn't start. I drain the gas and put in fresh gas. No dice. I pull the carb shield and spray in some starter fluid. Nothing. I pull the plug and find it's got spark, but it's weak and the plug is covered in gas and soot.

Before going to get a new plug I consider that it could be some debris in the bowl of the carb, so I start to unscrew what I assumed was the float bowl's mounting screw. It's actually the carb's needle - I've never seen that kind of setup before. No biggie, it screws right back in place, and I leave the bowl alone.

Off to the local ACE to get a replacement plug and to let my shoulder rest from pulling on the starter for 15 minutes. It had electric start about 20 years ago, but that starter died and could not be fixed.

I drop in the new plug and it fires right up like there was never a problem. It's running a little rough though, and not reaching full RPMs (as determined by my calibrated ear). Either way it still works and I remove the few inches of snow from the drive. I hoped the way it was running was from some remaining old gas, but then I remembered that I probably changed the setting on the carb's needle as I was screwing around looking for the problem. With the throttle set to full speed, I gave the needle a few turns and it's back to running like a raped ape. It actually seems to be running better now than it had for the past few years.

Damn, no new snowblower for me. The driveway is big - two cars wide and at least 3-1/2 cars long. 15 minutes of work now.

Happiness is a Tecumseh engine, blaze orange paint, and surface rust.