Saturday, December 20, 2008

White Death, December '08

Sure, this isn't Denver or Buffalo, but we're getting our fair share of snow.

Friday morning starting at around 1 am we got about 8" of snow before 8 am. By the end of the day it was around 11".

The snowblower worked great, and it appears that the Loc-Tite did it's job. Damn, no new snowblower for me this year I guess....

What really confuses me are the idiots who go out driving before the roads are cleaned up. Now not everybody out there is an idiot. I was out there while there was still no way to see the actual street. 6+ inches of snow in the intersections, etc. The idiots are the ones who go out un-prepared or poorly equipped.

Like the people with their cars stuck in 6+ inches of snow in the turn lanes.

The main roads are bad enough for cars, but to think that your car is going to make it through a tight low-speed turn with snow up past the frame? FAIL.

A lot of the cars I saw on the roads were police, and some of those police cars were running tire chains, something I've never seen on police cars around here.

I'm a different kind of idiot I guess, as I love driving in the snow. But since I drive a Jeep I have a little easier time getting through the snow. The only area I was even remotely concerned with was when I was trying to enter the remote parking lot at Best Buy before the lot was plowed.

There was barely a path wider than the Jeep going in, and snow at least 8" high. There was also a big pile of snow to get through from the plow trucks clearing the street. A little extra gas and I got right through.

On the way out, a guy was stuck in the same spot with what I assume to be a 2 wheel drive pickup (back wheels were spinning like mad, front wheels weren't moving at all). He was evidently an idiot.

If your job is critical and you're needed, take your chances. Going shopping at Best Buy probably doesn't count as critical.

Unless they've got a killer sale on HD TVs, that is.

Tonight we're supposed to get another 5" or so.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Own the Snowblower from Hell

Yeah yeah, I'm still alive.

I know it's been months since my last post, but I've done pretty much jack-squat on the house since then, other than paint the bathroom.

I've finally determined that my snow blower is the illegitimate love-child of Satan and Oprah. (I should probably disable comment posting as soon as I publish this).

It's big, old, and heavy and I think I'm doomed to a lifetime of dealing with it.

But it DOES have cool tire chains!

For years now I've been waiting for it to die so I can justify spending $700 on a new snow blower. But like the Energizer bunny on meth, this thing just won't quit.

A week ago we had some snow so I fired it up. 2nd pull, as always, and it immediately settled down into a smooth idle. When I was about 80% done with clearing the drive it started to shake and make a loud banging sound, like somebody had thrown a frozen cat into the auger.

Don't ask me how I know what that sounds like, I'm not sure what the statute of limitations is on that quite yet....

I shut it down and found that the entire auger assembly (the spinning blades of death in the front) was lose and hanging at an odd angle.

YAY! Time to get a new snow blower!

Oh, wait, the bolt that holds the right side of the auger just fell out. And it's sitting 2' away from me on the driveway. Damn. 3 minutes and a 3/4" socket wrench later and it's back up and running.

At least I didn't have to spend the money reserved for the kid's Christmas presents on a replacement.

Today we're getting more snow so I broke it out again to take care of the first few inches of snow. Again, about 80% of the way through the work and it starts to run weird.

This time it was idling poorly - revving up and down and generally running like crap. I thought it was running low on gas, but when I checked I found that I still had half a tank. I noticed that the shield covering the carb was wobbly, which is different because normally it's nice and tight. I thought it might just be a lose screw, but as I was moving the shield it I found that the engine ran better depending on how the shield was held.

The entire carb was actually lose, and letting in additional air while letting out some of the gas intended for the engine. There are two screws which hold the carb in place, and both had worked themselves lose.

A few minutes later I had it tightened up and it was running great. For about 5 minutes. The screws backed out pretty quickly and I was back to having to tighten 'em up again.

This time I put some Loc-Tite on the screws to hold them in place. I'll know tomorrow if it'll hold. If not, maybe I'll finally get that new snow blower.....!

Being somewhat mechanically inclined has really paid off though. Two problems that could have resulted in expensive trips to the shop with the snow blower were taken care of with about $.02 in Loc-Tite.

Assuming that fixes the current problem. I'll know tomorrow when I fire it up and try it again.