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.