About that snow blower…

Okay, time to catch up on the snow blower situation!

20190213.driveway
This driveway was not cleared with a snow blower.

We headed out to pick it up yesterday, along with the two chain saws.

The guy walked me through what he did. Along with cleaning out the carburetor, he added an inline fuel shut off valve, which would help with a leak. There already was a metal shut off valve, but it was not the sort that should be turned open and closed often, as it would wear out more quickly than the one he added. He mentioned that the float seems to stick, which concerned him a bit, but he tested it out on a snow drift, and it worked just fine. He mentioned that the sticking float was causing it to run at full throttle, and showed me what he did as a work-around – something I was already doing. He started it up – of course, it gave him a hard time! – and did a bit of a demo for me. Then he drove it out of the shop and left it running while his dad (the owner of the shop) walked me through what was done with the chain saws. After I paid for everything, the mechanic grabbed some ramps and drove the snow blower into the van for us.

Then he had to take it out and drive it back it in, because he loaded it faster than I could tell him it had to go in backwards, or we couldn’t close the door!

So that was awesome! We got it home, unloaded it, then quickly loaded the van with the garbage and recycling to take to the dump.

Silly me. I am so used to going on Thursdays, I forgot it was Tuesday. The dump was closed before we even left town with the loaded snow blower.

We left everything in the van, and will head out again on Thursday – after my husband’s morning medical appointment. There’s still room for his walker. 😉

Nice thing about the cold; no worries about garbage smells. It’s all frozen.

My younger daughter wanted me to show her how to work the snow blower, so she could do it, too, which came in rather handy. We got it going and started clearing snow in front of the garage a bit, first, and it began stalling, right away. We got it going again, and it seemed to have resolved itself. My daughter got far enough to start doing the driveway when it died again.

After fighting with it for a bit, I took over using the snow blower, while she stayed nearby with the extension cord, keeping the end out of the snow, until the next time it would stall. She would then bring the cord over to help me start it again. With the 100 ft cords we have, it was easier than trying to use the pull cord to start it.

I did actually get some good progress with it, and for a while it was working just fine. I got to the end of the driveway, widening it a bit at the plow ridge, and working on clearing a wider area on the way back, when it began stalling again. We got it going, it ran for a while, then would stall again.

It got to a point where, when I could hear that it was beginning to cut out, I would push down on the handles, lifting the auger blades up, and give it a shake. That would unstick the float, the engine would kick in again, and I could continue.

After a while, the time it would run before I had to do it again kept getting shorter and shorter.

Then it would stall almost immediately after being restarted.

When it got to the point that it simply would not stay started anymore, we put it away and I went to call the shop.

My daughter got out the electric snow shovel and continued clearing the driveway!

So that picture above? Only about 2 feet on one side was cleared with the snow blower. The rest was done with the little electric snow shovel!

The important thing is that we can now get in and out of our driveway without having to gun it to avoid getting stuck. We’re still not clearing into the yard, so we can’t drive the van up to the door for now, but the path to the garage is wide enough for the walker.

When I called the shop, I spoke to the owner. He was the one that worked on it when my brother first brought it to the shop, while his son was on holidays, but his son worked on it this time, so it ended up being a 3 way conversation, with his son in the background.

After describing what it was doing, he ended up suggesting that maybe it was time to get a new snow blower.

!!!

I was not averse to that idea. I was open about our very limited budget. He said they had three refurbished snow blowers available. Would I be interested in using the old one as a trade in? There was still the problem of our not being able to get it into the van without ramps.

As the 3 way conversation continued, the son – having seen what our driveway looks like – recommended a particular machine, but while it was slightly narrower than what we have, it’s longer, and would not fit in our van. However, if we were going to do a trade in, he could use their trailer to deliver the newer snow blower, then haul away the old one, and we could work out the cost and any payment plan. The newer machine would be about $500 (a new equivalent would be about $1200 – $1500, from what I’ve found online), minus the trade in and minus whatever deal they could come up with.

I really appreciated that they’d be willing to do that, however I wanted to talk to my brother about it, first. So I told them I would do that first, then call them back the next day.

My brother, on hearing what the snow blower was doing, was perplexed. Why didn’t they suggest replacing the carburetor, instead? A new carb would solve all the problems I was having. It already has a new starter, and a bunch of other new and repaired stuff.

As we went back and forth about it, and I mentioned the girls had finished the driveway with the electric snow shovel, he had another suggestion. If we’re going to get another machine, why not get a brand new electric snow blower, instead? As an example, he sent me a link for a 20″ one for about $300.

Hmmm…

So when I called the shop back this morning, I asked about replacing the carburetor. That could work, he told me, with much hesitation in his voice. It’s really old, though. Would he have troubles finding another? I asked. He didn’t know. He’d never had to find one before!

I told him that we wouldn’t be able to bring the snow blower in until Friday, anyhow – if we take the seats out, we can fit it in without a ramp, and can close the back door. Not something I like to do, as those seats are a real pain to take out, and even more to put back in. I told him to go ahead and see if he could find a carburetor for me, and call me back. If he can find one, we’ll bring it in and try that, but if not, we’ll be looking into getting a new electric snow blower, instead. That surprised him, and he asked if our property was small enough for that. I told him about the even smaller electric snow shovel being able to do that job, so it would work out.

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of having a lighter electric snow blower. There are places around the inner yard that I would be clearing paths through, that the big snow blower is just too unwieldy for. Sure, it would take longer to do the driveway and other areas we want to keep clear for parking and into the inner yard, but that doesn’t bother me. I rather like the idea of not having to refill the gas and oil half way through the job, then again when I’m done.

We shall see. Whether we get a new carburetor and fix the old snow blower, or get a new, smaller, electric one, I’ll be happy either way.

The Re-Farmer

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