The big topic all week is the big storm that is projected to come our way. This means that we are likely to get snow. It would be the first snow of the season. This also means that I haven’t run my snowblower yet. Well, it’s time for snowblower maintenance. It is way easier to do the maintenance ahead of the snow season, so you (and everyone else) are not scrambling to The Home Depot for the last shear bolts in stock.
Here are some tips that I have learned after a few seasons in New England with an Ariens 1128 Sno-Thro snowblower.
RTFM. The manual contains a lot of clues. Ariens.com has manuals for all of its models archived. Actually, I find that the manual gets more helpful over time. Initially, you don’t know anything about this machine that you just bought. How hard could it be, you may think? The machine typically works pretty well when you first get it. Once you get a little time under your belt, read the manual. You will find little details that help you understand what’s going on.
Take notes. When you learn something, write it down. Your future self will thank you. Write down the socket sizes, threads, part numbers for replacement parts, and any tips that you discover.
Watch videos on YouTube. When you encounter a problem or a developing issue, find appropriate videos on YouTube. You will have to make sure that you watch a video on your specific model, as sometimes you might be watching a video on a different model. I tend to act like a detective and seek out the information from the videos. Not all of the videos, or every video you are going to find, are going to apply. This is a good skill to develop to speed up the learning process with anything that you may want to learn.
Grease the shear bolts. Your snowblower is designed to fail-safe when you run over a dog toy, a tree branch, or a rock. A shear bolt is designed to break in case of a jam instead of putting the forces back on the belt, drive, and motor. When you replace your shear bolt, grease it up. It will be easier to remove and replace when you inevitably hit something.
Keep a stock of shear bolts. Use the manual to find the type of shear bolt you need. Write down the part number. Buy a bunch of shear bolts. Try them out as soon as you get them. Make sure they fit and last with normal wear. On Amazon, there is a variety of quality that you will find. So, find ones that work and return the ones that don’t. You will be thankful when you need them. In New England, they tend to be out of stock in the winter since everyone is breaking their shear bolts and going out to buy them. Mine uses a 1/2″ socket to install. Yes, I wrote that down in my notes.
Grease the auger when you replace the shear bolts. A good time to grease the auger shaft is when you replace the shear bolts. I like to take the shear bolts off and apply grease via the Zerk fittings and then spin the auger to spread out the grease. I squeeze grease in there until it comes out the sides of the auger. This was something I had to watch a YouTube video on. I never used my grease gun before and didn’t even know how to attach it to the grease fitting.
Maintain the correct tire pressure. My Ariens 1128 tires require 14 psi to function properly. I bought a battery-powered air compressor to make it easy to fill the tires. I also like that it tells me the pressure in the tire with a digital readout. Make sure that both tires are set to the same air pressure. This will help the snowblower travel in a straight line. If you don’t know your target PSI, check the sides of the tires. It is usually written on the walls of the tire.
Take advantage of the calm before the storm. It’s freezing in the winter, and it’s not convenient to perform maintenance. In the spring or fall, you can take advantage of warmer weather and lower stakes. Grease the auger, buy some shear bolts from Amazon, clean the gas, add oil, tighten the chute, and set the right air pressure in your tires.