Having spent most of my life in warmer climates, I was 15 years old when I first saw snow.
I was captivated by it. I loved being out in the snow, playing snow sports, and even shoveling. To this day, I still love snow.
I’ve always wanted a snowblower, but we’ve never had a strong need.
After moving into our new house with a massive driveway, the snow last winter was too much. After a major storm, my neighbor lent me his snow blower, and I was enthralled.
It was so much fun to use, and even though I enjoy a good shoveling workout, it freed up a lot of time to play with my son in the snow.
So I was determined to get my own snow blower for next winter.
Purchasing an Old Snow Blower
I started my search early fall. My goal was to find a good machine without spending a lot – even if it meant fixing an old snow blower.
I already had a lot of experience maintaining my mower – a 20-year old Craftsman riding mower.
From simple oil changes to fuel pump replacements to carburetor rebuilds, I have the old mower running like new.
So, I decided to look for a used snow blower.
Due to my experience with the Craftsman brand, I know that their replacement parts are plentiful and cheap online.
They also provide manuals and parts diagrams for almost every model equipment they make (just enter the model number on SearsPartsDirect.com).
I found an amazing deal – $125 for a Craftsman 5HP two stage snow blower with electric start. Comparable ones were selling used for around $275.
For such a low price, I knew it wasn’t going to be in perfect condition, so I kept my expectations low.
Inspecting the Snow Blower
Upon my inspection, it was missing the pull starter rope for manual startup, and the carburetor would leak fuel every now and then.
It was also missing the control knob for the choke.
The guy selling it said the machine would start making surging sounds after some time, until you fiddled with the carburetor fuel release screws.
He started it up though and it ran great.
I checked out all the forward/reverse gears. I inspected the impeller to make sure it was in good shape. The auger had no structural damage.
I was excited. For around $40 more in parts, I could get this snow blower in top shape.
I happily accepted the offer of $125 and loaded it into my SUV, with plans on fixing up the old snow blower.
I had brought a pair of ramps I made a few weeks ago with two 2×8 wood planks and ramp supports.
This helped me load the heavy machine in the back of the car.
I did have to take out a few screws to fold the push handle in half to fit properly though.
I also wrapped the carburetor in a plastic bag to catch any fuel that was leaking (didn’t need the car smelling like gas for days).
Here’s a picture of my new machine before fixing it up:
Ordering Replacement Parts
When I got home, I grabbed the snow blower model number off the back and went online to order some parts:
Based on my assessment of the machine, I put through an order for the following parts:
- Pull starter rope and handle
- Knob for choke
- Spark plug
The price came up around $40 as I predicted. I considered rebuilding the carb (the leaking was probably from a deteriorated rubber seal), but new carbs for this model were so cheap (around $15).
I actually just replaced my neighbor’s snow blower carb with the exact same one a few weeks ago too.
Fixing an Old Snow Blower
All my parts came about a week later and I went to work restoring the machine to tip top shape. Below is a walk-through of what I did.
Disconnecting the carburetor
I located the carburetor housing:
Then, I removed the housing to expose the carburetor:
I disconnected the yellow priming hose seen above (used to pump air from the priming bulb into the carb to force fuel out for a cold start), followed by the main fuel hose below:
It was important to clamp off the main fuel hose or fuel would immediately pour out once disconnected.
I used a vice grip, taking care not to squeeze so tightly that the hose would get damaged.
Fuel hoses are sometimes tough to disconnect, so I used special curved nose pliers to grip the hose and twist:
I had a plastic cup underneath the hose while disconnecting it, in case my vice grip clamp didn’t do a good job.
A word to the wise however – don’t use cheap plastic cups to hold gasoline. I didn’t think it was a big deal because I used a plastic cup the other day to catch some excess gas from my neighbor’s carburetor.
However, this time, a few minutes after collecting some gas, I noticed a small puddle on the garage floor.
Apparently the gasoline had eaten through my plastic cup!
I looked it up online, and discovered that some plastic cups are not friendly to gasoline. Most likely my plastic cup this time was made from a corn based product, which would be dissolved by the gasoline.
Next, I unhooked a metal link wire connecting the throttle control lever to the carb, and attempted to remove two bolts holding the carb to the engine block.
Removing the carburetor
The bolts were on extremely tight and I could not remove with a screw driver. The screw heads actually started stripping.
So, I brought out my impact drill and it did the job with ease:
Here’s a picture of the removed carburetor:
The removed piece actually consisted of more than just the core carb, so I had to strip it down to extract the carb (seen in the center of the picture below):
The piece on the right is called the intake pipe and connects the carb to the engine block.
Unfortunately, when I pulled it off the engine, a gasket in between the two ripped from old age.
My new carb didn’t come with this gasket (since it’s not technically part of the carb), so I had to order a replacement.
This meant I had to wait a few days to actually fire up the machine with the new carb. I could still proceed with the installation though, and just insert the gasket when it arrived.
Here’s a picture showing where the gasket would go:
To install the new carb, I just reversed the steps above with the new piece. I loosely connected it back to the engine block, awaiting the gasket for completion.
Spark plug and pull starter
Next I replaced the spark plug:
After, I proceeded to fix the missing pull starter and handle. The original rope most likely broke from old age.
Here’s where the fix was to be done:
Here’s a picture showing the new rope and handle to be installed:
And, here’s the pull starter housing removed showing the old frayed rope:
I simply removed old rope remains and threaded in the new rope, coiling it around the starter. Here’s a picture showing the repaired starter:
The rope remained secured to the starter and handle with knots on both ends.
To keep the knots from undoing, I used a lighter to melt the end of the polyester rope slightly (also a necessary step when cutting polyester rope to keep the ends from fraying):
When the intake pipe gasket arrived in the mail a few days later, I resumed work on the snow blower. I installed the gasket and secured the carburetor tightly to the engine block.
The blower was ready to be fired up. I rolled it outside and hooked up an extension cord for the electric start.The engine started up right away with the new carburetor and there were no more leaks. I also tested the pull starter with the new rope. The engine started up just as easily as the electric start.
Changing the oil
Next I was going to change the oil. I let the engine run for a few minutes to warm up the engine oil (warm oil flows more freely when draining it).
Then I shut it off and proceeded with the oil change.
After remove the oil dip stick, I used a small funnel with a hose and an oil storage reservoir and drained the warm oil:
After all the oil was drained, I closed back the drain port and began filling 5W-30 motor oil into the dipstick hole:
While filling the oil, I took breaks regularly to check the level with the dipstick.
I learned the hard way that when you overfill the engine with oil that it’s going to come out of the engine one way or another, and not in a nice way.
The snow blower revamp was nearly done. I replaced the missing choke knob.
Also, the carburetor housing was vibrating excessively due so some missing screws, producing a lot of noise with the engine running. I dug through my garage screw collection until a found a fit.
Finally, as my final step in fixing an old snow blower, I applied some non-stick ice and snow coating to the auger blades and impeller chute. This prepared the snow blower for the upcoming winter season.
This would greatly help prevent the chute from clogging up during use, and allow the augers to cut through the snow like butter.
Here’s the spray that I used:
In total, I spent around $165 on purchasing and fixing an old snow blower ($125 to purchase and $40 in parts) and put in less than 3 hours of work to get it in prime condition.
I’m eagerly looking forward to this upcoming winter and the next major snowstorm.