RUGGED U'S 14-SNOW BLOWING TIPS, TRICKS AND TOOLS OF THE TRADE
#1 - GO THE DISTANCE:
It does you little good if, when you begin to clear your drive of snow, you only throw the snow into the next area where you will be making a path. This is fruitless and can bog down your blower if you are just pushing old snow with new snow as you head down your next row. Instead, reduce the friction in your chute by spraying it down with nonstick spray. Yes, nonstick spray. Spray down your augers as well. This allows for the snow to flow more freely and less likely to jam your system. They do make commercial chemicals that you can spray your blower with, but this works in a pinch.
Other ways to increase the distance of your blowing by taking smaller passes, allowing for less snow in the chute, and increasing the distance. You can also adjust the chute to a pitch that allows for a greater blowing distance. Slowing down your pace while keeping your RPM’s high, is another way to get the snow out further. Finally, the easiest way to ensure you get distance out of your blowing is to blow with the wind, allowing mother nature to do the work for you. All of these steps will also help prevent clogs.
#2 - SINGLE-STAGE = LIGHT DUTY:
Knowing what you are buying when it comes to snowblowers, first requires you to think about what kind of conditions and types of snow you will be throwing. If you purchase a single-stage gas or electric snow blower then you are going to be handling smaller and lighter jobs. Though these units tend to be more compact and cheaper, they are not built to handle large amounts of snow or wet, heavy, compacting snow. They typically use rubber or plastic augers that can quickly become clogged or break under conditions outside their intended use. The term ‘single-stage’ refers to the fact that the unit simply uses its augers to ‘throw’ the snow out of its chute, which is where the term ‘snow thrower’ comes from. If your snowfall is typically under 8” (for gas) or 4” (for electric), then these units will work great for short, flat surfaces.
Also keep in mind that these units (if gas) are usually Two-cycle engines and require mixed fuel (part oil, part gas). This means a second gas can if your regular mower uses regular gas. Two-cycle engines also tend to have a harder time starting in the winter than their four-cycle counterparts, which are what you normally see in the next stage of snowblowers.
#3 - TWO-STAGE = MEDIUM - HEAVY DUTY:
Taking it to the next level is moving to a two-stage snowblower. These units get the name ‘blower’ because after the augers pick up the snow/ice, it’s second stage impeller then discharges it quickly out the chute, helping prevent any slowdown or clogging. Instead of a manually adjusted chute, these units typically have a crank adjusted chute for adjusting positions with a larger diameter to move the snow out.
These snowblowers are normally larger and have metal augers. They also have large tires and a higher ground clearance making them better for uneven surfaces. With the adjustment of the shoe on either side of the blower, it can be set up to work on concrete and gravel as well.
#4 - THREE-STAGE = HEAVY DUTY:
“Go Big or Go Home” is the old adage. Three-stage snowblowers are the workhorse of the snowblower world and tend to add a few luxuries while they are at it. The third-stage in these units is after the first set of augers scoops up the snow and ice, this second auger pulverizes the ice and snow before sending it to the impeller for discharge. This added feature, along with some units including heated handles, simpler chute controls, and a self-propelled unit, makes them the go-to snowblower for the most rugged conditions.
#5 - PARKING SPOT:
At the end of the season, how you treat your snowblower directly affects its performance and longevity. Choosing to park your unit inside vs outside would obviously make a big difference. Also for a longer lifespan, be sure to drain your gas when the unit will sit for more than a month. Bad gas can cause corrosive results as well as clog your fuel lines and carburetor if it is running with old gas in it. There are other great tips for end of season storage of your snowblower that you can find in our other blog, “5-Point Printable Snowblower Or Snow Thrower End Of Season Checklist”.
#6 - YOU ARE NUMBER 1:
It would make sense that when dealing with any kind of machinery, that is typically used for a short time each year like snowblower, that the biggest cause of snowblower injury is the operator themselves. Improper operation leads to clogging, and when they do not clear a clog properly, injuries occur. Operators are also the number one cause of clogs in the first place, along with causing unit breakdowns. So the question then becomes, how do I not become a statistic? You’re reading it.
#7 - DIG IN EARLY:
It is tempting to wait until all the snow has hit the ground before you start blowing. This, however, can add an unnecessary workload to both you, and your blower. It may sound funny that blowing snow more than once is actually better than doing it all at one time, but it’s true. Hit the powder when it is more manageable for both you and the blower. Your arms, back, and legs will thank you for it, and your blowers parts will last longer. Plus it will allow you to throw the snow further away early on, keeping your drifts small.
#8 - PREPARATION IS THE KEY:
If you think back to when you were mowing, you know there is nothing worse than mowing over a toy, newspaper, or rock. The same goes for snow blowing. Before the snow even hits the ground, prepare the areas you know you will be traveling for your snowblower. If your path will be hard to see with a blanket of snow over it, install driveway marker stakes ahead of time to know where the edges are. This is always best to do before the ground freezes and with one of The ROP Shop’s installation tools. However, if you bought your stakes from us too late in the season, you can always use a cordless drill and masonry drill bit to prep the holes.
#9 - FRESH IS BEST:
If you have ever seen someone trying to start up their lawnmower or snowblower and suddenly a billowing thick smoke consumed the person, there is a good chance they had bad gas in their engine. Failing to drain your tank at the end of each season will not only increase your chances of hard starts, but it also allows your lines and carburetor to become gummed up and eventually fail.
The best course of action is to run your tank dry. However, if this is not possible, many snowblowers are equipped with fuel shutoff valves. First, pour in the recommended amount of stabilizer for the fuel in the tank. Run the tank for about 5 minutes, allowing the mix to move through the carburetor and lines. Then use the shutoff to cut the flow of fuel. Allow the carburetor and engine to run out the rest of the fuel in the line. When you are ready to start it next season, be sure to mix fresh gas in with the stabilized gas for best results.
#10 - SNOWBLOWER NOT FLAME THROWER:
For safety, if you are unable to complete your snow blowing before depleting your fuel supply, allow time (at least 10 minutes) for your motor to cool before refilling. Every year there are many cases where owners are burned and hospitalized because the hot engine ignited fuel that spilled, causing flames to flare up. Even if you are lucky and avoid being burned, you could accidentally roast your snowblower and you are back to shoveling.
#11 - REGULAR, SYNTHETIC OR A BLEND:
The problem with oil when it gets cold is that regular oil tends to thicken. This can make cold starts even more of a challenge. So one would think that a switch to synthetic would easily be the answer. If your unit is brand new, going with synthetic from the start is not a bad decision, but if your unit has a lot of hours on it, suddenly switching to a full synthetic may actually cause problems with existing seals. Your best bet with a veteran snowblower is to go with a synthetic blend. This protects your aged motor while giving you the smoother starts you are hoping for.
#12 - PRESEASON IS FOR MORE THAN JUST FOOTBALL:
Make sure you are up on your preseason maintenance with new spark plugs, fresh oil, and a good inspection of your snowblower. Be sure to check out The ROP Shop’s blog, “A Rugged Snowblower’s Checklist”, for a more comprehensive preseason list.
#13 - PLAN AHEAD, BUY AHEAD:
Ask yourself, “What are the parts I may need?”. Do this well before the season starts. Shear pins and belts are very affordable and easy to stock up on. The ROP Shop stocks many of these items year-round, and ships them straight to your door. Plus if you live in the lower 48 states, shipping is FREE. Don’t take the chance on a part breaking mid-blizzard. You will then have to pay more to get them from a local shop, (if they are open), or worse yet, you may be tempted to improvise. Spending a little time at www.theropshop.com before the season hits, will save you from spending a lot of money later.
#14 - LUBRICATION:
Be sure that any part of your unit that requires lubrication gets coated. In the long run, this will help you avoid aggravation and expensive repairs. The Drive Shaft can be lubricated by removing the shear pins, adding the lubrication, and then spinning the augers to allow the lube to work its way up and down the shaft. You can also add lube to the shear pins themselves, making them easier to remove. Some units also provide a grease zerk to make lubricating the driveshaft easier.
We hope this list provided you with some key information and tips to help you stay rugged.
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