dear diary: how I spent my snow day.

So we had sort of an unannounced Snowmageddon.  The storm coming north packed a bit more of a punch than anticipated.  It started snowing last night, and we had about three inches of new snow on the ground early this morning.  I cleaned off Robin’s car and sent her off to work, confident that I’d be able to handle the additional 2-3 inches they had predicted before the evening.

Well, it kept coming down all day, and by 3pm we had about a foot and a half of snow in our driveway.  Now, this is a non-trivial amount of snow, but not uncommon in Upper Cryogenica, and under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even mention it…if it wasn’t for the snowblower, which picked this particular afternoon to stop running.  It will run for a minute or so, but stall the instant you point the 400lb. son-of-a-bitch downhill.  Even uphill or on the level, it will eventually sputter, cough, and stall.  If you move the choke just a smidge from halfway between FULL and OFF, the engine chugs to a stop instantly.

I’m guessing it’s something with the fuel line or carb nozzle, but the middle of a Nor’easter is a bad time to tear the thing down and do diagnostics and maintenance.  So I shoveled out a spot for the wife by hand down by the road, and called the plow guy to dig us out.  Good thing we paid for the extended warranty on Mr. Snowblower, because this will be Service Call #4 in as many years.  (In all fairness, it’s in hard use every winter, and gets the piss beaten out of it by Mother Gaia every snow season.)

Now I need a shower, a drink, and a handful of Tylenol.


18 thoughts on “dear diary: how I spent my snow day.

  1. I worked for a while in the local power equipment, & this sort of thing happened every year (& with mowers in the spring).
    If it doesn’t already have one, install a fuel shutoff in the gas line, & mix a good dose of Stabil into your last gas of the year.
    When your done for the season (May or so), start her up & get warm, shut off the fuel, & let it run dry, feathering the choke near the end to get ALL the gas out you can.

    You’ll be happy when the snow starts again in October…

    • Marko Kloos says:

      The thought had occurred to me, but I was (as usual) a day late and a dollar short. Come springtime, I will do exactly that, and have the engine serviced.

  2. Err… “you’re”…

  3. Rob Reed says:

    Still sounds better than my day. I had the snowblower pull cord rip off the machine. At least it finally started on that last pull so I was able to do the driveway before shutting it down.

    A neighbor and a friend came over to help me fix it. Looks like I’m going to have to completely disassamble the chasis and some internal bits just to get to where the cord is installed. Joy.

  4. RevolverRob says:

    Not having had to deal with big North East snow (yet), my thinking is…”Two is one and one is none.” Maybe it’s time to invest a small amount in an older, used snow blower? Or maybe a smaller new model, should the bigger model go bust? Just a thought.


    • Joat says:

      My first thought was two is one and one is none. My plow truck broke on every snowfall for the first part of the season, Luckily I had a odd bastardized snow blower I picked up for $50 this summer, but 150 yards of driveway with a 24″ blower sucks even when the normal snow event is only 5″. I’m going to be keeping my eye out for a better blower for backup this summer.

  5. Jay G. says:

    We *JUST NOW* got the news that the kids’ school will be closed tomorrow. Calls to sitters yield nothing – kids that we have grossly overpaid for years have “plans” and aren’t interested in watching the kids. Looks like it’s “bring your kids to work for the morning” day tomorrow…

  6. Tam says:

    We’ve been having another series of little snow events.

    Remember: The city will plow my street if we get 6″ at once. If we get 5″ Monday night and Tuesday, and then it stops, and then we get another inch-and-a-half today? Sorry. No plow for you!

    The roomie’s car can plow out of the alley and skate to a main street, but the Zed Drei is garage-bound unless it’s a bona fide emergency. I’m not risking bending it for a twelve pack of soda and a loaf of bread.

  7. Anon says:

    Might be water in the fuel freezing in the line; since water is heavier than gasoline it collects in the bottom of the tank, which is where the fuel outlet is. Long term, keep the tank empty and dry out of season, filled to the cap in season to prevent condensation. Short term, add 5% ethanol or methanol which will mix with the water (if any is present in liquid form), and lower the freezing point, then run the tank stone dry.

  8. Newbius says:

    Try some fuel injector cleaner in the tank, and run the engine with the cap slightly loose in case your fuel vent is iced shut

  9. aczarnowski says:

    In climates with seasons you learn to love Stabil. I hate putting away all the summer toys each fall but I sure am glad when they startup in the spring without carb rebuilds.

    What brand is your blower? I run my Husky two stage a decent amount and it hasn’t let me down in seven years.

  10. perlhaqr says:

    Ayup. I second everyone else’s comments querying your seasonal shut down procedures. But it sounds like you’ve got a lot of leads to go on to keep this from happening next year. 🙂

  11. MaddMedic says:

    That suxs!!

    Stabil works well as does Seafoam
    I use it in the Snowblower, Outboard, Lawnmower, chainsaw.

  12. Ancient Woodsman says:

    If you can’t get it diagnosed properly and don’t mind a jaunt south, Ashuelot Valley Outdoor Power Equipment down on Route 10 in Lempster has a crackerjack small engine mechanic. He can make anything run.

    I’m not affiliated with them but doknow the owner & his wife. Good place, and they’ll take good care of you.

  13. Mopar says:

    As someone who has literally a crap-ton of small engines that need to be stored long term (Maintenance supervisor for a parks dept) I’m gonna advise AGAINST running the carb dry. The seals and gaskets in the carb dry out and crack; or just shrink and expand when they get gas again. You can also get some condensation from the air in the carb. Either way you end up with leaks and problems. Add Stabil (great stuff!) to the tank then fill it to the tippy-top. the more gas the less air. Less air means less condensation in the tank. Then run the motor long enough for the treated gas to work it’s way into the carb. I also wash them and spray em good with a silicone spray (seals and protects and as a bonus it keeps snow from sticking) and also pull the sparkplug and spray a little WD40 in the cylinder before replacing the plug. I’ve probably got 25-30 small gas engines, and never have a problem.

    I’m going to say that it sounds like ya got some crud in the fuel bowl of the carb and it’s clogging the needle and seat. Either that or ya got snow clogging your air filter. Pretty simple either way

  14. Tim Hirst says:

    If you have time I would be interested how this worked out.

    In general I find the post on how you keep life going in a north east winter very interesting.

    Have fun and thanks for the blog.


  15. With small airplanes, it is a common practice to run the engine dry for each shut-down, whether by shutting the fuel off or by pulling the mixture to full lean.

    I don’t know of anyone having carb problems as a result of that.

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