Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Snow Blower Adjustments and Garage Radio Improvements

Since we're expected to get ~2" of snow tonight, I put the snow blower batteries in the charger, and started looking at it seriously.

One of the major P's in the A with this thing has been the fact that it trips on every single joint, crack, or imperfection in the driveway and sidewalk, making me push down on the handlebars to lift the front and get it to go over that little pebble it snagged on. Very frustrating to say the least.

Now those of you who know snow blowers, or even full-sized plows, will tell me instinctively to check the height of the "Skid Shoes". And the manual shows how to adjust them, the scraper blade, and mentions that these adjustments "Have been preset at the factory for shipping. You may want to adjust them before use", and gives some suggested dimensions.

Their second sentence should have read "You should adjust them before use", as they had this thing sitting "Down In The Weeds" in Hot Rod speak!

So I plopped down on the garage floor with a 13mm socket and combo wrench, and loosened everything up to see how it fit together, and what range of adjustability it had.

The scraper blade was waaay off, actually out at the limit of it's travel, and the skid shoes were also set very low.

Wondering what to use for some kind of "gauge", I spied a box of "Bondo Spreaders", and grabbed them off the shelf. Two of them stacked together gave me a nice 1/4" spacer. I slide the scraper blade all the way back, positioned the plastic "shims" under the auger bucket, and set the shoes to give me that much clearance. Then I slide the scraper blade back out just a bit, and locked everything down solid. I now have a 3/16" gap at the ends, and about 1/8" gap in the center of the scraper. I should have done this before the first use, but the manual was vague, and I should have known better. Failed my pre-flight, I did!

 I'll spray the inside tomorrow with silicone spray, and we'll see if it plows any better.

And since working in the garage requires tunes, I've been listening to my old Onkyo R-510 "Home Theater" receiver, now repurposed to garage duty, a whole lot more. When I first got it installed, I was using the little 18" whip antenna that normally goes with my hand-held frequency counter. I went through the dial from 88 to 108, programmed in a bunch of stations, and then winnowed out the ones that really didn't play stuff I liked.

WELL......in the interests of trying to get a better signal, resulting in even more stations to listen to, I installed a "Halo", or "Loop" antenna, and ran a coax down to the receiver. I mounted it an inch or two below the ceiling for convenience, even though I knew it might compromise the antenna a bit, performance-wise.

Some of the stations that came in acceptably well on the little whip were noticeably weaker, a couple were unusable, and a couple of the others sounded a bit weak even though the receiver had a solid lock on them. I put it off to the antenna being mounted so close to the ceiling, and moved on. I didn't want to leave the little telescopic whip on the receiver as it's a bit fragile for a garage environment, so I just lived with it.

It was getting pretty tiresome trying to listen to a couple of stations, and I decided to try going back to a vertically polarized antenna.

So tonight I dug out a magnetic mount base and a VHF coil for a half-wave antenna, and the longest whip I had, a 49" long one. The whip is a bit short, being resonant around 115MHz, but it's what I had, and is plenty Good Enough for this application.

Plugged it all together, and the stations I lost in the noise on the loop are now back full-quieting, and a quick trip through the dial reveals a few new ones to look up.

I'm not sure if the loop would work better outside (they usually do), but the vertical gives me plenty of stations to chose from, so I'll stick with it.

It also used up some stuff that was just collecting dust, so win-win!


  1. We have the Husqvarna 24" blower with plastic skids and they wore very fast.
    I took them off to flip them and found they were a hollow honeycomb on the side not visible.
    I made a pair of skids from 1/2" Lexan scrap and they are holding up much better.
    I've thought about making a pair of steel skids, and then using some hardface welding electrodes on the wear area, but I'm not going to do that in the winter, and I don't worry about it in the summer.
    We spray the insides with a silicone lube that dries and it seems to cut down the sticking of the snow.

    1. These are steel, and you can rotate them top-to-bottom to use both sides, which I thought was clever.

      I just use the cheapest silicone I can find. I'll look into the "dry lube" stuff.

  2. I set the skids to about a quarter inch, and that works fairly well on my 275 lb snowblower. The only drawback is when I hit patches of packed-down tire tracks under the loose stuff. The blower starts skipping like a rock on a pond, and I have to back up, put it in a lower gear, and try again.

    1. The manual said 1/8", but that seemed a little low to me. I tried for 1/4", and got between that and an 1/8", so we'll see how it goes.

      Still snowing pretty good, so I'll hold off a bit longer.

  3. Good you have a snowblower. Far to many people have heart attacks shoveling snow.

    Something I retained from my car sales days is a snow rake. Your vehicles aren't always in a garage. Very durable, mine is probably ten years old.


    1. Read and heard of way too many guys dropping dead back when I lived in Illinois. At least this is dry, fluffy snow, not that wet concrete we had in Illinois.


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