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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
It's getting to be that time of year, the leaves on the trees are starting to change color and the temperature is slowly getting cooler. So, there is the sign that Winter weather can't be too far off. Taking a bit of inspiration from 29Chev's posts I decided to have a look at my snow blowing equipment. The tractor and blower have been sitting in my barn since last Spring. I did start it up a few times and move it around though when I needed to get to something it was in the way of. I snitched the battery from it about a month ago as I had one go dead in another tractor. Bought a new battery for this tractor and then transferred it to the garage-workshop about a week ago. Today being a cool rainy day, I decided to get out the tools. I had been noticing a small quarter size spot of gear lube on the garage floor last winter after each time I would use it. It didn't seem to leak while just sitting between snow moving sessions though, just after. Probably could have just left it as it was, only a tiny leak, but wanted to find out why and where it leaked. The gearbox doesn't appear to be leaking from the seals on the shafts or the fill plug. So that leaves the gear case itself, gasket, vent plug or the steel plug that seals the rear hole of the bore that the input shaft goes in. I separated the box from its mounting plate and rinsed it out in the wash tank. I then tried filling the box level full as possible, open end up, with solvent and seeing if any leaked out. I waited a couple of minutes, but no solvent was seeping out anywhere. So, there is a clue as to what might be happening. There should have been solvent dripping from the vent. The vent is a sintered bronze plug similar to how Bolens vented the tubeframe gear drive transmissions. I gave it several doses of carburetor cleaner and blew through it with the air nozzle. Now solvent will drip through the vent when I try it. Another thing I found was that the four bolts that fasten the gearbox to the mounting plate weren't as tight as they could have been. They weren't exactly loose but could have been tighter. So, it seems that the person that had this apart [me] might have forgotten to snug up the four bolts when it was reassembled. The gasket sealer seemed to be doing its job pretty well as I had to use a putty knife to get the two apart. Going to cut a new gasket, use Ultra Black RTV sealer and remember to snug up the bolts this time. I'm not 100% sure that lube wasn't getting pushed past the seals when the box got warm, it just didn't appear that it was. The vent plug was for sure not doing its job like it should have been. I'm rather sure I checked that it was working back when I had it apart though. Dunno. I suspect that there was a slight gasket leak when the box got warm because of the not quite tight enough bolts.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Was having a dumb moment. The steel plug that goes in the opposite end of the gearbox where the input shaft is, is the end cap of the needle bearing assembly that the input shaft turns in. Anyway, I cut a new gasket and have the box mounted on the support plate. I don't think any lube was leaking from the end of the needle bearing where it fits into the gear case, but I cleaned it squeaky clean with lacquer thinner and put a bead of RTV on it just because. I removed the auger/impeller from the main housing to inspect the bearings. One of them had some rust on it and has a rough feel when I turn it. Going to replace both bearings. The bearing on the sprocket end of the drive shaft feels and looks good, I'll use it as is. The chain and both sprockets appear good enough and I will use them as is too. I rinsed the housing and discharge chute with degreaser solution and pressure washed them. The bottom side with the cutting edge looks good and I'm not going to do anything to that either. Thats going to be about it for today. I don't see the need to do a long-detailed series of posts about this project as 29Chev already did a great thread on the work he did on his snow-caster. In fact, I'm going to re-read his posts and look for ideas of improvements I might do to mine.
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Thanks for sharing the pictures - looks like your snow caster is in good shape and with a little maintenance you will be ready for the white stuff if and when it shows up. Looks like you keep your machine much nicer looking than mine usually does - I seem to lack in ambition when it comes to that after I get done using it in the spring.

One thing I will mention is the use of RTV silicone and a gasket between the gear case and the support plate - the automotive parts training we received from our gasket suppliers was that if you want to use a gasket use a gasket and if you want to use RTV silicone use RTV silicone but not to use both. The reason the gasket suppliers recommended this is especially of concern where there are two different materials (like the aluminum gear case and the steel support plate) being sealed that will expand and contract at different rates as things warm up, reach operating temperature and then cool down again. The RTV silicone has such good adhesive qualities that as the number of heat / cool cycles increases and the two metals continuously expand and contract at different rates that the gasket will actually become a weak point as one side is stuck to the aluminum and the other side is stuck to the steel and the gasket material can actually shear as it gets pulled apart. This was especially true in automotive applications where water pumps and timing covers made out of aluminum were sealed to a cast iron engine block. In your application I doubt if you will encounter any issues as the gear case will not get very warm during the winter months and will not be run for long periods of time in any one snow removal session.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thats good information. I already cut a new gasket and stuck it together using Permatex Ultra Black. I believe my problem was that a certain someone neglected to go back and retorque the bolts after the initial assembly. I had tightened them enough to make the sealer ooze out between the mating surfaces and must have forgotten to snug the bolts up a bit more after the sealer had set up. The differential covers on my GMC are just installed with the black RTV. I remember our Jeep was the same way too. Had to pound a screwdriver in between them and the housing to pry them loose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, this snow caster is in relatively good condition. I believe it didn't have a lot of hours put on it before I got it. It did have evidence of gravel being run through it though. The skid shoes were worn a fair amount too. I re-read most of your thread about your repairs to your unit, looking for ideas that I could use. Mine didn't have stress cracks where the shoes and cutter bar mount but the metal was showing plenty of bends and even a crease on the righthand side. Both skid shoes were sitting at an odd angle when I bought it. It had been bumped into something, or things, and I had to do a bit of straightening before I could use it. Decided to reinforce the bottom of the housing similar to what you did. I used 12 gauge steel as that was what I had to work with. Would have liked 10 gauge but don't have any on hand. Lots of hammer and dolly work to get things respectably flat again. This modification should work all right. It will be way better than it was. I believe that making 8 round holes into square holes was the most time-consuming part of the fix. Same as your method, I used a 3 cornered file. I'm not a professional welder so don't pick on me too much. I believe that the added plates should stay stuck right where they are. Gave the repaired areas a shot of red oxide after cleaning and sanding.
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
The deflector snout on this unit is bent out of shape quite a bit. It looked even worse than this when I bought it. I bent it back to somewhat normal shape with a large adjustable wrench, but its bent again because of the occasional gravel stones I seem to find in my driveway. Decided to reinforce this area too. Going to use the piece of 12 gauge steel you see here, it will have to be trimmed and tweaked a bit though. I clamped it inside the snout and used it as a backer to straighten the damage. This was a heat and beat deal. Heat up a spot red hot and hammer it back in shape. Crude but effective.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the kind words! I was just using the small heating tip that I usually braze with to heat the metal so I could hammer it. I used my little Lincoln wire feed welder to do the other work. Buy your self a wire feed welder and start playing around welding scrap pieces of steel together. It isn’t terribly hard to do. I learned to weld as a teen using my Dads Craftsman stick welder. He taught me the basics of stick welding and using an Oxy/Acetelyne torch. I’m pretty much self taught, but have had lots of coaching from guys that weld for a living over the years.
 

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Those plates and the reinforcement around the deflector snout should really do a nice job of adding some strength to those areas - nice job on them. I am interested to see how much snow my snow caster throws forward now that I have reshaped mine back to where it should be. I am hoping it is much less and that most of the snow goes out the chute now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I cut out the reinforcement piece today and got it welded in place. I hope I have done the right thing. I can't help but wonder it the deflector snout bending when a stone or something similar gets thrown out isn't something akin to a fuse in in fuse-box. If a foreign object gets lodged in there instead of the metal bending out of the way? Break the shear-pin possibly? I guess I'll find out next time I find some loose gravel stones like I usually manage to do at some point. I also used 29Chev's idea and drilled the housing to install grease fittings for the rotor bearings. Same approach, I put the hole offset of the center of the shaft where the grease will come out in the seal area of the bearing. I soldered a 3/16" square nut to the housing over the hole and then tapped through both with a 1/4"-24 tap. The fittings end up just a wee recessed from the inner surface of the housing when screwed in snug. Ought to work OK. I think I will end up giving this a complete paint job. I was planning on just spray-bombing the areas I have worked on, but I think that would just look kind of half-azzed.
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Those plates and the reinforcement around the deflector snout should really do a nice job of adding some strength to those areas - nice job on them. I am interested to see how much snow my snow caster throws forward now that I have reshaped mine back to where it should be. I am hoping it is much less and that most of the snow goes out the chute now.
Thanks for the compliment! I'm just copying your ideas that you used on your unit. With any luck our snow equipment will just gather dust and cobwebs this winter! I rather doubt that will happen, but I wouldn't be upset if it did!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
It seemed like forever, but actually I spent about 4 hours wire brushing and sanding yesterday afternoon and this morning on the housing and top plate. It's not going to be show perfect but will be plenty good enough for one of my working attachments. I taped over the decals as they are in fairly good condition yet. I had some primer on hand and figured it would be a good choice for this. I removed the head rack from the firewood hauler and used it to put the housing on for painting. I can wheel it around where I want it, in this case in and out of the garage. Can also tip the housing up to paint the underside and then tip it back down to do the topside. I prefer to spray paint outside, if at all possible, it cuts down on the mess inside the garage. I thinned the primer a bit with naphtha so it would spray through my old-school syphon paint gun. That worked fine and I got 2 coats sprayed on. I somehow managed to cheat Mother Nature this afternoon and got the priming done between rain showers. I've no doubt she will get even with me before long.
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The only problem I think you may have is that it will look so good you won't want to use it once you are done painting it. Nice job!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The only problem I think you may have is that it will look so good you won't want to use it once you are done painting it. Nice job!
Thanks! Oh, I'll use if I have to. I really wouldn't mind if I never had to use it again. But, living where I do here in the northeast I'm pretty sure it will get to see some snow removal duty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I took advantage of a warm, dry day and got the paint on the caster. Again, using what I had on hand. I believe it's a shade darker than the original paint but good enough for me. There are better brands of paint out there, but I decided to use this because I already had it. Also made some bonus points with the Boss lady as I freshened up 2 milk cans and 2 plant stands. I transferred the caster parts inside the garage shortly after getting the paint gun cleaned. I figured the paint might dry a bit slower in out of the sun and possibly have a bit more shine. I thinned the paint with some naphtha as mineral spirits leaves the paint drying in many hours and in this case, it was dry to the touch in about 2. I'll let it cure out for a couple of days before reassembling any of it.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The paint was dry enough to do what I wanted to do this afternoon, so I took time to mount the gearbox and shaft assembly. Then used my filler tube to add lube to the gearbox. Gave it a shot of Lucas and filled the rest of the way with some synthetic lube. The filler is made of copper tubing, some fittings and a couple pieces of steel strap. It works quite well and was another idea I used that 29Chev came up with. Pretty slick, it sure is a lot less messy than using some other arrangements I had tried. I did manage to get some lube on my fingers but that's just part of the process. If you're going to add gear lube to something you have to get at least a little bit on you. At least that's how it goes for me most times. That was all I planned to do today as I want to see if there are going to be any leaks from the gearbox. If things still look dry tomorrow I will proceed with some more assembly. I can't see assembling the whole thing and then have to take a lot of things back off to correct an issue. It should be fine, but you never know. I put an old bath towel under it just in case there is a leak.
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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Hoping there are no leaks and things remain dry.
All was well today when I looked, dry as a bone. I got around to working on it later today as I had to give my woodstove some TLC too. I needed to replace the door gasket and I ended up with the door removed from the stove and up on sawhorses. I had to fix up some other issues I discovered and ended up replacing some metal and doing a bit of welding. All better now. Going to need the stove soon enough when I'm out puttering on my Bolens projects this winter. I went looking locally for a snow carpet sled, but the stores don't seem to have them just yet. I had lined the discharge chute and deflector a couple years ago with plastic placemats I found at the Dollar General. Seemed to work fine but the material is a bit on the thin side. I debated about buying and cutting up a large tote box to get some new material. Decided against that. I might just order a snow carpet online and go that route. I did find that the thinner placemat material was just right to make a gasket to put between the main housing and the discharge spout. I bought 2 new ones today.
Once again following 29Chev's lead I cut out a cardboard template and then a plastic gasket. While taking this blower apart I found that there was a bit of rust between the chute, deflector and the plastic I had added. Must be from the salt slush I get into out near the street. I decided to "glue" the gasket in place using RTV. I buttered up the backside completely with it and put it in place. Then bolted the top plate into place. This made the RTV ooze out a small amount at the edges. The plastic gasket should be effectively stuck in place and completely sealed so water won't get between it and the housing. At least that's what my idea was. Time will tell if it works or not. The new bearings came the other day in the mail, so I got the impeller back in the housing and bolted the skid shoes back on too. You can see how much I widened them. Originally, they are about 7/8" wide and now they are 1 5/8" wide. I thought possibly that a wider surface
wouldn't dig into my dirt/gravel driveway as much.
 
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