Archive for December, 2013

Solve Two Snow Blower Problems

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Problem #1: The smoking belt and impeller won’t engage.

No snow is coming out of the chute but the belt squeals or smokes.

What you do: Release that handle and turn the snow blower off. If it has a full tank, place some plastic with a grocery bag under the filler cap to keep the gas from dripping directly from the cap vent. Reach in back to the second stage impeller, which is the 3 or 4 bladed fan responsible for throwing the snow out of the chute on a two stage snow blower. If you can’t turn it, check if it’s frozen to the bottom of the drum. For the most part, there’s a drain hole in the bottom of the drum to keep this from happening. However, that doesn’t always suffice. In some cases, the impeller blade coasts to a stop with one of the blades straight down, making it all the easier to freeze.

How to repair: Bring the snow blower to a warm place where you can thaw it. You can also use a hair dryer. Or, make a tent using a tarp above the snow blower and create some warm air with a space heater. Direct the heat from the space heater into the auger area of the snow blower.  Caveat: use extra caution with the proximity of the heater and the direction you point it. A space heater could melt plastic parts or even ignite the tarp.

Prevention: Get rid of the snow off the snow blower and inside the impeller/auger housing every after usage. Then, see to it that no impeller blade is pointing down to where the melted snow can puddle and freeze.

Problem #2: Auger or wheel drive handle won’t employ

This happens most often on models with cables as compared to linkage.

What you do: The cable gets moisture inside and tends to freeze. In case you don’t have cables, follow the linkage to a pivot point which is frozen. This could call for removing an access cover. Thaw out cables or linkage with the same method you use in a frozen impeller with properly applied heat.

Prevention:  Take off both ends of the cable and apply a low temperature or white lithium grease. Work the cable back and forth in an effort to coat the entire length.  It’s also possible to spray WD-40 into the cable.  This may help for a while but will not last as long as the grease.  Do not use ball bearing grease as this will not work properly in the cold temperatures.  You must use a low temperature grease.

Fast Facts About Ball Bearings

Friday, December 20th, 2013

There’s no way around it, ball bearings are an essential element in our daily life. They get things rolling for myriads of machines, from cars to skateboards. Here are some universal facts that you could very well use in maintaining bearing efficiency and quality.

1. Contamination is the biggest issue in ball bearings. An estimate of 90% of all ball bearings get worn and ineffective because of particle contamination.

2. Proper lubrication comes next in the list of concerns when it comes to ball bearings. A well-lubed ball bearing helps keep dirt at bay, and this in turn prevents premature bearing failure.

3. Speed and load can shorten bearing life in several ways. That said, always observe these forces on your bearings in order to predict how long your bearings will last. Also, by doing so, you can determine what size is best. Going beyond the suggested speed according to the manufacturer will reduced the bearing life in half. On the other hand, an increased load will not incur as much damage as in increase in speed can. However, compounding both forces will dramatically reduce the bearing’s lifespan and quality.

4. Precision bearings are measured by the ABEC system, set by the Annular Bearing Engineering Committee. This gives a rating of 1 to 9 to bearings. Such range identifies the levels of stress and tolerance that a bearing is able to endure.

5. In terms of bearings, size matters. The bearing has a shaft and housing, and they should have the proper fit and size. Otherwise, the bearing might not endure its maximum potential load.

6. There is a wide array of variations to ball bearings that are built to accommodate different load directions and load potentials. The most common ones are the Conrad, Self-Aligning, Caged, Flanged, and Split-Race bearings.

7. Always see to it that the alignment and quality are checked before you buy bearings. It is possible that a bearing is not assembled correctly in the factory. Thoroughly check the shaft and housing, and see if they are aligned properly, then check the quality by spinning the bearing around, making sure that it is smooth and fitted tightly.

Contamination and Bearing Life

Friday, December 13th, 2013

When the environment that a bearing operates in is quite clean, damage is generally caused by the eventual fatigue of the surfaces where rolling contact takes place. But when the bearing system gets contaminated by any particle, it could bring about damage much faster and remarkably shorten bearing life.

Moreover, when debris from a component contaminates the lubricant, the main cause of bearing damage is wear. In the event bearing wear becomes pronounced because of particle contamination of the lubricant, there will be changes that could have a significant impact on the operation of the machine.

Generally speaking, the significant parameters in regards to contaminants that have an influence on the bearing wear are the size, concentration, hardness, and lubricant film thickness. Should there be an increase in all parameters mentioned (except film thickness), an increase in bearing wear will arise, as well.

Always remember that an increase in the viscosity of the lubricant would cut down bearing wear for any contamination level.

Bearings that have a contaminated lubricant will display a higher initial rate of wear as compared to those that are not operating in a contaminated lubricant. But without further contaminant ingress, such wear rate rapidly diminishes since the contamination particles are cut down, size-wise, as they pass through the bearing contact area during normal operation.

Water can bring about bearing etching, and that could shorten bearing fatigue life. Water can sometimes enter micro cracks in the bearing races, brought about by repeated elastic deformation stress cycles. This would then cause corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement in the micro cracks, which lessen the time needed for these cracks to propagate to an unacceptable size spall.

Water base fluids like water glycol as well as invert emulsions could also shorten bearing fatigue life.

Snow Blower Repair Issues

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Snow blowers help us dodge some troubles. However, like any other tools or machines, things don’t always go their way. Here are some of the most common hiccups with snow blowers and how to fix them:

Engine Doesn’t Start
If you have already primed the motor of your engine and it still won’t start, see to it that the choke is in the right position, the safety key should be fully inserted, there’s gasoline in the tank, and the spark plug must not be fouled. If everything seems to be okay, it could be that the gasoline has gone bad. Fuel goes stale within months, so fill it up with new gas. If the gas tank is full, drain it and re-fill with fresh fuel.

The Engine Suddenly Stops Running
The engine, all of a sudden, loses power. What do you do? You make sure that the spark plug wire is securely connected to the spark plug. If it still doesn’t work, check the gas cap. The gas cap is vented and if ice or snow causes blockage, the unit will lose power. Give it another shot after getting rid of anything that’s there.

It Does Not Discharge Snow
Your snow thrower’s discharge chute can get clogged, and there could be myriads of reasons behind it. One of which could be the snow itself. Moving slushy snow via a snow thrower’s auger can be compared to making a snow ball using your hands. Moving and compacting the snow will turn it to ice, and this clogs up the chute. As a remedy, make use of the tool’s clean-out tool, if any, to get rid of the obstruction from the chute. You can also go for a stick. See to it that you shut the unit down and disconnect the spark plug prior to doing this process. A foreign object could also be lodged in the auger. Power the unit down and get rid of the obstruction.

Unit Jerks and Grabs While Running
Snow throwers are most efficient when the blade is able to ride across the ground and get under the snow. However, sidewalk are often riddled with dimples, cracks and pockmarks. When your machine is moving a tad too quickly, and an irregularity occurs, it could bounce up a bit and snow could get lodged under the blade. This may bring about jerking or stuttering. The remedy: slow down.

However, if the irregularity is remarkable, such as an uneven slab, the blade simply jams into it and your machine could be prevented from moving forward at all. Again, slowing down is key. The blade stays in contact with the ground, and it won’t take on more snow than it’s able to handle. In this case it can catch and eject the snow efficiently.

All that being said, keep your shovel available. Even though you have a snow thrower, you should not kick your shovel to the curb. You still need it when you have to attack the steps and nooks where your muscled-up snow thrower can’t go.