I think my snow blower is dead. Back in November, I changed the paddles and scraper then started it up to make sure it worked. The engine turned over nicely and chugged right along. If it hadn’t, I’d have a new one sitting in my garage today. Instead, I didn’t know that would be its last breath. It failed me the first time I went to use it, two months later in January, with the first significant snowfall of the season. What a pain!
I haven’t taken it in for service, but I’ve tried everything else within my power to revive it. I siphoned out the old gas and put in new fuel. I changed the spark plug. I’ve tried using starting fluid. All efforts have been to no avail.
It’s not as if I should be surprised. The machine is ten years old, and I’ve been a neglectful owner. I let old gas sit in it, over the summer and fall, year after year. And then there’s the day in 2012 when my neighbor, Don, came over to find out if I could use some parts from his old machine since he bought a new one. “Have you changed the paddles and scraper yet this season?” he asked.
“No,” I responded. “I haven’t changed them since I bought the machine. I didn’t know they would ever wear out.”
To his dear credit, Don didn’t roll his eyes. He just asked if he could look and then showed me the shreds of what remained of the scraper. He pointed out how the holes in the paddle that warned you they needed replacing were long gone; that the edges of the snow blower were starting to be eaten away from dragging on the rough pavement.
Don took my snow blower with him that day and brought me back a hybrid between his old machine and mine, having to put my engine into the case of his old snow blower. Don warned me that the scraper and paddles would need replacing soon and told me where I could get the parts. He offered to help me if I needed it.
I am somewhat mechanically inclined, but not particularly motivated to work on equipment. It’s just not something that I enjoy. So with the 2012/2013 snow season being unusually light, I didn’t get around to changing the scraper and paddle until the start of the 2013/2014 season. It was a good thing I did because Detroit had a record snowfall of 94.9 inches – more than double our usual average.
The fact that my little 16” Toro Powerlite handled all that snow is remarkable to me now. Considering its age and history of neglect, it truly is on a par with the ‘little engine that could.’ It never failed me during that time and went the extra mile as I helped neighbors clear their sidewalks.
Now it sits in my garage awaiting its fate. I thought I could make it through this season the old-fashioned way using a shovel and buy a new snow blower at the start of the next season. The sixteen inches of snow we got on February 1st and 2nd has me rethinking that strategy. Unfortunately, the pickings are slim in the stores right now and even online. I have considered taking it in for service, however, I’ve heard that can cost as much as half of what a new machine will cost.
So I sit trying to make up my mind on what to do. Crossing my fingers and hoping we don’t get another sixteen inch snowfall seems foolhardy. Neighbors have been helping me out with the snow, but I don’t want to take advantage of their good nature. Calder, my cat, shows no signs of wanting to get outside to help me. My call for minions in last month’s post has gone unanswered. Neither have I found a good reference for someone I can pay to come and take care of the snow for me.
I’m happy to hear your suggestions to help me decide on a solution. For now, I’m watching the weather reports closely, stocking up on Epsom salts, and rooting for an early spring!