Winter Review: Three Maintenance Tips for Next Year

DSCN9771I write this on March 23rd, and last night it dropped to 4F. We had snow Sunday morning. It is nearly April, and there is still thick snow cover on the ground outside. No, I don’t live in Alaska. I live in Upstate NY. All this to say that it has been a brutal winter here in the Northeast, and the DR Snow Thrower attachment had a real workout over the past several months. In the process I learned a few lessons that I would like to pass on to any new owners of the DR Snow Thrower. Consider this your winter wrap-up, and preparation for next year!

First, a general principle: There are parts of the Snow Thrower which take normal wear and tear and which you must expect to eventually break after prolonged use. Be prepared. If during the summer you have a belt failure on your DR Mower there isn’t much of a crisis. Not having a spare belt on hand simply means your lawn, or field, won’t get mowed. Annoying, but no big deal. However, it is a big problem if it is the middle of the winter and you are trying to clear eighteen inches of snow from your driveway so you can get to work and then a quarter of the way through the job the shear pin on your Snow Thrower breaks and you don’t have a spare.

Be kind to yourself. Make sure you know the normal maintenance parts for your machine and make sure you have them on hand. Otherwise, you may find yourself attempting to set a new speed record for shoveling your driveway by hand. (Good luck making it to work on time.) So, with that in mind, here is a list of three maintenance parts you should have on hand.

  • Shear pin. This is not an expensive part and I recommended you keep several on hand. If you have a small paved driveway you will rarely break the Snow Thrower shear pin, but if you do a lot of snow clearing or work on the rough ground of a dirt driveway it is a part you must expect to break from time to time.
  • DSCN9744Chain Tensioner. We’ve had our Snow Thrower for several years now and this is the first winter the chain tensioner broke. This part doesn’t fail as often as the shear pin, but when it does go you are stuck if there is no spare on hand. Again, this is an inexpensive part. Keep at least one spare on hand or you may find yourself waiting a week or more for the replacement part to come in. The snow on your driveway won’t wait.
  • Choke cable. This third part may seem like an odd inclusion on the list, but if you are dealing with a lot of snowfall and cold temperatures snow will get on your machine and the melting and freezing water can get into the cable sheathing which makes the cable it stiff and difficult to adjust the choke. Eventually this stiffness can cause the cable to fail. This is a simple thing to replace if you have it on hand. If you don’t have it on hand when the cable fails, you’ll need to find a different way to clear the driveway.

Those are three relatively cheap maintenance parts you should have on hand if you use the DR Snow Thrower in a very cold and snowy climate.

If you deal with extremely cold temperatures (such as having nights the drop down to near -20F) you might consider also keeping a spare battery on hand for your machine. This item is a bit more pricey, I admit, and if you can keep your DR machine stored in a warm location it is completely unnecessary. However, if you must store your DR Mower in an unheated location and have to get up before dawn to clear your driveway you may find on -18F morning that it is just too cold for the battery to turn the engine over in such frigid temperatures. Then you can pull the spare battery out of your warm house, drop it into the machine and away you go. Alternately, instead of keeping a spare battery you can remove the battery from your DR Mower after use and keep it inside. This can be tedious. Whatever option you chose, don’t expect a battery sitting overnight in subzero temperature to start you DR machine. It might, but it might not. Be prepared, and spare yourself headaches.

Spring is here, but don’t forget the lessons of winter. Buy the maintenance parts you will need for next winter now and then you’ll have them on hand when you need them.

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