Snowblower dos and don'ts

BY Willy Williamson. Nov 04 03:00 am

Gerry Fenske doesn’t have to look outside to check if it’s snowing — he simply waits for the phone to ring.

Fenske, who, along with his business partner Floyd Monkman, owns and operates Floyd’s Power Equipment on Fife Street, has been servicing snowblowers for the better part of two decades. One thing is certain at Floyd’s — business always picks up when the snow starts falling.

“If there’s a good dump of snow we will typically see as many as 15 snowblowers being dropped off in a single day,” says Fenske, who advised that bad fuel is the main culprit when a machine won’t start. “People leave the gas in them over the summer, the heat breaks down the gas and the carburetor becomes varnished up.”

To avoid this, Fenske advises customers to run their units bone dry of fuel in the spring — and begin every winter with a fresh tank.

Many of the machines the guys service at Floyd’s are older units, and Fenske says it’s not uncommon to see snowblowers that have been in use for as long as 15 years. “They are fairly durable, and if properly maintained can last a good number of years,” he says. While there is certainly no shortage of customers who want their machines fixed as soon as possible — usually on the day of the first big snowfall, many of Floyd’s loyal customers are also proactive. The company offers a fall maintenance check for $89.99, which includes a check of the fuel system, belts, cables and any adjustments that may be required. “Like any yard equipment, it’s always a good idea to give them a good once-over to make sure they are in good operating condition,” he says.

While keeping an old snowblower running like a top is certainly doable, there are still lots of folks who want the latest and greatest machines, complete with options such as electric start, a headlight and even rubber tracks similar to those found on a snowmobile in place of the traditional tires wrapped in snow chains for traction.

According to Derek Roth, who along with business partner Frank Cicco owns and operates Adventure Power Products, an ATV, motorcycle, watercraft and yard equipment dealer in Île-des-Chênes, the Cub Cadet snow throwers his dealership sells are the best in the industry.

“Cub Cadet has been in business for over 50 years and their units are built in the USA in Strongsville, Ohio,” Roth says. “We have been selling their product for seven years and our customers have been thrilled with the reliability and performance of these machines.” All Cub Cadet units have a 36-month warranty and with approved credit can also be financed with zero per cent interest for 36 months.

“There’s three frame styles in the Cub lineup,” Roth says. “Single-stage, two stage and Cub Cadet’s new industry-leading three-stage lineup. A single-stage snowblower can be purchased for $649 and offers a quiet and dependable four-stroke gasoline powerplant with electric start.”

The most popular models Adventure sells are the three-stage X-SERIES HD machines.

“The technology with this design is the addition of a centre-boring-style auger to help pull the unit into the snowbanks,” Roth says. “Especially if the grader goes by and leaves that hard mound of snow and ice at the bottom of your driveway.”

Three-stage Cub Cadet models range in price from about $1,500 for a unit with a 24-inch cut, to as much as $2,700 for the top-of-the-line snowblowers typically used by commercial companies or to clear large rural properties.

Last winter Adventure Power Products sold every snowblower they had in stock and, even with only the light dusting of snow seen this fall, sales are already brisk.

“We are anticipating another busy winter and encourage anyone in the market for a new machine to get here early and beat the rush,” Roth says. “We will get your new machine all ready to go before the big snow flies.”

While modern advancements have indeed made snowblowers much easier to own and operate, back at Floyd’s Power Equipment, Gerry Fenske offered some sage advice.

“Safety should always be on your mind when running a snowblower. Take your time and never put your hands anywhere near the machine’s auger. If you think something may be stuck or doesn’t feel right, shut the machine down before inspecting it.”

Solid advice from a veteran snow man!

willy@freepress.mb.ca

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