I’m Not That Guy

Yeah right, like that's my snowblower.  Imagine something more like a brick tied to a shovel with a half flat tire on one side.You know that guy that can fix mechanical things? The car breaks down, and he grabs his toolbox and reconoiters your carburetor on the side of the road? Yeah, well I’m not that guy.

We have lots of snow. The storm London just got is what we refer to “A Tuesday” around here. That’s not to make light of the situation across the giant pond — it’s just to say that I should be used to it. And have the tools to take care of it.

First of all I should give you a little backstory. I have a toolbox. I really do. It’s big and red and plastic. It contains screwdrivers, wire crimping tools, needle nosed pliers, and a couple really sweet cable testers. And one 3 inch crescent wrench. No, not one that has jaws capable of turning a 3 inch bolt — but rather the handle is 3 inches long. I think it’s made from plastic coated in tin foil.

Anyway, back to the snow. We have lots. So much in fact that our postal delivery lady no longer will attempt to get close enough to our mailbox to deliver our mail. Now, I do have a snowblower, but it is so old that using it require skills that I don’t really have. Here’s a rundown of me snowblowing our driveway:

1. Spend 45 minutes and a can of starting fluid trying to get the frozen machine running. (I also have no garage, so it sits in the snow all the time)

2. Sniff the ether all over my gloves, and forget half of step 3

3. Take the first swipe down the driveway, which hasn’t been shoveled, plowed, or snowblown in many weeks of storms.

4. At the end of the driveway, I’ve seen 12 purple elephants, spoken to a friendly dresser, and the snowblower has warmed up enough to stall.

5. I adjust the throttle and choke, never the same way twice, until it runs again.

6. Take another swipe.

7. Again, snowblower stalls. By this time all the ice has melted from the engine, so even though the choke no longer helps, I can get a screwdriver near the carburetor and adjust the screws. Which screws? I have no idea, whatever turns without falling out.

8. Again, the engine roars to life. The throttle an choke are now working enough that I can milk a few swipes now. Then, the engine gets hot.

9. The engine stalls in the middle of the road while I was turning around. The transmission is coated in ice now, and the lever to disengage the drive won’t work. Thankfully, not much traffic goes down my road, so I get out my screwdriver right there in the road.

10. I loosen a screw too much and it falls out. Gas leaks on my gloves (the ether has long since worn off), and I scramble in the road looking for and its little spring. Apparently at this point the snowblower just had to pee, because when I put the screw back in, I get another couple swipes out of the engine.

11. About the time I think 2 or 3 more swipes will really make the driveway look sharp, the engine quits for good. At the road. And I need to push it by hand up to the house again.

Now, I left out lots of goodies regarding half broken recoil handles, a leaky gas tank, and a finicky gear shifter (it’s a self propelled walk behind deal). The sad thing is, I’m fairly certain many guys could stop by, sniff the exhaust and tell me my canooter valve is loose. One quick turn with an actual wrench and life would be good.

But I’m not that guy. šŸ™‚

16 thoughts on “I’m Not That Guy”

  1. You might be surprised at what you can figure out about your snowblower if you try. My level of mechanical expertise is a moderately complex Lego set, and yet I was able to diagnose & fix a problem with our snow blower earlier this winter.

    The trick is to ignore the fact that you don’t know diddly-squat about what you’re doing and apply standard computer troubleshooting techniques…
    1. Smack the device. Smack it HARD.
    2. When Step 1 fails, swear loudly while pretending you’ve muted your phone.
    3. Apologize for swearing.
    4. Sacrifice a goat (or a chicken, but a goat is preferred).
    5. If the sacrifice does not appease the angry snowblower gods, then try the other standard computer troubleshooting technique. Send it up to level2 support. :p

  2. I have suggestions for what was probably a frustration rant. After the frustration part is over this might be useful.

    1. You can learn a lot more about engines which would improve the situation a lot. I doubt you want to do that.

    2. Do not use ether.

    3. DON’T EVER USE ETHER ON AN ENGINE. When they are new and pretty they don’t need it right? Ether is to an engine what drugs are to an athlete. It’s a big help at first but then it’s all you have to keep running and it wears off faster and faster.

    4. Go find a local dude that does small engine repair. They are the local I.T. guys of motors. For a few dollars in parts and a fee your going to be up and running good as new. Ask everyone if they know a guy that can help you. Lots of people know that guy. You will find him trust me.

  3. Shear pins. That’s all I know. If you’re blowing snow around your house where you know there are shrubberies and you slay a shrub the shear pin should/will break. And then you go into the house and get a new one out of the drawer where you keep a stash for when you do things like this, replace it (with the machine off) and go back to work.

    Shawn, I have much better luck using our loader to move snow. Maybe you need one?

  4. Brad:

    Sadly “that guy” indeed made the old beast run in the first place. For example, the intake now has a tuna can with holes punched in it as a baffle of some sort.

    I might ask him to help again though, the rest of the machine is so darn solid, and it blows snow like crazy. It’s just the engine that doesn’t like to stay running. So yeah, you’re right. I should get help. šŸ™‚

    (If I don’t use ether on the engine, can I still use it on me to help ease the pain of snowblowing? hehehehehe)

  5. This reminds me of the friend that has all kinds of saws, planers, power nailers, etc. and can throw together a new room on a house in a weekend. Me? I’ve always liked my digits where they are, thank you very much! I end up hiring my friend for any carpentry work on my house. I trade him IT services.

  6. Jim W:

    You threw me for a loop, one of the regulars around here, another Jim W., is known for his woodworking abilities. šŸ˜€

    Your idea has merit. I could trade services for engine work. I like that…

    Also to note, our forecast last night was for no precipitation, and we woke up to about 4 inches of snow. Gotta love Michigan weather.

  7. Weather Service is forcasting tonight a possible 1/4″ of snow for Charleston, SC. You would think that a new Ice Age was declared the way some people are reacting.

  8. @Crystal R. R. Edwards: No, Donna would be management. Level2 support would be the go-to-guy in the neighborhood who fixes stuff on the cheap or in exchange for other services.

    @Jim W: When I was a kid I used to live Jacksonville, NC; we’d get the same thing. Only being a kid I thought it was great that we’d be let out of school to play in the funny white stuff. šŸ˜€

  9. One word . . . electric. As in electric snow blower. Never has problems starting. Works every damn time. Not as big and brutish as some of the ones my neighbors have, but they spend anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes, or more, trying to start those monsters after a snowfall. I turn the button, squeeze the handle, and go.

    Electricity. It’s a wonder we don’t use it more.

    — Marcel

    Did I mention my electric snow blower blows away the bigger partly-testosterone-powered monsters my neighbors have? I did? Oh, okay.

  10. Appalled, Shawn, I’m just appalled.

    Here in Alaska, snow removal is serious business. Tania’s got the right idea, to heck with dinky snowblowers, get a bulldozer.

    Here’s what you do – you work in the school system right? Take the machine to the auto shop teacher, they’re always looking for small engines to strip down and rebuild. You buy the parts, and the shop class does the work. Usually you get a fully rebuild machine for minimal outlay – and the kids benefit. A lot of time, in the summer, there’s a summer education program at the local trade school in small engine repair – same deal there.

    Me? I use the 4×4 plow, and my big MTD tracked blower to clear a path to the kennels, the electric blower on the porch and walks and roof if necessary. But I also have the luxury of keeping all my tools in the heated shop until needed. You might think about getting a cover for your machine if you’re going to leave it out – you don’t need a special one, a tarp or better yet a gas grill cover will do. Wrapping the engine in an electric heating blanket (auto shop should have one, or even an old heating pad will do) for an hour before you start it will help (leave the cover on, put the blanket underneath).

    Or, you know, move to Florida. šŸ™‚


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