Once again my old late-70s Ariens has cheated death. The other day it ate up a big chunk of tree branch, which jammed the blades, which threw off a belt, which caused an already damaged pulley wheel to get yanked out of place, which made everything get real angry and violent, so I shut ‘er down. And when I opened it up for some emergency driveway maintenance, I either lost two bolt clips that hold the front half to the rear half, or they were never there to begin with. Either way, when I put everything back together again, the whole machine felt loose and squishy and was shuddering when I tried to engage the blades, so I shut it down for the day and shoveled. BOO!!!
Opening it up this morning and taking a proper look, I saw that the pulley hub on the main sheave wheel was all messed up. Cracked right in half. It didn’t look fresh, and I’m betting it’s been that way for at least a decade (the ol’ gal’s always been a bit loud and clangy).
Now, it’s completely possible this is an obtainable part, but I am not only cheap, I’m impatient. I wanted the machine functioning today, so I squeezed the hub pieces back together with my vise and strapped on a random hose clamp from my old ’66 Mustang. Since this is sort of a half-assed solution, I didn’t try to tighten the hub down with the allen bolts (they’re frozen un-tightened anyway). There’s a keyway/groove in the hub that’s keeping it pretty well in place. I declare it to be “good enough.” I also used some Mustang fender bolts and bolt clips to secure the front of the snow blower to the rear and it feels really different. Much tighter & more solid-feeling machine. I sort of hadn’t realized how loose and saggy it had been before.
Anyway, it started right up, I engaged the blade, and everything’s coming up roses again (and by roses I mean brown icy slush shooting into the air). The hose clamp seems to be doing the trick and didn’t cause any imbalance (or too be more precise, it didn’t make any of the existing imbalance any worse. Ho-ho). We’ll see how long it holds together. If this sort of repair work keeps up, I’ll have to consider putting a running pony emblem on the blower housing.
I intend to pull this machine apart this summer and give it some much-needed maintenance and attention (for instance, this video makes me want to take a good look at the friction wheel). Despite past inconveniences and exciting adventures, it’s a nigh-indestructible machine with a lot of power. It outclasses most modern snowblowers I’ve seen and I want to keep it forever. Maybe I’ll even spend a few dollars on it if I have to. Heh.
Ariens Sno-Thro 1974-1979
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