Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

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Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby EtnaInst » Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:28 pm

Having fun today after the big storm, the thrower decided to throw its chain. Sigh!

I gathered up the remaining piece of chain and switched back to the E15 with snowplow.

References here and on the older forum suggest that the chain is #40 with .31" diameter rollers, and in fact the chain is stamped "40" and the rollers appear to be .31" in diameter. One reference said that the chain has 82 links, but mine has 79. Perhaps a few got thrown (!) and are now buried in the snow. It is possible that the chain was damaged last season when the auger got loose (the single mounting bolt at the non-driven end decided to fall out), and in fact the first (last?) link appears to bind rather than rotate.

Tractor Supply sells the chain at about $20 for 10 feet, so I'll get some Saturday morning. Does anyone have a good suggestion how to cut the chain and then link it back into a nice loop? This is the first time I've had an excuse to work in the area of Roller Chain.

Many thanks in advance! (I'll Google around for info, but I'd prefer to trust the experts on this forum!)
Larry Chace, Ithaca, NY I-5 and E15
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Re: Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby FarmallMan » Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:04 pm

Larry,

I seem to recall that there were two lengths of chain for the two models of snow thrower. I would advise you get the roll, and just make it to fit. While you're in Tractor Supply, get yourself something called a "chain breaker." The breaker is a lot like a two-jaw puller that is designed to grab the side of a link and push the roller pin out of it. You'll need to break both pins from the side link. Then you use the connecting link that comes with the chain to join the two chain ends together.

Here's a video that illustrates the process. For what it's worth, I just press the pins all the way out, and don't alternate like the video shows. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJa7eVGriho

It's actually very easy with the right tool, and is rather satisfying! Hope this helps.

Nick 8-)
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Re: Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby EtnaInst » Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:03 pm

Thank you, Nick, for the info. I got a length of #40 chain and a chain breaker at Tractor Supply, watched the video, and then converted the 10' length of chain into two 5' lengths. It wasn't very difficult. (But it was messy -- lots of lubricant on the new chain.)

I just removed the snow and ice build-up on the thrower motor and removed the curved chain guard that covers the auger's sprocket. Looking from the front towards the rear, it looks like the motor's sprocket is about 1/4" out of line with the auger sprocket. Here are some more queries:

1. Is that 1/4" "bad"? I can try loosening the motor sprocket's set screws and try to shift it over, but clearance is minimal.

2. Is it even possible to replace the chain with the thrower still attached to the tractor??? There seems to be very little room for accessing the motor sprocket or for threading the chain through to the auger.

3. When do I install the new master link into the new chain --- is it done before the chain gets mounted onto the sprockets (does the motor mount give enough motion?) or do I install the master link after the chain is otherwise installed onto the sprockets?

Sorry for the dumb questions -- I'm not used to working with roller chain.

Thanks again!
Larry Chace, Ithaca, NY I-5 and E15
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Re: Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby EtnaInst » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:20 pm

Well, I probably should have done a bit more work before asking dumb questions. Here are some "selfie" answers:

1. Whether or not a 1/4" offset between the two spockets is "bad", I was able to move the motor sprocket about 1/8" "better" with the application of some Deep Creep and some gentle pressure with a woodworking clamp. It's at least no worse than it was before.

2. Using two lengths of stiff wire, I pulled the old chain into place, looping around the motor sprocket and resting both ends on the auger sprocket. There was no gap between the ends, strongly suggesting that it was the master link that broke. Anyway, this proves that it is possible to run a new chain onto the sprockets with the thrower still attached to the tractor. Whew!

3. The two ends sitting in adjacent positions on the auger sprocket says that I could just fit the master link into place there and be done with it. (Of course, that would be on the new chain since the old one has a bent side plate where the master had been. It also has a nice patina of rust.)

With some luck (and with temperatures cooperating), it should be possible to complete the replacement tommorrow. Good thing -- it is snowing again and the path up the 700' driveways is exactly one Subaru Outback wide. The thrower will be used to move the edges out a bit.

Oh, and I seem to have miscounted when I said that the old chain fragment had only 79 links. In fact it has 81, with the master link being the 82nd.

Is there actually a master link on the original chains? I didn't find one on my old chain, but perhaps that is precisely the one one that broke.
Larry Chace, Ithaca, NY I-5 and E15
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Re: Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby FarmallMan » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:04 pm

Hi Larry, working with chain is messy... but that's part of the charm I guess.

Misalignment is generally not a good thing. However, if your chain is an 1/8" out over the span it has, I wouldn't worry too much. The chain can tolerate some deviation.

For installation, I would move the chain adjuster to the full slack position, then install the un-joined chain by threading it over both sprockets. Once in place, I usually install the master link somewhere in the longest span between sprockets (or where it's most easily reached). I've never replaced the one on my blower, so I don't know how would be easiest, but see what works for you.

I'm not sure if the original chains had links, or were endless chains. You can, if you wanted to wait, mail order endless chains from McMaster-Carr among other places. However, there's no real benefit to doing so.

Let us know what worked best for your installation.

Nick 8-)
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Re: Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby roberttroll » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:32 am

One i pulled off had a link. I am pretty sure it was the original as well. Too far gone to save.

1/4 inch would make me uncomfortable. I unbolted the motor to install the chain. Aligned it, then tightened back down.
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Re: Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby EtnaInst » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:18 pm

SUCCESS!

Many thanks (again) to all those who commented here or via other communication methods.

The chain has to be installed before the master link is added -- there is no way to put an endless chain loop over the auger sprocket (without removing the auger). I used a length of soft iron rebar tie wire as a leader, passing the chain over the top of the auger sprocket, around the motor sprocket, and then back to the auger sprocket. As I rotated the auger to get the two ends up near the top, the sticky lubricant held the chain onto the sprocket (NICE!) and I was just barely able to slide the master link into the two end rollers. The only place where the chain was exposed enough to install the master link side plate and locking clip was near the motor sprocket, so I rotated the auger appropriately. Click, click, DONE! (The first click was the locking clip missing and falling into the snow and ice on the garage floor. Luckily, I had gotten a few extra master links.)

The thrower *seems* to take less power now than before and it seems to run somewhat quieter. Perhaps it is just my imagination... Still, the new chain is nicely lubricated and I assume I don't need to add any more.

It would have been more economical to by a new 41" long chain from Jim Coate at the Electric Tractor Store, but now I have 1.92 spare chains and a chain breaker tool, all set for the next time the chain fails.
Larry Chace, Ithaca, NY I-5 and E15
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Re: Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby Jeff Antonucci » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:58 pm

Really wish I would have gotten my blower out of the shed before that last snow storm. Could have saved about 3 hours!
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Re: Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby EtnaInst » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:12 pm

The new drive chain, replaced last year, decided to break and fly off into the snowbank. A new chain is on hand, along with a new drive sprocket since the old one is very badly worn and no longer has any setscrews. (Don't ask...)

Are there any secrets to getting the old sprocket off the motor shaft? It is clear that the motor needs to be removed, since there isn't sufficient clearance at the end of the shaft to let you slide off the old sprocket and slide on the new. Playing with it still in place, though, it seems that something is binding just as the tooth end of the sprocket reaches the end of the motor shaft. I don't see (feel) any obvious rough edges there, though the key (nice and loose) might be a bit rough. (Is it a straight key or rounded?)

The new sprocket (courtesy of Jim Coate) has a setscrew that will press down on the key, but the second setscrew hole is empty. I don't recall the setscrew configuration from last year when I replaced the drive chain (and, apparently, failed to tighten the setscrew sufficiently).

Anyway, I just wondered of others of you have discovered the secret of Easy Snowthrower Drive Sprocket Replacement! The thrower has been very useful this winter. I plow the snow off to the side of the driveway and then use the thrower to move it on over the "mountains" and out of the way.

Many thanks in advance for any and all good advice -- and be sure your setscrews are nice and tight!
Larry Chace, Ithaca, NY I-5 and E15
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Re: Snow Thrower Chain Replacement

Postby m_c_0101 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:16 am

Could the end of the shaft be slightly mushroomed?
I have run into shafts on various pieces of equipment that feel smooth but are actually slightly mushroomed.

Tim M
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