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post #1 of 45 Old 09-06-2019, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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Reseller Discussion

I've been buying, refurbishing and reselling 2-stage snowblowers since I retired about four years ago. I thought it might be fun to share and compare tips, lessons learned and processes with others who do the same thing.

I don't make much money doing this but it's been a great way to stay active once the hot summer months wind down. In the past I've completed 10- 14 units each season but I've gone completely overboard and now have 25 units I'll be selling this fall and winter. Here are some of my observations. Tell us about your experiences and I'd love to hear your feedback on my observations.

* I've narrowed my focus almost exclusively to 2-stage snowblowers. I've concentrated mostly on Ariens because parts are easily available and the build quality is typically above average. I can find the Operator's Manual, Parts Manuals and (sometimes) the Service Manual on Arien's web site. Limiting my focus has made my parts inventory more standardized and lowered the learning curve to making repairs. I avoid MTD and the other economy brands. At least in my part of the world, Ariens units are easy to find but Toros are far less common. Besides Ariens, I currently have 1 Snapper and 2 John Deere (Murray/Briggs), 2 old Gilsons and 1 Cub Cadet. Yes, I know Cub violates my "no MTD" rule but I couldn't resist this big old bruiser (1333SWE).

* Most of my units are 5- 25 years old as buyers don't seem to be interested in the much higher quality Ariens units from the "good old days". I love the older 924's but buyers don't. I'll never work on another "932" with the plastic wheel rims (what was Ariens thinking?) or a "926" that requires 4 factory modifications (double drive belts, drive pulley travel limit, sealing plate and chute). Granted, the 926 is a decent machine with the mods but making those mods eliminates almost any margin for profit.

* I've developed a 35 point "checklist" of tasks I do for each unit. Since I usually have 2 - 4 machines in some stage of refurbishment, the checklist helps me remember what I've done and what's remaining.

* I use an old IBM laptop running Windows 10 to store all of the manuals and reference materials. I don't have reliable Internet access in my barn and I was weary of printing everything.

* The vast majority of my machines have carb problems. I now have a "one attempt" policy for cleaning an original carb before a $10 Chinese carb is installed. I disassemble the original carb, use carb cleaner, torch tips for the orifices and compressed air. Then it goes in my Harbor Freight ultrasonic cleaner for 3 heat cycles. If that doesn't do the trick, I'm not wasting any more time messing around with it.

* Speaking of Harbor Freight, their 1000 pound lift table is an absolute must-have. I've made some modifications to my table and I'll include some photos later if anybody is interested. Getting a machine up to eye level has made this so much easier that I just couldn't live without it now.

* Aside from replacement carbs, I try to buy Ariens / Stens original equipment parts when possible. I buy common things like spark plugs and fuel lines in bulk. I buy a lot of parts from Jacks and eBay. I prefer Jacks when I have a large order and eBay when I need one or two things quickly. I'd like to find other good parts sources aside from Jacks and eBay but haven't taken the time to research the alternatives.

I have much more but I'll stop here since I'm not sure if this thread will be terribly useful to many readers. I'll add more if there's demand.
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post #2 of 45 Old 09-06-2019, 08:10 PM
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sounds like you and I are on the same page...
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post #3 of 45 Old 09-06-2019, 08:52 PM
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interesting stuff, love to see your shop and the lift.

Paul
----------------------------------------------------------------
1995 Toro 724, 1988 Toro 521
1980 Toro 421, 1995 Craftsman 524
1997 Toro CCR 2500 & 1994 Toro CCR Powerlite
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post #4 of 45 Old 09-06-2019, 09:01 PM
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Can you publish your checklist? Send me a copy by email please?

I agree with everything you say though I do sell all makes but no money in single stage. I sometimes raise my price on two stage and include a single stage.

Like to see your lift modifications you've made.

eBay, Amazon, and Jack's are the Best.

1986 Ariens ST522, 5hp, 22"
1995 Murray Craftsman 10hp, 29" w. 12" impeller
A 1983 Real John Deere 10hp, 32" w. 12" impeller, 16" auger, 20" high front, cast iron gear box, chains
Noma 9hp, 27" w. 12" impeller
Noma 5hp, 24" w. 12" impeller, 20" high front
Gravely Convertible, 12hp Kohler cast iron, 26" width, 600 lbs of cast iron & steel, 2 speed impeller, 4 ground speeds
Dynamark 8hp, 26", 12" impeller, for sale
Several other 5hp, 8hp, several 2 cycle, all for sale

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post #5 of 45 Old 09-06-2019, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLawrence08648 View Post
Can you publish your checklist? Send me a copy by email please?

I agree with everything you say though I do sell all makes but no money in single stage. I sometimes raise my price on two stage and include a single stage.I

Like to see your lift modifications.

eBay, Amazon, and Jack's are the Best.
Here's a quick look at my checklist. I'll send a .pdf version (or any other format you'd like) in email to you. I'll take some snapshots of my lift table this weekend.

Check and Set Tire Air Pressure
Remove wheels, clean rust from axles and apply anti-seize
Check wheel bearings and replace if needed
Test and lubricate Differential Lock
Check and replace shear bolts if needed
Grease Auger
Check auger bearings and replace if needed
Check auger gearbox oil; add or replace if needed
Adjust or Replace Scraper Bar if needed - (Stainless Steel hardware and Anti-Seize)
Replace or Adjust Skid Shoes (Anti-Seize on bolts)
Check and adjust valve lash (cold engine)
New Spark Plug with Anti-Seize
Drain old fuel, add small quantity of ethanol-free fuel
Replace Fuel Line, Shut-off Valve, and Filter if needed
Check primer bulb and hose, replace if needed
Check Carb, Clean, Adjust or Replace if needed
Change oil
Lubricate all controls, springs and friction areas
Test auger interlock
Adjust auger cable tension
Test drive interlock lever
Adjust drive cable tension
Clean friction plate and friction wheel
Adjust Friction Wheel; replace if needed
Clean and lubricate hex drive axle
Lubricate chain
Grease fitting on side of tractor near wheel if present
Check Traction Belt wear and tension; replace if needed
Check Auger Belt wear and tension; replace if needed
Adjust Belt Fingers if needed
Check headlight bulb; replace if needed
Grease chute mechanisms
Clean and degrease housing, shell, wheels and control panel
Test traction force and speeds by spinning wheels in place
Long-term storage- fuel starve and drain carb bowl
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post #6 of 45 Old 09-07-2019, 07:43 AM
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Nice list!
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post #7 of 45 Old 09-07-2019, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Here are a couple of additional random thoughts-

* I use Reese aluminum ramps to load snowblowers into the 6-1/2 bed of my F-150. If you buy ramps, be sure to get ones that have a safety strap to secure the ramp to the tailgate of your truck. The last thing you want is a 300 pound snowblower crashing onto the ground because the ramp moved. I can get two good sized units in the truck bed if I turn one sideways. If the unit runs, I just drive them right up the ramps while standing to the side of the ramp on the ground. If they don't run, I load them with the help of a Warn winch powered by a cordless drill. Always shut off the fuel valve during transport to avoid damage to the carb needle and seat. Use tie down straps to secure the unit in your truck bed. When unloading, don't let the snowblower freewheel back down the ramp or you may wind up in the hospital. Drive it down in the slowest reverse gear or winch it down the ramps.

* My single biggest frustration? Freeing wheel rims rusted to the axle. What a colossal pain! I spray liberal amounts of PB Blaster on the axle, give it a little soak time and then start tapping with a ball peen hammer on the axle. When that doesn't work (it usually doesn't), I break out the MAAP torch and get everything red hot (make sure there's no fuel in the tank / fuel lines and don't burn the tire). Then I use a pry bar behind the tire rim while hitting the axle with a 4lb hammer. I may repeat these cycles several more times but I always find it helpful to take a brisk walk, swear up a storm or chug a beer between sessions to relieve the frustration. Once the rim is off, I use a wire brush on my Milwaukee drill to get rid of the rust on the axle. Emory cloth on a large dowel rod helps clean up the inside of the rim. I always clean up the locking pins as well. Then, I get my revenge on rust by applying a nice, messy solution of Permatex anti-seize on the axle. I hope the next owner appreciates this. So far, I've only had one rim defeat me and I've vowed to never let it happen again.
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post #8 of 45 Old 09-07-2019, 02:03 PM
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you should be able to get more money for your machines than average. all people have to do is see your set up ( would like to see your shop ) and your checklist and the potential buyers are 90% sold.

It doesn't hurt for you to get paid a fair wage for your efforts. there is a lot more to it than an hourly wage; inventory , special tools , electricity , space, etc. there are many costs that some peopel do not take into account and then wonder why they are doing all this work for next to nothing.

I understand that you do this to stay busy and it may just be a hobby. But don't sell yourself short.

sounds like you have a good operation. I actually d o the same thing but I turn down work because of word of mouth.

"It Feels Like Beer O'Clock "
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post #9 of 45 Old 09-07-2019, 04:50 PM
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I'm sure you check the rpms at fast throttle and idle . I'm surprised to see so many machines I work on ( Honda ) that are in the 2900-3100 range when they are supposed to be around 3600 give or take. also the recoil mechanism is usually rusted/corroded and the pull start is not snappy.

"It Feels Like Beer O'Clock "
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post #10 of 45 Old 09-07-2019, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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you should be able to get more money for your machines than average. all people have to do is see your set up ( would like to see your shop ) and your checklist and the potential buyers are 90% sold.

It doesn't hurt for you to get paid a fair wage for your efforts. there is a lot more to it than an hourly wage; inventory , special tools , electricity , space, etc. there are many costs that some peopel do not take into account and then wonder why they are doing all this work for next to nothing.

I understand that you do this to stay busy and it may just be a hobby. But don't sell yourself short.

sounds like you have a good operation. I actually d o the same thing but I turn down work because of word of mouth.
I appreciate your kind words...my wife said the exact same thing. I may have to rethink my pricing philosophy. It's also nice when you can sell a good quality machine to someone who just doesn't have the financial means to buy a new one. It was heartwarming to get a call from an elderly woman last winter who told me how happy she was to use it during a couple of big storms.
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