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I'm in the camp of stopping the snowblower before I shift to a different gear. If you shift gears while you are moving, I feel there is greater wear AND tear on the rubber friction disk. While standing, only the metal friction plate is turning and quite fast as it is run off of the engine. There are two belts connected to the engine pulleys, auger belt and the drive belt. The drive belt is connected to this metal friction plate. When the engine is running, the pulleys are turning, thus the drive belt is turning, thus the friction plate is turning because they all are connected. When you shift standing still with the engine running, the rubber friction disk is not turning as it's connected directly to the wheels. When you move the shift lever, the fiction disk slides to the left and right across the friction plate but there's a space between the rubber friction disk and the metal friction plate. Every time you let go away of the drive lever on the handlebar to move you are wearing away of the rubber on the friction disk, very similar to the clutch on a car. The more often you stop and go, the more rubber is worn off. You have a straight up and down wear on the rubber. If the snowblower is physically moving, you are wearing the rubber from the top and the sides thus beveling the rubber. This is wear the damage comes in. Tremendous wear to the sides and at times, chunks of rubber coming off. There goes your traction! If you have chunks of missing rubber, it's probably from shifting when the snowblower is moving. That's my take!

I posted this because someone posted today about their 3 year old machine has a worn friction disk with chunks of rubber missing.
 

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My first snowblower (MTD 8/26) had the original rubber wheel up until I sold it. I replaced it before passing it on. I used it 17 years and moved countless tons of snow. I guess it must be how you maintain and use your machine that determines longevity of wear parts.
I don't believe I ever shifted on the fly and I always match tractor speed the amount of snow. Never had to use chains either. I always let the blower do all the work.
 

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I rarely shift at all with my old 10/28 MTD. I keep it in first gear and almost always back it up by lifting the bucket pulling it. All the gears work fine when I need them but I find running in first gear is the best way to clear snow.
 

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I rarely shift at all with my old 10/28 MTD. I keep it in first gear and almost always back it up by lifting the bucket pulling it. All the gears work fine when I need them but I find running in first gear is the best way to clear snow.
I do the exact same thing Dannoman. What's the rush, enjoy the solitude with mother nature:wink2:
 

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I'll shift to faster speeds while moving. My Ariens manual (model 924120) says this is fine:

"IMPORTANT: DO NOT change motion from forward to reverse with clutch engaged. Forward speed can be changed without declutching."

The metal plate always wants to make the rubber friction disk move out, closer to the edge of the metal plate, to a faster speed. Shifting to a faster speed, on mine at least, is basically a matter of taking the lever out of its slot, and just nudging it forward. The drive system kind of wants to move it that way anyhow.

Which is another way of saying that the rubber friction disk always has some sideways drive anyhow while driving, from the metal friction plate, whether you're shifting on-the-move, or not.

I don't shift to slower speeds while moving. That seems to take a firmer tug on the lever, and it's not something that's as useful for me anyhow. And definitely don't change between forward/reverse, while still moving.

But to reduce wheelspin with chains, I'll sometimes start in 2nd or 3rd, then once I'm moving, bring the lever up to 6th, if I'm doing high-speed cleanup passes. Or I'll see how the engine handles the load in 2nd, and if it's fine, I'll speed up until the engine is really working.

I don't like to mistreat my equipment. But I don't don't think that speeding up with the drive engaged is bad for it.
 

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Interesting. I edited my post to indicate that my reference was for model 924120, which is an older machine (~2000).

Two possibilities come to mind:
- saying "don't do it" is simpler, clearer, and "safer", than saying "it's OK to change forward speeds, but don't change between forward and reverse". Essentially just KISS, and covering themselves.
or
- they decided, after more history, that you really should not change speeds with the drive engaged.

Sadly, I don't know which it is. I guess you could ask Ariens, but they might just say "Follow the manual", with no explanation.
 

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Interesting. I edited my post to indicate that my reference was for model 924120, which is an older machine (~2000).

Two possibilities come to mind:
- saying "don't do it" is simpler, clearer, and "safer", than saying "it's OK to change forward speeds, but don't change between forward and reverse". Essentially just KISS, and covering themselves.
or
- they decided, after more history, that you really should not change speeds with the drive engaged.

Sadly, I don't know which it is. I guess you could ask Ariens, but they might just say "Follow the manual", with no explanation.

Don't shift with clutch engaged or while moving. Even though it can be done, IMHO it will lead to excessive wear of the rubber friction disk and components.
 

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Any significant design change to the friction disk over the years?

I don’t shift that often so I don’t mind releasing the clutch. And yes I’ve popped a couple wheelies when I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve tried it with the disk engaged and when I think about that thing sliding over it does make me cringe... so I don’t.
 

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I agree and I always release the drive clutch while shifting gears. The new (oldest) 10M5 might take some getting used to as when releasing the handle the clutch fully engages the drive wheel.
 
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