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Discussion Starter #1
I purchased a new Toro Powerr Max HD 928 from a local dealer here in mid-coast Maine last winter. We had a fairly light snow season but it worked fine, except that the chute 'quick stick' spring wasn't well lubricated and needed to accessed and lubricated several times during the winter. This year, I used it twice. The third time it wouldn't start. The dealer just picked it up and told me that the choke is frozen solid and that I'll have to keep it inside a shed with some sort of heating system. I don't have any place to do this. I have a shed, but it's full and the town won't let me put in another due to my proximity to the water. I do keep it under a heavy duty Toro snow blower cover when not in use and brush all snow and ice off before covering it, but I suspect it got wet inside from the last use and that caused the freeze-up.

Not sure what to do. I have an Ariens Compact 24 as a back-up and that started up with no problem, but it's pretty low powered.

I saw this product on the internet:

https://wolverineheater.com/collections/all-heaters/products/model-4-5-50-watts-engine-oil-reservoir-biofuel-and-hydraulic-fluid-heater-120-volts?variant=35118636434

I called them and they said that this model is meant to be permanently attached to a metal section of the engine where the oil reservoir is, preferably on the bottom, but can be low on the side. You then plug it in and cover the snow blower and let it heat up for several hours.

Does anyone have any experience with this? I'm not keen on having it permanently attached, but I guess I can secure the cord to the handlebar. I'm also not clear on where exactly to install it on the Toro, but I'll examine it once it comes back from the dealer.

One thing about the Toro is that the choke lever is is a somewhat flimsy piece of plastic. On the Ariens, it's a dial with very distinct click stops. Not sure if that has anything to do with the problem.

I know it's crazy but I'm looking at an Ariens Pro 28 as snow blower #3 in three years. Then I'll have two heavy duty snowblowers if one won't start. We get big snow up here and can't survive without a working snow blower!
 

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Why cant you just spray the choke assembly with antifreeze. Ive had different things on my blowers have freeze up problems over the years and a spray bottle of antifreeze worked for me
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Any particular type of anti-freeze you use? And do you just direct the spray through the slot where the plastic choke lever is?

I asked the dealer (who BTW has been very responsive to my service needs on this unit) for their opinion on the Wolverine heater. Here's the response:

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I would suggest not wasting your money. Using a better location for the snowblower to be placed will make a large difference. The heater wont do anything for the plastic components that have become water logged and frozen. This winter we would suggest keeping it maybe under your deck, with not only the cover over it but maybe a tarp as well. Before you put it away to make sure it is as dry as you can get it. Let it bake in what sun we do get try to dry it off. Then I would cover it over. You may be able to make a make shift tent for it under the deck so that it will help divert any water, and at which point you could also heat if needed. The block heater is only going to do that. Heat up the block so you could start it. It wont do anything though for your choke lever or the chute. Once we have the machine thawed out we will give it an annual service to check it over. Once you have it back it will just be trying it in a new place with the suggestions to see if it helps with your issue.

Future we would suggest a shelter logic. Can be purchased via amazon, or locally at Tractor supply. keeping the door down will help create enough heat from the ground to take care of the issues you are having. And if needed on days like we are having now, you can put a small little torpedo heater in there to warm everything up. But still would suggest practicing clearing out auger snow and drying off machine to make sure no water gets in around plastic parts and pieces.

A little 6 x 6 would be more than sufficient.

https://www.amazon.com/ShelterLogic-Shed-Box-Auger-Anchors/dp/B001G7Q22Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514574294&sr=8-1&keywords=shelter+logic
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I'm not keen on this solution, though I suppose I could anchor it down to the detached deck I keep the Toro on. The only area -under- my deck is directly facing the ocean and the coldest area on my property. As mentioned, the Ariens Compact 24 started right up and it's also outside. The only difference is that it's parked in an out of the way place where it's blocked from the direct ocean wind that the Toro is exposed to. I'm thinking I'll try swapping the two to see if that makes a difference. The Toro also has a plastic choke lever, whereas the Ariens has a dial with click stops - does that make a difference? I'm also thinking that if I always leave the choke on when I stop the blower (I always stop it by shutting off the gas) and the engine heater allows the blower to start, I can leave it running for a while to warm up. Wouldn't that work?

I'm also wondering if there's some model that's made for cold/wet conditions (Honda?)
 

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pics of carb area might help.
spray rubbing alcohol/washer fluid in the choke area liberally before and/or after use, maybe let dry b4 starting
heat gun in the choke area before and/or after use
 

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You could run an extension cord and 60 watt light bulb under the cover which would tend to drive off the moisture around the engine and chute wires. The old guys do that here on their old boats and it seems to help.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the quick replies.

When I tried it, the choke lever was completely frozen closed. I have a good heat gun and I used it at a fairly low setting (200 degrees) directing the output into the choke lever slot and also on the engine itself. After a while, the lever freed up and I was able to turn it all the way to the left (full choke). Didn't do anything though. I had the AC starter hooked up and had primed it (though I can't be sure how much gas was getting through when I depressed the primer). The other thing is that one of the steering levers was also frozen - the lever stayed depressed and there was slack in the cable. The end of the cable goes into the engine enclosure and it wasn't clear to me how to deal with that. So now the dealer has it. (He tried to start it when he picked it up and couldn't.)

I just ordered an Ariens Pro 28 with the B&S 420cc (non-EFI/non-Hydro as less fancy is better in my view) from another (less) local dealer. I was pretty happy to get one on short notice in the middle of snow season. He's assuring me they keep a pro Ariens outside all the time and it always starts on the first pull. I'm thinking it might be more reliable and with three snowblowers hopefully one should start up. I'm a little concerned about all the negative posts on the Ariens auto steer (I have a hard pack gravel driveway), but if the thing will start and run, I can deal with steering issues. At least I'll be able to get the job done even if I have sore arms afterwards. And with auto steer, there are no steering cables to freeze up. Thought about the Honda HS928 but I don't have a local dealer and the Ariens just seems like it will be simpler and easier to service as needed. Plus, it's quite a bit cheaper (though more than my Toro was last year).

So three new snow blowers purchased in three years (actually four - I also got an Ego electric for my deck - that one starts fine every time but relatively low power and no good on gravel). Hope this is the end for a few years... Getting expensive and my place is starting to look like a snow blower dealership. Silly me, I thought this snow blower thing was going to be a one and done.

Will also look into spray anti freeze and also consider trying the Wolverine heater next year.
 

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My guess you didn't let the toro run long enough after you were done . It's all ways good if left out side to put the choke on after you shut it off. I froze my Briggs up during a blizzard . To me your throwing money out the door
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks. That's actually something I never thought of. I usually shut the fuel off right away. From now on will let it run at least 10 minutes when I'm done and I've wiped it down. I also think it might be good to start it up again and let it run the next day. One other thing I'll try if it won't start is putting a small ceramic heater under the cover for a few hours. I'm betting the Ariens pro will work for me though, based on my experiences with the compact 24. I think this might be a Toro choke design issue. At least the one I have seems very vulnerable to cold and wet conditions.

You're absolutely right about throwing money out the door. The problem is, when my driveway's plowed, it costs me $700-800 to have it resurfaced the next spring. Plus I end up with a pile of reclaim and gravel at the end of my driveway. That's definitely money (and time) out the door... I used to have my driveway plowed, pay for the resurface job each year, and shovel everything else by hand. It wasn't easy or cheap. That's why I started up with snow blowers.
 

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I Make a very small, inconspicuous, temporary structure. Wind proof. I installed a small space heater in there and just let it run. I do this with a couple pieces of cardboard and I never have a problem. I place it right up against the bucket and everything melts.
 

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I own a toro 926 oxe and have never had trouble with the choke. I also never lubed the shoot spring and never any trouble with it. I do understand why you own a blower to do your driveway as I plow snow for s living in the winter and I refuse to plow stone driveways, there a pain.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Joe- So you just put a wind block around the bucket and have a small heater inside? I thought it would be better to have the heater over on the other side, closer to the engine, but I suppose if the metal in the bucket heats up it will transfer. Probably safer to have it away from the gas tank. I don't see why I can't have that underneath the heavy duty cover. That's plenty windproof and should heat up the entire enclosed space that way. I'm a little concerned about melting the cover but I'll keep an eye on it. Thanks for the idea.
 

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Joe- So you just put a wind block around the bucket and have a small heater inside? I thought it would be better to have the heater over on the other side, closer to the engine, but I suppose if the metal in the bucket heats up it will transfer. Probably safer to have it away from the gas tank. I don't see why I can't have that underneath the heavy duty cover. That's plenty windproof and should heat up the entire enclosed space that way. I'm a little concerned about melting the cover but I'll keep an eye on it. Thanks for the idea.
If you ever have the augers or impeller freeze to the body you will wish you stuck the heater in there. The space only needs a small amount of heat to keep things from freezing.
 

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That's close to what the Toro dealer recommended. Problem is that the deck I keep it on would be too windy and my other smaller sheltered 'snowblower deck' doesn't have clearance.


I saw this article which I found useful. Common Cold Weather Snow Blower Problems | eBay


Bottom line is that maintenance (grease, etc.) prevents problems, but once it's frozen you need to find a way heat it up for a while. My guess is that this can happen to any blower given the 'right' circumstances, but some mechanisms are more vulnerable to wet+cold than others. My hope is that having multiple blowers increases my odds of one working at any given time.
 

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If the tent was just a little wider he might be able to put all 3 blowers he has it there.
detdrbuzzard, Do you have yours bolted down? I never saw one of those, not a bad price either.

In all this cold weather we all been having I don't see how much better it would be in a shed, tent, or under the deck.
Unless one of those is heated?

Do you have anything in the shed you could put under canvass for the winter?
Trade spots?
Though I don't really think that would help you unless it was heated.
 

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That's close to what the Toro dealer recommended. Problem is that the deck I keep it on would be too windy and my other smaller sheltered 'snowblower deck' doesn't have clearance.


I saw this article which I found useful. Common Cold Weather Snow Blower Problems | eBay


Bottom line is that maintenance (grease, etc.) prevents problems, but once it's frozen you need to find a way heat it up for a while. My guess is that this can happen to any blower given the 'right' circumstances, but some mechanisms are more vulnerable to wet+cold than others. My hope is that having multiple blowers increases my odds of one working at any given time.
Your link is not working,

I do like the way you fixed the problem, ha ha ha,
just buy more then one machine, one should work when you need it.:tongue:
 

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I give up. Can't seem to get the link to paste without changing.

A google search on 'snow blower cold weather problems ebay' brings it right up.
 
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