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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. I am new to snow throwers and I just picked up a Craftsman 24-in. 208cc Dual-Stage Snowblower (model 88173)

I read the manual and know how to operate the unit, but there's no mention of steering or any wheel pin release which I've been reading about in other forums that can allow the wheels to free spin for steering.

When the drive is disengaged, you can push the wheels forward and backwards just fine, but you can't steer them without skidding the wheels since they are locked rotating together.

So as a rookie, I'm thinking this is normal in some snow blowers that aren't too feature rich. Some people say the skidding tires are not a big deal in snow which is slippery (which is fine)

My question is, are you damaging the unit by pivoting it on skidding tires? Should you pivot it on the skid shoes with the wheels lifted? What's the proper way of steering?

Thanks :confused:
 

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Well to begin, welcome to the forum. There is a wealth of knowledge to be had.

As far as Craftsman, I'm not too keen with. But I can say that some blowers feature a steering mechanism of sorts and some do not. If there isn't a pin to lock/unlock the wheels then you probably just have a standard straight axle. In snowy conditions it provides more traction when using the machine, but turning may pose to be a good workout. However, when you actually do use it, the snow on the ground certainly helps you in turning the blower.

And to answer the question - no, you should not be causing damage to the unit
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the good response! As long as it's normal and isn't damaging my axle and drive mechanism, I'll deal with wrestling with my U-turns.

Thanks for the peace of mind!
 

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Steerable blowers (I have one that's a Craftsman) have a trigger on each handle or in some cases on one handle (some Ariens). When you squeeze the trigger on that side, it disengages the wheel on that side. The wheel on the other side continues to turn so the blower turns. For example, squeezing the left trigger disengages the left wheel. The right wheel continues to turn so the blower turns to the LEFT.
 

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This snowblower model does not have easy steer hence straight axle but a 24" unit should be easy enough to handle.
 

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Welcome, and I agree with what has been said. You might wear your tires down with skid steering after 40 years. But the reality is, that you would not still own the machine, or some other major component has failed prior to that point.
 

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Your model probably has a bolt that secures the wheel, and the wheel is keyed to the axle shaft, which means that one side cannot be manually unlocked.

Some models have this setup, and others have an un-keyed wheel with a pin so you can manually lock or unlock the wheels as necessary.
 

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It will be much easier to turn (skid) when it's on snow.
You will see.
Unlocking a wheel in the off season makes it much easier to maneuver in/out of the shed/corner of garage or whatever.
 

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The axle is design to transmit torque to the wheels. The resistance of dry turning pales to this and poses no drivetrain risk. It can result in miniscule tire wear and pavement marking so don't spend the off season doing laps in the garage :)

Once on snow the lubrication will make turning easy once you learn the dance and you'll have a lot less failure points to contend with.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for all the helpful replies! As long as it's normal and doesn't cause damage, that's all I needed to put my mind at rest.

I believe that it will be easier to skid steer on snow and ice. Dry in the garage was my first experience, and it's 200 lbs, so it was scary skid steering it. I was wondering if I was causing damage and was just missing something I wasn't aware of.

But you guys made me feel better. It's odd how there's 0 mention of steering in the manual - and barely anyone talking about technique or best pratice.

I'm well aware of the models that allow EZ Steer. Unfortunately, mine isn't equipped with it.

Does anyone recommend (or recommend against) lifting the wheels slightly so the unit is on the skid shoes to turn it on dry pavement (or even snowy pavement). Problems there i can see is 1) marking the pavement 2) excessive wear on the skid shoes 3) possibly forcing them out of adjustment - so I'm thinking it's a bad idea. But it does make the unit easier to turn on dry pavement than skidding it on the tires.
 

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You can lift as much or as little as you want to spin it around, you not going to hurt it. You will ware the skids a little more but they will take a bigger hit just running down the driveway.

As a side note, you may want get something to put under you machine when not in use or after use so you don't leave a rust stain on you garage floor, I just toss my a toss of 3/4" oak I had laying around under the skids, anything will work.
 

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You can lift as much or as little as you want to spin it around, you not going to hurt it. You will ware the skids a little more but they will take a bigger hit just running down the driveway.

As a side note, you may want get something to put under you machine when not in use or after use so you don't leave a rust stain on you garage floor, I just toss my a toss of 3/4" oak I had laying around under the skids, anything will work.
On that same track, a lot of us have installed skid shoes made of different types of plastic materials. No rust on the garage floor, easier turning, and they wear forever compared to the stock metal skids that come on the machine. 3/4" HDPE works very well.
And welcome to the forum.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This is the most respectful forum I've ever seen. Usually 1/2 the people on forums are rude and pounce (especially on the rookies). I really appreciate you guys. Thanks so much! It's a pleasure to be a part of this forum.
 
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