Mark and Cindy Fix the Snow Blower or How I Got My Own Tools

2011-01-21 15.15.31This is the time of year unlikely to be discussed by the tourist bureau. The temp reached –27 last night and rose to -12 today, but it snowed. It might be called “the dark times”. You do have to find a way to manage to live here.

I like to think of myself as a manly man, but not necessarily in the classic sense. My wife describes me as “not particularly handy”. I do take care of some of the mechanical issues. Someone has to. So, I wash clothes and blow snow.

I have been struggling with moving the snow lately. It has taken all of my strength to push the blower into the snow so that the machine can blow it off the driveway and walks. I was starting to worry that the aging process was really starting to kick in. Then I noticed something. When I pulled the snow blower backwards I saw that the snow on one side was being pushed forward rather than being blown aside. Part of the mechanism that fed the snow into the blower had stopped turning. I was basically pushing the snow ahead of me unless some of it slid sideways into the part of the pickup mechanism that was working. Several hours of great exercise and I finally achieved this insight.

I actually knew what was wrong. Instinctively. I had sheared a pin. This I actually understood. I spent many summer days in my youth baling hay. A very manly man thing to do. My girl friend’s father ran a custom baling service and I stacked bales on the rack. It was honest work and I got a great tan. This is where I learned about shear pins. When the baler inhaled too much hay or the hay was too wet and tough, we would constantly shear pins. The shear pin would give way and I suppose prevent damage to the baler.

Anyway, I did not have a shear pin so I sent Cindy to the hardware store. I was tired and grumpy. Not in a curmudgeonly way. More like I am cold and tired and I am grumpy way. So Cindy came back with the shear pin. I could not find the hole it was supposed to be put through. At this point Cindy and I have our first “discussion”. I was politely asking that she hold the handle of the snow blower down so the front end would raise up and I could see better. I think she then tried to drop the front end on my hand. She suggested she get a flash light. Dumb idea, but it did identify the problem. The shear pin had sheared off in the hole – there was no hole.

Now the part about the tools. Someone took my tools, few as they were, down to Minneapolis and made the decision the tools would be more useful there than here. I guess the issue with the snow blower was not anticipated. How to pop a shear pin fragment out of the snow blower shaft? I have a screw driver, but no hammer. It turns out that the ball from a car hitch is heavy and kind of works like a hammer. The shear pin is removed, the healthy pin in inserted in the hole. No way to tighten the nut.

So, I need a wrench of some kind I can turn within the blades of the snow blower to tighten the nut on the shear pin. Again, we have a short discussion regarding my missing tools. Cindy goes back to the store to purchase a wrench.

She comes back with a complete tool kit – several hundred dollars worth of stuff. Fancy stuff I cannot name and I am not certain how to use – just in case I need to change the transmission on my truck I suppose. She goes in the house because she is tired of having discussions with me.

I do have a pretty impressive box of tools.




New Tool Box

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