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Dear Ariens: How My Sno-Thro Survived Hurricane Sandy

12/17/2015 6:00:00 AM

This post was written by Paul D., an Ariens user, who shared this story via Facebook.​

Dear Ariens,

I've lived in Connecticut my whole life and a block from Long Island Sound for the past 25 years. My neighbor Bill had two Ariens snowblowers he loved. Every winter snowstorm (and we have had many), Bill would see me shoveling my driveway and would always come over with one of his Ariens snowblowers to help me out, usually taking care of the bottom of the driveway where the snow is often deep and packed because of the plows. He always made short work out of it. I'd thank him by filling the gas tank up whenever he did this.

This became the pattern every winter, until October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast. While the newspapers focused mostly on New York and New Jersey, parts of Connecticut along Long Island Sound were hit hard too. The storm surge flooded my neighborhood to a height of about three feet. Basements were completely flooded and anything left in a garage or shed was submerged. Of course, Bill kept his Ariens snowblowers in his shed.

Our neighborhood was without power for a few weeks. In the weeks after the storm, the street was lined with piles of everything from household goods to lawnmowers, damaged or ruined by the salt floodwaters. I saw Bill's two Ariens snowblowers on the curb. As I have some experience working with small motors, I offered to help Bill try to salvage the Ariens snowblowers. Frankly, he (and most of us) were too overwhelmed with the damage to our homes to worry about fixing things like snowblowers. Later, I noticed the snowblowers were gone and figured Bill had trashed them.

The next few winters were rather rough, the last one in particular. The winter of 2014–2015 went down in history, as it had one of the highest snowfalls for New England. Without Bill and his Ariens snowblowers, I only had a shovel to clear snow. Let me tell you, it sucked.

In late March 2015, Bill told me he was selling his house and moving out (like many of the residents did after the storm). Among other things, I told Bill I'd miss his Ariens snowblowers most of all! That's when he told me that he still had them! All this time, the flood-damaged Ariens snowblowers were in his shed. At this point, he was planning on just selling them for scrap value. He asked if I wanted them, and, of course, I said, "Yes!" We pushed them into my garage, where I planned the resurrection. Below is a picture of the two snowblowers in my driveway, a model 7524 and a 524. I didn't have room for two snowblowers. The 524 was smaller and more to my liking, so I decided to focus on that one. Also, considering they had both been submerged in salt water and then stored for over two and half years without any care, if I would be lucky to get one working.

My first task was to get the motor started. If the motor wouldn't start, there was little point of getting the auger and drive working. Tecumseh motors are pretty durable, so I figured I had a good shot. After I downloaded the Ariens manual and engine manuals off of the Internet (thank you Internet!), I commenced taking the 524 apart. I carefully opened the starter motor and found it was perfect; no water had gotten in at all. I plugged it in, tried it, and it worked fine. The carburetor was pretty much a lost cause; it had a thick coating of gunk throughout and rusted parts. I found a new carburetor was cheaper than a rebuild kit, so I purchased a new carburetor for $15 from Ebay. I took the engine head off, and it was sparkling clean! I cleaned out a bunch of gunk out of the intake and the muffler; sprayed the heck out of the flywheel (and any other rusty parts) with WD-40 and wiped off as much loose rust as possible (there was a lot less than you would think; most of the powder-coated and galvanized parts were unaffected by the salt water); cleaned the gas tank and fuel lines; filled the tank with fresh gas and Sea Foam; and drained and refilled the oil two times. Finally, I reassembled everything and prepared to start the engine.

I plugged in a cord to the electric start (nice to have) and pushed the starter button. After eight seconds of turning over, the engine didn't kick over. I waited a minute (the last thing I wanted to do was burn out the starter) and tried again. The same thing happened: eight seconds of turning over without starting. I waited and tried again. This time, after eight seconds, there was a puff of smoke and a rumble of starting! I waited and tried again. This time, it turned over and ran for about five seconds! I adjusted the throttle and choke, hit the starter again, and this time it turned over and actually ran! I turned it off after about two minutes of idle and changed the oil again. I started it and left it running for 10 minutes before shutting it down. Finally, I let it cool down and tried the pull start. It started right up. I realized I now had an Ariens snowblower with a running motor!

I next turned to the belt system that runs the auger. I changed the gear oil and greased all the fittings. Noting the belt guide wheels were rusty and corroded, I removed the wheels, cleaned the rust and oiled them. I then adjusted the belt tension. I started the motor up, engaged the auger (keeping my hands clear of it, of course), and it engaged immediately! I then tried the drive system, but nothing happened. I put it up on blocks to make sure everything was engaging (and it was). It turned out that all I had to do was adjust the cable to increase the wheel tension on the drive disk. I tried it again and had full forward and reverse drive. I proceeded to add air to the tires and put it back into the garage.

At this point, I have a fully-functioning Ariens snowblower. I feel like it's been brought back from the dead, or from the edge of death, as it was otherwise destined for the scrap heap. What a waste that would have been. I can't tell you how impressed I am that this Ariens snowblower survived Hurricane Sandy and being submerged in salt water (not to mention having been well used before then). On top of all that, the machine sat unused for over two years. I think it's​ a testament to Ariens that its snowblowers can take that kind of beating and be back in prime working order with just a little work, fresh gas and oil, and $15 worth of parts. I cannot wait for the first snowstorm, so I can put it back to work. I may​ even have to take it to Bill's new place and clear his driveway, for old time's sake.

Paul D.​