Craftsman snowblower - storage for summer? Lawmmower ready for summer?

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Old 02-08-17, 06:26 AM
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Craftsman snowblower - storage for summer? Lawmmower ready for summer?

Hi.

Wondering if I should drain all the gas in my Craftsman snowblower before storing it in an "under-the-house" shed this summer. I changed the oil before the winter season, although I haven't used the snowblower maybe 5 times this season so far.

I've had it I believe 2 years (seasons) now.

While I'm on the subject, what about my lawnmower. I think I've also had it 2 years now. I think it's a Lawnboy if I remember correctly - it's green. Anyways, I plan on changing the oil again before the summer. Should I have the blade sharpened every summer? Like I said, I've had it for about 2 summer seasons now and it doesn't see a huge amount of use, but maybe little to moderate.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 08:05 AM
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Two schools of thought on small engine long term storage.

1. empty tank and carburetor of all gas. Run it until it dies.

2. Fill carb and tank to the brim and use gas treatment. Be sure the gas treatment is mixed with the gas in the carb. Run it for several minutes.

I've used both methods with success, but prefer the "dry" #1 method.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 03:10 PM
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#1, Find a place that sells non ethanol fuel, any low use power tool will give you far less fuel related issues if you do.
Ethanol distroys fuel lines and gums up the carb.
I'm with Norm on letting them run out of fuel.
What I do at the end of the year is add some Sea Foam to the tank and let it run until it stops.
I own at least a dozen power tools and have been doing this for years and everything starts right the next year.
I also remove the spark plug and spray in some fogging oil to coat the cylinder.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 03:17 PM
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There is actually a third school of thought on this subject and that is use the best grade of non ethanol fuel available and then don't worry about it.
Fuel stabilizers are a good idea but by my experience are not needed if you use a good grade of fuel.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 03:58 PM
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All good advice on the fuel situation, so nothing to add there. As far as oil changes, it sounds like once a year is probably sufficient for your usage, but, if you are looking for longevity, I would adhere to that as a minimum. You also mentioned blade sharpening, and I cannot imagine going two years without sharpening, but I know that a lot of people mow a lot less lawn than I do, so maybe you're okay. A mower blade is not a pocket knife, so you're not looking for that kind of edge, but you do want something that will cut the blades, as opposed to ripping them off. Too sharp and it will nick at the slightest stone or whatever, but not sharp enough and it's ripping the cuttings from the stem. At a minimum, look at it it once or twice a year. You said "have it sharpened", so I assume that you don't have a means to do it yourself, but you can use a file to touch it up as needed, working down any nicks that you may have in it. Also, if it is a mulching mower, look at the sail, the upturned part at the back side of the blade. I have a more conventional "country lawn", kept in good shape but not something that is going to stand out in "Better Homes and Gardens", and have honestly scrapped blades that still had plenty of steel to cut with, but the sail was worn to a razor's edge by the dry clippings and dry soil that gets tossed around under the deck during a hot dry mowing season.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 04:01 PM
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Carburetors had the same problems as they do today long before ethanol fuel and fuel stabilizers. The work around in the past was adjustable jets and simple design and tolerances. 100 LL aviation fuel will varnish up just the same as cheap 87 octane 10% ethanol pump gas.
Today's small engines have to pass strict emissions and built to be tamper resistant to maintain the lean settings from the factory. Even certified dealers can no longer get some of the special adjustment tools made for adjusting these carbs.

I have cleaned just as many carbs with blue, green, red, orange, etc. fuel stabilizers in them as not any at all.
Proper storage is the most important. Dry, dark and where the temperature does not vary greatly in short periods of time, IE: small metal storage sheds can be well below freezing overnight but can get well above on a bright sunny day in the middle of Jan. if exposed direct sun.
Periodic operation is also valuable not just for fuel issues, but internal oiling, spinning belts and pulleys, chasing out varmints...etc.

Including the fore mentioned items and with a fuel valve incorporated, I recommend keeping the tank full, turn off the valve and run the carb dry or at least enough to allow the float to drop enough that the needle valve is not on the seat. Many carbs have an anti bounce spring on the needle valve. Constant pressure on the needle valve from a full float bowl will do two things:
1) it will weaken the spring to the point where it will not seal,
2) it can deform the rubber on the needle valve and cause it to stick in the seat.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 04:05 PM
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Joe:
I also remove the spark plug and spray in some fogging oil to coat the cylinder.
Good point Joe. I forgot to mention that.

Greh:
use the best grade of non ethanol fuel available and then don't worry about it.
Greg, that is good advice about hi-grade non ethanol fuel. But all fuel will degrade over time. Seafoam or Sta-Bill will prolong the life of stored fuel for about 3 months at best. Also non ethanol fuel isn't always easy to procure. Depends how far away the station that sells it, and the cost!

This season, because of the mild winter, I have cut back on the amount of stored gas I hold (about 3 gals) and even that is getting old for me. Other seasons I've had to store 5 to 6 gals and that wasn't always enough.

One last note: On a snowblower, use (sparingly) dry gas. The introduction of ice and snow is very likely during winter months. But don't do it in a car. 1st the gas is locally and seasonal treated and a multi cylinder engine can handle "old" gas periodically.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 04:24 PM
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As far as the blades I agree with half of what Pedro mentioned. Any manufacture I have seen that mentions blades, state a 30% angle with 1mm/3/64" cutting edge. As for the mulching edge, this is where I put, (and if you look at new blades, have) more of an angle and finer edge "razor" edge if you will. Think of the cutting edge as a clever and the mulching edge as a filet knife.

Also knicks in the cutting edge do not necessarily need to be removed as long as they have a fair radius, you are simply wasting meat to get some deep ones out.

IMO using a file, (unless you are really bored or sent to the doghouse or just have too much time on your hands) is not worth the time or effort.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 04:30 PM
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I do agree the best method to avoid fuel issues is to drain and run dry all fuel, HOWEVER, this makes the other important issue I mentioned more inconvenient and there fore less likely to happen which is periodic operation in order for internal oiling and greasing of parts.

Pretty sure there is a sticky up that covers almost all mentioned here but still some good tips!
 
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Old 02-08-17, 06:06 PM
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2-in-1 vs. 3-in-1

Regular lawnmower blades are sometimes called 2-in-1 blades because they can discharge grass clippings through the mower's side-discharge chute or fling them into a clipping collection bag. In order to emphasize their greater versatility, mulching blades often are called 3-in-1 blades because they can perform three jobs instead of just two. They are able to discharge or bag clippings, and they can chop them into a fine mulch and leave them on the lawn.
Blade Shape

The primary difference between a mulching blade and a regular blade is shape. A mulching blade typically has a more curved profile than a regular blade, and it is also likely to have cutting edges along more of its surface than a regular blade does. These design differences give a mulching blade the ability to keep grass clippings circulating under the mower deck, allowing the blade to cut the clippings repeatedly into smaller and smaller pieces.
Aerodynamics

Regular blades are sometimes called "high-lift" blades because they're designed to create aerodynamic lift that pulls grass clippings upward and flings them through the discharge-chute. A mulching blade, on the other hand, creates a circulating air stream that directs the clippings back toward the blade after they're cut, in contrast to a regular blade's one-directional lift.
Discharge Issues

Because mulching blades are designed to keep the clippings under the mower deck rather than send them out immediately, those blades are not as efficient in discharge or bagging mode as regular blades. Conversely, regular blades do not chop clippings into small pieces the way mulching blades do, and so they don't work well on mulching mowers or on standard mowers with a mulching kit installed. The insufficiently chopped clippings tend to clog the regular blades and the underside of the mower deck.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WryAmhPZDeY Just to add some good but not all info for those are still reading and have time to hand file their blades
Many a Train driver degree (egineering) has been spent figuring all of this out. Personally I have little use for train drivers that are unable to figure out the difference between a Phillips Screw driver and Orange Juice and Vodka

Regardless, my experience working at a beef processing plant in my young days, and my many more years in aviation...it just makes sense to me so...
 
  #11  
Old 02-08-17, 07:21 PM
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Wondering if I should drain all the gas in my Craftsman snowblower before storing it in an "under-the-house" shed this summer.

Clearly there are differing internet views on the best way to prepare a small engine for storage. However, for most engines - those without a gas shutoff, such as Craftsman snow blowers - there is only one BEST answer: drain the tank.

There's at least two reasons for this conclusion. First, an important part of preparing an engine for storage is coating it with a layer of oil, either fogging oil designed specifically for this purpose or engine oil. Without a shutoff, I don't believe it's practical to do so.

Second and equally important, almost all gasoline contains 10% ethanol (E10) which is subject to phase separation. While filling the tank prior to storage reduces the likelihood of substantial moisture, vented gas tanks found on small engines are likely to allow moisture (through evaporation and condensation) into the tank, which can build over several months, leading to phase separation. And keep in mind that only a small amount of moisture (around 2 teaspoons in a typical small engine gas tank) is sufficient for phase separation to occur.

Finally, almost none of the ethanol treatment products on the market can fully protect a small engine from phase separation. This is borne out by several studies and the treatment product websites themselves.

Long and short, remove the ethanol which is the only certain way of eliminating the prospect of phase separation, which can be devastating to an engine.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 07:42 PM
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Just to add some good but not all info for those are still reading and have time to hand file their blades
Actually I use to use a grinder sharpen my blades, but I learned that a file is easier and quicker. And I don't need a razor sharp edge to get clean cut. I use to use a sheet of paper to test the sharpness. I have since learned that the proper angle and a edge is all that is needed and a file does the job perfectly.
 
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Old 02-08-17, 08:10 PM
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Makes me think of a guy at a shop that sharpened a customers blades and told them... "you can shave with that blade".
 
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Old 02-09-17, 01:41 AM
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Let them run dry...

I tend to just empty most of the fuel out and then let them run dry. I will then clean and fit new carb gaskets before I use them in the spring.

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Last edited by cheese; 02-09-17 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 02-10-17, 12:16 AM
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I've been reading around on various forums and things and I've decided to just put new gas towards end of season and add STABIL and let it run. I think I'll be fine. I'm also going to try and periodically run it from time to time through the summer.

I read about gaskets and seals and things rusting and drying out if you drain all the gas and I also read that EVEN if you do manage to drain it, it's still in the carb and then it can turn into varnish.

I read somewhere that some guy just fills it and adds Stabil and hasn't had any problems in 15 years. Good enough for me!
 
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Old 02-10-17, 02:51 AM
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I used to just run my engines until they quit and never had any issues the next season. For the last several yrs I've been adding Stabil to the last tank as an added precaution. With my chainsaws if I think I might not use them again for awhile I ad StaBil, I never purposely run them dry for storage as I use them year round.

IMO it isn't that big of a deal to sharpen the lawnmower blade. I sharpen mine with each oil change. It is important to keep the blade balanced by taking equal amounts off each side. I check the balance by hanging the blade on a nail on the wall. I've never used one but they sell a stone you attach to a drill that has the angle preset in the stone ..... I always just eyeball it.
 
  #17  
Old 02-10-17, 05:21 AM
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8hp Toro snowblower and 10hp rear engine rider, both bought mid-90s. When I'm ready to store them I add some Sea Foam to around half a tank of gas, 87 octane I siphon from my truck. Let them warm up good, change the oil and done.

In the spring or fall I top off the tank with fresh gas and 8 of 10 times they start on first pull, never more than 3 or 4.

I like to spray WD-40 under the lawnmower deck now and then, grass doesn't stick as much and easy to clean. That's all I got.
 
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Old 02-10-17, 06:35 AM
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8hp Toro snowblower and 10hp rear engine rider, both bought mid-90s. When I'm ready to store them I add some Sea Foam to around half a tank of gas, 87 octane I siphon from my truck. Let them warm up good, change the oil and done.
Baldwin, good to see you've been OK and I hope that continues. I may not be reading you correctly, but you seem to say you store your equipment with approx. half a tank of gas plus some Sea Foam. If so, that's precisely what shouldn't be done. The tank should either be full or (preferably) empty.

Virtually all small engines have vented fuel systems which allows moisture (water vapor) to enter the tank. The water vapor condensates in the tank. Beyond that, ethanol is hydroscopic meaning it attracts and mixes with water. When saturated, the ethanol separates from the gasoline in a process called phase separation and only 1 teaspoon of water is sufficient to cause phase separation in a half a small engine tank. Without getting into details, phase separation can cause a multitude of problems for small engines.

Finally, note that Sea Foam recommends full-tank storage and warns against condensation. From their website:

"STORAGE TIP:
Be aware that ethanol-blended fuels will draw water vapor from the surrounding air or attract water condensation inside a tank caused by daily temperature variations. Treat the fuel when it’s fresh and minimize the amount of air space in a fuel container or tank by filling before storage."
 
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Old 02-10-17, 03:37 PM
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Virtually all small engines have vented fuel systems which allows moisture (water vapor) to enter the tank.
"STORAGE TIP:
Be aware that ethanol-blended fuels will draw water vapor from the surrounding air or attract water condensation inside a tank caused by daily temperature variations. Treat the fuel when it’s fresh and minimize the amount of air space in a fuel container or tank by filling before storage."
Since the days when a vented cap was simply a hole in the cap maybe with a piece of cork or cardboard, modern vents are made to allow air in and close off when static to keep excessive moisture out. The point here is that air contains moisture so any surrounding air in the tank has potential condensation which occur with varying temperatures.
Again it goes back to proper storage, mainly IMO regarding temperature. The more constant the temperature, the less condensation. As well the less amount of air in the tank, the less amount of stored condensation.

All of this can also vary greatly with regional location. In Vancouver Wa. the winters are generally quite mild and constant as well are the summers, here in the heartland we had a low of 15, high of 40 yesterday, today was 43 for a low, and 73 for a high
That is quite likely why there is so much different ideas going around and all of which may work just fine for one individual, in one region, and not for another elsewhere.
 
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Old 02-11-17, 11:10 PM
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Ok guys, I'm really a snow-blower newbie, and I've got a few general questions cause I'm just curious. Of course I may be a "newbie", but I've been using it pretty regularly up here in Maine over the last couple weeks and we're going to be getting a 18-24 inch Blizzard tomorrow night!! I'm excited to see how this little Craftsman 24-inch 208cc is going to do! I hope we get 2 feet LOL!! Heck I kind of like snowblowing!

Anyways here goes:

1. For some strange reason I though maybe snow-blowers had 2 or 3 gallon gas tanks lol!! Just read that I should have "less or maybe up to a gallon tank" What do you think?

2. I've got that slide "thingy" that has a turtle and a rabbit. Is that the air/gas mixture? I just slide it all the way to the rabbit more or less. When would I slide it maybe in the middle, etc? P.S. I do slide it to the middle for 30 seconds or so before shut down, cause I read for some reason it's smart to do?

3. I start it in the cold usually with the choke pointing DOWN. I'm not sure, but I think this is CLOSED. I have to wait a minute or maybe more to fully bring it horizontal (OPEN?). Should choke normally just be OPEN after everything warms up?

4. Just for the heck of it I'm wondering something - Does anyone here rebuild their engines when/if the day comes or do they just go out and buy a new blower? Is it worth it on an entry level Craftsman 24 inch 208cc like I have or "just go out and buy a new one"? Heck who knows if I'll even be around then? LOL.


I guess that's it for now! I'm hoping to have some fun in the snow tomorrow!! Yeeeeehaw!!

 
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Old 02-12-17, 03:12 AM
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Brian, enjoy the snow. Here's some information:
  1. I believe 2-3 gallsons is extraordinary for a gas tank; mine is well under a gallon and I have to add gas less than 1/2 the time on a 140' driveway. If tou do add gas, make certain the snow blower is turned off first.
  2. The throttle should be moved slightly toward the center when started and all the way to the left (toward the rabbit) when operating.
  3. The choke should be down when starting and up after starting.

On your last question, it depends on what's broken, how good you are at fixing stuff, and the overall shape of the snow blower. One option is to buy a new engine. I suggest, though, you follow the complete maintenance schedule and when the time comes look for a second-hand machine.
 
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Old 02-12-17, 03:53 AM
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Brian,
Good advice from Tony. But please, before you operate your new machine read the manual. It will answer every question you asked and advise you how to care for your machine. And the thing about gas, use a gas stabilizer on you storage container. A two gal container may last several weesk or two months. In that amount of time gas will degrade. One more note. High speed full throttle is the most efficient mode. Control your speed with the gears.
 
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Old 02-15-17, 11:50 PM
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Why is blower so hard to start? Sometime I have to pull the cord 4 or 5 times to finally get it to start. I usually pump the primer 3 or 4 times and then try and start it. The CHOKE is closed, slider is on the RABBIT, etc. I've only used it lightly for 2 seasons now. Can it need a new spark plug already?
 
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Old 02-16-17, 03:15 AM
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Brian,

Re-read all of the above post. Then draw your own conclusions. Eventually it won't start at all.
My unit is about 15 years old and starts first pull every time. Some seasons I use it a lot other season maybe once or twice. In that time I've only changed the plug twice.

Your carb needs a rebuild. It's gunked up. If you aren't good at it, take it in to have the carb cleaned. Then thereafter make sure you use gas stabilizer, and empty the tank and carb every season before storage.
 
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Old 02-16-17, 04:47 AM
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Your carb needs a rebuild. It's gunked up.
I just bought it 2 years ago! A Rebuild??

It started today on first pull.
 
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Old 02-16-17, 04:52 AM
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Why is blower so hard to start? Sometime I have to pull the cord 4 or 5 times to finally get it to start. I usually pump the primer 3 or 4 times and then try and start it. The CHOKE is closed, slider is on the RABBIT, etc. I've only used it lightly for 2 seasons now. Can it need a new spark plug already?
Here's a few last thoughts. First and foremost, there's no minimum number of times a snow blower cord should be pulled before it starts. Second, when starting move the throttle only toward the middle not all the way to the left and the choke part way, as well. Third, while the spark plug probably doesn't need replacing after two seasons, it may, so consider changing it. Before you do so, remove the spark plug, clean it well, and make certain it's gapped properly. If it's still a problem, change it. Fourth, change the oil even if you did so before. Use a good brand of synthetic oil, 5W-30. Wal-Mart has it low cost. Make certain the oil is warm when you change it so run the snow blower for 5 minutes. Fifth, pump the primer 5-6 times slowly.

BTW, after using synthetic oil pull the cord easily or you'll go flying. Let me know how you do.
 

Last edited by Tony P.; 02-16-17 at 05:30 AM.
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Old 02-16-17, 06:22 AM
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Here's a few last thoughts. First and foremost, there's no minimum number of times a snow blower cord should be pulled before it starts. Second, when starting move the throttle only toward the middle not all the way to the left and the choke part way, as well. Third, while the spark plug probably doesn't need replacing after two seasons, it may, so consider changing it. Before you do so, remove the spark plug, clean it well, and make certain it's gapped properly. If it's still a problem, change it. Fourth, change the oil even if you did so before. Use a good brand of synthetic oil, 5W-30. Wal-Mart has it low cost. Make certain the oil is warm when you change it so run the snow blower for 5 minutes. Fifth, pump the primer 5-6 times slowly.

BTW, after using synthetic oil pull the cord easily or you'll go flying. Let me know how you do.
Thanks for all the suggestions TonyP I'll try them, but I just put Castrol 5w-30 in a month ago.! Today it came on first pull and it was covered in ice and snow! I accidently left the tarp off. I think I'm gonna start storing it in the shed below the house instead of leaving it out!
 
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Old 02-17-17, 03:14 AM
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I think I'm gonna start storing it in the shed below the house instead of leaving it out!
Please do! Not much can ruin you power equipment faster than leaving it out in the weather. None of my equipment has ever been wet -- my Craftsmen push mower is 40 years old and still works/looks fine.
 
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Old 02-17-17, 06:43 PM
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Please do! Not much can ruin you power equipment faster than leaving it out in the weather. None of my equipment has ever been wet -- my Craftsmen push mower is 40 years old and still works/looks fine.
It's still out, but it is covered with a snow blower tarp. There's so much snow in the back yard to get to the under-house shed that I decided not to blow my way through cause I was really tired the other day after snow blowing and it was very cold. On a warmer day I may try snow blowing my way down to it.
 
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