The winter palace is located on the inside of a blind corner over a rise.  In proximity to a lumber mill, a biomass plant, several ongoing logging operations, and a major ski area, leaving the driveway can be a challenge.  Especially when the snow gets deep.

The original plan for the SW48 was to push the windrows back, with the assumption that the tracks would fare better than my plow truck tires.  Unfortunately, the machine is too light to really move the banks, especially when they have been set up with salt.  At the same time, the tracks are narrow, so it sinks and wallows if you try to climb on top.

So a tracked snowblower seemed like the way to go.  With that in mind, Craigslist was consulted, until this showed up in April:

A 4 cylinder Onan JC with Rockford snap clutch.  Should put out close to 40 hp @2700 rpm.

This should be sufficient to run a 5 foot blower, as those are usually run by tractors in the  25-32 hp class.

The motor had sat idle long enough for the spark plugs to rot away to almost nothing.  No water in the cylinders, and with a little sprucing up, it started and ran fine.

The motor was then shelved over the summer, waiting on a suitable blower.

There was a lot of waiting.

And waiting.   Life went on bereft of auger and impeller, until November, when the listings appeared like tulips in springtime.

Too big, too small; just right, but too far away, etc.  Missed one unit by a whisker (in part because I thought the fan was too small and hesitated) and then 12 hours later, this rig showed up.

A 62 inch Kubota.

An easy fetch for the 900.

As a bonus, this unit was front mounted, and the quick mount socket is a near perfect match for the plow lift frame on the Bombardier.  It also has a gear reduction box for use with the high speed of the mid-mount pto, so gearing to the Onan shouldn’t be too complicated.

Modified lift frame.

Original plow pivot visible from below.

The drivetrain scheme involves a right angle gearbox, a line shaft, and two chain drives.  The motor is offset, as the gearbox input and outputs turn opposite directions.

Detail of final chain drive and tensioner.  The curved black brace is part of a Soloflex exercise machine.

Another Soloflex chunk below the pto shaft.  Turnbuckles secure the mounting socket.

The first test run of the motor and drivetrain revealed a problem.  I had forgotten about the reduction drive on the blower….  The fan and auger were turning backward, so I had a snow sucker, not a snow blower.   Fortunately, the easy fix involved flipping the right angle drive, and sliding the motor back to the center.

Looks better this way, I think.


Exhaust is ex Volkswagen, the air filter came from my Wain-Roy backhoe (It needs a repower, and this canister won’t be missed). The snap clutch is activated remotely by way of the small cylinder, and an old log splitter spool in the cab.  Also more Soloflex.

Front spools control up/down, and chute rotation.  The rear spool is the clutch.

A little more guarding, and we’re almost good to go.

Safety first!

Auxiliary motor throttle control.

Walk about.

Test run.

2011-2012 was a lean snow year.  A good thing, as the first ‘wet run’ suggested that either the timing on the Onan was retarded, or the drive ratios were way too slow. Or both.

The motor stalled far too easily.  The clutch dragged, so at times I was trying to re-start under full load.  Of course it was dark, the cabin was full of noise, and I didn’t realize this; simply throttling and choking the auxiliary until it fired.  At one point, enough raw fuel hit the hot exhaust core to create a flamethrower…

And then the next day, the auxiliary had no oil pressure, so I gave it up for the winter…

I suspect the first cold start, in 0 degrees F, sent the relief valve too far up the bore, where it stuck.  I’ll get a better look this summer.