Snowblower Belt Replacement

April 26, 2011



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Repair: Belt replacement

Machine type: Single stage snow blower

Brand: Snapper

Model Number: SX5200R

Serial Number: 85004531

Belt Replacement Model Info

Belt Replacement Model Info

This snow blower is typical of small, impeller type snow blowers, with both 2 and 4 cycle engines.

Snowblower belt comes with a  variety of names:

  • belt tensioner
  • v-belt
  • v belt
  • snow blower belt
  • impeller

If any of these symtoms occur, then the belt probably needs to be replaced:

  • engine does not turn
  • impeller slips
  • snow blower won’t blow snow
  • you squeeze handle but nothing happens
  • engine runs, but there is no motion

For paddle type snow blowers, the layout is designed to have the drive belt on the left side of the machine looking down from the operator’s position.  The drive mechanism can be of two types. The simplest is to have the impeller turn whenever the engine is running. This has implications for safety and the need to keep the machine tipped back when transporting it over a gravel road. Wouldn’t it be hard to explain to your spouse or insurance agent why your car window is broken?  The other way to get power from the engine to the impeller is to use a belt tightener controlled by a bar on the handle. This keeps the lawyers happy and gives the repair person more mechanism to keep working.

I had earlier removed water from the gasoline, put in fresh fuel and cleaned the spark plug on this snowblower engine. The engine had started just fine and even spun the blower part when I held the handle. It had been dropped at my shop with only a name and phone number. I moved ahead with the repair with a classic error behind me. I did not call the customer.

Since I had found several reasons why the engine would not start, I assumed it was all set to be paid for and picked up.  The owner asked if I had dealt with the previously unmentioned drive problem.

1.)  I pulled the side cover and found that the belt had jumped up and over a guide bar and was rubbing its inner edge away.

2.)  I put it into its proper place and tested it again. It still spun the impeller, but as winter had not visited yet, there was no snow for testing. When snow came, I found that the belt slipped. The engine ran strong, but the least bit of snow caused the impeller to stall.

3.)  I tried to adjust the belt tensioner to pull harder, but it still slipped. So, I ordered a new belt.

4.)  Getting the belt in place was a bit of trouble as the clearance is quite close between the large pulley and the sheet metal.  I relaxed the belt tightener and got it started and turned the large wheel which pulled the belt in place.

Snowblower Belt Detail

Snowblower Belt Detail

Notice the large number of bolts that hold the side cover in place. These are 5/16” and can be moved quickly with an air wrench. Just  be careful to not over tighten or you could use a nut driver and your electrical drill.

Notice also the flat tab that helps keep the belt in place near the small, drive pulley. This had been under the belt when I opened the access cover the first time.  It is what was shredding the belt.

5.) I used compressed air to blow the belt fuzz out.

6.) When the new belt was in place, with the increased tension from my earlier attempt to get the old belt to work, there was very positive engagement between the engine and the impeller. I took it out to a handy snow field, grabbed the lever and started blowing some serious powder.  As a test that there was no slipping, I made the engine work very hard, just short of stalling it. That tells you that the machine is able to take the full output of the engine and turn it into work.

Now, we are back in business!

Snowblower Parts

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