Here’s Part 2 of my snow blower saga…
Rebuilding a used 6 foot Lucknow snow blower
You can also view the first part of this article by clicking on Snowblowers – Front and Rear PTO Driven Conversions for my Tractors – Part 1
When I bought my new Kubota M59 I decided I wanted a bigger snowblower. My old snow blower was 5 feet wide and my tractor was 6 feet wide. I had enough horsepower to run the wider snow blower and adding an extra foot would (a) shorten my cleaning time, and, (b) stop me from driving on the edges of un-cut snow and snow banks.
I didn’t want to drive backwards again so I had the option of being a factory designed hydraulically driven snow blower or use my adapter from Part 1 of this story. After pricing out new and used 6 foot hydraulic snowblowers I quickly realized I didn’t want to spend 2x or 3x the price of a rear PTO driven blower. The other problem was that these attachments required 20-30 GPM hydraulic flow and my M59 on had 16 GPM at the front.
I priced out new and used snowblowers and wanted something beefy and reliable. New North American made 6 foot wide single auger PTO driven units with hydraulic chute turners were running $5000-6000. I took a look at some chinese manufactured new ones with manual chute turners for $2,400 but they were pretty lightweight and I don’t trust their build quality. I have an 8″ chinese wood chipper that I’m constantly working on so I feel I have a reason to be skeptical on “Made in China” quality.
I started looking at used units and found prices were still pretty steep and a lot of them were in pretty brutal shape. It was springtime so I figured I had some time to find a good deal on a used unit.
I talked with my neighbours and found a lot of them preferred the LuckNow brand of snow blowers. They are a Canadian company and locally made so they understand what our winters are like. They also use a round curved chute design and I had a lot of testimonials about how they are pretty clog free compared with the square chute designs. My Agro Trend was a square chute design that would frequently choke on wet snow and it was susceptible to the chute freezing up making impossible to turn.
Generally I’m not a fan of buying used equipment because in general I find that stuff to be abused and un-cared for. People who take care of their equipment generally hang on to good tools. My Agro Trend was 30 years old and other than being “too narrow”, it was still in good mechanical shape and I didn’t need to buy a new one. It was due for a re-paint but as it was always stored indoors it didn’t show its age.
After checking out a LOT of duds I came across an late 1980’s Lucknow single auger with manual chute turner. It was built like a tank, heavy, the augers didn’t look like there were used for crushing rocks at a quarry, and best of all, the actions still worked smoothly. It needed some welding. It was repainted too many times with what looked like house paint and the recently retired farmer was asking $800 for it. I haggled him down to $600 and he delivered it for that price.
I got it home and stripped the mechanicals down completely. I re-welded what needed welding and took it to a local paint shop. For $500 they sandblasted everything down to the bare metal and repainted it with a high solids construction equipment grade epoxy paint. I bought all new NGK bearings (no Chinese knock offs thank you) and got all new seals for the gear box direct from Lucknow. Customer service at Luckow was excellent. I re-assembled everything and was pleased as it looked like brand new.
The big decision was what to do with the manual chute turner. My M59 had three rear hydraulic remotes so I decided to go hydraulic. I still wanted the option to go back to a manual chute turner if I decided to sell it. The existing chute turner used the 0.25″ aircraft cables attached to a spooler mounted on the end of a hand crank. Fortunately the had crank used a 3/4″ steel rod that slid into the spool. I simply slid the crank out and replaced it with a short piece of 3/4″ shaft and added a lovejoy coupler on the end. I bought another low speed hydraulic motor on sale at Princess Auto and mounted it in line with the crank shaft. The shaft and motor were connected by the lovejoy coupler – that’s a pair 3 jaw chucks separated with a rubber spider. The nice part of lovejoy couplers are that they are cheap and its easy to connect a 3/4″ shat to the 1″ motor shaft just by selecting the right chucks. They are also very tolerant of mis-alignment and quiet to operate. I had to fabricate a motor mount that held the hydraulic motor at the correct height and angle to the chute turner spool shaft. Two six foot hydraulic hoses and couplers to my remotes and I’m off to the races.
All in all I’m in for $1,400 on this pretty much brand new snow blower. In the late fall I listed and quickly sold my old Agro Trend snow blower on kijiji for $1,500. My spare time is free so I got the bigger snow blower I wanted for just a little investment in time.
I started using this Lucknow snow blower on the back of my M59 because I already had the hydraulic remotes to run the chute turner. To my pleasant surprise what used to take me 3 hours to do 4 driveways I’m now doing it in 1 hour. I think the speed increase is due to the wider width cut snow blower, more PTO horsepower, and the hydrostatic drive on the M59. I can leave the tractor in high gear and the PTO at 540 RPM, vary my speed easily to match conditions, going from forward to reverse quickly, with no more gear changing. Driving backwards also lets me go into tight spaces easily and I can leave the forks on my tractor for loader work – so no more swapping attachments.
After two winters I also find the round chute design on the Lucknow superior to the Agro Trend. It hasn’t clogged once and it easily throws the snow up to 60+ feet.
I put a heated Laurin Eclipse Cab on my M59 this spring so I’m actually looking forward to winter this year!