Tips to Prepare your Snow Blower for Winter

Tips to Prepare your Snow Blower for Winter

Whether you’re prepping your snow blower for another year of snow removal or getting your new machine ready for its first winter, these snow blower maintenance tips will help ensure you’re prepared for snow this winter.

Tip #1

Change the oil in your snow blower. This should also be done after the first five hours of use this winter and after every subsequent season.

Old oil can cause problems for your machine’s engine, making it hard to start. If there is old oil, dispose of it properly. There is an oil drain plug in the back of your snow blower. Use a wrench to remove the plug and drain the oil into a container.

Tip #2

Drain old fuel and replace with fresh fuel. Old fuel can cause problems for your blower’s engine, making it hard to start.

Also, consider adding a fuel stabilizer so your fuel stays fresh even if you don’t need to use your snow blower.

Tip #3

Install a new spark plug, if necessary. Check your spark plug at the start of each season.

Disconnect the spark plug lead from the spark plug. Remove the spark plug with a spark plug socket wrench and remove debris from around the spark plug. Examine your spark plug and check for any damage. If there is damage, rust or corrosion on your snow blower’s spark plug, replace the spark plug.

Tip #4

Make sure all parts are moving smoothly. Make sure you tighten loose nuts and bolts. Your snow blower may vibrate during operation, causing nuts and bolts to loosen. Tighten those up to prevent them from falling off when your snow blower is in use.

Additionally, check to make sure belts and cables are in good condition. If you spot any damage, replace them. Any significant wear and tear call for a replacement to avoid the danger of a belt breaking during use.

After your snow blower is prepared for winter, start it up and let it run for a few minutes in a well-ventilated area to be certain everything works properly. Consider starting your machine every so often if it sits for an extended period.

Note: Not all snow blowers are the same. Different snow blowers utilize different types of fuel, oil and screws so consult your owner’s manual before repairing your equipment.

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How to Clean a Lawn Mower Deck

How to Clean a Lawn Mower Deck

Keeping the underside of your Cub Cadet lawn mower clean plays a huge role in the performance of the machine. Grass clippings and other debris cling to the underside of the lawn mower each time you mow, affecting airflow under the deck. Clean your mower deck soon after you’re done mowing. Don’t wait until grass clippings dry and become difficult to remove. Here’s how to clean a  lawn mower deck.

Before performing any maintenance on your Cub Cadet lawn mower, refer to your owner’s manual for maintenance instructions and safety information. Maintenance instructions vary by model, so depending on your lawn mower model our instructions may vary slightly.

Some Cub Cadet mowers have washout ports that make cleaning the bottom of the deck easy. If your mower has a washout port, park the machine on a flat, paved surface and lower the cutting height to the cutting setting. Remove the bag and attach a garden hose to the washout port.

Turn the hose on, start the lawn mower engine and stand behind the machine while you engage the mower blades. Run the mower until no more clippings come out from under the lawn mower deck. When the deck is completely clean, stop the lawn mower engine, shut off the garden hose, and disconnect it from the washout port.

Start the engine again, and stand behind the mower while engaging the mower blades.  Engage the blades for a few minutes to dry off the underside of the mower.

If your mower does not have a washout port, you can still clean the mower deck. Park the machine on a flat surface, shut off the engine, and lower the cutting height. Use your garden hose and aim it in front of the right rear wheel, right in the pavement.

Wait a few seconds then top the hose and engage the mower blades. Run the machine until no more clippings disperse from underneath the mower. Once you’re completely done with the garden hose, run the mower again for a few minutes to dry the underside of the deck.

You can also clean the lawn mower deck by scraping the underside. To scrape the underside of your mower, use a scraper or putty knife.

Make sure the engine is off and all moving parts have stopped before you begin scraping the deck. When you tip the mower on its side to access the underside of the deck, make sure the air filter side is up. This will prevent oil from flowing into the air filter and carburetor, which will prevent your mower from running.

Note: never use a pressure washer to clean your lawn mower deck. The pressure washer can force water into important areas of the mower that should not get wet.

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Cub Cadet Enduro XT1 and XT2 Tractors

Cub Cadet Enduro XT1 and XT2 Tractors

Cub Cadet redesigned their Enduro XT1 and XT2 tractors from the ground up for exceptional strength, durability and operator comfort.

Cub Cadet Enduro XT1 Lawn Tractors

Some of the differences on the XT1 are they start with a 42-inch deck with a single cylinder engine where from this model forward they go into a twin cylinder. You get smoother operation and increased torque with a twin cylinder engine but the single cylinder engine for a smaller lawn will perform and do a great job.

Other Enduro tractors come with a five-year frame and front axle warranty and they’re able to do that because they’ve gone to a cast iron front axle. This cast iron versus stamped out hollowed steel axle is exceptionally durable. There’s not going to be any breakage with this heavy cast iron front axle. Cub Cadet also redesigned the ergonomics of the tractor, so some nice features include ease of getting on and off the tractor, a lever to slide your seat back and forth, and as the seat slides back it also goes up so to accommodate a taller operator and offer increased legroom.

All your controls are easily accessible. Cub Cadet Enduro tractors feature a key switch, throttle positioning, and brake and transmission operation pedal. The transmission operation pedal is a hydrostatic drive transmission which is a fluid drive system so it’s like an automatic transmission in the car. The way this is designed, the further you push forward on the pedal the faster the machine goes. When you release the pedal, it will return to neutral, and for reverse you push on the opposite pedal.

Cub Cadet also added a nice feature of cruise control. Push the pedal, push down on your cruise control lever and it’ll lock in that position so if you have a lot of straight areas and don’t want to hold your foot on the pedal you can lock the cruise. Release the cruise either by tapping the pedal or you can just tap your brake pedal.

There are controls for your height of cut. Your height of cut is adjustable from one to four inches. It has a spring assisted lever so with one finger you can raise your mower deck up and down. You can set the height in quarter inch increments.

Cub Cadet Enduro XT2 Lawn Tractors

The XT1 and XT2 lawn tractors are on the same chassis. The key difference when you go into the XT2 series, from the front you’ll notice the front bumper is standard. It gives you added protection if you hit something and protects the front grill and front hood. The XT2 tractors go to a turf master tire. This will give you increased traction and durability. Cub Cadet upgraded the battery on the XT2 models for longer life and better cold-weather starts, and in your front axle they use a bearing which is typically found on much higher priced tractors. This bearing in the front axle will give you much longer life. The bushing on the XT1 models is easily replaced but this bearing really should last for the life of the tractor.

Cub Cadet also added armrests. These can be added to XT1 models but is standard for XT2 tractors to give you a little added comfort. The XT2 models have larger engines so you have an increase in performance. Another nice feature is the easy maintenance. Cub Cadet has a color-coded oil drain plug and a color-coded dipstick for checking your oil; it’s easy to spot. When you need change that oil, there’s no tools required. Just push the hood forward, pop the cap off the oil drain, twist the yellow part, and the oil will drain.

The engines on the Cub Cadet Enduro tractors are all protected by an oil filter. This oil filter is easy to access, you don’t have to remove anything because it’s right out in the open.  These tractors are available in 42, 46, 50, and 54-inch deck sizes. As you go into the 46 inch and larger another feature Cub Cadet added is electric PTO clutch. Other models have a lever to push to engage the mower, but these tractors have a switch. Just pull the switch to engage the mower and push to disengage. The key advantage is you get longer belt life.

Cub Cadet offers some enhanced engine and deck features such as an electronic fuel-injected engine or EFI for short. The electronic fuel injection gives you enhanced features including a little better fuel economy and better cold weather starts.

Cub Cadet has what they call SLX which stands for “super lawn tractor.” This is available in 54-inch mower decks and the first thing to note is the much larger tires. Typically, this tire size is found on a garden tractor. The advantage you have with this is if you have rough terrain, those bigger tires give you a little smoother ride. If you’re planning on adding a snow blade or snow blower it gives you better traction with the larger tires. To handle the larger tires Cub Cadet upgraded the transmission for a longer life and you still get that tight turning radius and exceptional performance.

Cub Cadet Enduro XT2 lawn tractors are very easy to operate. To round out the XT2 line Cub Cadet has the GX series. The GX is a garden tractor and the advantage you have with the garden tractor is an upgraded transmission. The garden tractor is designed for heavier use. The GX54 comes with a differential lock. To engage, just push down on the pedal with the heel of your foot. This will lock both wheels together. Differential lock is very useful in snow conditions, it gives you increased traction. Additionally, if you have some areas that are a little slippery on your lawn and you need to increase traction to eliminate that tire slip that’s where differential lock comes in handy. This feature is available on the GX models in the XT2 line.

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Cub Cadet Ultima Series

Cub Cadet Ultima Series

Cub Cadet Ultima Series Zero Turn Riders are built with a two by two frame for structural strength typically found on a lot of commercial mowers, and the unique style really stands out.

Some nice features on the Cub Cadet Ultima Series are larger front and rear tires, large grips for comfort, and, instead of foam, a nice, heavy padded grip on the lap bar for a real positive feel. The lap bars are adjustable and will easily adjust for operator comfort. The padded comfort seats also maximize comfort.

The control panel makes it very easy to view your keypad, hour meter, PTO and control system. For your height of cut adjustment, the Cub Cadet Ultima Series did a nice job for your mower deck lift. Instead of a hand lift there is a foot pedal with a simple knob. The presets are easy to view for what height you want. Adjustments are made in quarter inch increments.

There are two mower series in the Cub Cadet Ultima Series. The ZT1 series mowers are powered by EZT 2200 series engines. The ZT1 uses primarily Kohler engines but there is one model with a Kawasaki engine. The ZT2 is the other series and these mowers are on the same chassis, but Cub Cadet upgraded the transmission to a EZT 2800 series. ZT2 mowers have larger front and rear tires for less turfing and better flotation. The EZT  2800s will give you a longer life. You also pick up about a half mile an hour speed, so you go from 7 mph to 7.5 mph. Armrests also come standard on ZT2 mower models.

On both the Cub Cadet ZT1 and ZT2 LED headlights and rear tow hitches some standard. The Kawasaki FR691V Series engine comes standard on all ZT2 series mowers as well as the ZT1 50-inch mower.  The FR691V delivers 23 horsepower, which is a nice upgrade over some of the base engines available in this size mower.

The ZT1 series mowers are available with a 42, 46, 50 and 54 inch cutting width while the ZT2 mowers are available with a 46, 50, 54, and 60 inch cutting width.

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How to Change the Spark Plug on Your Cub Cadet Lawn Tractor

How to Change the Spark Plug on Your Cub Cadet Lawn Tractor

The spark plug on your Cub Cadet equipment should be replaced at least once a year of after 100 hours of use. Spark plugs provide an ignition source for your machine’s engine to power your Cub Cadet lawn tractor. When they go bad, mowing your lawn becomes a challenge. Change the spark plug on your Cub Cadet lawn tractor regularly to keep your mower up and running throughout the whole season.

Before performing any maintenance on your Cub Cadet lawn tractor, refer to your owner’s manual for maintenance instructions and safety information. Maintenance instructions vary by model, so depending on your lawn mower model our instructions may vary slightly.

Before working on your Cub Cadet mower, follow these safety precautions:

  • Shut off the engine
  • Allow the engine to become cool to the touch
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent accidental starting
  • To carry out this task, you’ll need these tools:
  • 5/8 deep well socket
  • Wrench
  • Extension

To change the spark plug on your Cub Cadet lawn tractor:

  • Locate the spark plug on the side of the engine.
  • Use your socket to loosen the spark plug. Loosen it and grab the spark plug on the end, and give it a couple more turns.
  • Install the new spark plug.
  • Replace the old spark plug with a manufacturer approved replacement part (refer to your Cub Cadet owner’s manual).
  • Hold the spark plug on the end and stick it into the proper hole on the tractor.
  • Turn the spark plug to the left to make sure that it is starting to thread in properly, but turn it to the right to tighten it.
  • Tighten the spark plug by hand. By doing this, you can tell if the threads are going in correctly and won’t strip the threads out of the head of the engine. Tighten as much as you can and then put your socket back on the spark plug to tighten it all the way down. Give it an extra snug turn.
  • If you are working with a twin-cylinder engine, repeat the same steps to change the spark plug on the other side of the machine. Once the spark plugs have been changed, reconnect the spark plug wire.

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Cub Cadet Engine Oil Maintenance

Of all the maintenance done to your Cub Cadet equipment, engine oil maintenance is the most important. Checking, changing and using the proper crankcase oil are extremely important to the life and performance of your machine. Failure to use the correct oil and keep it clean can affect engine life and reliability.

The most important scheduled oil change over the life of an engine is the first one. Most manufacturers recommend performing the oil change after the first 5-10 hours of use. This helps flush out small particles that accumulate naturally during the break-in period.

Refer to your Cub Cadet owner’s manuals for viscosity, grades and time intervals for oil changes. Different machines require different oil and it is important to pay special attention to those recommendations in small engines.

A small engine uses engine oil to help keep it cool in high temperatures, so pay attention to maintenance when operating in those conditions. Check the engine oil before each use, checking for both proper oil level and for color.

Be sure to use high-quality detergent oil that has the American Petroleum Institute (API) rating. When changing engine oil allow ample time for a complete drainage.

When engine oil is new, it has a golden amber color. Over time, heat and dirt particles cause the oil to darken. Combustion byproducts, contaminants, and oxidized lubricant build up to form sludge, which will cause the oil color to darken. Dark oil is a good indicator for an oil change.

Engine oil maintenance is not the only maintenance that keeps your Cub Cadet equipment in working condition.

Other important maintenance includes air filter maintenance, gasoline maintenance, and spark plug maintenance. If you want your Cub Cadet lawn mower, snow blower, and other outdoor power equipment to operate properly for years, stay on top of regular maintenance.

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Lawn Tractor Tire Chains

Lawn Tractor Tire Chains

When using your Cub Cadet Lawn Tractor during the winter season, you may find that the tractor tires don’t have the stability and traction needed when the pavement is covered by hard-packed snow or ice. Under these conditions, you can increase the traction by using lawn tractor tire chains.

Most tire chains are used on lawn tractors’ rear drive tires. Since manufacturers have been making snow blowers more and more powerful, they can also provide added grip to 2-stage snow blower tires that would otherwise slide around when under full power.

Not only do tire chains add traction to your rear wheel drive, they also help break up ice on your drive and walkways. Tire chains are highly suited for driveways that are inclined. Since they are made of hardened steel, combined with the weight of the tractor, there is risk of damage if tire chains are used and operated on brick pavers. If you store your Cub Cadet tractor in the garage, it could possibly damage weak floor surfaces.

There are 2- and 4-link chains available, which refer to the spacing between skipped side links. For 2-link spacing, cross chains occur between every two side link chains. For 4-link spacing, cross chains occur between every four link chains.

Which chain is better? That depends on which chain spacing suits your needs. The 2-link spacing tire chains will give more traction because there are more cross links and the tractor’s ride will be steadier. The 4-link spacing chains are generally less expensive, and still provide a little extra traction.

The chain size is the same dimension that is formed into the side of the tire wall. Tire chains are available in every size used for lawn and garden tractor wheels. Some chain sets are meant for more than one tire size, and links may have to be removed with bolt cutters or by bending the connecting links with pliers.

To Install Lawn Tractor Tire Chains you will need:

  • Tire chain set
  • Air compressor
  • Bolt cutters or strong pliers
  • A level area of pavement to work from

Here’s What To Do:

  1. Semi-deflate the tires that you will be installing chains on
  2. Lay the chains out flat on the ground and remove any tangles
  3. Lay the chain over the tire, cross chain hook facing up, and fastener to the outside
  4. Tuck the first cross chain between the front of the tire and pavement
  5. Move the tractor forward until the end fasteners are about axle high
  6. Hook the inside fastener first, remove slack, then hook outside fastener
  7. You want the chain to be hand tight which will extend the life and performance of the tire chains
  8. Fill tires to the proper PSI rated on tire wall – this will seat the chains to proper tension

Any remaining length can be shortened by removing one or more cross sections. Using pliers to pry the cross chain connecting link open and unhook or use bolt cutters.

It is important to check that you have enough clearance in both rear wheel wells for tire chains. There should be, at minimum, three inches of clearance between the tire and the inside wall and any drive components.

If you still need more traction, some tractors have wheel weight kits that mount on the outside of the rim, or “suitcase” styled weights to add to a rear weight bar bracket, if available as an accessory.

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Fuel Tips for Cub Cadet Snow Blowers

Fuel Tips for Snow Blowers

Your Cub Cadet snow blower’s fuel system is designed to withstand years of use. However, if you are not mindful of the fuel in your machine and allow it to go bad this can cause starting or running problems and damage to the fuel system. Read more as our experts explain how to avoid fuel-related problems in your Cub Cadet snow blower.

Fuel Recommendation #1 – Store fuel properly

Store your fuel in a clean, plastic, sealed container approved for fuel storage. This will help prevent rust and metallic contaminants from entering the fuel system. Close the vent, if equipped, when not in use and store the container away from direct sunlight. Fuel will deteriorate faster when exposed to air and sunlight.

If it takes longer than 30 days to use the fuel in the container, add a fuel stabilizer when you fill the container.

Fuel Recommendation #2 – Do not use gasoline with more than 10% ethanol

Gasoline containing higher levels of ethanol is corrosive and attracts water, which can cause starting or running problems and damage to your Cub Cadet snow blower’s fuel system. Engines produced for use in outdoor power equipment are not designed for gasoline with more than 10% ethanol. Read your Cub Cadet snow blower owner’s manual for information on the proper fuel to use in your machine.

Fuel Recommendation #3 – Remove fuel for summer storage

When winter comes to an end, drain the fuel out of your Cub Cadet snow blower. After draining, there may still be fuel in the fuel line and carburetor, so start your blower and allow it to run until no fuel is left in the machine.

This is an important step for off season storage because if old fuel is left in your snow blower it will deteriorate and cause problems for your machine. Your blower may not start or run properly and, in some cases, there will be damage to the fuel system.

Fuel Recommendation #4 –Add fuel stabilizer to your fuel storage container

If you use your Cub Cadet snow blower infrequently during the winter, add fuel stabilizer to your fuel storage container. Untreated gas left in your snow blower can deteriorate quickly, causing problems for your machine and the fuel system. Ensuring that the fuel in your Cub Cadet snow blower is stabilized minimizes the chances of deterioration and damage.

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When to Sharpen or Replace Your Cub Cadet Lawn Mower Blade

When to Sharpen or Replace Your Cub Cadet Lawn Mower Blade

To achieve a great cut and a healthy lawn, it is essential to regularly sharpen or replace your Cub Cadet lawn mower blade. While many people only need to sharpen their lawn mower blades once every couple of months, people who mow more than once a week will need to increase maintenance to once each month. The exact timing depends on workload, but if you’re not sure how often to perform blade maintenance, there are a few tell-tale signs that will help you stay on schedule.

With the following tricks, you can develop a trained eye and keep your Cub Cadet lawn mower blade up to par all season.

The first and most obvious thing to look for is unevenness in your lawn. When your Cub Cadet lawn mower blade is sharp, your grass should be cut at the same height every time with just one pass of the mower. If you find yourself making multiple passes to compensate for missed patches of grass, a dull blade may be the culprit.

Another way to tell if your Cub Cadet lawn mower blade needs sharpening is by closely inspecting the grass. If you notice that the tip of each grass blade is torn and not cleanly-sliced, it may be time to switch out your blade. Torn tips may also decrease grass health, causing grass to lose its lush, green color to an unhealthy shade of brown.

Lastly—and perhaps most obviously—you can inspect the blade itself. While your Cub Cadet lawn mower blade can usually be salvaged with routine sharpening, it is important to look for large chips or dents in the cutting edge that cannot be smoothed out. Inconsistencies in the blade are likely to tear grass rather than delivering the clean cut that’s important for your lawn.

Also pay attention to the thickness of your Cub Cadet lawn mower blade. Over time, sand, dirt, and other yard debris can erode the blade, causing the metal to weaken and become paper-thin. If you notice this, replace the blade immediately to avoid breakage during mowing, which can cause pieces of metal to fly apart and possibly injure you or other bystanders.

Overall, paying close attention to your lawn and your mower will help greatly in determining when to sharpen or your replace your Cub Cadet lawn mower blade. Remember the signs, perform maintenance regularly, and your Cub Cadet lawn mower blade should cut beautifully every time you mow.

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4 Ways to Dispose of Leaves

4 Ways to Dispose of Leaves

When fall rolls around, sometimes it’s hard to decide the best way to dispose of the leaves scattered across your lawn. Is it better to bag or mulch? Leave leaf piles for curbside pickup or compost them? No one method is correct because every leaf removal situation is different. Our experts discuss the different ways to dispose of leaves to help you decide which method is best for you.

Method 1 – Bagging

For areas that do not offer open curbside pickup, bagging is a popular and eco-friendly alternative. Using a leaf blower or rake, gather leaves into piles and dispose into paper lawn and leaf compost.

Unlike plastic trash bags, compost bags will decompose over time. You can also maximize bag space by shredding leaves before disposing of them, compacting yard debris down to a fraction of its original size.

Method 2 – Curbside Pickup

Many cities offer curbside leaf pickup during fall months. Research your city’s guidelines to learn if seasonal leaf pickup is available in your area. If it is, use a powerful leaf blower to blow leaves onto a large tarp. Drag the tarp to the curb, and then wait for your local collection service to show up and take the leaves away.

Method 3 – Mulching

Mulching is another great way to rid your lawn of leaves.  You can even use with your lawn mower to do so. Simply mow your lawn as you normally would, and chop leaves as you go. Along with grass clippings, finely-chopped leaves will naturally decompose, returning nutrients to your soil and improving the health of your lawn.

Keep up with leaves as they fall, or you may end up with leaf piles that contribute to thatch and do not break down as easily. If this happens, you should consider an alternative cleanup method mentioned here.

Method 4 – Compost

If you’re looking for a way to speed up leaf decomposition in your own yard, you may choose to add shredded leaves to your compost bin. Use leaves over time as needed to mulch your flower beds for the winter, or fertilize your gardens in the spring.

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