Last Updated 01/02/01
My Electric Snowblower

Here is my answer to noisy unreliable smelly 2 cycle snowblowers.

A couple of weeks ago, after Kansas City got smacked by several heavy snowfalls, my back and I decided it was time to stop shoveling and get a snowblower. 
(You may call them snowthrowers, it seems to be a regional thing, and I may be wrong for my region.)

A quick trip to a couple of local hardware stores, and a bit of time on the phone revealed that no stores had any snowblowers left, and the next shipment wouldn't be here 'till next fall.  Not exactly what I wanted to hear.  I happened to recall seeing a couple of VERY used ones at a thrift store (second hand store) a few months back, so I went over and checked.  Sure enough, out front I found an old Toro marked $89.  I couldn't get it to start, but it spun over easily, and considering how simple a two cycle engine is, I thought I might risk it.  My better half said go for it so I rolled it inside to buy it.  While waiting inside I noticed it was marked down to $69.  Once we got to the register I discovered everything was 50% off that day, so I left with a dead snowblower for only $35.  So far so good.

Once I got home, I did a quick tear down of the carburetor, cleaned and reassembled it, and cleaned the plug.  A quick run to the gas station for a gallon of gas, and some old 2 cycle oil left over from a moped project and I was in business.  It didn't start on the first pull, but it did run eventually, and did a fair job of clearing the driveway.  The only down side is I probably used as much energy pulling the rope to restart it as I would have shoveling.  Every time you looked at it hard, it would stall.  In addition, years of electric lawnmower use had me spoiled.  I did not enjoy the smelly noisy engine roaring away in front of me.  The obvious answer was to make it electric.

I had an old GE motor I had originally purchased for the air conditioning system on my electric car.  I had decided to buy another, as this one proved much too noisy, but it was still far quieter than the Toro's two stroke.  The only real headache was adapting the drive over.  The Toro is a very simple single stage design with a direct chain drive from the engine to the paddles.  The output shaft on the gas engine was 5/8" while the shaft on the electric motor was 3/4". No problem, I figured, I will just get a new sprocket.  Wrong.  There were none to be found.  What I came up with instead was a 3/4" rigid coupler with a 5/8" to 3/4" sleeve in it, and then a short section of 5/8" shaft with the original engine sprocket mounted on it.  The whole thing was welded together, and mounted on the shortened motor shaft.  The motor was mounted on a couple of sections of scrap steel angle with leftover bolts, and voila, the hard part was finished.

The motor I used was a 1.25 hp permanent magnet GE motor, rated 104 Volts DC, 3450 rpm, 11 amps.  I bought it from The Surplus Center in Lincoln, NE for $129.50.  I know that was an expensive motor for a project like this, but like I said, I didn't buy it for this.  I suppose if I didn't have it, I would have scrounged up something else.  Electric motors are not all that hard to find.

Since it is a DC motor and I am running it on AC I had to use a bridge rectifier.  I had a 30 amp 250 volt unit left over from another project, so that was pressed into service.  So far it seems just fine.

For controls, I simply mounted a small plastic box from Radio Shack on the handle where the pull rope used to hang, and installed a toggle switch in it.  This was quite an improvement over the original set-up, as the off switch on the Toro engine was just a metal tab you pushed over to short out the spark plug.

Some leftover wire and a used ground plug finished the construction.

In use the snowblower seems much more powerful than it was before.  Since the electric motor can't stall, it is very easy to just dig in and throw snow.  It sure beats pulling that stupid rope starter.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at: