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Jon K.
Jon K., Small Engine Diagnostic Expert
Category: Small Engine
Satisfied Customers: 5818
Experience:  Gold certified Stihl tech, Service Manager for a rental/repair shop.Certified in most small engines
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Hello, I have a Craftsman 536.886260 two stage snow thrower.

Resolved Question:

I have a CraftsmanNNN-NN-NNNNtwo stage snow thrower. After replacing both belts, the Auger won't engage properly. I have adjusted the handle cable to the proper length but it just seems that the idler won't put enough pressure on the belt to apply enough tension to spin the auger. I called the place where I bought the belts and they verified that they are correct. I have the idler adjusted in as far as it will go, but it still won't engage far enough. I even took the gear box apart fearing that it was destroyed, but all was well with it. It's driving me crazy. Any ideas?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Small Engine
Expert:  Jon K. replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for choosing Just Answer, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do my best to help you find the answer you need to resolve your problem.

Just so you can compare, your belt part number is XXXXX (MA) or it will be listed as a 1/2 inch by 35 inches long.

You can adjust the idler pulley as well as the cable. You will see a bolt in the middle of it. Loosen this and the pulley will slide towards the belt about an inch. Re tighten the bolt and see if that gets your belt tight

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I have adjusted the belt according to the owner's manual, but still no luck. That is the belt number that I purchased, so I'm pretty confident that I have the right belt. For some reason, though, ever since installing that belt, I can't get the auger to spin. When the engine is idling and the auger handle is NOT engaged, the auger spins slowly. I'm assuming this is from the little bit of tension on the belt. When the handle is pressed down, the idler pulley moves in but the auger does not spin any faster. I removed the entire front housing in order to tear down the gear box. After doing so, I found no problems inside the gear box. With the auger shaft/gear box/impeller shaft assembly in my hand, I spun the impeller and the auger shaft spins as well, just not as fast. This seems correct given the gear ration inside the gear box. So, I don't think the gear box is the problem. Which led me back to the belt. No matter how I adjust it, I just can't get it to work. I will say worked just fine before I touched it! :) I've been an automechanic for 11 years and rebuilt all kinds of intricate machinery....I never thought a simple snowblower would kick my butt. Any other ideas?
Expert:  Jon K. replied 6 years ago.

Make sure that the belt is not wrapped over a belt guide or brake, also make sure the idler pulley is on the outside right of the belt, not inside the belt. Your gear box sounds like it is working perfectly. The impeller spins about 5 times faster then the augers.

This has got to be something simple. Trace the belt around the pulleys with your fingers like you have never worked on anything before, the auger turning slowly indicates that the belt has some tension on it (it should not) when the handle is not depressed.

Can you push the pulley further to increase pressure on the belt?

Ariens had a model that you could not over tighten the idler pulley. It could be something like that (it had to do with pivot points) you may consider bringing the pulley back about half of the adjustment to see if that helps

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I took the blower in to my shop today. I kept fiddling with it and still had no luck. I dug around in my trash can and found the old belt. I put it on, and it seems to work fine. I think the new belt I bought was just a tad too short making it tighter. This wouldn't let the auger idle and still wouldn't provide enough tension too engage it. Weird. I took it outside for a test run and it works much better. However, it doesn't seem to throw snow as far and as hard. Any ideas? Thanks for your help.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.


UPDATE- When I got home from work, I put the snowblower to work. It seems like the auger just tosses the snow around inside the housing and doesn't want to send it to the chute. The impeller pins are intact and nothing in the gear case is wrong. Could I have the auger blades on wrong? Are they particular to left and right? If so, this would make sense as the blades may not be turning the right direction and thus only tossing the snow around instead of feeding it to the impellar. Can you verify the correct orientation of the blades for me? Thanks.


Expert:  Jon K. replied 6 years ago.

Sorry for the late reply. One blizzard in Mass and I get to plow for almost 18 hours!

Yes the augers are most definitely right and left. I have done this before (reversed them) and it is very frustrating. There is no way to tell you which auger goes on which side, you have to look at them and visualize which way they turn. They scoop snow into the auger housing and should be pushing it towards the middle instead of out to the sides. The easiest way is to look at another snowblower and compare them. They all look the same and turn the same direction.

Here is a breakdown of your auger assembly, maybe it will help.


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