We'd just had 10" of new snow the day before with lots of drifting during the night. I spent 8 hours plowing out my yard with my Massey Ferguson tractor equipped with a front-end loader. I spent hours just on the driveway itself, taking out one (not so big) bucket load at a time. I spent nearly as much time backing up as I did going forward. There had to be a better way, I kept telling myself.
Once I was off the tractor and back inside my wood heated house, I started doing some research with the computer. I recalled a couple of the websites I visited a year earlier when I was looking for a good stump grinder. After reading the reviews and comments on one of the tractor forums, I decided a WoodMaxx SB-60 snow blower should meet my needs here on the homestead. I called to make sure they were in stock and then hit the order button on their website page. In a few days, I got an e-mail from New York stating my SB-60 had been crated and picked up by the freight company. It was on its way! Just four days later, I got a phone call from the freight driver asking directions for a noon delivery.
The driver parked his rig on the highway at the end of my driveway. He asked if I thought he could make it up the driveway and I assured him he could not....not during the winter. I had requested lift gate service to offload the snow blower and get it to the ground. From there, I could manage getting it to my garage, either pulling it or slung from the front end loader. I inspected everything before signing off on the delivery. It looked good to go as far as I could tell.
The shipping crate was wider than I expected so rather than try to sling it under the front end loader, I decided to tow it to the garage using a log chain. I looped the chain around the tractor's 3 point hitch and connected each end of the chain to a corner of the container. With some 800 pounds on the wood pallet that was kind of "stuck" under the metal frame, it slid very well on the compacted snow on the driveway. It even shaved a few of the high spots off. If you are wondering about that big red block mounted on my 3 point hitch, it is a DIY ballast box for my tractor.
Once in front of the garage door, I disconnected the chain and then pushed the shipping pallet into the garage bay using the front end loader. The wood pallet slid easily across the garage floor. You can see the metal shipping frame that was constructed around the SB-60 snow blower. Everything was secure and nothing was rattling around. All of the misc pieces and parts were either boxed and strapped into position or large zip ties were used to secure things in place. I stripped the plastic wrap off of the frame and started removing the bolts and nuts holding it all together.
If you don't have metric tools, now we be a good time to go find some. Does anyone NOT have metric tools these days? That being said, you'll still need metric tools for assembly. It isn't a big issue but I thought I would throw it out there so the new folks are taken by surprise.
About a dozen and a half bolts later, the metal frame was removed (except for the bottom that the snow blower was still sitting on). WoodMaxx had used part of the 3 point hitch to secure the snow blower to the frame which was a great idea, in my opinion. I cut the shipping straps that held some of the items in place with a diagonal cutter. Big zip ties held the PTO driveshaft and discharge chute crank handle firmly in place tucked inside the auger housing. WoodMaxx even zip tied thick foam pads around a couple of the frame pieces to prevent damage to the powder coat on the snow blower. I was very satisifed with how WoodMaxx packed everything. I think this might be the first 3 point implement that didn't come pre-scratched.
The owner's manual is a joy to use. It is printed on high grade glossy paper and contains plenty of quality color photos. Better yet, it is written in English by someone that knows the product. Best of all, there wasn't 4 other languages jammed into the manual which means you don't end up with something the size of a phone book. I really dislike multi-language owner's manual.
The snow blower is available with 3 options for discharge chute operation; manual, electric, or hydraulic. Since I don't have hydraulic remotes on the rear of my tractor, that option was a no-go from the start. Be aware that you will need two sets of remotes if you opt for the hydraulic configuration. Note: The couplers for the remotes are not included since diferent tractors use different hardware. Allow something in your budget to locally purchase the couplers you will need. The hose ends are 1/2-14 NPTF pipe thread.
I did as much research as I could on the electric option. The electric option requires the mounting of a two function control panel on the tractor so you can control the discharge chute rotation as well as the chute deflector angle. The manual doesn't specifically state the current draw for the motor and linear actuator but it does show 12 gauge wiring and a 20 amp fuse being connected directly to the tractor's battery.
I opted for the manual version after all was said and done and 've not regretted the decision. WoodMaxx has a well designed system to effeciently rotate the discharge chute from the tractor's seat. As I'll show later in this review, there is but one bolt that needs to be removed when the SB-60 is disconnected from the tractor. For me, that means a couple of minutes at the beginning of winter and a couple more at the end. I can manage that.
Let's take a look at a couple of things needed to get the snow assembled and working.
The discharge chute is supported by four rather unique bearings that allow the chute to easily rotate. I've circled oneof them in red in the above photo. Since the main use of my blower will be for blowing out my yard/driveway and my neighbor's, the manual option was a good fit. If I were doing this to make some income, where time is money, I would have gone with the electric option since I don't have rear hydraulics on my tractor. As it is, the design of the rotation system is easy to adjust and once dialed in, easy to operate from the tractor seat.
I applied a few pumps of grease on the big ring where it engages the matching gear in the gear box. The bearings are mounted on two plates which make it very easy to assemble and adjust for easy chute rotation. Likewise, the gear box is designed to be adjusted on its mounting platform for optimum performance. The manual clearly explains how these two major parts are installed and adjusted.
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