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Snowblower Hydraulic Chute Control DIY

23788 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  Alberta 7.3
EDIT and appending of first post, since it doesn't seem to let me edit the original

Snowblower DIY hydraulic chute control for pretty much any unit that uses a wire rope system.

I decided I wanted change the manual control on my John Deere 49 snowblower to a hydraulic system. Last winter I got tired of the manual lever bracket seemingly working loose then have the control rod bind up. I have the hydraulics, so why not go with a hydraulic system, as opposed to electric? Right?

I did a little digging, and found that JD actually did have a hydraulic system.

Probably won't fit my blower without serious modifications. I tried to dismiss the idea, but it keep churning away in the back of my head. I knew that the pulleys were changing the mechanical advantage that the cylinder has over the cable.

Digging through some junk, I found a 4" stroke cylinder.

I rotated the chute to what I wanted to be the far left rotation, and wrapped the cable around the base. I marked a reference point on the cable, then started pulling it by hand to where I wanted the right side rotation to end. I yielded an overall measurement of 15"

Now I had some variables to build something around. 4:1 mechanical advantage with a 4" cylinder will provide 16" of travel. That should work well, since there will be cable stretch and slack that will land me around the 15" I wanted. After a few evenings brainstorming and a few rough sketches, I came up with a relatively simple and cheap system (on paper at least.) Overall, the system will use pulley blocks, with an undermounted cylinder.

The system can be modified for different cable distances by changing the amount of pulleys and cylinder stroke.

My first mission was to source pulleys, and I figured I would need 8 for my planned configuration. Most pulleys at farm and hardware stores started around $10. At that cost, I would have about $100 in just pulleys alone.
Once again, the excitement of making a chute rotator was crumpled up and tossed into the wastebasket. A couple weeks later, I was wandering through Lowe's grabbing a few things, and I wandered down the hardware aisle. That is when I saw these and had a eureka moment.

PERFECT!! :thThumbsU
1-1/2" rollers made from steel with a ball bearing. If 2 of these can handle the weight of a patio door, they should be able to handle the force of the cable rotating the chute. The price was a little more down to earth as well. I think I paid $11 for a package of 2.

Onto fabrication...

I measured the overall open and closed lengths of the cylinder, and space available on the snowblower beside the chute. I had to deal with a 13" extended cylinder dimension. I decided to go with a 4"x 17" base plate. I will mount the control unit on the right side, since the left side of my blower is already heavier with the drive system.

The first part of my design employs 2 stationary pulley blocks, each with 2 pulleys. I cut small pieces of 1"x1/8" flat stock to make them. These pulley blocks don't need to have any super strength welds, they just need to be strong enough to act as cable guides. The critical item here is that the pulley will just slip inside with a close tolerance. If the slot is too tall, the slack cable may go above the pulley and jam. The "axle" bolt will secure them to the base plate, which provides the needed strength.

Here is an example of what happens if the tolerance is too large. One of the first blocks that didn't meet QC requirements.

Next was to build a carriage which the cylinder will drive. I used a piece of 2"x1/8"x5" stock. Once again, 1" flat stock was used for the pulley blocks. The 3/8" hole will attach to the cylinder.

Initial testing of pulley/cable system. I offset the stationary pulley blocks from center to give the cables to the chute room to move without rubbing anything. I wrapped the cable around the pulleys and tested to see if I was getting the desired outcome of 16" on the chute end for 4" of carriage travel. It works!! Using my reference points of cylinder travel, I determined where the cable end anchor points will fit without interfering with the cable.

Next I made measurements for where the carriage pulley blocks land. At the midpoint, I drew lines to each stationary block. Stationary blocks were rotated to this angle, which will lessen or eliminate the cable hitting the guides. The angled blocks aren't a mistake, but an attempted design idea. The blocks were tack welded to the base plate.

The plate is flipped over, and 2 sections of 1"-1/8" angle are welded on for bracing.

Pieces of 5/16" plate are cut and drilled for cylinder mounts. Two small pieces of 1"-1/8" angle added as reinforcement.

Next I cut out the slot for the carriage. First I drilled 1/2" holes on each end, then cut with a cut-off wheel. Edges were filed for smooth movement.

Test of carriage movement in the slot. Bushings with an OD of 1/2" are placed over the bolts.

Photo of cylinder mounting. Left/center carriage bushings will be trimmed shorter. Right side 3/8" bolt will connect to cylinder. (This is just assembly mock-up, correct size bolts/bushings will be used later on.)


Once the carriage clearance is established, a couple anchor points for the cable are added using some 1" angle.

Next is to devise mounts to hold the unit to the blower housing.
I re-bent the upper bracket of the manual system, then added a piece of 1x1" tubing to get the base plate to the right height.

Base plate mounted to blower housing.

Once the base plate was all square and level with the blower housing, I added some supports using 1/4x3/4" bar. Careful welding is needed, otherwise you will burn through the housing. Even though my auger has a fair bit of clearance, I didn't want to chance using bolts.
The extra holes in the right vertical support are for storing spare shear bolts.

Carriage hardware group. I cut the bushings to 3/16" which will allow 1/16" clearance of the 1/8" base plate between the carriage and lower retainer bar. Retainer bar is 1"x1/8" bar with required holes drilled. The washers will sit on top of the base plate/under the carriage as a wear surface, rather than have the entire surface area of the carriage dragging on the base plate.

Where the cable leaves the chute/enters the control, I was contending with a fair departure angle. I originally thought of eye bolts, but it would only be a matter of time before the cable would saw through them or wear out the cable, resulting in jamming or cable breakage.

After some thought, I decided I would need some sort of roller or pulley, but don't have much space to work with. I settled on 1/4" ID x 3/8" OD x 1" bronze bushings pressed into a 3/8" ID x 1/2" OD x 1" steel sleeve.

Holes were drilled into the base plate, and a top bracket made to help distribute pulling forces. I decided to leave an eye bolt on the side with long cable travel to hold it at the required height.

At this point, the major fabrication is complete. Grinding, cleaning and painting has begun on parts in preparation for final assembly.

Of course, this system would get trashed and malfunction very quickly if not suitably protected from snow dumped on it during operation. A piece of 8x24" 22 gauge steel is marked, cut and bent into a cover. Since I don't have a bending brake, 2 pieces of flat bar and locking pliers were used to clamp and bend the metal against the concrete floor.


Now that the parts are painted, assembly can begin.

Carriage hardware and pulleys, wire guide eye bolt. A small amount of grease was smeared on the top/bottom edges of the slot for carriage lubrication.

Chute end rollers and bracket.

Stationary pulleys and hardware.

On top of the pulley bolts, trimmed bushings are added as spacers. The remaining threads of these bolts will protrude through holes in the top cover to secure the cover. A second set of nuts on top will secure the cover. All bolts tightened, pulleys/rollers checked for proper fit and freedom to rotate.

Hydraulic cylinder installation. Temporary 3/8" bolt removed from carriage to install correct bolt (temporary bolt used to hold spacers in place for carriage.) Spacer tube for cylinder rod to base plate cut from 1/4" steel pipe nipple, the threads were ground away just enough to provided a tight fit in the cylinder rod hole.

Mounting hardware for base plate to snowblower housing.

Unit mounted and cable installed.

Cable anchor point added to chute.


Hose mount added to help support the hydraulic hoses. The support is a weld-on design. At this point I didn't want to weld to the finished painted brace, so I welded some flat bar to the back of the support and bolted it into place.

Notches cut in end of cover for cables. Bottom edge of cover was hitting chute cable anchor, so I bent it over to add some rigidity to the cover end instead of simply cutting it off.

Couplers installed on ends of hoses.

Finished cover and nuts/washers for mounting.

Complete. :thThumbsU

Once the unit is connected to the tractor, operate the hydraulics slowly to purge the air from the lines/cylinder. Top-up hydraulic fluid as necessary.

Test run of the system. Disregard the somewhat jittery motion of the chute, I had an assistant unfamiliar with hydraulic controls.
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