Shear pins. Notice the grooves in the pins where they will break off to prevent damage to your auger shaft and gear case.
A shear pin (sometimes called a shear bolt) in a snow blower connects the auger to the shaft. It is designed to break away in case foreign objects come in contact with the moving parts.
Some common items you may encounter that can cause a problem:
- Frozen newspaper in the driveway
- Lawn ornament (garden gnome) blown over into the walkway
- Children's toy that was accidentally left out
- Delivered package (perhaps a holiday fruitcake)
- Dog's long leash
If it weren’t for the shear pin breaking off, the damage could be extensive to your auger shaft and gear case. You may not even be able to repair it yourself.
However, this fail safe design allows you to quickly replace these small parts and get right back to work, assuming you have a few spares on hand.
So you might as well keep a supply of shear pins on hand throughout the winter because sooner or later you will need to replace one.
Of course, you can always fall back on the alternative, a shovel.