I've been using my 54" front-mount snow blower about every other snow and noticed the chain was getting a tad loose. After tightening the chain and giving the blower a general once-over, I decide to check the bolts that hold the chute-retaining clips (highlighted part below, 37M7058).
The first bolt I checked, I literally only "touched" the head with the wrench and it popped right off! It must have been sitting there being held only by a single molecule. I then checked the rest and found another one with the flange broken off.
Somewhere... way back when... I remember reading a forum posting somewhere about this being an all-to-common occurrence because it caused me to order a few spares at the time. So after drilling out the old bolt I dug into my spares. At first I panicked because the spares looked much larger. Thinking I had ordered the wrong part I checked the part number and sure enough it was the correct number. The bolts are M8x20 but the original bolts have a 10mm head whereas the spares I ordered from JD had a 13mm head. Other than that the bolts appeared to be identical.
Looking at the two broken bolts they appear to be a very low grade of bolt. The broken flange edge almost looks cast.
So today I went to the hardware store and picked up some M8x20 Class 10.9 bolts and I am going to replace all six bolts on the chute retaining clips.
Below are some photos which shows the bolt that originally came with the blower (with broken flange), the replacement 37M7058 and the class 10.9 from the hardware store.
I hope this takes care of any future problems. I have no idea why JD changed the size of the bolt head on the replacements nor do I understand why the chute clip bolts are so prone to breaking. I just hope I can get the other four out without any issues.
For the other 54" blower owners out there, you might want to check your chute clip bolts.