Snow Blower Discharge Chute Actuator
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    Snow Blower Discharge Chute Actuator

    With the help of the many posts in these forums, I was able to install a nice Snow Blower Discharge Chute Actuator. This is another take on something that's been well covered here, so I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel. But I learned a few things along the way and did a couple of things a little differently so I thought I'd put all of those lessons in one place and share the different bits.

    Based on the recommendations from many other owners, I went with the Firgelli Automation linear actuator. I chose to go with the Premium Actuator because it claimed better water and corrosion resistance. I picked the FA-35-12-4"-P. That actuator has 4" of travel and delivers 35 lbs. of force. It moves through it's full travel in 2 seconds and has limit switches at both ends to prevent damage or binding if energized for too long.







    Coincidentally it's stroke and dimensions perfectly fit the holes pre-drilled into the chute for the factory cable setup (no drilling). I just needed to spend 15 minutes at the hardware store finding and collecting stainless steel hardware to mount it. I went with (2) 2" x 1/4" x 20 Allen Screws, (4) 1/4" x 20 Stainless Nuts, (2) 3/4" spacers and (2) Stainless 1/4" washers.

    The holes pre-drilled in the actuator were actually 6mm, so the 1/4" bolt was a touch too big. I drilled them out to 1/4" so they'd fit. I did this because the assortment of available stainless steel bolts was much greater in US sizes. If I could have found the hardware in metric, I would have done so. But drilling them out was very easy.

    I greased the shoulder on the Allen bolt, passed it through the actuator so it would ride on the shoulder, not on the threads. Then through the spacer, a nut, through the chute, then another nut. It's important that the hardware isn't tight on the actuator. So when you tighten the nuts, make sure you turn the outside nut so you relieve any tension on the spacer. When you're done, the spacer should spin easily with your finger but not have any noticeable movement side to side.







    I've seen a number of different solutions for controlling the actuator. Most of them use a rocker switch. I'm not entirely crazy about using a rocker switch because I don't imagine it will be easy to use with thick gloves on. I also don't expect a rocker switch to be completely resistant to water. So I did some digging hoping to find something that would be completely water proof and easy to use with gloves. I found a nice Joystick Switch on eBay that was very reasonably priced ($12):





    I took a shot and ordered one. Once it arrived (in just two days) I was pleased to see that it was actually a very nice quality control. For $12 I was expecting it to be real chinsey. It's not. The switches are a bit big, but are clearly a good quality. The stick is well done with a nice rubber boot. It's 3" high with 3" of travel (1.5" each direction). The switches close very close to the end of that travel. So these are going to work well with big padded ski gloves.

    I ordered this thing before I even had received my tractor (a 1025R), so I had no idea where I might put it. Once I got the tractor, this spot won:





    I couldn't center it under the turn signal switch because it would hit the tilt steering release, so I lined it up with the outer edge of the switch. It looks good and everything works well.

    This switch has two SPDT switches in it. That stands for Single Pole Single Throw. It's not really possible to control a motor in two directions with two SPDT switches, but this can be achieved with a couple of relays. That's fine by me because I am not a fan of passing high current through switches anyway and would have likely used relays no matter what switch I was using. But to do so you need a little understanding of relays. Relays are really just electrically actuated switches. I used two SPDT (Single Pole Double Throw) automotive relays for the task. They are rated at 30 amps of continuous current flow, which is way more than the actuator will need (it uses 5 Amps under maximum load). So here's how it's done:





    If you're not into reading schematics, here's what the wiring looks like. First I started by taping my two relays together and I stuck them in the vise so I could easily push the connectors onto them.





    Then I whipped up my Power wire. We're going to need power on 4 of the terminals, #86(s) and #87(s).







    I'm going to get my power from the fuse box, so I added a 0.125" female quick disconnect to the end. More on this in a little bit.







    Time for the Ground. We only need to hit two connectors here, the #87a(s) but we will need to run ground to the switch, so I added a male quick disconnect for that (once again, more later):







    Remember that 1/8" female quick disconnect...? Well that's going right into the back of the fuse block opposite the wire marked 072H. I looked up the tractors wiring diagram. That 072H is an accessory wire from the ignition switch. It is not used on the 1025R but we're going to change that. The distortion to the quick disconnect left by the crimper is going to make it really tight in the hole. That's OK. We need it to be tight or it's going to pop out when we insert the fuse.





    Insert a fuse into the once empty Fuse 12 position and snap the fuse block back into the fuse box carrier and we've got a nice clean power source that turns on and off with the key. Nice and clean like John Deere himself did it.







    Now it's time to hook up the switch. These are going to go to the #85 connections on the relays. I ran a three conductor cord from the switch (sorry, I didn't take pictures of that part). I made Green the common, White and Black the Up and Down outputs. Remember that male quick disconnect we put on the ground before? Well here's where we use it:





    We still need to connect the ground. I went right to the engine block, right above it's ground connection. For this I added an eyelet connector and some split loom, just like John Deere uses.








    Just two wires left. The output to the actuator. I used 16 AWG SJOOW Cord (Water and Oil resistant, super flexible, rated for -40ºC to +90ºC). You know where those two wires go... To the #30 connections.





    I routed that wire down the Fuel Filter mount and out the side of the engine compartment down by the loader mount. Then I added a nice set of Waterproof Plugs so I can attach and detach the blower with ease.





    I don't want those relays loose on a machine like this. I screwed them right to the bottom of the compartment. I checked, there is nothing under there that would be hurt by the screw.





    Mount the fuse box, test everything, then put the tractor back together. When you're all done, you should have something like this:




    I hope this post will help the next guy who's looking to install a chute control. If you have any question, please feel free....
    Last edited by RandyM; 11-28-2016 at 12:25 PM. Reason: Typos

  2. The Following 17 Users Say Thank You to Gator Bite For This Useful Post:

    1023user (11-15-2017), BigJim55 (11-15-2016), ColonyPark (11-15-2016), ctrider (11-21-2018), Drifterbike (11-14-2016), ejb69 (11-15-2016), ErikR (11-14-2016), Fozsey (12-21-2017), gjohll (11-20-2016), Jep (11-14-2016), KE8LW (11-15-2016), Kennyd (11-14-2016), lost in wisconsin (11-15-2016), nicksteck (11-14-2016), North585 (11-05-2017), Plug Ugly (11-15-2016), yesdear (12-09-2017)

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    nicksteck's Avatar
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    Thanks, nice detailed post, wanting to do the same thing with my rear snow blower.
    BigJim55 and Fozsey like this.
    2016 2032R - Turf Tires - 62" MMM Auto Connect - H130 FEL 53" Bucket - Piranha Tooth Bar - Ken's Hook's - Artillian Forks 24'' 42'' - IMatch - Ballast box - 54" 3 pt Snowblower - JD 45 Gallon 3 pt sprayer - CMP Attachments 3 pt Dethatcher - - JD Core Aerator - Trac-Vac 880 - 2060 Box Blade

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    Jep
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    Very well thought out solution and a really great write up. I have never wired in a relay, but had a vague idea how they worked. I now think that I can actually use them . This sure beats picking up one and wondering what is in this little plastic block and what it does. Thank you Gator Bite for the project and the education.
    BigJim55 and Drifterbike like this.
    1025R TLB 54D MM, Imatch Quick hitch, BB, Ken's bolt on hooks, Piranha Tooth Bar, 36" Artillian forks, Cyclone rake XL, 54" Snowblower, 54"used blade, Edge Tamer and Extender, Heavy Hitch Subsoiler. Trailers: Sure-Trac 5x8 dump and a 7x16 steel side., 647 tiller, 5048 Box blade, heavy hitch tooth bar, 260B hoe, mulch kit

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    I've had my eye on these for awhile just haven't pulled the trigger. Looks like you did a great detailed write up that even I can follow. I'm all about looking like the factory did the work, and this one is fantastic.

    I do have one question - is there a reason you picked the 35# over the other two that they offer?
    BigJim55 and Drifterbike like this.
    - Mike Bell
    2016 - 3039r Factory cab - 84" Woods box blade , 61" FEL - I-match - 2" Receiver - loaded rear AG (R-1) tires - 59" snow blower- 48" pallet forks - 84" Power angle rear blade
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    Great write up. I am going to be a first time user of a tractor mounted snow blower this year. Although it kills me that you can do that nice install for similar or possibly lower cost than the OEM cable actuator, I am still not sure how much I would use it. On my walk behind blower, there was only a few scenarios where I ever closed down the deflector. Most of the time when I did use it, I was trying to keep snow from blowing back at me. With so many people adding a control to their deflector, I suspect I will have a different opinion after our first big storm.

    Thanks again for taking the time to document your solution. It is very well executed.

    Lee
    BigJim55 likes this.
    2305, 200CX loader w/53" bucket, 62C MMM, and 47 SB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KE8LW View Post
    I've had my eye on these for awhile just haven't pulled the trigger. Looks like you did a great detailed write up that even I can follow. I'm all about looking like the factory did the work, and this one is fantastic.

    I do have one question - is there a reason you picked the 35# over the other two that they offer?
    Yes, there is. As you've noticed, the Premium actuators are available in three different power outputs. 35#, 150# and 200#. They are all the same price, so why not go with the strongest available...?

    Well, because of speed. Each of those actuators has the same dimensions, same motor, etc... The only thing different is the gearing inside. They achieve the higher power output by gearing the motor down. This is the same as selecting "Low Range" or "High Range" on your transmission. Low Range is much stronger, but much slower too. Let's look at the actuator power versus speed:

    Power Gearing Speed Time to cover 4" Stroke
    35# 5:1 2.0" / Sec 2.0 Sec.
    150# 20:1 0.30" / Sec 13.33 Sec
    200# 30:1 0.24" / Sec 16.67 Sec

    That made me have to do some real hard thinking about speed and power. Stuff like, "13 seconds is an eternity when your being covered in wind blown snow. The chute left / right control can be very fast if you ham fist the SCV. Having such a slow (13 or 16 second) movement on the chute just wouldn't fit. Heck, even 2 seconds isn't fast. So, do I need more than 35 lbs of force to move that chute...? Well, the JD cable setup uses the same pivot points, and I can't imagine you need to apply 35 lbs. of force to that cable, that would actually hurt your hand.... No, I can't imagine that chute needing more than 35# of force..."

    Now I should say, a slower actuator would provide better fine tuning control (the ability to move the chute 1/8" at a time). But a snow blower chute doesn't really need fine control.


    Quote Originally Posted by ljnelson109 View Post
    Great write up. I am going to be a first time user of a tractor mounted snow blower this year. Although it kills me that you can do that nice install for similar or possibly lower cost than the OEM cable actuator, I am still not sure how much I would use it. On my walk behind blower, there was only a few scenarios where I ever closed down the deflector. Most of the time when I did use it, I was trying to keep snow from blowing back at me. With so many people adding a control to their deflector, I suspect I will have a different opinion after our first big storm.

    Thanks again for taking the time to document your solution. It is very well executed.

    Lee
    That's really what it comes down to. Blowing the snow far enough to get it off the driveway versus not wearing it all when the wind blows. Our driveway is 320' long. The first 150' or so it's 13' wide. Then it fans out to 38' wide at the top as it approaches our house. The lower part is really easy. Even our two walk behind blowers have no problem throwing the snow far enough. But the top... That's tricky. We start by going right down the middle and we adjust the chutes to throw the snow as far as possible. Sometimes we can't throw it far enough and have to double blow it. For us, this makes chute control very valuable.

    As I mentioned, we have two walk behind blowers. One, an MTD, does not have a remote chute control. The other, a Cub Cadet, does. I bought them both used and didn't get to really pick. But once we got the Cub Cadet we realized how nice it is to be able to adjust that chute on the fly. I guess you don't know what you're missing until it's gone. So it would have bothered me to have stepped backwards with the JD.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jep View Post
    Very well thought out solution and a really great write up. I have never wired in a relay, but had a vague idea how they worked. I now think that I can actually use them . This sure beats picking up one and wondering what is in this little plastic block and what it does. Thank you Gator Bite for the project and the education.
    Relays are amazing little devices that can do so much if you really understand them. If you're interested, I'd be happy to whip up a tutorial on how they work and how to use them.
    Last edited by Gator Bite; 11-15-2016 at 09:28 AM. Reason: Fixed error in 200# speed

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    That looks great, thanks for taking the time to document your project and post it.
    BigJim55 likes this.
    Jamie

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    Quote Originally Posted by ColonyPark View Post
    That looks great, thanks for taking the time to document your project and post it.
    x2 what he said^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^
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    jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by ljnelson109 View Post
    Great write up. I am going to be a first time user of a tractor mounted snow blower this year. Although it kills me that you can do that nice install for similar or possibly lower cost than the OEM cable actuator, I am still not sure how much I would use it. On my walk behind blower, there was only a few scenarios where I ever closed down the deflector. Most of the time when I did use it, I was trying to keep snow from blowing back at me.
    It all depends on the type of snow, wind and your surroundings. With wet snow you can usually throw it as high and as far as you like without any problems. With dry fluffy snow you typically want to have it airborne as little as possible, especially if there is wind or else you will look like a snowman. There are times that I angle the spout down to only shoot the snow over a few feet at a time.

    Another use is for obstacles. Cars, windows, mailbox, etc. There are times when it seems I have to re-adjust the chute and spout every few feet. That wasn't too bad on the old walk-behind as I only had to reach forward slightly and manually adjust the spout. But it would be a major PITA if I had to get off the tractor and adjust the spout by hand.

    The electric actuators are nice but I've been using the factory cable actuator on my 2720 for a few years now and it works fine too.
    RandyM, BigJim55 and KE8LW like this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgayman View Post
    It all depends on the type of snow, wind and your surroundings. With wet snow you can usually throw it as high and as far as you like without any problems. With dry fluffy snow you typically want to have it airborne as little as possible, especially if there is wind or else you will look like a snowman. There are times that I angle the spout down to only shoot the snow over a few feet at a time.

    Another use is for obstacles. Cars, windows, mailbox, etc. There are times when it seems I have to re-adjust the chute and spout every few feet. That wasn't too bad on the old walk-behind as I only had to reach forward slightly and manually adjust the spout. But it would be a major PITA if I had to get off the tractor and adjust the spout by hand.

    The electric actuators are nice but I've been using the factory cable actuator on my 2720 for a few years now and it works fine too.
    I agree with Jgayman, I use it all the time. I also adjust it to blow the snow directly in front of the blower to accommodate wind direction. I too just have the manual adjustment.
    ColonyPark and Ray_PA like this.
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