Linear actuators are used in snow blowers as a mechanism for controlling the movement of the snow blower's chute and deflector. The actuator converts rotary motion into linear motion, which allows the operator to adjust the direction and angle of the chute and deflector to control the direction and trajectory of the snow being thrown. This makes the snow blower more efficient and effective in removing snow from driveways, sidewalks, and other areas.
Typically, the OEM John Deer systems are expensive. If your blower didn't come with the Chute adjustment actuator, then you can easily add it on with the items in this article.
The most popular units for this application are the Premium Line and Classic Rod Actuators. The best practice is to install the actuator with the shaft facing downwards; this will allow gravity to help protect the electrical components of your actuator if water manages to penetrate the unit.
The photos in this article will feature the Classic Rod Linear Actuator, 4" stroke, with an RB2 2-part Rubber Boot installed.
The complete list of parts is below along with links to each product. We separated each part in case you don't need all the components.
- 4" stroke, 150 pound Actuator. You actually have a variety of actuator options for this application: Classic, Premium or Utility Actuators are recommended units. Other units may work in this project, but these recommended units have been used on snow blowers ever since we first created them.
If using a Classic Actuator, please purchase the RB2 Protective Rubber Boot for Classic Actuators: These are only $9 but will help seal protect the Linear Actuator from water and ice encroachment.
3 position Toggle switch (DPDT Rocker Switch). These switches come in either Sustaining or Momentary models. We recommend the Momentary style, which will self-center upon release. Similar to the window switch in your car, when you let go of the switch, the Actuator will stop moving. If you prefer the Sustaining (‘latching’) option, it will also work perfectly fine, the Actuator will simply go to its full stroke and stop automatically. It can be manually stopped in the middle of motion by deactivating the switch.
EL-KIT. This External Limit Switch & Wiring kit is specific for Linear Actuators. It includes two external limit switches, wiring, some connectors and Fuse Blocks. At the bottom of this page we will share a link to an article on how to wire up the Actuator with the Toggle switch and EL-KIT.
The Toggle switch has an 11.5mm dia. neck for an under dash style installation. We suggest drilling a 12mm dia. hole through your dash and mounting the switch from underneath. The Toggle switch comes with a threaded nut, washer, and face plate to go over the top.
The Linear Actuators typically can be mounted to the existing holes in your Snow blower chute by attaching bolts directly thru the clevis holes of the unit; the unit must be able to rotate around the mounting points and the bolts must be parallel.. If you have to drill new holes in the chute, you can use the pictures in this article as guidance on where to drill them.
You may decide to use Mounting Brackets with this system. If so, remember to allow the bracket to swivel as the Actuator opens and closes. To do this, only attach the fully-enclosed mounting hole on the base of the bracket and attach it to the chute with a washer in between to allow it to rotate a few degrees during operation. (MB1 Brackets pictured below, left; MB1-P Premium brackets are similar, right. Most U-shaped brackets will fit both ends of their respective actuator).
In the following video (from 2013) you can see this project and concept in action - this customer used our Sleek Rod Tubular Actuator for this project - but the same principles apply to all possible units and snowblower chutes!
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Tech Support Notes and Frequently Asked Questions:
Why do I need 150 pounds of push/pull force for this application?
Due to the grease inside the unit. We use a standard grease on the internal drive screw to ensure smooth, even motion, however at low temperatures, that lubricant thickens, causing the motor of the actuator to push harder to achieve the same motion. When using a too low-force actuator, the motor will reach it's overload point during cold operation and potentially harm the unit.
Can I use a different stroke actuator?
Yes, but you will need different mounting points to accommodate the extra motion. Similar to using a different actuator, like in the video above.