Snow blower small engine question

Toro S-200 2-stroke gas powered snow blower about 20+ years old

*uses 32/1 gas/oil mixture

Has very old blackened spark plug.

Gas tank half and half mixture of gas/oil that is three or four years old and fresh gas/oil.

No matter how the choke is worked the engine won’t start. All the belts are intact and appear okay.

I plan to remove the spark plug, according to the manual’s instructions, take it with me to Auto Zone for an identical new one and install the new one.

First Question: the manual states "Set air gap between electrodes of new spark plug at 0.035 of an inch (0.889 mm). How is that accomplished???

Second Question: if the engine won’t start with a new spark plug, I assume I need to siphon out the gas in the tank that has half of it very, very old; how do I safely do that and dispose of that gas??? Or is there a safe alternative???

Caveat: Please note I have arthritic hands and zero, repeat zero, experience at such matters.

But I’m trying to learn to do things for myself now that Dad has died and also not bust a tight budget having to pay other people to do everything for me. If I can manage getting the snow blower running then I will try tackling the non-working lawn mower and edger.

Thanks for any help any of you can offer.


…learning something new every day!

The sparkplug is probably a J-19.

How long has the blower been sitting??? The carb might have varnish on/in it. I’d change the plug, if it doens’t start…then remove the gas…and depending on where the carb is remove any filter or cover over the carb and spray some carb cleaner in there to remove any varnish. then add new gas and try it again.

Dad last was able to get it going three or four years ago. It’s been sitting ever since.

What is the safe way to remove the gas and where/how do I properly dispose of the old gas?

Presume carb cleaner is available at Auto Zone?



First, congratulations on wanting to learn.

I’d be inclined to change the fuel anyway. You can siphon the old fuel out with a simple plastic hose and gravity. There should be very little, and you can use it to start your outdoor barbecue. By the way, if you accidently wet get a bit on your toung, it’ll taste terrible but it won’t kill you. Just spit.

As to the gap, the way that is set is by measuring between the electrodes with feeler gages and bending the ground (outer) electrode to enlarge or lessen the gap. I’m sure the guy at the parts store counter will be happy to set that for you.

I’d change the belts too, even of they look good. And buy an extra of each. You haven’t lived until you’ve broken a belt while snowblowing and not had a spare.

Also look at the shafts of the augers. They should have special bolts through the shafts designed to shear in the event that the auger gets jammed. Remove one and get some spares of the appropriate size at the hardware store. They’re called “shear pins”.

And pump any zerk fittings full of grease.

One more tip: spray the insides of the chute, shroud, auger and impellar with dry teflon (PTFE) lubricant from the hardware store. It’s teflon in a volatile suspension that dissipates and leaves a dry teflon film. The blower will run much easier, snow won’t load up in the parts, and you’ll be able to shoot the snow over to your neighbor’s house. You’d be amazed at the difference.

Thanks Mountainbike! Once again I get the help I need here on the board.

Uhm, what are “zerk fittings”???

The manual is very basic, telling only how to change the spark plug and clean the augers.


Thanks MikeInNH. Again I get the help I need here on the board!

Oh,Boy!! Your carb is probably gunked up pretty bad which more than likely necessitates a carb overhauls.
I guess i would get a new plug, as recommended in the manual. Dump the gas in the tank environmentally safe way, put in “fresh” gas. Post back if you are able to get it running.

Grease fittings.

And I’ll bet there are a few others on this thread that have never tried lubing the shroud, auger, impellar and chute. I just tried it this winter. It does such a good job preventing sticking that I just may lube the outsides of the parts too!

Thank you Grampy.

I’m going to try what has been suggested and see if I can get it running. Worst case scenario, I don’t, end up paying the repairman to fix it, but I’ll have still learned some of what I need to know to maintain it and keep it running for future years.

If I find my hands simply don’t have the muscle for the job, then so be it. But I’ve been surprising myself with what I’ve been learning to do for myself these past few months.


Further detailed reading of the manual doesn’t mention anything needing greasing or “zerks” but then it doesn’t go into great detail or illustration of a lot of things I see under the cowling.

What would I be looking for to see if such zerk things exist, please?

…who thinks “zerk” sounds like something alien from sci-fi outer space! LOL

Zerk fitting is just a fancy name for a grease fitting

If this snowblower is a single stage with paddles, and a directional turning vane snow shoot, then I doubt there are grease fittings. However you might try and get some oil in the bearing if you can.

Good point. It may not have shear pins either.

Uhm, if I follow what you mean, then yes, this is a small, simple snow blower appropriate for handling up to about 12 to 14 inches maximum. That heavy a snowfall is slow, hard going for it to handle. Usually we only get no more than about 4 to 6, at most 8 to 10 inches, per snowfall here in St. Louis. Really no more than can be handled shoveling manually, which I’ve been doing the past few years. But with everything else I have to handle alone these days and my arthritis, I’d really like the ease of the snow blower to use again.


hey there.

usually a small engine like yours has a hard time drawing fuel into the carburetor after sitting for this long.

the method i use to get the fuel flowing into the carburetor is to remove the air filter, and put my hand over the air intake and pull the cord a couple of times. this sucks the gas into the carburetor and gets the inside wet and seals up the gaskets. when doing this you can actually feel the suction while you pull the cord. when you are done getting the carburetor wet with gas, you should reinstall the air filter (preferably a new clean one) because this acts a a backfire flame arrestor. you CAN run the snow blower without it, but it may flame up at you while you are working on it with the engine running.

when you can actually see the “wet” inside of the carburetor with gas, you know it is getting gas.

then you have to ensure you have spark. this is simple. you remove the spark plug boot from the spark plug, insert another spark plug in the boot, lay it down on the block, and crank. (although this is easier done in a dark, shaded area, so you can see the spark.)

usually a new air filter and plug are considered yearly replacement items, but you CAN get it going (usually) with the old stuff.

by over choking the engine you get gas in, by making sure you have spark you are sure the contacts are OK, so if it doesn’t start you only have the spark plug to deal with.

try to eliminate the first two (gas and spark) before you get into the third (plug.)

A couple of things occurred to me. Your machine doesn’t have zerk/grease fittings,or air filter.
one word of caution …Your snowblower,being a two-stroke needs to have the proper oil to fuel mixture. I’m concerned with your statement of having 1/2 and 1/2 of gas and oil. Check your manual for proper mixture.

I worked on snowblowers for several years (long ago). Whenever fuel sat in the carburetor for an extended period, it gummed things up pretty badly. When that happens there is no “spray carburetor cleaner” that will help you. You will either need to get a gallon or 5 gallon container of real carburetor cleaner (like garages always used to have for rebuilding carbs), and let the carb soak submersed in it for a few hours in it, or you’ll need to buy a new carb. New carbs are not cheap.

I was thinking about the mixture also until I reread the OP. She knows what the proper mixture is. She has a 50/50 mixture of old and new mixed gas, not of oil and gas.

Believe it or not these type snow blowers usually don’t have a air filter, so don’t worry if ones not there. I suspect old gas sat in the carburetor, and varnished like has been previously said. But my guess your going to have to take it apart, and clean out the little passages in the carburetor. One strand cut off a steel brush usually works, but don’t use anything that could damage the passages

actually it does have an air filter. the steel cover over the air intake above the carb has either a paper or a foam air filter inside it.

the forcing of fuel through the carb will ‘fill up’ the carb float since it has undoubtably gotten dried out over the years. but it takes many pulls of the cord.