My 1972 Gilson
I managed to talk my brother in law out of this. His brother had bought a
house which came with this somewhere on the premises, probably outdoors from
the look of it, and he dumped it off at my brother in law's house one
Christmas somewhere around 2007. My brother in law already had 2 or 3 other
snowblowers so he let this sit in his yard for a couple of years. I'd hardly
heard of Gilson, but I've got almost the same engine shoehorned into a
little Wheel Horse tractor so I was interested. By the next Christmas this
was still sitting where it had been dumped so I asked about it.
I brought it home 5/21/2010 in a little trailer behind my Yard Machines
tractor. It was only about 1 mile away and I don't have a truck so it was
an interesting little excursion. I thought I could get it nosed up into the
trailer and then push down the trailer pole and hook it to the back of the
tractor, but it evidently weighs more than I do because I couldn't push the
trailer pole back down. The center of gravity was well behind the trailer
wheels so it was lifting up on the back of the tractor all the way home.
There's a hill with about an 18% grade not far from here and even with me
sitting up on the back of the tractor seat the tractor was still spinning its
wheels with the chains on the blacktop.
This is the nameplate, stamped aluminum so it's still readable. The whole
model number by this is 5500243309, serial 1850407. The model number on this
is commonly shortened to 55002.
You can get a photocopy of the manual for one of these by calling Lawn Boy
at 1-800-526-6937. They'll want the model and serial numbers, but then
they'll mail you a big brown envelope for free. I've got a djvu file
version here which you can download and use
immediately, I'm also uploading a copy to the files area of the Yahoo Group
Joining the group is a good idea if you've got one of these. My djvu file
was made by scanning the reprint Lawn Boy sent me so the quality isn't
A little closer view. The engine's not original, from what I've been able
to figure out. It's an 8 HP Briggs like the original, but a little
different. The most annoying difference so far is that the tapped holes on
the pulley end of the crankcase have a different layout. That makes the
original belt keeper/guide wire not fit, and this one's original is long
gone, also the belt guard which could be useful for keeping snow off the
belts and pulleys. The wire that's on here for a belt keeper sits right up
tight against the belt, so that's just going to chew up belts. The engine's
missing the screen on the inlet fan and there's a hose clamp in there doing
something, so who knows what else has been messed up.
The handlebars were so rusty I didn't even realize there is a shift pattern
stamped into the area between the clutch and shift levers until I used a
rotary wire brush to get ready for a coat of primer. I don't know what was
in the white area with the round thing in it. I haven't been able to get
this thing out of neutral yet, but I finally figured out the reason (see
Closer yet. I don't know if these are the right belts, or if the original
belts will still fit with the replacement engine. You can see the wear here
on the back of the back belt from having rubbed on the wire. This is a
Magnetron ignition engine but it's not the better one with cast iron
cylinder liners: this is the cheap version.
The bolts holding the top and bottom of the carb together are
one give-away that this isn't the original engine. These are hex head bolts
with phillips slots which Briggs wasn't using in 1972. I like these updraft
carbs but they have a float that's apt to stick if the engine's been tilted
much beyond normal like to load it on a truck. This has no remote throttle
on the handlebars, just the slide below the carb but I think that's normal.
Underneath. I think everything's there, but I don't know what kind of shape
it's in. From what I remember in my motorcycle riding days these sprockets
look a little worn. None of them show very well here. This brings back days
when I used to borrow my father's Ariens and it always seemed to throw a
chain about 200 feet from the house when the temperature was below zero,
the wind was howling and it was getting dark.
This is the reason it's been stuck in neutral for a few years. The rod
that's the shift lever is frozen into the bushing that it's supposed to
pivot inside of. It won't let the lever move from side to side, so it
doesn't come out of the notch that's the neutral position. I've tried
soaking with WD-40, Liquid Wrench, lining this up over vise jaws and beating
on it, even a few one-handed whacks with a sledgehammer. The end is
starting to get peened over from pounding on it. I can probably get one from
but I hate to spend more money on this thing before I've even had it
running. I might try slitting the bushing with a hacksaw, getting a cold
chisel in there, then gluing it back together with JB Weld after. [I got it
by heating it with a propane torch, letting it cool back down and driving it
http://www.gilsonsnowblowers.com is a small business run by the moderator of
the Yahoo group. He's got used parts and even makes some new replacement
This is the belt keeper that's on here, and the only picture I could find in
the manual showing the way the original fits. I think I could make a little
plate that bolts into the holes I've got and provides new holes at the right
places for the belt keeper wire. Then to bend up a belt guard out of
aluminum or something to cover both belts. I imagine with snow coming out
of the chute a few inches away, it the chute's turned the right direction,
there could be alot of snow landing in here. It would probably melt fast,
but it still doesn't seem like a good idea. I don't know if an original
guard would fit the holes I've got on this engine.
9/19/2011: All the parts that are primed here have been stripped with a
rotary wire brush in a cordless drill and given 2 coats of Rustoleum Rusty
Metal Primer. I did it in 3 areas and let each coat dry overnight, so this
is 6 days of cleaning and painting. I'm not sure what the final color is
going to be; it'll probably just be primer for this winter. I had an
unopened quart of this so I dug out a brush and went at it. If I'm going to
spend money on paint closer to the original colors it's going to have to
prove it can earn its keep. I have this crazy urge to paint it olive drab
but I probably won't. I have plenty of Ferguson gray though.
Am I crazy to spend all this time painting something I haven't even had
running? Maybe. I wanted to paint while the weather's still warm enough to
get the paint dry. I also wanted to paint before I started spraying and
drizzling oil around. Here I'm trying to get the wheels off so I can replace
the tires and you can see WD-40 dripped down onto the auger housing.
Normally you twist the wheels on the axle to work them loose, but my tires
are so far gone they just spin in the rims. I may have to pull the axle and
try to drive it out of the wheels.
4/1/2014: I never did get them off, but I haven't damaged them either. I
bought a new Simplicity for $2600, been pretty happy with it.
On painting, I've painted lots of things over the years but the only time I
did it as part of a job, I was building small eletronic instruments in
aluminum boxes. I'd plan things out, do the machining on the box, then clean
with solvents and paint, usually Rustoleum gloss black. At first the paint
scratched easily, then I discovered that if I baked the box in a 200 degree
oven for a couple of hours the paint got hardened up and didn't scratch. The
test was whether I could dig my thumbnail into it. If I could it wasn't
hard enough yet.