What are the Quality Differences between Premium and Cheaper Brands - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
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post #1 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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What are the Quality Differences between Premium and Cheaper Brands

As you may have seen from other threads, I'm looking for a snowblower. I'm trying to work out what the actual quality differences are between brands for new snowblowers - not so much brand reputation, but what are the technical or construction differences between brands that make them excellent, mediocre or sub par?

Country of manufacture is pretty meaningless to me because because most companies outsource production these days. Brand reputation can be hard to judge because may brands - be it jeans or tools produce both premium products and cheap mass-market stuff.

So here's what I have been able to find out so far in terms of what to look for as being better or mediocre. Would you please add your views.

So what is better, not so good, or neutral?

Better: Larger cast iron gearcase
Not as good: Aluminum gearcase

Better: Steel chute
Not as good: Plastic chute

Better: Larger tire size

Better: Larger engine size = more HP

Better: Dual augur drive belts
Not as good: Single augur drive belts

Better: Larger augur size

Better: Power steering
Not as good: No power steering

Better: Hydrostatic drive
Normal: Friction gear drive

Neutral: Engines - most of the reviews I have read suggest that the major brands are pretty comparable in terms of quality.

What I haven't been able to find specs on are:
- thickness and quality of metal body components
- bushing size and quality for holding the augurs
- thickness and quality of metal used for augurs and impellers

What are your views?
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post #2 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 11:56 AM
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Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things!
I agree with most of your ratings..
the only one I wouldnt be concerned about is:

Better: Hydrostatic drive
Normal: Friction gear drive

I would rate them as:

Good: Hydrostatic drive
Just as good: Friction gear drive

There is really no data to suggest a Hydro is "better"..its just different.
Friction disk drives have been used on 99% of snowblowers for the past 50 years, there is nothing wrong with them at all..
Some might think "hydro is newer technology, and "newer" must mean "better""
but thats faulty logic IMO..The friction disk is "tried and true"..nothing wrong with it at all..

If you happen to be someone who can afford a really high-end machine, in the $2000 or higher range, certaintly consider a Hydro..you wont regret it..but for the rest of us, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a friction disk. they have been getting the job done just fine for 50 years.

These factors:

What I haven't been able to find specs on are:
- thickness and quality of metal body components
- bushing size and quality for holding the augurs
- thickness and quality of metal used for augurs and impellers

Are really brand-specific.
The "recommended" brands we have told you about will be better in those areas, and the "not so recommended" brands will have lower quality in those areas.

Scot


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post #3 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 12:20 PM
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Also, what I have noticed since joining this forum is that going to a higher price point, (within the same brand), may not get you higher quality.
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post #4 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 12:36 PM
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I worked on a later model dark green (think was Craftsman) once back about 2005 or so. It had 'plastic' auger bushings on each end rather than the bronze like on many. And of course they were wore out bad. So.. one more weak point to compare. I think over all it's worth comparing the stability of the handlebar too. If it flexes it is going to crack in time..especially down by mounting point to tractor body. just a couple points to look at.
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post #5 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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Here's another.

Better: Steel dash plate
Normal: Plastic dash plate
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post #6 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zavie View Post
Also, what I have noticed since joining this forum is that going to a higher price point, (within the same brand), may not get you higher quality.
I agree with that..
for example, Ariens will tend to be higher quality overall, from the least expensive to the most expensive in the model lineup.

While MTD and Craftsman will tend to be lower quality overall, from the least expensive to the most expensive in the model lineup.

Scot


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post #7 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 02:00 PM
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I'll disagree on the idea that the engines are all the same quality. Many of today's snowblower engines are unproven and have only been around a hand full of years. Honda (and maybe Yamaha) would be the exception with engines that have been the proven standard for years in commercial duty settings.

Snowblowers I own.
Honda HS928
Honda HS621
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post #8 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pckeen View Post
Better: Larger cast iron gearcase
Not as good: Aluminum gearcase
Generally true, however Honda makes their cases out of aluminum, but they used ball bearings and gear oil and tend to last just as well as cast iron. The only thing that's going to break one is a combination of seized augers and/or hard bolts instead of shear pins combined with striking a foreign object.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pckeen View Post
Better: Dual augur drive belts
Not as good: Single augur drive belts
Generally speaking a single auger belt is better. About the only time you ever see a dual auger belt setup is on an MTD and they're tiny belts, not much more than a boot lace and they tend to go bad all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pckeen View Post
Better: Power steering
Not as good: No power steering
That depends, no power steering is better from a reliability standpoint, not as good from an ease of use standpoint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pckeen View Post
What I haven't been able to find specs on are:
- thickness and quality of metal body components
- bushing size and quality for holding the augurs
- thickness and quality of metal used for augurs and impellers
Simplicity and Ariens tend to be good in those respects. Honda may not look as thick but they know where to make things thick and where thinner metal will do. Making everything thick just makes the machine heavy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pckeen View Post
What are your views?
Honda at the end of the day makes a much better machine than just about everyone else. Much better engineered, far better control cables, hydrostatic trans, great parts availability, great engines, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sscotsman View Post
Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things!
I agree with most of your ratings..
the only one I wouldnt be concerned about is:

Better: Hydrostatic drive
Normal: Friction gear drive

I would rate them as:

Good: Hydrostatic drive
Just as good: Friction gear drive

There is really no data to suggest a Hydro is "better"..its just different.
Friction disk drives have been used on 99% of snowblowers for the past 50 years, there is nothing wrong with them at all..
Some might think "hydro is newer technology, and "newer" must mean "better""
but thats faulty logic IMO..The friction disk is "tried and true"..nothing wrong with it at all..
Friction drives are not just as good, they will get the job done, but I'll never own another one. They get wet and slip and there really isn't a whole lot you can do about it. I've had multiple machines, they all did it every use. Hydrostatic is far superior.
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post #9 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 94EG8 View Post

Friction drives are not just as good, they will get the job done, but I'll never own another one. They get wet and slip and there really isn't a whole lot you can do about it. I've had multiple machines, they all did it every use. Hydrostatic is far superior.
I completely disagree with "far superior"..maybe it could be argued a hydro is a *tiny tiny bit superior" but I will never go for "far superior".

I suppose its technically possible a friction disk can get wet and slip..
but it has never happened to me..
and I have been very active on this forum for six years now, and I have never once seen "my friction disk is getting wet and slipping" come up as a topic of conversation..im sure it can happen, but its probably exceedingly rare..50 years of snowblower evolution has figured out how to keep the disks dry!

IMO, there is still no real advantage to a hydro over a friction disk.
its just different, but not "better".

Scot


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post #10 of 35 Old 11-15-2014, 08:02 PM
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As far as I know a friction disk unit will never leak transmission fluid all over my garage floor. Isn't there a recent thread about that? Oh yeah, " HS724TA dumped it's tranny fluid on the floor" No machine is perfect, and yes if I had deep pockets and more snow than we usually get, I'm sure I would love to own a Honda.
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