ST327P review - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
 
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-17-2018, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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ST327P review

Bought a new ST327P last month, and today was the first time I got to use it. Only about 4 - 5" of snow, medium density (perfect snowball snow), so this wasn't a real test of power. But I think I got a good feel for the features and controls. Note: previously owned a Snapper M1227E ... located in eastern PA ... 150' long curved driveway plus large parking area, total 4000 SF to clear ... short sidewalk, very curvy, brick pavers ... operator (me!) age 60, 5'10" 190 lb, fairly fit, no handicaps.


DRIVE: I chose this snow blower mostly because of the hydrostatic drive. After using it today, I have mixed feelings. Yes, it is nice to be able to change speed while you are moving. But it takes some concentration to adjust the speed accurately. I had to fiddle with the speed control more than I'd like (maybe I'll get better at this with more experience). One drawback: you're not supposed to adjust the speed lever when the snow blower isn't moving (i.e. when the drive isn't engaged). So when you disengage the drive, you have to remember to set the speed where you're going to want it when you re-engage drive -- you certainly don't want to leave it in full-speed-ahead when you disengage the drive! I admit, I cheated a few times and moved the speed lever when the drive wasn't engaged. So far, no problems, but I'll try to avoid doing that. But that's an advantage of the old-fashioned friction disk: you can set the speed wherever you want, before engaging the drive.


Another drawback to the hydro drive: overall speed. Others have mentioned this: as it came from the dealer, the max forward speed was very fast, but the max reverse speed was almost zero -- barely a creep. So I adjusted the linkage to give more reverse speed, but that of course reduces the max forward speed. It took a few tries to get the best compromise, forward max speed is perfect now, but it's still too slow in reverse. If you do a lot of backing up, you end up not using reverse drive, and just pick up the nose and drag the snowblower backwards manually (rather tiring). It did feel like the speeds improved, both forward & reverse, as the snow blower warmed up. Maybe the oil in the hydro has to warm up to give maximum speed? Anyhow -- I wish the top speeds were about 20 - 30% faster in both directions. Compared to my old Snapper (friction disk drive), the Huskie is now a little faster in reverse (good) and equal to about 4th gear in forward, which is OK because I never used 5th or 6th with the Snapper.


POWER: seemed good but not enough snowfall to really test this -- no EOD plow pile at all. I did have to double-throw some areas, and the Huskie marched right through those small piles without any drop in RPM. It feels powerful, but too soon to tell.


THROWING DISTANCE: disappointing. It's really no better than my old Snapper. FORGET the manufacturer's ratings. You'd have to have some kind of perfect snow to throw it 40 ft. In today's snow, the Huskie only threw it about 20 feet. I suspect it's all about impeller RPM. The Huskie has more power than my old Snapper, but if the impeller is going the same speed, the snow will travel the same distance. I was hoping for more distance, I have to say I'm really disappointed here. I may look around for an impeller kit, if anyone makes one for this model.


CONTROLS: when I shopped around, I felt the Honda had the best controls, Toro 2nd best, Husqvarna 3rd, and Ariens dead last (hate their chute controls!) Now that I've used it, I'd say the Huskie chute controls are fair, but not great. You have to press DOWN on the levers before adjusting them (both for rotation, and deflector height). It's a little unwieldy. When you push down on the rotation lever, it tends to pick up the nose of the snow blower -- you have to push down that hard. It's not terrible, but other manufacturers have a better system (pulling back on the lever, then moving it). Also, the chute rotation lever is a little hard to modulate, I tended to move the chute further than I intended, but I'll probably get used to it. The Toro mechanical joystick is probably a better design, and the Honda electric joystick looks wonderful -- but at a much higher price.


CONTROLS Part 2: the hydrostatic speed lever works pretty well, it's a little sensitive, but there's another problem: when the chute rotation lever is all the way to the right, and the speed lever all the way forward, they get too close. It's too easy to grab the wrong one. I may do a little judicious bending and altering here to get them further apart.


STEERING: this is the first machine I've had with "power steering" (triggers under the handles). It works pretty well. Sometimes it is limited by the traction of the tires -- the driving tire slips, and fails to turn the snow blower. So sometimes it takes a little "coaxing" -- but it's 95% better than my old Snapper, which didn't have steering (solid axle). I don't know how it compares to Ariens system, but I was more confident in the trigger/dual clutch design than Ariens' differential.


CONTROLS Part 3: there are a lot of them! Five levers, two triggers. I only have two hands. It probably helps if you've played the piano (I haven't). So even with the "one hand" operation (drive lever locks in the auger lever), there are still times when you have to stop to make an adjustment -- especially the chute height deflector. I realize that almost all snow blowers have this many control levers, but I have to say it's not as ergonomic as it could be. I think the Toro might be better, and the Honda much better.


The "one hand" operation sounds great, and overall it's a good thing, but you still have to put your right hand back on the grip to pull the steering trigger (when you want to turn right). If you're trying to make a chute adjustment, or speed adjustment, you can't turn right at the same time. Turning left while making those adjustments is no problem, because your left hand has to stay on the grip to keep the snow blower moving forward anyway -- so your right hand is free to adjust chute or speed, and your left hand can pull the steering trigger to turn left. But you can't pull the steering trigger to turn right while you're moving the chute.


My old Snapper had a terrific little rocker switch that controlled chute rotation. It was right next to the right-hand grip and I could easily hit the switch with my thumb, while the snow blower was moving. I wish the Huskie (or somebody else!) had that type of chute control.


QUALITY: so far, it seems good ... seems like a well-made machine, fairly thick steel, looks like high-quality cables & rods for controls, auger and impeller look stout, engine runs well. Need long-term use to really tell.


STARTING: hadn't been started since the dealer delivered it 3 weeks ago. I used the electric start, and the engine started almost immediately. If I had used the pull starter I'm sure it would have started on the first pull.


WEIGHT BALANCE: it's nose-heavy, compared to Ariens, Toro, or Honda. With power steering, this doesn't present a problem most of the time (you're not pushing down on the handles and lifting the front off the ground to turn it around). But I still had times when I had to push down and lift the nose, and it's heavier than I'd like. I did remover the trim/weight on the bucket, to take a little weight off the front, but it's still nose-heavy. Some people would view this as a positive, it should help keep the bucket down in deep snow -- we'll see.


Anyhow, sorry for the long rambling post, but hope this helps others who are deciding which machine to buy. I know it sounds like I'm complaining a lot, but overall I'm fairly satisfied with this purchase. My main goal was to get power steering, I wanted hydrostatic drive, and also wanted more throwing distance and easy-to-use controls. On a scale of 10 I'd rate this model about 8 on steering, 7 for the hydro, 4 for throwing distance, and 6 for controls. I think I might have been more satisfied with the Honda, but it cost $1000 more than the Huskie and I felt it wasn't worth that much extra money.
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-17-2018, 04:59 PM
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Hi Mgvrmark,

Nice write up and review. I understand about the chute and deflector controls they are hard to push down, especially because the machine itself is tall. A couple of things I did to mine you might consider. First I went to the hardware store and bought some springs for the detent levers. The size of springs Husqvarna uses are readily available and you can choose one that will require less downward pressure. The second thing I did was to drill and tap my knobs so they would go down on the levers further. This allows you to have more leverage because you do not have to reach up so high to press the levers. Both of these mods I did off season so I had time to experiment. Best of luck with your new machine.

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post #3 of 6 Old 01-18-2018, 11:27 PM
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Thanks for the write-up and evaluation.

-- Give yourself some time to get used to the machine and the controls. It took a few sessions for me to figure out that really want to "direct" the orchestra rather than trying to play every instrument at once.

-- I adjust my blowing plan to support left turns whenever possible. That way my right hand stays free to move the chute around as it turns. Absent that, I sometimes end up putting a little snow where I might not want it. I'm getting better at it with experience.

-- The reverse capability is a seldom-used option for me. Except for when I go down a row like a narrow walkway, it's better to let the machine turn around (to the left hopefully...) and drive out.

-- Once I have a feel for the density and depth of the snow, I don't adjust forward speed much. I set up for a comfortable walking speed, and adjust load on the machine by the width of the bite it takes.

-- The machine seems to throw snow the farthest when the impeller is pretty well loaded but well short of overloaded. Light loads do OK, heavy can bog it down some. You'll get a feel for the "right" speed and loading. We have a large apron and turn-around area that doesn't lend itself to one-step clearing. About a quarter of the area gets a double dose -- cleared once initially, then it gets a transit load from the middle that needs to be cleared in a second pass. I'm still working on the "best" clearing plan.


Any time I feel like griping about how well the machine does or doesn't do the work, I remind my self that hand-shoveling is my other option. I meet roughly the same physical description as you share, just a little taller and a little less body mass. I can shovel if I need to. I just don't want to "need to".

Enjoy your new machine, and share back your impressions as you accumulate more time behind it.

New Husqy ST227P for 2014-15 snow season.

I love my snowblower. Every beat of it's little heart is one mine won't have to take.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-19-2018, 09:30 AM
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"My old Snapper had a terrific little rocker switch that controlled chute rotation. It was right next to the right-hand grip and I could easily hit the switch with my thumb, while the snow blower was moving. I wish the Huskie (or somebody else!) had that type of chute control."

Simplicity has electric chute controls.
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-20-2018, 11:36 AM
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For clarity, can someone shed some light on the OP. Any reason the driveline speeds should be be changed when it's not engaged , per the OP
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post #6 of 6 Old 12-16-2018, 02:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobiledynamics View Post
For clarity, can someone shed some light on the OP. Any reason the driveline speeds should be be changed when it's not engaged , per the OP

Appreciate that this reply is for a post that is nearly a year old. Nevertheless, the following details remain relevant to the Husky 300 series wheel driven blowers with the Hydro-Gear transaxles. The OP indicated that the operator was "not supposed to adjust the speed lever when the snow blower isn't moving..." That is incorrect. The issue is with adjusting or moving the speed control lever when the engine is not running. With the engine running, the transaxle has oil pressure and the speed control can be safely moved to any desired position without the blower being in gear (drive lever engaged).



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