I live in N Maine and need advice on a new snowblower purchase - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
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post #1 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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I live in N Maine and need advice on a new snowblower purchase

This is my first post here. I'm hoping to get some good feedback on a new snowblower purchase.

First I'd like to share some some history: I've been in "agony" trying to find a decent snowblower. I live in N New England where storms often dump well over a foot of snow. Currently I have a 15+ year old Craftsman model 536.887751. Nearly every year I've had to service it, which I do mostly on my own (kudos to repairclinic.com). I will not be buying another Craftsman based on my horrendous experience with it, as well as other Craftsman lawn & garden, and power tool equipment.

I've looked at several new models but I'm still very wary. My budget is around $1000. I'd prefer a 250+ cc engine as my 7.75hp 536 never really had enough power to move the snow well enough. I plow my gravel driveway which is about 35ft long. I also plow to and from my shed, over my lawn where there are areas with dips and inclines. It catches my sb if I'm not careful. So I need a snowblower that performs good on uneven surfaces, not just flat surfaces. I also wonder if I should opt for a 3-stage sb, but those are rather pricey.

These make&models are so far what I'm considering:

Ariens Deluxe 24 or Deluxe 28
Cub Cadet 2X 26" HP
Husqvarna ST228
Poulan Pro 961920091 27" (rebadged MTD)
Toro ???


I know there are other posts on these individual models, but I want to get a comparison of them here as well as what you all may suggest considering my specific needs.



I'd like a snowblower that is both well-engineered and relatively easy to maintain. Though overall well-engineered, I've heard some Ariens models can be hard to service. I don't want something with a plastic that cracks or breaks in sub-zero temps (Husqvarna dash?). I can at least say that the plastic on my old 536 has held up well (though metal components certainly didn't).

I tend to skip over online reviews that have nothing but praise for a product as I don't see them as unbiased or realistic. I like Consumer Reports but their reviews seem to be more tailored to those who have deeper pockets. Unlike their car ratings, they don't measure user feedback and long-term reliability. IIRC, I originally purchased my 536 based on a CR review.

Last edited by JohnS; 11-15-2018 at 04:53 AM.
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post #2 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 07:37 AM
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Have you looked for a New/used machine??????? I see there are question marks on the TORO Line. https://www.toro.com/en/homeowner/sn...x-824-oe-37798 https://wwwhttps://www.toro.com/en/h...-826-oxe-37799 ALOHA From The Paradise City.

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post #3 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 08:50 AM
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Hi John,
welcome to the forum!



Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnS View Post
So I need a snowblower that performs good on uneven surfaces, not just flat surfaces.

There wont be any meaningful difference between models as far as that is concerned..
There wont be any specific 2-stage snowblowers or brands that are "better for uneven surfaces" and others that are "worse for uneven surfaces"..they all have two wheels (or tracks) and a flat bucket..they will all act the same on all surfaces..So that's a non-issue when picking a specific machine for your needs.

Plus, with a gravel driveway, you will need your bucket raised an inch or two anyway..which will also help with the bucket clearing uneven surfaces.

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Originally Posted by JohnS View Post
I also wonder if I should opt for a 3-stage sb, but those are rather pricey.
Nope..you dont need it. The general consensus here is "they work as well as normal 2-stage snowblowers, but not better."
Its just a marketing gimmick. plus they are MTD's..Write them off your list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnS View Post
These make&models are so far what I'm considering:

Ariens Deluxe 24 or Deluxe 28
Cub Cadet 2X 26" HP
Husqvarna ST228
Poulan Pro 961920091 27" (rebadged MTD)
Toro ???
Ariens Deluxe 24 or Deluxe 28 - yes, keep them on the list.

Cub Cadet 2X 26" HP - rebadged MTD. I never recommend MTD, I would recommend taking Cub Cadet off your list, because you can do better.

Husqvarna ST228 - Dont know much about Husqvarna, reviews are mixed.

Poulan Pro 961920091 27" - actually a Husqvarna, not a MTD. The "Pro" label is not deserved or earned.

Toro ??? - Yes, keep on the list.

The "top three" are generally considered to be Honda, Ariens and Toro.
Personally, I no longer like new Toros because they are made in Mexico now..but there is no evidence that has impacted quality at all.

So for me, your list reduces to the Ariens models only..

Used Honda, Ariens and Toro can also be a great consideration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnS View Post
Though overall well-engineered, I've heard some Ariens models can be hard to service.
I have never heard that..ever. I have never seen that discussed on this forum.
I would write that off as probably one persons opinion.. in my opinion, there is no reason to believe that is true.

Scot


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Last edited by sscotsman; 11-15-2018 at 08:54 AM.
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post #4 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 09:03 AM
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Welcome to forum. I snowmobile, and have seen plenty of big snow over the years.

Yes, craftsman isnt what it used to be, I worked for Sears years ago when it was a good product. And now that they are bankrupt and selling off parts of the buisness, not sure if it will get better or not .

The Ariens Deluxe is a great machine. I actually like the ice drill chute controll, like the old fashion chute controls. Being in downeast maine, and long winters with plenty of snow, You get the engine size you want, but if you could get a deal on a Deluxe SHO, you get a big bump in engine and snow output.

I find Ariens easy to work on, and parts readily available. I have parts on order now for a Platinum 30 getting overhauled.

OVERPOWERED is usually Adequate
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Ariens 1128 Pro, 826 dle, 2 Path pro's

Last edited by Mountain Man; 11-15-2018 at 09:05 AM. Reason: Spelling
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post #5 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 09:15 AM
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All I can tell you is that my Husqvarna ST-224 hasn't had any problems that I can blame on the machine itself.

It's eaten a few rocks that were hidden under the snow and that bent up the impeller, but that's not the machine's fault. Another rock actually made it up the chute and cracked the plastic auger base. But again, it wasn't made to throw rocks.

I also had a spark plug seize in it once, but I blame that more on myself for not changing the plug after a mild winter during which the machine didn't get much use. That poor decision cost me some cussing and ~ $20.00 for a Helicoil.

Richard
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post #6 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sscotsman View Post
There wont be any specific 2-stage snowblowers or brands that are "better for uneven surfaces" and others that are "worse for uneven surfaces"..

Do all tracked blowers have the ability to quickly adjust the tilt of the unit in a forwards/backwards plane, with multiple locking positions?


Mine has this feature (controlled with lever under the handgrip), and I find it incredibly useful on undulating terrain. It makes it very quick to adjust the height of the bucket to the optimum height, in different areas of your yard, without using spanners. After a while you get to know which parts of your yard you need to raise the bucket for, and by how much.
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post #7 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 10:39 AM
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$1000 buck will land you a clean used Honda HS machine in your area. That will certainly meet your expectations.

On the new end of things, I’d focus on Ariens of Toro.

Personally, Husqvarna does nothing to impress me.

Honda HSS1328AATD | Honda HS720 | Toro Powerlite | Simplicity 860se


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post #8 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 07:53 PM
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In your price range Id consider Ariens and Toro. I haven't been on this forum much since last winter and then there was some on going controversy over a new feature call auto-turn on the Ariens.
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post #9 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 08:32 PM
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Welcome to the forum, John. As others have already said, of the blowers on your list, I'd go with Ariens or Toro. My advice would be to not be concerned about Auto-Turn - my Deluxe 28SHO tracks as straight as can be and turns very easily at the end of the driveway, etc - just the way Auto-Turn is supposed to work. Based on others' comments, I tossed the factory skid shoes and replaced them with Armor Skids as soon as I bought the blower last winter. Either Armor Skids or poly ones are supposed to make Auto-Turn behave properly and I would agree.

Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO

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post #10 of 39 Old 11-15-2018, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. I work right next door to a Sears Hometown (not the same as Sears BTW). They carry the ST224 and PPro, but not any Ariens models, at least none on display. The Husq looks fairly well built, but I'm skeptical of all the plastic in and around the control panel.

What bothers me on my Craftsman 536 is that the chute doesn't stay in the place I set it when plowing. It eventually works its way back to one of 4 positions where the adjustment handle ends in "down" position. The force of the snow moves the chute out of place, and sometime the gravity of the handle. I tightened up the tensioner but it only makes things worse--it stays in position a bit better (in very cold sub-10F temp) but then it's REALLY hard to adjust when it warms up again. I'm hoping not to have an issue like that with a new unit. The Ariens seems to use a similar mechanism to adjust the chute as my 536, so I'm kinda leery. The Husq has several cables attached to adjust the chute, and I've heard that after a few years use those cables can seize or malfunction in various ways. The chute on it has a lot of play (3-4") but I've read that this can be eliminated by adjustment.

I've heard both pros & cons about Ariens Auto-turning. Do you guys think it's worthwhile? It could possible help me in areas of my driveway that are uneven. I lean towards turn triggers than anything auto because it seems to be that much less that can go wrong (less maintenance). But I'm by no means anything remote of being an expert on such things.

Though I've read that some Ariens models can be hard to work on, I've read the same or worse for Huskys. Easy of maintenance can be a very subjective matter. What my primary concern is that regular maintenance won't be a very time-consuming task. I don't have the luxury of a heated garage, or even a garage at all. The work I do I typically have to do outside in my shed where I store my lawn&garden equipment.

I still shiver remembering the time I had to gut my 536 to replace the trunnion clutch, wheel bearings, clean both friction and drive discs, file c-clips to fit the hex shaft, and bend the fingers on the shift yoke so the [email protected] yoke wouldn't keep coming off the clutch when I shifted gears. Don't even get me started on my pos Craftsman.

Last edited by JohnS; 11-15-2018 at 10:33 PM.
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