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1980 Toro 421
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Discussion Starter #1
Howdy All,

I was given a 1981 Toro 421 snowblower. The snowblower had been recently serviced and has new belts. The previous owner said it lost spark. So he removed the flywheel to investigate the points to find out mice did a number on the ignition wiring! He reinstalled the flywheel and snapped the threaded end off the crankshaft. If anyone needs parts off the 4 HP engine let me know.
So I installed a newer 5 HP Tecumseh off a Craftsman snowblower. It has a brand new OEM Carb and no points to mess with now! The engine swap went well with a couple of issues to overcome. The original 4 HP has a 1" PTO Crankshaft diameter and the 5 HP has a 3/4" PTO Crankshaft diameter. So I went to my local mower shop and they had a used crankshaft pulley off a Toro 3521. $22! It's perfect! It was the right diameter and my belts line up perfectly. No shaft adapters needed.
Yesterday I installed the engine replaced the fuel line, primer line, and fuel filter, I put oil and gas in it and it fired right up! Runs great! I want to use the electric starter off the 4 HP on the 5 HP. It looks like it will bolt on to the engine, but the two starter switch mounting holes are orientated different than the holes on the 5HP starter shroud. On the switch the two holes are across from each other left to right, and on the 5HP starter shroud they are offset. I don't want to drill new holes in my fan shroud if I can get away with it.

So my questions are:
1. Should I just replace the starter with one that is spec'd out for this engine? Part number 333290E.
2. If the 4 HP starter motor is compatible, should I simply replace the starter switch assembly with the correct one for the 5 HP engine and just reconnect the wires to the old 4HP starter motor?

I am also considering adding a Toro 521 Tall Chute to replace the short chute that's on it now. Will doing this help with it's throwing distance? Is the 521 Tall chute all metal?

I have a new scraper bar and skid shoes arriving tomorrow. I am going to pull the old ones off today in preparation for the new ones. I still need to wire the original kill switch to the 5 HP engine.

I appreciate any comments and help!

Hec
 

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Seems to me like you are putting lipstick on a pig, but if you are having fun, that is all that counts.
 

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my thoughts:

  • the old Toro 421 and 521 are well built machines, so if the metal is good, and the bearings are good, they can be worth spending some time and $$.
  • for the starter just drill those 2 new holes
  • the taller chutes usually give better throwing distance
  • make sure the impeller bearing is smooth with little to no wobble
  • make sure the auger bearings are smooth as well
  • if the 421 has the solid tires, they will not provide good traction. I replaced the wheel/tires with a set from a Craftsman snowblower, the wheels/shafts are slightly wider, but they fit.

You won't make $$ if you try to re-sell these old machines, but if you are doing to learn, have some fun, and have a decent machine, then go for it.

tx
 

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1980 Toro 421
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Discussion Starter #4
my thoughts:

  • the old Toro 421 and 521 are well built machines, so if the metal is good, and the bearings are good, they can be worth spending some time and $$.
  • for the starter just drill those 2 new holes
  • the taller chutes usually give better throwing distance
  • make sure the impeller bearing is smooth with little to no wobble
  • make sure the auger bearings are smooth as well
  • if the 421 has the solid tires, they will not provide good traction. I replaced the wheel/tires with a set from a Craftsman snowblower, the wheels/shafts are slightly wider, but they fit.

You won't make $$ if you try to re-sell these old machines, but if you are doing to learn, have some fun, and have a decent machine, then go for it.

tx
Thanks Paul!

The metal is good. The left handle bar chrome plating is rough. I checked the Auger Bushing and its good. I checked the bushing in the tranny and its good. I also checked the axle bushings and they are good too. Amazingly I was able to easily remove the tires too! I thought they would be rusted on! I am interested in your Craftsman tire set up. Are the wheel bores the same? How much longer is the hub length?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Good Luck with it. It is a good learning experience and it should perform much better with the 5 HP. Consider adding an impellar kit if you want more throwing distance. On top of that it will eliminate clogging. It will be a better investment than the taller Chute. If you already have the taller chute you might as well put it on after installing the impellar kit.
 

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my bad, the wheel/tire combination was from an Ariens Compact 24. See pics. The tires a bit closer to the machine frame but don't rub, and the wheel hub is slightly longer than the machine's axle, but all seems to work, and the tires work much better,.


IMG_20210110_124935090.jpg IMG_20210110_124811659.jpg IMG_20210110_124938862.jpg 421 painted.jpg

and on machine, the impeller gap is less than 1/4", so I did not do the impeller modification. the last pic is after I refurb'd and painted the machine, but before the tire swap.

tx
 
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The starters should be the same between the engines. The plug/switch might be a bit different. . . . they are typically screwed to the fan/flywheel shroud any which-way. so, you are probably fine to drill an additional hole or 2 as needed.
 

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1980 Toro 421
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Discussion Starter #9
Howdy All,

Today I worked on the Toro 421. I removed the belly cover and cleaned everything with brake cleaner and degreaser. Then I re-greased the gear set and oiled the shaft the friction wheel slides back and forth on. I was very careful not to get any lubricants on the friction wheel and disk. Then I removed the old scraper bar and skid shoes. They came off no problem. Tomorrow the new ones go on. I also took a good look at the 4HP starter. I plugged it in and hit the button. It sounded a bit raspy. So I took the cover off the starter cover and noticed that the brushes where wore down pretty good and that the armature sustained some damage too. I don't think I'm going to rely on this starter. So I will be looking for a replacement. Has anyone out there had any luck with the aftermarket starters sold on Amazon or Ebay? Oh yeah, I replaced the spark plug with a new NGK one. Lastly, I wired the key switch on the handle bar set to the engine. It's nice being able to kill it right there at the controls vs reaching down and hitting the throttle lever all the way down. I ran the engine for about 30 mins and engaged the auger and transmission. No clunks or nasty noises so that's good!

That's all for now!

Hec
 

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The starter motors are fairly generic so the engine manufacturers (Tecumseh, Briggs) tended to use the same starter on their motors, if I recall correctly. You could check for any markings on the starter motor to see if there is a manufacturer or product ID on it, then try to get a current day equivalent. I've had decent luck getting the starter motors on eBay or Amazon. I am not sure how many starter manufacturers there are . . . I suspect not all that many and they are sold under various branding.
 

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1980 Toro 421
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Discussion Starter #11
Howdy all!
Did some more detailed inspections per Paulm 12’s recommendations on the bushings on the machine. I reached in and grabbed the auger belt pulley and wiggled it up and down. The auger shaft moves about 1/16” up or down. It does make a slight clunk when I move the auger shaft up or down. I think I may need to replace the auger bushing based on this.
Today I am going to pick up another Toro 421 for parts. The seller wants $50. It doesn’t run but has spark. From the pictures I received, it looks nicer than the one I am currently working on! Handle bars have nice chrome and the bucket doesn't have as much surface rust as mine. So I will scab all the best parts off of each one and use my great running 5 hp engine. I’ll try to get the 4 hp engine running and put on what’s left over after the parts swapping. Maybe the auger bearing on this one is fine?



Hec
 

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I would replace the bearing (bushing actually) with a new one. They are not that expensive and a new one will make the machine run a whole lot smoother. Just keep in mind that the clearance of the impeller blades to its housing are fairly tight on those machines and any bushing play may cause the blades to interfere with the housing.
 
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I agree with Ted, if you are going to do any work on the machine, then go ahead and replace the auger and impeller bearing/bushings. They lasted 40 years, the new ones will last that long again, and, as Ted wrote, allow the machine to run smoother.

tx
 

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The Inpellar bearings on those are a plain bronze bushing, not a ball bearing. I just did one and the MSRP price is $20 at the local Toro dealer. You can find new ones cheaper on eBay. They hold up pretty well, but if this is a machine you want to keep long term you might as well install new one in now while you have things apart. Good luck.
 

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1980 Toro 421
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Discussion Starter #15
Howdy all!

Yesterday after work I picked up the otherToro 421. It looks even nicer in person. The sellers were a young couple who just bought their first house. The Toro 421 was found in the back of a shed behind a pile of house paint cans. I checked for spark and it was there! The heater box was hanging on by one bolt and I noticed the choke knob was missing. I removed the heater box to find that the original governor linkage rod was missing and replaced with a piece of electrical wire! The seller said he couldn’t get it to run and admitted he wasn’t mechanically inclined. My other 4 hp engine is complete but has a busted crankshaft end. So I have the missing parts.
Today I will install my other 4 hp’s rebuilt carb that’s nice and clean and see what happens. The auger bearing on this 421is tight with absolutely no slop! Cosmetically the augers on this 421 have pretty much lost the paint finish and are Covered in surface rust. I find that strange since the auger housing’s paint is better than my other 421. My other 421 has nicer augers that are still painted black but more surface rust on the auger housing. Go figure! So it looks like an auger swap is in my future. Otherwise I could sand them down and paint them. This 421 needs skid shoes and a scraper bar too. I hope I can get the 4 hp engine going and see if any weird sounds in the tranny or auger arise.
I still would like to use my newer 5 hp engine, but part of me thinks I should keep the original engine on it. Decisions decisions.
I will split both 421’s and see if I will need an auger bearing since the new 421 has no slop.

Hec
 

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I would go with the higher HP engine. 4 HP is pretty under powered for many of the conditions you will encounter in Omaha. Just my opinion.
 

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1980 Toro 421
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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Howdy All!
I installed my rebuilt carb from the old 421 on the new 421. Pulled the rope wahla the little 4 hp came to life and purred like a kitten! Idles perfect and no misses at WOT. The new 421 seems more solid than the other one, as it has less rattles. Especially at the discharge chute. The old 421 chute rattles a lot even though I have tightened all the hardware up. The new 421 is solid. I engaged the auger and it is smooth! No vibrations or clunks. I then engaged the drive system and I have all three gears except third. I think I will need to adjust drive linkage per the Operators manual. I did some further inspections on the new 421and found the wire spade connector for the engine kill on the throttle plate was broke. So at this time only the key switch kills the engine. I have the this part on the broken 4hp engine so I can fix that.
For grins, I opened up the carb on the new 421 since I had it on the bench now. It was missing the needle and its clip! No way that engine was going to run. Couple that with the homemade governor linkage I am glad it couldn’t run for fear of self destructing due to over revving! Here are some pics of what I’m dealing with.
Hec
173655


173656


173654


173653


173652
 

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awesome!! glad you got one working well. And its great to have spares. Note that alot of rattling on these old Toros is the chute rod up at the handle bracket. There is a plastic "bushing" thru the bracket that does nothing at all. I drilled out the hole a slight bit, and installed a rubber grommet, and it helped alot. The grommet surprisingly has lasted over a year so far. I also rotated the bracket 180 degrees, since the bracket bend angle is slightly off from 90degrees, and when rotated it better aligns to the rod, helping to smoothen sliding on the grommet. see pic for example on my 724.

IMG_20181129_144524813_HDR.jpg

tx
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Paul,

The grommet idea is brilliant. I’m going to have to try it! The chute rattles right on the auger housing. I think the plastic ring the chute gear is bolted to is wore out on the rusty 421. Next is the engine swap!

Hec
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Update.

Yesterday we had 3" of snow with 55 MPH winds and blizzard conditions. We had drifts in the drive that were easily 6" deep. So this morning I decided to try out my two Toro 421's. I have the engines swapped now and electric starters on both of them. Both got new scraper bars and skids shoes. Both engines had their WOT RPM's set to 3,500 RPM's and idle speed set to 1,750 RPM.

Toro 421 (Stock) - It was 28 F outside and the Tecumseh 4 HP started on the second pull. I let it warm up a couple of minutes and hit the driveway. It did very well! In fact I was surprised how good it works. This little guy can really chuck the snow! The snow was heavy but the 421 chucked it at least 20 feet. The 4 HP motor had no problem getting through the 6" deep snow.


Toro 421 with newer Tecumseh 5 HP - Just like the 4 HP, the 5 HP started on the second pull. All I can say is that the 5 HP was awesome! I thought the 4 HP was good, but the 5 HP didn't even break a sweat and was launching the snow even farther than the 4 HP.

I think I have a buyer for the 4 HP 421 too. $175.00 Supposed to deliver tomorrow. It's the same guy who gave it to me! We'll see what happens. I have new belts for the 5 HP 421 arriving this week and will install. I am keeping the 5 HP 421. I love it!

Hec
 
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