Snowblower Forum banner

1 - 20 of 54 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Brand new member here. Glad to have found this site.
After all my years of shoveling, I am about to buy a snow blower.

I realize everyone will have their "opinions" on different mfg's and models but let's keep it very simple, what ones should I stay away from.

Sometimes the field can be narrowed down fast simply by doing some elimination first. Then the ones you recommend.

I fish and boat and am a member of other forums and there are mfg's that are known as lesser quality. They still work but maybe are less desirable.

Budget is about $1,000.00 max.
My friend just bought a Craftsman 208cc, 26", another a Toro 726 OXE.
I like the Toro 826 OE. It's $1,299.00 though. If it is that good, maybe I can squeeze that one in.

I only want to do this once. I don't want to be the one writing one of the horrible reviews. No unit is perfect and there are lemons everywhere.

Drive way is 30' x 50'
Dead end road in front of the house is 20' x 150'
No sidewalks.
I will help my neighbors though.
Live in Maryland. Snow forecast is supposed to be heavy again this year.

Features I would like:
Power steering
Head light
Joy stick- chute controls
Maybe heated handles. Most in that $ range have them?
26"-28" +/- width
B+S engine- Not China
2-3 year warranty
The Toro will throw snow 45'. The further the better.
Most all will be electric and pull start in that price range.

Please let me know what I am overlooking.

Thank you,
Jeff
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Just spoke to Atlantic Tractor, a dealer with multiple locations and he said this is their most popular model.
More than what I want to spend but I only want to do this once.

Anyone have any experience with the John Deere.
I have bought other Stihl products from them. I like the dealer and the service dept if I need them.

John Deere products for homeowners: Features for 1330SE Dual Stage Snowthrower

Thank you.

.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
As for Toro, I use an 1128 on occasion when I help my Dad out. The features you are looking at are really nice to have, the steering is great to have. I was skeptical of the joystick chute control at first, but **** it makes things nice and easy to toss the snow right where you want it.

But to answer the question you ask of what to stay away from, I don't really have any input for you. I'm assuming you are only looking at 2-stage blowers; the only blowers I've used and haven't liked have been single stage units. Other than that it's been Toro, JD, and Ariens, all have performed well.

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
143 Posts
Does John Deere make that machine?
I don't think they make all of their lines anymore.
For that matter, I'm not sure if Toro makes all of their machines.

FWIW, I have a friend that has a track drive machine with the trigger release to aid in steering. He says he will have that on any machine he buys in the future.
He also has the electric chute control and that has been his only problem. Quit on him last year, back in the shop not working again this year.
I don't know the brand.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,862 Posts
For $800 to $1000 you can get a very high quality machine..
avoid the $599 "entry" level and you should do fine..

My opinions..but based on a lot of research,
and probably many/most people will agree:

Best:
Ariens (Stick to Orange machines, better than black (Sno-Tek) machines)
Toro
Honda

"More Middle of the Road, but generally good"
John Deere
Simplicity
Snapper
(all three essentially the same, made by Briggs since 2004)

Lower end, best to avoid IMO:
Cub Cadet
Craftsman
Troy-Bilt
Yard Machines
(all essentially the same, made by MTD)

Lowest end junk imaginable:
anything sold at Walmart.

(the above applies to New/Current models..some of those brand names have gone up and down the quality scale over the decades..)

Jeff,
Since you are new to all this (where I was 2 years ago!) you might be interested in reading about my research experience:

http://gold.mylargescale.com/scottychaos/Ariens/Page2.html

Scot
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
How does the electric chute work when compared to the joy stick / cable?

While all the bells and whistles are nice, it is something else that can break.

Bitter sweet.

.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Scot, that's what I'm looking for.
You put JD in the middle. Hmmmmm.

What about buying from a dealer vs a big box store?
I'm leaning strongly toward the dealer for major service. The small stuff I'll do.

It has been said some mfg's "dumb down" or their units have "less quality" on the products that are headed to the "Orange" and "Blue" stores? That is why they sell cheaper, in volume. Any truth to that?

Anyone else care to chime in on Scot's post?

Thank you.

.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,862 Posts
Thanks Scot, that's what I'm looking for.
You put JD in the middle. Hmmmmm.

What about buying from a dealer vs a big box store?
I'm leaning strongly toward the dealer for major service. The small stuff I'll do.

It has been said some mfg's "dumb down" or their units have "less quality" on the products that are headed to the "Orange" and "Blue" stores? That is why they sell cheaper, in volume. Any truth to that?

Anyone else care to chime in on Scot's post?

Thank you.

.
I will chime in on my post! ;)
yes, I put JD in the middle..JD used to make their own snowvblowers, until 1991. Up until then they were always considered fine machines..
then, in 1991, JD stopped making their own machines, and farmed out production to other companys..Ariens and Murray. these Ariens and Murray machines were built 1991-2001.
The JD machines built by Ariens are considered fine..same as any other Ariens..but the 1991 to 2001 JD snowblowers built by Murray were *really* bad..I have read things like "destroyed JD's reputation" and other unflattering reviews of these machines..(the Murray built JD machines mave TRX or TRS in the model name.)

Then in 2004, the rights to put Green and Yellow paint on snowblowers was bought by Briggs & Straton, who also owns Snapper and Simplicity.
so now JD, Snapper and Simplicity snowblowers are essentially the same machines, but in different paint. At first I thought they might be based on older Similicity designs, which were always very well regarded..but I read they are actually updated Murray designs..which are less deseriable..
I think most people conside the current JD machines to be good machines..probably perfectly fine (and definately a step-up from the MTD brands)..but they are still getting mixed reviews..

Ariens, Toro and Honda still make their own machines themselves..
they have enjoyed a strong reputation for quality for many decades..
those are really the "top three" for snowblowers..

It has been said some mfg's "dumb down" or their units have "less quality" on the products that are headed to the "Orange" and "Blue" stores? That is why they sell cheaper, in volume. Any truth to that?
I have some answers to that too!
its in the link I posted above..I will just go ahead and copy and paste it out of my webpage:

Scot's Ariens webpage said:
This leads me to an interesting snowblower myth I came across constantly in my research,
the myth goes something like this: "The snowblower manufacturers make lower-quality machines for the Lowes/ Home Depot/ Walmart market, they arent the same machines that you will find at an independant dealer."
I have discovered this is simply not true.
The EXACT same machines are being sold at my local Home Depot and Lowes stores and all the independant dealers.. I checked model numbers.. all the independant dealers have the exact same machines as the big-boxes, and I found no models that were only at Home Depot or Lowes, and not at the independant dealers.
There is no such thing as a lower quality machine FOR the big-box market specifically.
But like all good myths, there is probably a grain of truth in there somewhere!
I believe what might have happened is this..
Perhaps lower-grade machines are now being built, *because of* the big-box market!
Because sadly, these days Americans dont really care about quality anymore. All we care about is price. "I dont care if its junk, as long as its cheap!" We are getting our wish..we buy
an awful lot of cheap junk. This attitude has led to the great success of Walmart, and the loss of all our jobs. (you cant make junk cheap enough for Americans to buy it, if you have to pay Americans to build it...thats why the jobs go to China, because we demand to pay less and less for it all the time..at Walmart.) by the time we, as a society, finally "wake up" it will be too late..everything will be made in China. You will still be able to buy it all at Walmart, but you wont have a job to pay for it.


But anyway..I digress.
yes, this all does relate to snowblowers!
Getting back to them...Yes, its true you will find the "low end" machines at the big boxes,
(and the big-boxes carry the mid and higher levels too)
but! in my travels around Western NY, all the dealers carry the same low-end models as
the big boxes! they probably arent happy about it, but they have to carry them just to survive..
If you are a dealer, and Home Depot is selling machines for $599, and all yours start at $800..well, anyone can see thats not a healthy business practice.
Yes, I suppose there might be some independant dealers out there who can, with all honesty and truthfullness, say "Home Depot and Lowes carry the cheaper machines, I dont have those cheap models in my store".
If that is true, its only due to that dealers personal choice.
and if there are any dealers making that choice, I bet they are few...
I havent seen any.
That is the only scenerio where anyone could truthfully say "The snowblower manufacturers make lower-quality machines for the Lowes/ Home Depot/ Walmart market, but I dont carry those models here."
So in a general sense, its a total myth. there are not different models made for the Big-box market. they are all the same models. However I believe its quite likely that newer, lower-end models have been created because of the big-box market! (because people must have their cheap junk).. to the detriment of the entire industry, and that is likely what led to this myth..but thats really a different scenerio.
Having said all that, I agree with the many who say its always much better to buy from the independant dealer! for two major reasons:
1. Quality assembly by knowledgeable technicians. this is VERY important!
2. Service and support after the sale, also very important.
You get neither of those from the big-boxes.
I have read a lot about problems with newer, quality machines..almost always these machines were bought from a big-box..and were assembled by people who dont know what they are doing. I went to a lot of Big-box stores for knowledge, just to look at lots of different machines..but if I was going to buy a new one, I wouldnt buy one there.
IMO, if you are looking at new machines, skip right over the $599 level.
and if you do look at that level, take note of the engine!
Really, you need to start at the $800 to $1,000 "mid level" to get a quality machine.
from: The Ariens 1960's and 1970's Sno-Thro info site.

Scot
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
If I was buying new I would lean towards buying from the dealer. I had a second job working nights at The Home Depot during the winter months last year. The units get taken out of the boxes and bolted together, nothing is checked for alinment, and they really aren't even looked over at all. I would hope more care would be taken at a dealership during set-up, but I guess I don't know for sure that they do.

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Scot,
You did all that investigating and put that "Orange Report" together?
Just read the first 7 pages.
That's unbelievable man!!!!:eek:
What a great resource for anyone with an older unit!!!!!
Your my Snow Thrower Sensei! :D
Looks like you found a nice Ariens.

Thank you so much!

Jeff
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Scot,
You did all that investigating and put that "Orange Report" together?
Just read the first 7 pages.
That's unbelievable man!!!!:eek:
What a great resource for anyone with an older unit!!!!!
Your my Snow Thrower Sensei! :D
Looks like you found a nice Ariens.

Thank you so much!

Jeff
I haven't read thru it yet, but have skimmed several pages, and already found some very helpful information. I think it would be nice if the mods could sticky a link to his site in the Ariens sub-fourum if Scot doesn't mind.

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I haven't read thru it yet, but have skimmed several pages, and already found some very helpful information. I think it would be nice if the mods could sticky a link to his site in the Ariens sub-fourum if Scot doesn't mind.

Dan
I agree!
It's a wealth of information, very well written, not salesman talk.

.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,862 Posts
Thanks Guys!
glad you are enjoying my webpage! :)

Its been an ongoing 2-year project to get it where it is today..
it started out as only one page..quite simple and basic.
originally I had all the info (quite limited when I started) on the 1960's and 70's machines on one page..
but then I kept getting (and being given) more information, so within only a few months I gave each series its own page, and it became 5 pages..
then after about a year it was ten pages..and just a few weeks ago I split the 924000 and 932000 series into their own pages, and it hit 12 pages!

I dont really consider it *my* page, im just the keeper and organizer of the data! ;) probably 3/4 of it is information that many Ariens owners have shared with me and allowed me to use, (thanks!)
and more keeps rolling in..in fact I have several new updates coming soon!
new info on the 1960 "first year" machines, and several new sets of photos and stories...it just keeps growing! :)

actually, just finding the time to update it is the biggest challenge.

(and I dont mind if anyone wants to "sticky" it or anything like that..go ahead!)

Scot
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
Check out your local dealers and buy from 1 of them. When you need service, they will service it and do warranty work on it and notify you about recalls. Bigbox stores do not do service.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
There are other options for service

Check out your local dealers and buy from 1 of them. When you need service, they will service it and do warranty work on it and notify you about recalls. Bigbox stores do not do service.
Bigbox stores don't do service, but your local independent shop does. While it is difficult to get warranty work done by anyone other than a dealer, your local autobody, motorcycle or independent garage will probably love getting the work to fix your snowblower.

Forums like this are another excellent source. If you're willing to help, you could probably find someone who is willing to show you how to fix almost anything and only ask that you bring something to drink while the work is done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
In my search, two things have come up I have questions about.

1. Gear ratio:
I am surprised how many times the issue of low gear is VERY slow and 2nd gear is about twice the speed.
Some have said the blower, even some of the more powerful units, couldn't keep up with even 6"-8" of new snow in 2nd gear so they had to shuffle slowly behind in 1st gear that they felt was way to slow.

a. How is your gear ratio on your Throwers?
b. Is 2nd gear twice that of 1st gear?
c. Do you use 1st or 2nd gear?

Yes the type of snow will dictate what gear you are able to use. i.e. wet/heavy; dry/power; old/crusty; etc...

2. Throw distance:
When viewing youtube clips, some will blow the snow 40+ feet, some barley 10'.
This has to be due to the RPM's of the "2nd stage" of the two stage blower. The paddle wheel that actually throws the snow.
a. Does any MFG's list the RPM's of that part?
b. Are any units known to throw further and others, not so much?
c. How far will yours throw on average? Yes the type of snow will make a difference to a point.

Toro list how far they throw. Some 40-45 feet.
Ariens and Honda on youtube seem to throw further also.


Thanks
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,862 Posts
Im not sure how useful my stats will be, since my snowblower is 40 years old and you are looking at new ones! ;) but I will add my machine's numbers to the conservation anyway:

1971 Ariens model 910962, "724" with original Tecumseh 7hp engine.
Unmodified, snowblower is basically "as built"..

a. How is your gear ratio on your Throwers?

4 speeds forward, one speed reverse.
All fours speeds are useful, but for different things:
1st gear - quite slow, only used in heavy EOD.
2nd gear - my main gear for use in snow. not too fast, not too slow, just right..used 90% of the time when blowing snow.
3rd gear - only used in light fluffy snow..used rarely, too fast for general use.
4th gear - basically too fast for blowing snow..I only use 4th when wheeling the machine down the street to the neighbors house..not used while blowing snow, but great for "getting around"

b. Is 2nd gear twice that of 1st gear?
not really..its maybe 50% faster.

c. Do you use 1st or 2nd gear?
both, see above.

Yes the type of snow will dictate what gear you are able to use. i.e. wet/heavy; dry/power; old/crusty; etc...

In my experience, type of snow is the MAJOR factor in what gear to use,
and in throwing distance..

2. Throw distance:
When viewing youtube clips, some will blow the snow 40+ feet, some barley 10'.
This has to be due to the RPM's of the "2nd stage" of the two stage blower. The paddle wheel that actually throws the snow.
a. Does any MFG's list the RPM's of that part?
I have seen a few numbers, but not much..its hard to find the data, I dont think the manufacturers go out of their way to advertise it.

b. Are any units known to throw further and others, not so much?
not really much difference between brands..the main difference is between "trim lines" within brands..Pro models throw the best, low-end models throw the worst, with a lot of variation inbetween.
all manufacturers have made excellent (distance) throwers, and poor distance throwers..(except maybe Honda..I dont think I have ever read a complaint about a Honda.)

c. How far will yours throw on average? Yes the type of snow will make a difference to a point.

Type of snow makes the MAJOR difference for my machine..
from another thread:

Cold powdery snow (air temp of 20 or below) - throws 15 to 20 feet..im very happy with its throwing abilities 90% of the time.

"average" snow..20 to 30 degrees air temp - 10 to 15 feet, still quite acceptable.

Wet heavy snow/slush - air temp of 30 to 35 - zero to 2 feet.

Many machines simpy clog up and bog down in slush and cant throw it..I have a clarence impeller kit, but havent installed it..
everyone who has installed one says it improves the throwing abaility a great deal, especially with the slushy snow.

Depth of snow makes no difference for my machine..its just as happy in 18" as in 3"..
its really the consistancy of the snow that makes the major difference when it comes to throwing distance..Im confidant the clarence kit will fix things up..

Scot

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
welcome 240LTS, the path of finding (a new) snowblower at a local quality dealer should not be real difficult for you. I probably went a little overboard in research before i bought my 2 stage to the point of losing sight of what i really wanted. i got so caught up in the whirlwind of hype ,the brochures,the sales people, the features,etc.etc. WAIT A MINUITE i said to myself, i only want a +/- 30 inch bucket,heavy duty built,and a briggs engine,and a quality nearby dealer that can help if i need it.So now here i go back into the dealer (3 miles away) for about the 10th time to look again at his hondas (to much $$$) the toros (i'm not sure why but passed on them as well) and finally settled on the john deere1130se. Its now in my second season of use and has served its purpose very well. build quality fit and finish is good , i like the fact it has the cast iron gearbox and the briggs snow max engine and has all steel constuction on the main parts such as the chute and the impellars (yes some brands have plastic ones) and the electric motor on the chute conrol is a realy realy nice feature that i thought i would not like but now i love it i can pin point *exactly* where i want to dump the snow while keeping both hands on the grips. the handling and turning of this 260# blower is easy enough for my wife to operate.All in all im very satisfied with this blower regardless of who makes them.the throwing distance is (depending on wet/dry snow conditions)is plenty far to throw all the snow in the yard where it belongs and not into the next county lol.but at least 30/35 feet average(im keeping it real here). and if you look on the inside of the chute of the john deere 1130 se where the snow comes out of the impellar opening you'll see how round the opening is, unlike the squared opening of some other brands that i've seen, idk maybe thats why it dont clog so much,maybe its how i finesse it going into the wet sloppy stuff, any way good luck to you finding your quality blower whether it be honda ,toro snapper ariens simplicity or deere remember quality and maintenance is everything.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
I am going to look at the JD's tomorrow at a dealer.

How does the electric motor on the chute control operate?
You say you really, really like it. You do not think it is another bell or whistle to have to maintain or fix?

How does the "Traction Control" work? (is that what it's called?)
The guy tried to explain it over the phone but it wasn't very clear.

Thank you.

.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
I am going to look at the JD's tomorrow at a dealer.

How does the electric motor on the chute control operate?
You say you really, really like it. You do not think it is another bell or whistle to have to maintain or fix?

How does the "Traction Control" work? (is that what it's called?)
The guy tried to explain it over the phone but it wasn't very clear.

Thank you.

.
there is a small steel toothed gear attached to the electric motor that drives the outer gear on the base of the chute. when you press the button on the dash the gears move and allow the chute to rotate back and forth(only when the engine is running).it operates with your right thumb therefore keeping both hands on the handles.it needs to be lubricated regularly to ensure smooth operation. concerning that to be bells and whistles?? well, in a way it is, compared to a manual turn crank that you have to take one hand off while steering the blower with the other hand(or stop the blower and crank ,then procede) naw not me im taking the easy route here, i thought initially that the gears were going to freeze up during sub zero weather but honestly there were small ice chunks on the gear once or twice and after a quick tap on the chute to knock it off it worked well once again. So, would i buy another blower (major brand) with a electric chute control? yes i would in a heart beat.The easy steer/ traction control WORKS LIKE A CHAMP.power goes to both wheels and when you get to the end of the drive just steer it around and keep on going no triggers to squeeze like some brands do.you can turn the blower in a complete circle the outside wheel moves in your direction and the inside tire moves the opposite direction. hope this helps a little
 
1 - 20 of 54 Posts
Top