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I am, as my old Dad would have said, still wet behind the ears, when it comes to snowblowers, but I've been doing a lot of research lately. I've come to the conclusion that Ariens seems to have what I'm looking for, which is a machine with power enough to put my snow where I need to put it and just as importantly, to be reliable and of robust enough construction to not always be breaking down. I'm a mechanical guy, but I HATE :mad: working on a machine while hunched over in a snow bank at 40 below. There seems to be a couple of schools of thought on this forum, those who are looking to move their snow with a reliable machine and those who are like the first group, but also get a lot of enjoyment from restoring a decades old machine to it's former glory. I see it as a credit to Ariens that their equipment has always been constructed heavily enough so that this is not all that difficult in many cases.
What I would like to know is, do you think that the new machines are as good, or better in some respects because of new features and technology and continuous improvement, or is this a case of they just don't make them like they used to?

Larry
 

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I think new machines benefit from technology and updates but suffer from cost cutting design.

As I've said before, I don't like thinner metal, controls made of thin cables, plastic parts, etc. I like thick metal parts, and clunky controls made of thick steel rods, etc. A newer machine will be perfect and work well out of the box but won't stand up over time like the old designs.
 

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Generally speaking, the snowblower was mechanically perfected by 1979..anything new since then has just been "gadgets"..and often unnecessary ones.

For example, IMO the existence of electric chute controls on a snowblower is about the stupidest thing ever..(seriously, turning a crank by hand is too hard?) ;) And they can freeze up or lose power, meaning you can no longer turn the chute..the old-fashioned manual crank is SO much better..doesnt need electricity, no wires, switches or batteries to fail..But..some snowblower company came up with the idea, and the other manufacturers had to follow suit in order to not lose sales...because for the most part, the general public is pretty stupid:

Salesman: "This brand of snowblower has modern electric chute controls! not like that *other* brand that has an old-fashioned hand crank"..

In reality, the machine with the hand crank would be much better, but most people wouldn't know that, since a snowblower is the kind of thing that most people know nothing about when buying one for the first time..so "gadgets" become a useful selling point, even though they are often in reality completely unnecessary, and often make the machine worse that it would be without them..

Overall, I think the main snowblower manufacturers have done a good job of keeping up the quality..although the American people make it really difficult for them to do so, because we demand everything cheaper and junkier all the time..but they do the best they can..So cost-cutting is a real problem, and does make everything lower quality overall, over time..But as long as you dont go with the cheapest machine in the lineup, you should still be able to get a decent new machine.

If looking new, I would only go with Ariens, Toro, Honda, Husqvarna or Simplicity/Snapper..anything else, and your odds of getting lower quality are higher..

Scot
 

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If looking new, I would only go with Ariens, Toro, Honda, Husqvarna or Simplicity/Snapper..anything else, and your odds of getting lower quality are higher..

Scot
I would disagree with you on Husqvarna belonging in that list. They are made by AYP, who makes all sorts of cheap blowers. I had a 2010 Husky 16530E, which I just sold this past winter and purchased a new '13 Ariens Pro 32. There's no comparison in quality between the two. I especially HATED the cheaply made and non-serviceable gearbox on the Husky, which leaked. There was no drain or fill plugs. The same gearboxes are found on the super cheap AYP made machines at Home Depot.....which also had a couple drops of lube under the gearbox....lol
 

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Old vs New

I have to say I'm in the older blower camp. Things I've noted are a decrease in thickness of metal, more plastic and less durable materials on the few newer machines I've looked at compared to the older ones. Even machines that were once considered 2d tier probably would be considered 1st tier today.

I've bought, rebuilt and sold around 15-20 blowers in the last few years. Parts availability can be an issue with some of the older machines but many times the same parts may have been used on many brands of blowers or other type machines so you may have to do some researching to locate parts you might need. Even if you can't find a particular part, many times you may be able to substitute other parts in their place.

Admittedly I have not had every brand of blower, nor every age but if I had to rate the things on the machines I have bought and sold I'd rate the auger gearcase and rakes on the Arien's as good. Control mechanism and friction disc replacement as good along with the ability to split the auger case from the tractor unit. The auger chassis along with the tractor unit, I'd rate the older Murray built Craftsman's as better. The Tecumseh transmission they used was top rate and the ability to unbolt the auger endpanels is a good feature.

The biggest problem I've seen now days is the downgrading of the various pieces due to bean-counters involvement in the current blowers. In a lot of cases, to cut costs, the sheetmetal is thinner, more plastic is used, plastic bushings instead of bronze bushings etc. Now days the cast iron engine block engines are not longer available new so most have gone to sleeved aluminum blocks, again I assume due to cost cutting. I'd rather put my money into refurbishing an older machine, it can actually cost less for a better machine with a longer expected life IMO. If you have the tools, ability and find the right machine to start with, it can be a very good option for someone looking for a snow blower.

That's my opinion.
 

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It seems like many of the various current brands are all made by MTD. A good portion of my love of old Ariens is the parts availability. If you look at the refurb and upgrades I did on mine, I went all through it including new tires and a used replacement big engine and experimental pulleys and belts. Total was around $275 and I have a couple little things to iron out like a crappy carb and the auger gearbox leaking but it blows snow like crazy.

That said, I'm sure the new ones are good and blow snow great. I just don't know how long they last until they are beat down, and they are 4x the price. I know I already commented on this, I just like to chat.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That said, I'm sure the new ones are good and blow snow great. I just don't know how long they last until they are beat down, and they are 4x the price. I know I already commented on this, I just like to chat.
And I like to listen. I'm learning lots from you folks.

Thank you all.

Larry
 

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I say buy one from each era...a classic and a new one! Lol. Then you have the best of both worlds. Or just try a classic first, if it doesn't pan out you can resell it. There is always one of us classic guys out there who will to buy it. And if it does work out with a classic, you have all that extra money to play with....
 

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Just my two cents on how everything is made these days....

New= a given shelf life(new throw away style manufacturing of today)...5 to 10 yrs....then buy new again. More bells and whistles but more apt to break in shorter time(IE: little things like chute controls, plastic dash cracking)

Used blowers pre 1995?=(anyone else can add to what year throw away manufacturing started in their opinion) are meant to be worked on and repaired. Better metal quality all metal parts mostly on these older machines.

But like anything there are pluses and minuses to everything...you might like a new John Deere like my neighbor has but he doesn't now it is a Murray/snapper made by briggs. Although it has worked well for him the last two years and the nice controls on his plastic dash might hold up...he can adjust his chute angle by the touch of a button. I have to manually adjust my chute angle...but I do not mind that because I can adjust left to right via the handle/knob on my all metal dash which turns in two-three cranks real easy. I do believe the electric chute angle will break sooner than later.
I do like his automatic chute angle but I believe my machine will be around in twenty years when his is no longer around. It is give and take on both sides of this topic it is all in what you need or want. Are you looking long term....go older and quality(Honda, Ariens, Toro, Simplicity, older Craftsman, etc.) and invest a little to restore or do you want new reliability for five years with new bells and whistles and hope for longevity. Another thing to think about is are you handy or do you have a fallback to repair your equipment. Is there a real good dealer in your area that is known to be fair and they do quality repairs...like word of mouth from friends of a great SE(small engine) mechanic in your area if you yourself are not handy yet. For most on here repairing and preparing our machines is half the fun. Older ones seem easier to work on as well....Carbs are adjustable vs new ones that are fixed carbs. It is all in what you want yourself. I have learned a lot in the last year being a snowblower newbie and am slowly learning from this forum little tricks and trials of snowblowers. It is addictive learning about small engines and especially snowblowers for some reason.
I myself love the research part of it...helping people find parts or a site that might help them...I am not super handy but I try and that is half the fun.

Either way of your decision everyone on here will try to help you with whatever you purchase.

Another thing to think of is engines as well....I have a Tecumseh on mine but I would be a fool to recommend one without stating they are known to throw rods if you do not already know this established fact. But that being said mine is an original 28 yr old HM80 that went through a 30 inch snowfall with ease... One snowstorm this year clogged my machine and this snow was like paste in elementary school!!! Otherwise was a champ. Others on here have older Tecumseh's that are running strong. But know they are on a lot of older machines and it is to be thought of.
I check my machine before and after every run and make sure the oil is always at the top of the dipstick. Learned via this forum that it is of great importance that the oil level in a Tecumseh is maintained top level at all times. Briggs are great engines from what I have read on here and of course Honda and a lot of the new Chinese engines as well seem to be very strong and reliable thus far but being new to our market it is still in the learning curve. But from all on here so far so awesome!!!!

All new snowblowers from 2013 on pretty much have Chinese engines if no one mentioned that and that is not a knock at all because they seem to be real good engines but if you are a snowblower newbie thinking you would be buying an all American product(ariens) all snowblowers from here on out have Chinese engines. I believe last year you could buy a 302cc or 342 cc and they were still mostly American made engines via briggs...but I believe even Briggs after 2013 has gone to all Chinese manufactured engines who were the last to go. Just an FYI in your purchase venture.

I like Ray1962's suggestion best!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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If looking new, I would only go with Ariens, Toro, Honda, Husqvarna or Simplicity/Snapper..anything else, and your odds of getting lower quality are higher..

Scot
Where did you acquire this list? Consumer Reports? Husqvarna, Snapper, and Toro should surely not be on this list. There are really only 3 quality machines and they would be Honda, Simplicity and Ariens in that order of quality.
 

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Well said, SS22. I don't want to derail this great thread but I wonder if the "tecumsehs throw rods" thing could be that they were on almost everything from the 60's until recently.
 

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Where did you acquire this list? Consumer Reports? Husqvarna, Snapper, and Toro should surely not be on this list. There are really only 3 quality machines and they would be Honda, Simplicity and Ariens in that order of quality.
You are probably right about Husqvarna, I usually dont include them on that list..their higher-end models are ok, but their low-end ones can be lower quality..its a grey-area, but I wont include them on future lists..

But you cant say Simplicity should be on the "good" list, and Snapper on the "bad" list, because current Snapper's and Simplicity's are 100% identical! ;) exactly the same except for the paint and lettering..(this was not always the case, but it has been since 2005.)

Which is why I said Simplicity/Snapper..they are the same thing.

Scot
 

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New= a given shelf life(new throw away style manufacturing of today)...5 to 10 yrs....then buy new again. More bells and whistles but more apt to break in shorter time(IE: little things like chute controls, plastic dash cracking)

Used blowers pre 1995?=(anyone else can add to what year throw away manufacturing started in their opinion) are meant to be worked on and repaired. Better metal quality all metal parts mostly on these older machines.
I agree..but I would say Pre-1985..
the 80's was when the "Big-Boxification" got started, and it quickly accelerated through the 90's..but yeah, the exact date is unimportant, and open to debate..we know it was the "80's and/or 90's" when the cheapening of all products really began in a major way..

For myself, I would place the cut-off date at 1980, for tractors or snowblowers I would want to own..im only interested in equipment from the 50's, 60's or 70's..

Scot
 

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I agree sscotsman!! late 80's early 90's was the rise of Costco, walmart and home depot...AKA BIG Boxification!!!

nt40lanman I also agree with that a bit to... I do believe that Tecumseh is on more snowblowers than any other brand. But the flaw is there for sure.. You do not here of that on old Briggs as common like you do on Tecumsehs. But I love mine!!
 

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MTD and sscotsman....I think the new non-signature pro version of Simplicity's are the same as snapper/murray/john deere...but the signature pro line(model numbers starting with P (IE:p1732E) is Simplicity only!

Maybe I am wrong?
 

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Just thinking

You know a discussion like this kind of mirrors the 'lifestyle' we now live in. There was a day if you smoked, you probably had a Zippo lighter. When it needed refueling, you got out the can of fluid and filled it up. I have a Zippo that's about 40 years old in the drawer and it still works. I've even had the lid spring repaired by Zippo in the past on one, now that's a quality item. Now you get a disposable lighter when the old one runs dry, dump and replace.
You used to either use a bottle of ink or bought a new refill for your Parker, Schaeffer or other brands of pens. Now you pitch them and get another BIC. It's not as easy to find proper refills any more for a non-disposable pen.
If you had a TV or Radio break, a repairman fixed the broken part and you were back in business. Now you buy another one instead and try to find some place to dispose of the old ones. Just try and find a TV repairman that fixes parts rather than replace a circuitboard (best case if they repair them at all).
It's unfortunate IMO that so many good things that might need a little work here or there are now delegated to the trash heap and replaced with things that aren't necessarily better.
As long as I can find suitable parts or parts machines, I'll likely stay in the repair and rebuild camp when it comes to blowers.

My 2 cents.
 

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I do think if kids today knowing of todays technology lived in the 70's or even early 80's they would be so bored...

But maybe I do not give them enough credit.

I have an old Evil Knievel toy with the motorbike and windup starter thingy and my nephew played with it for two minutes. I played with that thing for at least an hour when I would break that out at his age... I swear because it didn't light up it wasn't that interesting to him. God the 70's were great!!!!!!!!
 

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Well said, I have been trying to get my 12 year old son to understand why I am addicted to working on old things with engines for years and he still doesn't get it. But I don't understand the Xbox addiction he has either. I even bought a heap of a go cart years ago and we worked on it together, then he rode it once and was bored. I rode my go cart for hours when I was a kid, it was the coolest thing ever. I hope someday he will appreciate how if you properly care for it, a 50 something year old hunk of steel can still work as good as it did when it rolled out of the dealership. Sorry to drift off topic there...
 

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So true. I think because we had to use our imaginations, we have more now. Also, we weren't so obsessed with germs and bacteria and didn't have the crazy allergies they do today.
 
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