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Discussion Starter #1
Really, how bad or good are the different brands for brand new machines ? Maybe by design, there are better ones, but nowadays most 2-stage blowers are nearly identical. If any company made at truly inferior product, they certainly would not be making them now. Other than some innovations that have failed, most machines should last 10 years in the hands of home owners.

I'll be upgrading from my old Gilson. It looks like the impeller shaft bearing needs to be replaced. There is clunking coming from the gears when I move the blower in neutral.
 

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yes, most are "good"..but some are just "good" while others are actually "better than good"..Its like with cars..Its just a fact that a new Honda is a much more reliable and higher-quality machine than a new Chrysler or Kia..with cars, snowblowers, and many other things, they all "look the same" at a casual glance, but there are genuine differences in quality once you dig deeper. Personally I would put snowblower brands into three tiers:

Best, highest quality, can last 40 years easily:

Ariens
Toro
Honda
Briggs brands: (Briggs & Stratton, Simplicity, Snapper, Brute)

I would only choose from the above four manufacturers, if buying new.
Although Toro moved their 2-stage production to Mexico, so I personally would no longer buy a new Toro for that reason alone..although the actual impact on quality is unknown.

"Good", probably fine, for 5 to 10 years, but not as good, and wont last as long as the above names:

Any MTD (Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Yard Machines, and some others.)
Any Craftsman.
Husquvarna and Poulan.

Never ever buy..ever.. all the 100% Chinese brand names, these names have documented cases of very poor quality..some of them have been discussed by people in this forum, who bought one before understanding what they were buying..the reviews are not good:

Echelon
Huskee
Mansfield
Powerland
powRcraft
Snow Beast
Snow Joe
Stanley
World Lawn


Scot
 

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If any company made at truly inferior product, they certainly would not be making them now.
The sad thing is, there are truly inferior products being made, and sold, all the time..in the case of snowblowers, its those 100% made in China machines..so why do they sell? because people *dont know* they are truly inferior before they buy them! and many people want things as cheap as possible..So there are manufacturers who are perfectly willing to oblige..if the snowblower dies after one or two uses, usually the buyer can get a refund..but if it dies after one or two years, they are usually out of luck..they then go out, older and wiser, and buy an Ariens, Toro or Briggs machine..meanwhile, the Chinese manufacturer already got their money, and they continue to claim more victims..

It is actually true that some new snowblowers will last a year or two..maybe 5 at the most if you are really lucky..while there are a ton of 30, 40 and 50 year old Ariens machines still going strong. I think that by law, as long the machine *actually works*, even for a short time, its perfectly legal..they only have to be *just* good enough to move snow once or twice..maybe a year tops, and thats "good enough" for a low-end Walmart snowblower..if it dies 2 years later because it really is THAT bad in quality, the answer from the govt and the cheap manufacturers is: "oh well..too bad..you got what you paid for, you should have researched things better if you wanted something better.."..

I think the problem is that Americans haven't quite figured out that this kind of thing is happening yet! ;) We are still used to the many past decades of *actual* good quality products being made..and *only* good quality products being made..especially when it comes to items that cost several hundreds of dollars..We haven't yet quite grasped the concept that when we demand, as a society, everything to be ultra-cheap..we are getting it..with the ultra-cheap quality to match..In the 1960's and 70's you couldn't BUY a snowblower with the low quality you can find today! they didn't exist..even the least expensive machine was still "good quality"..that is no longer the case today.

Scot
 

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I agree with the basic premise the most snow blowers currently produced are "serviceable" under normal snowfall conditions. However, I believe there are three components that separates the "average" snow blowers from the "elite" snow blowers: 1) Performance 2) Price and 3) Reliability/Longevity. Yeah, most "middle-of-the-road/"average" snow blowers on the market do a pretty fair job moving the light dry snow without too much trouble. However when the snow starts getting wet/heavy, temperatures start dropping, and the wind starts howling, that's when we separate the tools from the toys. There's no question the premium brands cost more, but when conditions are at their worst, these high end machines have a well established track record for reliability and performance. I'm not saying the average middle-of-the-road machines can't perform under these same conditions, however you might find that it takes more time and physical effort to start and complete the job. My suggestion would be to consider the premium brands (Honda, Toro, Ariens, etc.) and buy a unit that best suits your needs. If you decide to go with the "middle-of-the-road" brands, I suggest going with a unit with the most available power. Nothing worse than having an underpowered snow blower in the middle of a severe winter.
 

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I would rather fix the Gilson that buy something off of scotts " good " or " never buy " list
 

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I think the problem is that Americans haven't quite figured out that this kind of thing is happening yet! ;) We are still used to the many past decades of *actual* good quality products being made.
Scot
Just give it a few more decades and nobody will even remember what quality is. Everybody is going to be stuck re purchasing the same junk over and over. And every new purchase will probably be automatically monitored, categorized, and logged by google.
 

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Just give it a few more decades and nobody will even remember what quality is. Everybody is going to be stuck re purchasing the same junk over and over. And every new purchase will probably be automatically monitored, categorized, and logged by google.
They have been saying that for years. Yet, most daily use electronics that service us well day to day are made in China (much lauded Apple quality for instance)

Where you make it has little to do with the quality, it's how much quality you are willing to put into it when you make it.

I'm from Canada, so buying from the states or Mexico or China is all foreign to me :D:p
 

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Discussion Starter #9
They have been saying that for years. Yet, most daily use electronics that service us well day to day are made in China (much lauded Apple quality for instance)

....
These are the same things that were said about Japanese product, just a few decades ago. Many Japanese products are made in China now.
 

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15-20 years, or so, ago we were saying that about Korean made goods.
20-25 Taiwanese.

It's just a matter of time before they step up. And there will be equivalent brands to Toyota, LG, and the like.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I would rather fix the Gilson that buy something off of scotts " good " or " never buy " list
I would rather fix it as well. The "bucket" was not aligned properly, somehow. The wear on the area where there should be a scraper is uneven. If I adjust the bucket to be level with the ground, there is a large gap on one side.

The Gilson's chute is a little to short. I have to double throw the snow, due to wind issues. After a few snowfalls, a wall builds up which makes it hard to blow over it.

When pushing the blower in neutral, the gears near the wheels make a clunking sound. I had to flip one of the gears, a long time ago, as the the drive was skipping. The gear was worn on one side.

I have to extend the handles so they are up to today's standard height, maybe 6-8 inches.

The impeller shaft bearing needs to be replaced. I think the shaft itself worn, I believe. I disassembled and reassembled the blower about 25 years ago.

Oh, and the hard rubber wheels are really worn. The shaft is 1/2 inch, I believe.

A doable project, but .....
 

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15-20 years, or so, ago we were saying that about Korean made goods.
20-25 Taiwanese.

It's just a matter of time before they step up. And there will be equivalent brands to Toyota, LG, and the like.
For the most part that is true. At one time Hyundia automobiles were considered very poor quality as recently as the mid 1990's. Now the Brand ranks among the best made automobiles available. Japanese goods at one time were considered inferior too. Now they are considered among the best in the world with Honda and Toyota being the examples

Tecumseh had it's day in the sun were they enjoyed a near monopoloy on snow blower engines. However they became complacent and failed to innovate and improve upon it's products. OHV engines with faulty compression release mechanisms and old obsolete polluting Flat head engines which were prone to blowing connecting rods. Honda came along and designed a small OHV general purpose engine back in the 1980's which won the world over with is smoothness, quietness and reliability and they are now the basic design which nearly all small engines manufactures emulate. I would like to see manufacturing make a good comeback here in America too. As to small engines being made here in the USA have unfortunately all have been out sourced to China now over the last few years.
Hopefully we will not be seeing Chinese made automobiles entering the USA market. Unfortunately if Warren Buffet has his way we could soon be seeing this happening. China for the most part is still the low cost manufacturer to the world. Since it is still a communist country their government manipulates it's currency rate to make sure it's goods are the lowest price on the market. Multinational copmpanies will go anywhere in the world to make things with the lowest labor cost since labor costs are among the biggest single expenditure of any company
Not all Chinese made products are junk either some products are also quite good. Foxconn of China makes the Apple I-phone and many other computer parts for computer which are sold all over the world.
 

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Whoops, I didn't think this would derail so bad, but since it has;

They have been saying that for years.
15-20 years, or so, ago we were saying that about Korean made goods.
20-25 Taiwanese.
I seriously thought I just made that up, I don't think I've ever heard anybody say it before.
The thing I've noticed that made me say it is the old Japanese guitars and amps that were once considered junk when being compared to the old American stuff. It is now considered to be pretty good when being compared to the new Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, or whatever stuff. Is it just a change of opinion or a lowering of standards?
Meanwhile my 60 year old made in USA Westinghouse coffee percolator just keeps making coffee every morning. :p
 

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Derailed? I dont think anything has derailed at all!
you asked a question, you are getting lots of in-depth answers! :)

yeah, its now dived into the politics of quality, and corporate decisions and policies..but really, that is what it's all about. All our products come from somewhere..someone makes them. when the entire world is involved, politics pretty much have to be a factor..

carry on! :)

Scot
 

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Thanks Scot.

I guess the older you get, the more cheaply things appear to be made, regardless where they come from. I remember when TV's were pieces of furniture, not picture frames. Cars where status symbols that bordered on rolling art, not miniaturized safety cages. And a tool was dependable, not questionable.

I may be older than some here, and younger than others, but I know that there has been a progressive cheapening of the quality of everything.
 

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I may be older than some here, and younger than others, but I know that there has been a progressive cheapening of the quality of everything.
I'm pretty sure this is the best quote on the forum, while retaining pertanance to our entire country. Couldn't have said it better myself
 

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I dunno about all this whinging over quality. Yes small gasoline engines have largely gone in the crapper, but there is a lot of stuff made today that puts past versions to shame.
I guess the older you get, the more cheaply things appear to be made, regardless where they come from. I remember when TV's were pieces of furniture, not picture frames. Cars where status symbols that bordered on rolling art, not miniaturized safety cages. And a tool was dependable, not questionable.
I'll take my hi-def LED 'picture frame' every day of the week over the "console" TV my parents had, with its cathode ray tube, ineffective tuner, abominiable picture quality, and nonexistent audio fidelity. And I'd choose a 2008 Honda Fit every single day of the week over a 1968 VW Beetle, despite the Fit's sheetmetal being a mere fraction of the thickness. The Beetle had no brakes, no heat, no control at speeds above 50, and even low speed front end collisions regularly broke occupant's legs. The Fit gets the same gas mileage, runs for a dog's age without cracking a single bolt on the engine or transmission, stops on a dime, handles like a gokart. It might be damaged more extensively in a similar accident, but the occupants are far more likely to simply open the doors, step out, wipe their brow, and walk away.

And good tools are still available. The difference I see is that there actually used to be good cheap tools, such as Craftsman, and that seems to have gone by the wayside. These days good tools = high price.

And for the record, I'm no spring chicken. :)
 

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As crazy as it sounds, we as consumers are partially to blame for substandard products. Cost is a huge factor when analyzing purchasing behavior. We want high quality products at rock bottom prices. From a manufacturing standpoint, those two components don’t always mix given that costs for raw materials, packaging, diesel, natural gas, oil, electricity, labor, employee benefits, health care etc.... have all increased dramatically over the last 20 years. Let’s face it, as consumers we don't like it when those costs are passed along via price increases, so manufactures are forced to implement cost-cutting measures elsewhere....inferior materials, cheaper unskilled labor, and less overall product for your dollar. There's only so much elasticity in retail pricing that consumers will accept. Most (Not All) consumers are willing to trade quality and quantity for price. That's why product "down-sizing" or “down-grading” is so prevalent these days as a cost cutting measure. Personally, I don't mind paying more for high quality products. I'm fully aware that there's a cost associated with premium high quality products and I'm willing to pay that price. What drives me nuts is when a manufacturer takes a successful high quality product and "Box-Store-izes" it with inferior materials to keep the cost down. Then that product becomes the standard for other manufactures and the cycle goes on and on. Again, sad to say, we as consumers are partially to blame for driving that trend. I say, “give me my steel snowblower discharge chute and charge me accordingly.” Don't cheapen the quality of the machine to appeal to the masses. Just my $0.02
 

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Albeit, I agree with most of both of you have stated, especially the picture frame. I really cannot argue with 60" of HD.

And yes, we as consumers are greatly to blame. We have settled for the item that is temporarily "good enough," without thought of any future purpose. Essentially, making a disposable purchase, to satisfy the needs of a fleeting moment.

Sadly, it contradicts most of what the folks on here try to do, in repairing and maintaining something longer than the next season.

Insofar as your Fit, I am glad you like it, but it would not be my cup of tea.
 

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I have an Accord with a frag grenade in the steering wheel and dash set to go off in the event of a collision that I would trade it for a vintage beetle in a heartbeat.
 
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