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jonb


Joined: Sep 16, 2005
Points: 10

Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Original Message   Nov 13, 2007 10:39 am
I was all set to order a Toro 20" model, but I see they've just introduced a new line that's an inch wider, otherwise pretty similar and doesn't weigh any more.

Anyone have the inside scoop on these? Same Toro quality?

http://www.toro.com/home/snowthrowers/index.html
This message was modified Nov 13, 2007 by jonb
Replies: 1 - 12 of 12View as Outline
67L48


Joined: Nov 8, 2007
Points: 12

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #1   Nov 13, 2007 3:32 pm
I don't have any inside info and I think they're too new for anyone to actually have used one.  I did look at them last weekend.  Toro has a new chute mechanism that's really slick.  There's a steel braided cable (like throttle cables on lawn mowers) on the right side with a "handle."  Moving this up and down turns the chute from side to side.  You'd still have to walk around to the front to change the chute "lid" up and down.  In the showroom, I loved the chute control.  Not sure how it would fare in the ice and snow.  I'm always a little concerned about adding complexity to things that are operated in a rough, extreme (temps) environment -- one more potential failure point.  Presumably, it would do fine, since the other Toro gizmos (joystick control on the 2-stagers) have seemed to work out fine.

There is also a new 5.5 hp 4-stroke engine.  Can't comment on what may have changed on the 2-stroke models, but I doubt that it's very much.  I like the low-end torque of the 4-stroke engines, so was glad to see Toro offer one.

Not sure how important 1" of cutting width is to you, but it was in the "insignificant advantage" category on my list.  Same with the 0.5 hp against most of the other 5.0 hp 4-str engines (e.g., Honda HS520).

No idea on quality.  I'd like to believe that Toro wouldn't sacrifice quality, so I'd expect about the same performance on the new ones as were on the old ones.  Someone who actually has used both old and new machines would have to confirm this, as I've never used either.

I started another post asking for comparisons between the various single-stage blowers.  Aside from a few people trying to convince me to go bigger (2-stage), there hasn't been much input.

Bottom line for me is the price vs. performance between the Toro 421Q and the Honda HS520.  The price difference to me was $170 and, other than the fancy chute control, I'm not sure what else the $170 gets me.  Neither was the Toro dealer.  Here was the conversation I had with him:

Me:  Why should I buy the 421Q over the Honda?

Him:  I don't know much about the Honda, but I know that Toro's are the gold standard that everyone tries to copy?

Me:  So?  What if the Honda did, in fact, copy the Toro?

Him:  Well, I'm pretty sure they didn't. [then he launched into a sales pitch on their service at their shop]

I'm not sure how on the one hand he could know nothing about the Honda and on the other hand know that it's not as good a machine.  Wasn't very convincing to me.  At no point did he ever mention a single feature about the Toro.  I expected him to at least brag about the new chute control, as this is truly a differentiating feature.  It was a little odd.  Of course, the Honda dealer was equally as unhelpful in this regard.  He'd used the HS520 and had lots of good general things to say, but at no point did he ever mention a single feature of the machine.  I think that the bottom line is that no one gives a crap about the single-stage.  Not online (much) and not in the dealerships -- they're comparatively low dollar items.

I'm 99.999% certain that I'm going with the Honda, at this point.  Just can't find a good reason to pay such a steep premium (nearly 30%) for the chute control.  I also get a free cover from Honda as an added bonus (though not necessarily a purchase driver).  Good luck.

jonb


Joined: Sep 16, 2005
Points: 10

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #2   Nov 13, 2007 8:53 pm
Well thanks for taking the time to reply.

I've had a little Toro single stage (the 16" one) for eight years now. Just had it's first service. I never maintained it, left old gas in it over the summer, etc, and it never failed to start and pulled though all sorts of crap that should have stalled it. So I'm kind of biased towards Toro 2-strokes.

Then I saw the Ariens is 22" and figured that's one less pass over the width of the whole driveway. Nobody seems to really LOVE the Ariens single stage blowers like they do their two stage ones. I'm sure the Honda is great, since everything they do is so darn perfect.

But with the prices so close, I'm definitely inclined toward the Toro without a good reason not to. And it does have the extra inch. Just wanted to make sure the new line isn't some dumbed-down, made by slave labor to meet Wal-mart's price demands model, or something.
oldcrow


If it ain't broke, try harder

Location: Northern MI
Joined: Jan 15, 2008
Points: 63

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #3   Jan 15, 2008 9:08 pm
Purchased a 421QE 4-stroke Power Clear from a local OPE dealer on Jan 2nd. This is by no means a conclusive report, as I have yet to actually push any snow with it. Here's my  sad tale:

I took the 421 home, filled the case with synthetic oil, and eyeballed the unit for loose/missing hardware. Everything looked good to go, so I primed, choked, and yanked the cord. It fired up on the first pull, and the paddle rotated smoothly. The engine was moderately noisy, and vibration is on the high side - but this is to be expected with a low-end L-head engine. The Toro uses a 5.5-HP Tecumseh Snow-King. Not exactly state-of-the-art, but probably adequate. I'll let you know later. As per the manual, I left the engine running so I could get 1 hour of run time before changing the oil. Looked like a slam-dunk winner - until the engine had been running for about 20 minutes or so.

Then, suddenly, I heard a screaching noise followed by loud 'clang'. The engine stopped, and would not restart. Took it to my OPE dealer the next day, and they informed me that the engine was blown - the connecting rod had shattered on the big-end. Ouch! They tried to order a new engine from Toro, but Toro was out of stock.  Hmmmm...  However, they were able to order a short block, and had my machine repaired in two days. This was covered under warranty, so I was not charged.

OK, so I bring the unit back home and fire up the engine. It's a little rough, but seems to be running OK (wondering if the head was damaged as well). After an hour of run time, I shut it down and changed the oil. Another 40 minutes of run time, and I'm satisfied that the engine is OK. Great timing - the snow was beginning to fall, and 5-8 inches was predicted. I figured I was ready.

Next morning, about 5 inches of fresh powder awaited my assault. Fired up the Toro, and took aim. Got maybe a few hundred revolutions out of the paddle when I heard a nasty squeal and the auger locked up. Pulled the inspection cover, and found the auger's drive belt shredded. It had slipped behind one of the pulleys, and just beat itself to death. Got out the shovel and finished the job. Grrrrrrrrr...

Back to my OPE dealer the next day. They had it back to me by the end of that day, stating that the idler pulley (which engages the auger) was out of alignment with the other two pulleys. This, they said, was a factory defect so I was not charged. They bent some kind of mounting plate to correct the pulley alignment, and replaced the drive belt. I'm not a happy camper at this point, but I took the unit home and hoped for the best. So far the auger/belt problem seems to be fixed, but we haven't had enough snowfall to test it under full load. I'll update this report when the next storm moves in.

I'm not necessarily slamming this model (at least not yet). Perhaps I bought that one unit that sneaked through quailty control, or maybe was just built on a bad day. Hey, it happens. If my woes continue, though, I'll expect my local OPE dealer to either exchange the unit or refund my money. That's something to seriously consider before you purchase from one of the big-box stores. The extra premium paid to a local dealer can really pay off if you run into problems like this. And, actually, I didn't pay that much more than I would have at HD  (who didn't have one in stock anyway). It's your call - but even the big-box guys aren't offering any deep discounts this time of year. Kinda like buying an air-conditioner in August, eh?

I'm hoping that my experience is just bad luck, and not indicative of this particular Toro model. On paper, the 221Q/421Q looks to be an improved version of the venerable CCR series. Not a bad claim at all - if they can back it up. I've had fantastic luck with all the Toro products I've used since 1975, and for that reason I'm not quite ready to write this machine off. The new chute mechanism is just too cool for words, and I figure it won't be long before the other big dogs offer a similar feature. The engine starts easily @ 5 above zero, and it IS a 4-stroke. Can't wait to test it in the wet stuff. The paddle design appears unchanged - which bodes well for reliability. The electric start works fine, and, IMHO, is well worth the extra 80 bucks. One sub-zero morning is enough to make a believer out of you. All in all, not a bad design. Maybe a Briggs/Honda/Subaru engine is all it needs. With this price tag, why not?

If there's a quality problem with the 421Q, you can bet that Toro will address that before too many units are sold. With a two-year warranty, they can't afford not to. I'm looking forward to letting everyone know how my machine performs at crunch time. Doubt if I'll have to wait too much long longer. In the meantime, I'd advise that you consider this model, but make sure you buy from a dealer with a service facility - just to be safe. More to come later.
borat


Joined: Nov 10, 2007
Points: 2692

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #4   Jan 15, 2008 9:30 pm
Re your comments concerning starting a 4 cycle engine in cold weather. 

I have the B&S ohv engine on my Simplicity and it starts first pull, every time, even at twelve below F.   It hasn't been any colder so, we'll have to see how it starts at thirty below if we see it    The only time I used the electric start was to ensure it worked when I first bought it.    These ohv B&S engines are beginning to garner my respect.   I've been a "nothing but Japanese" small engine aficionado from day one.  It seems that B&S have made some positive gains in their engine design/building efforts. 

oldcrow


If it ain't broke, try harder

Location: Northern MI
Joined: Jan 15, 2008
Points: 63

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #5   Jan 15, 2008 11:48 pm
Oh, I totally agree that the B&S engines are world-class. And, great value compared to, say, the Honda equivalent. Also, I prefer to pull a cord rather than plug one in -  it's a guy thing, I guess.

On a two-stroke, however (like my old Toro CCR3000), that electric start can make a big difference. OK, so I was a little slack on the maintenance - like running the same spark plug for 8 years. The first start of every season was made possible by the electric start, afterwards the recoil starter did the job. On the really cold days (like 15 below), I'd use the electric just to get the parts moving, so I wouldn't run the risk of overpriming.

Your mileage may vary, but I've found the electric start useful enough in several situations to pay the extra $$$. Probably not mandatory on a four-stroke, but my wife uses this snowblower as well. She's got about a four-pull limit, before I'm looking at 3-foot drifts in the driveway after work. Cost is relative - value is not.

If you've been snowblowing for a lot of years, there's a good chance you've had a recoil cord (or three) break on you. Words will come out of your mouth that no civilized person should hear. Just something to think about. Push the button, worry about repairs later - like late April.

The Tecumseh engine supplied with my new Toro will probably do the job just fine. That is, if the dang thing holds together long enough! Noise and vibration is not that big an issue when you're fighting 30 MPH headwinds pushing powder into your neighbor's yard. Reliability is my key concern at this point, considering the problems I've had so far.

In this respect, I'd feel a lot more confident if a Briggs, Robin, or Honda engine was under the hood. Not to mention all the other advantages of an OHV/OHC engine, including efficiency, quietness, and reduced emissions. My backup generator is powered by a 10 HP Robin-Subaru, which sounds about half as loud as the little Tecumseh in my snowblower. Vibration? Forget about it. No electric start on that puppy, but considering the price paid I can't complain. It usually starts long before I've pulled the cord out all the way. Now, I haven't tried to start it yet when it's 30 below out (more like 50 below with the winds here), but I doubt that many folks south of Duluth have to put up with temps that low for an extended time.

Maybe the folks from Toro are listening in. If next year's model comes out with a B&S (or better) OHV engine, eBay is going to be awash in the Tecumseh version. Including mine. Just my 2-cents.
mml4


Snow is good,
Deep snow is better!


Joined: Dec 31, 2003
Points: 541

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #6   Jan 16, 2008 8:27 am
I own a Toro 2450 with the Briggs RTEC 2 stroke. I bought it at Home Depot 3 years ago at 50% off figuring I could always sell it for what I paid. I use it for smaller  snow falls where I don't want to use my 2 stage machine. It has become one of my favorite pieces of equiptment.

 Why anybody would want to put a 4 stroke on a single stage unit is beyond me. You want the rpm of the 2 stroke in order to get throwing distance. The R TEC is absolutely reliable and lives up to it's guaranteed to start (GTS) name. More than ample power and less weight than the  4 strokes. I know the EPA hates them but if you can find one and are in the market for a single stage paddle drive get it while you can. 

Just a side note- I use Echo synthetic 2 stroke oil and you would be surprised at how little smoke the Toro produces.

Marc

This message was modified Jan 16, 2008 by mml4


SnapperV210P,Toro22177,TroyBilt42010Snowthrower,Craftsman Shredder,American Turbo Pressure Washer HondaGX200,Stihl011Saw,EchoPas260Trimmer Edger,EchoPB602Blower,EchoHCR150Hedge Clipper
oldcrow


If it ain't broke, try harder

Location: Northern MI
Joined: Jan 15, 2008
Points: 63

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #7   Jan 22, 2008 2:34 pm
After a short hiatus from winter, we finally got some real snowfall. About 7 inches of powder, with 16-18 inch drifts. It was about 10 degrees above in the garage (-5 outside), and the Toro started on the third pull. Now, I can give you a realistic critique of this machine.

One of the biggest drifts - I'd estimate 22 inches - was smack dab in front of the garage door when I took the Toro out. It chugged through the pile effortlessly. The throwing distance was impressive, too - far better than my old CCR3000 (which was no slouch). Granted, this is dry snow - but still impressive.

As I continued up and down the driveway and around the sidewalks, it became apparent that this little blower had some serious punch in the bottom end. As a certified 2-stroke user for a long time, I have to say that I'm changing my mind in the RPM-vs-Torque debate. This noisy, buzzy Tecumseh engine did not waver at all in the fluffy stuff. We got under 2 feet this time, but I have no problem taking on 2 feet or more with this machine. Yes - it's got that much grunt.

Just like all of the CCR series, the paddle sucks up snow like a vacuum cleaner. Including the mini-glaciers left behind when your better half decides to drive over the unplowed driveway. Two passes were enough to remove the stubborn packed snow, and the EOD performance was nothing short of amazing - it wouldn't choke until I got utterly ridiculous.

The cherry on this sundae is the chute director. Long after I had the whole machine coated with slush and snow, the direction control was silky-smooth. Some have questioned whether this feature is worth the extra money, I do not. With one hand on the bar and the other on the chute control, I've never seen a more responsive way to direct the blown snow. We rarely clear snow here in windless conditions, so this is a big plus. Unless, of course, you enjoy a rouge gust of wind spraying snow at your face. With this control, you at least have a fighting chance if you're quick. Not so with a crank-type director.

This snow event was by no means as bad as it gets here (Northeastern Iowa) - but pretty typical. Judging from the performance so far, I think I can safely recommend this model. Buy in the off-season, of course - and make sure you have service available after the sale. I think 4-stroke single-stage machines are the future. Nobody worries about emissions or smell when the blizzard hits - but less emissions and smoke translates into increased efficiency. I can't say for sure yet, but it looks like this PowerClear even gets better gas mileage than my old two-stroke. Don't dump your viable 2-stroke machine if it's doing the job, but do look at the newer 4-strokes when it's time to replace. I figure they'll only get better as more folks adopt (Hear that Toro? How 'bout a Briggs engine?).

PROS: East starting, great chute direction control, no mixing of gas/oil, gobs of reserve power, 2-year warranty, only slightly heavier than it's 2-stroke counterpart.

CONS: Reliability somewhat in question (based upon my experience), pretty noisy for a 4-stroke, engine rattles and shakes entire machine (less when auger engaged), price is high (if bought during the season).
67L48


Joined: Nov 8, 2007
Points: 12

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #8   Jan 23, 2008 9:34 am
Thanks for the update and glad that the machine is working OK now.  Though I went with the Honda, I'm pretty certain that they're both just as good in the performance/quality department.  Your story seems to be one of bad luck, in my opinion, rather than indictive of systemic poor quality.  I did like the Toro chute control.  Very slick.  But over here, I would have had to pay $170 to get it.  I just couldn't pay that kind of money for a cool chute control.  Honda's is a long handle that you can reach from behind the blower -- so turning the chute *and* changing the deflection angle can be done with one hand on the fly.  My neighbor has a new CCR3650.  Great performance, but watching him hand-crank his chute makes me glad that I don't have a crank.

Love those single-stange blowers!

Here is CO, there is no off-season price break.  Home Depot will slash their inventory in the off-season, but that's it.  The small dealers charge MSRP here year-round.  I had looked at snowblowers for the past 2+ years looking for a deal ... after passing on a $500 Ariens 926 and a $350 Honda HS520AS at HD in 2005.  Nothing.  If you live east of Michigan, then there are a zillion deals, auctions, etc.  In CO?  You think it never snowed here by the lack of snowblower auctions, resell, and dealer sales.  When there are listings, it's for unreal amounts -- bought new in 2002 for $1,600, barely used, $1,500 OBO.  Apparently, 5 years of use and rust doesn't depreciate a piece of outdoor equipment here in CO.  Yep, I'm bitter!  ;)  Tired of reading all of the "wait until the off-season to get a good deal" posts!  Where I live, it could be 105 in mid-August or 15 in mid-Jan with 10" of snow and the price of that snowblower is exactly the same ... and the dealers are just as unwilling to deal.

borat


Joined: Nov 10, 2007
Points: 2692

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #9   Jan 23, 2008 10:46 am
67L48 wrote:

Here is CO, there is no off-season price break.  Home Depot will slash their inventory in the off-season, but that's it.  The small dealers charge MSRP here year-round.  I had looked at snowblowers for the past 2+ years looking for a deal ... after passing on a $500 Ariens 926 and a $350 Honda HS520AS at HD in 2005.  Nothing.  If you live east of Michigan, then there are a zillion deals, auctions, etc.  In CO?  You think it never snowed here by the lack of snowblower auctions, resell, and dealer sales.  When there are listings, it's for unreal amounts -- bought new in 2002 for $1,600, barely used, $1,500 OBO.  Apparently, 5 years of use and rust doesn't depreciate a piece of outdoor equipment here in CO.  Yep, I'm bitter!  ;)  Tired of reading all of the "wait until the off-season to get a good deal" posts!  Where I live, it could be 105 in mid-August or 15 in mid-Jan with 10" of snow and the price of that snowblower is exactly the same ... and the dealers are just as unwilling to deal.



Buy elsewhere and have it shipped in.  You'd be surprised how little shipping can be.  Often it's free.  I live in a town where vendors have the same attitude.  Top dollar for everything.  MSRP is the rule.  I have learned to e-shop and buy thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from the U.S.    I have it shipped to a business at the border that handles parcels machinery, automobiles, motorcycles, atvs....you name it,  for cross border shoppers.  They charge a nominal fee for handling.  I have saved literally thousands of dollars doing this.  I will give the local business an opportunity to make a sale and attempt to negotiate a reasonable price.  They usually sand bag so I almost always end up buying out of town.   I do my own repairs and don't worry about repairs on everything with small engines.  For instance, I shopped for a leaf blower/vac in town.  Dealer wanted $250.00 for it.  I asked for a 10% reduction.  No can do.  I told the local dealer that I'll buy it out of the U.S. for $175.00.  His reply was that I wouldn't have a warranty.  I told him that the $75.00 I'll be saving will buy a lot of parts and I'll do the work myself.  Didn't make a difference to the dealer so I ordered it out of the U.S.  Warranties on well established quality products are virtually redundant.  I cannot recall anything I've bought in the last twenty years that required warranty work other than my nightmare Ford F150 from hell that  have since Iong parted with in favour of a Toyota.   And I buy a lot of stuff!   
oldcrow


If it ain't broke, try harder

Location: Northern MI
Joined: Jan 15, 2008
Points: 63

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #10   Jan 23, 2008 1:47 pm
67L48 wrote:
Thanks for the update and glad that the machine is working OK now.  Though I went with the Honda, I'm pretty certain that they're both just as good in the performance/quality department.  Your story seems to be one of bad luck, in my opinion, rather than indictive of systemic poor quality...

Love those single-stange blowers!

...Tired of reading all of the "wait until the off-season to get a good deal" posts!  Where I live, it could be 105 in mid-August or 15 in mid-Jan with 10" of snow and the price of that snowblower is exactly the same ... and the dealers are just as unwilling to deal.


Yup, I agree. In spite of the chute control, I would have bought the Honda in a heartbeat - if one was available. I'm sure I would have been much more satisfied with Honda's engine (you kidding?), and if I decided to sell there's no doubt I'd find a willing taker.

Strange that snowblower prices in CO remain fixed like that. I would have figured sales volume would encourage competition among the numerous dealers. Guess they just went the other way - you know, the "Screw the Consumer" school of business. Methinks there is a statewide OPE association at the bottom of this plot. Imagine that.

I live west of the Mississippi, but I can assure you that deals are possible here. Usually, around mid-April the first of the markdowns appear, and the patient buyer may find a 50% off deal in May of June. Of course, this assumes that the unit you want is still available - many of the Hondas, Ariens, and Simps are out of stock by February. You also must account for seasonal differences - a mild winter generally means a suplus of stock - therefore a better chance to deal.

You have a better chance of finding what you want online, but shipping costs can offset an otherwise good deal. From what I've seen, many dealers or auctions offering "free shipping" will adjust their selling price accordingly. No free lunch, folks. However, patience can pay off for the savvy Internet buyer. Sounds like the way to go in your neck of the woods.

I feel your pain, brother, since I was forced to buy a snowblower in January! I suppose once you amortize the cost over 8 or 10 years, it's a lot easier pill to swallow. Sure beats shovelling.
oldcrow


If it ain't broke, try harder

Location: Northern MI
Joined: Jan 15, 2008
Points: 63

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #11   Feb 22, 2008 12:57 pm
Well, it's been an interesting winter. More snow than usual, and bitter cold like I haven't seen in 5 years. This was not the season to rely on a shovel - I'm feeling a lot better now about buying at January prices.

My little Toro 4-stroke handled most of the snow events with ease. It rips through powder like nothing - I pushed it into 26" with no problem. Wet snow is a different story, though. We've had a couple of major wet snowfalls since my last writing, and I have to say this single-stage machine was really laboring. It did get the job done, but often required a lengthy smash-and-backup routine when the depth went above 20".

In all fairness, this type of duty is probably beyond the machine's capabilities.Fortunately, this is only an occassional event here. The engine did surprisingly well in the wet stuff, until this last snowfall - which was nearly slush it was so full of moisture. Took twice as long as normal to clear the drive and walkways, and chute clogging was a real problem. I finally was able to tax the engine to the point where it stalled, but you wouldn't believe how thick and heavy this snow/slush mixture was. I think a small 2-stage model would have bogged down in this slop as well.

I'm givng the new Toro good marks for performance. Most winters aren't as bad as this year, so I doubt if I'll be pushing it to the limit very often. That said, it's an excellent dry snow machine - with more wet snow capability than you might expect. The chute control continues to impress me, but the extra cost is a bit hard to accept. By the way, the chute did freeze up after use (as they all do), but I'm happy to report that it took very little effort to break it loose - and the control still worked smoothly. The crude feel of the engine still bugs me somewhat, but not enough to break the deal. Think I'll be hanging on to this machine for now.

If you're in an area than normally gets less than 70" a year and you don't have a 500' driveway to clear, I'd say this Toro will do fine as your primary blower. For the bigger snow, a 2-stage can't be beat - but this little unit is quite capable in a pinch.
This message was modified Feb 22, 2008 by oldcrow
MN_Runner


Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Joined: Dec 5, 2010
Points: 616

Re: Toro's new Power Clear single-stage models
Reply #12   Feb 1, 2011 11:10 pm
oldcrow had no issues blowing 26" snow with his Toro SS so he must have a superior technique.  Perhaps, oldcrow can share his secret technique so we can master it.
Replies: 1 - 12 of 12View as Outline
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