I've just spent a ton of time reading all the old posts on this forum from Jan 2005 till present.
Lots of cool info. And a few hot threads... I don't tend to repeat such an event in this thread.
I see a lot of Ariens owners on this site. But I've not seen those owners knocking Toro either.
So I figured it would be a good place to share my story and get some opinions to help finalize my selection.
I'll tell my story, honest and true, but it will sound a bit like trashing Craftsman, or maybe not... maybe it wasn't the right tool for the job?.
I've been shopping now for about a month for a new snowblower and have come to some conclusions and have read a lot of "Facts" or better put "statements".
I'd like to run them by the crew here as well.
First, my story and what I'm dealing with........
15 years ago, after getting into a very bad car accident due to the permant damage, I can no longer shovel the snow off my driveway.
So in a lurch that snow season I bought what I could afford. How could I go wrong with Craftsman? It was such a deal.
It's 150ft long, from the garage to the street, with the entire east side is up against a 6 ft fence on the property line.
On the west side, no easy access to get ride of the snow.
It's single width for most of it's length ( 10-11ft wide), except for the last 25feet, it's a bit over double width - 25ft wide.
The 1st 30 feet ( starting at my garage), my trailer blocks me from throwing snow to the rear lawn... there's about 10 feet of open space between the trailer and house. So starting at the garage, traveling north, I blow the snow to that point on the drive way, across from the opening between the house and trailer. I make a mound on the drive way to Que up the snow. Then as needed I work on the mound and throw it to the rear lawn, easterly.
Then the next 44 feet of the driveway is between the house on the west side and and the fence on the east side. So I start at the mid point of the house and go southernly, throwing the snow to the Queing point on the drive way across from that opening to the rear lawn in front of the trailer, then once again as needed I work the mound and blow that mound to the rear lawn. I may do it several times so the mound doesnt become too much for the blower.
Now I go back to the mid section of the house, and start blowing to the street end ( heading north) of the driveway making mounds and moving it to points on the driveway and eventually to the front lawn. I can't use a plow, if I did, I would blow out my basement windows and fence.
And I'm at a dead end.. so I get the mother of EODs to deal with.... the whole front of my house is EOD, since I have to clear room for the mail box and for the mai truck to turn around and the double car width of the drive way.
I can amass 5 ft piles of snow with a 1 - 1.5 ft snow storm on my front lawn and on the rear lawn.
The drifts between my house and the fence have topped the 6 ft fence on a 45 deg angle once or twice.
The thing is the Craftsman doesn't throw very far, so on the rear lawn, it looks more like a sand dune and once the pile gets too big, I can throw over it.
And since it didn't throw far enough to start with, if I get too many snow storms I can have a problem if it doesn't melt inbetween.
And by the time the time I've made this dune, the snow has been moved so many times, it very compact and heavy and it's too much for the blower.
Been very lucky so far. And if I don't clean the drive way, with the melting and freezing we get, I wind up with ice and drainage problems.
So I have to get the snow off of the driveway.
I live on Long Island. One 2005 snow storm took me 4 hours to clean up, the other took me about 3 hours.
A few inches of snow.. takes about an hour and a half or a so. Never less than an hour's time.
So what I've been beating to death is a 25" 6HP 2stage Craftsman snowblower, which is about 15 years old now.
I'm handy and do most of my own auto work and home renovations,I can weld a bit and such.
All came in handy while owning the Craftsman.
Right from the get go, during the the 1st year, I blew belts. I'm sure to blow one or more belts for the drive or the auger during a season.
After using up all the ones I orderd from Sears one seasons, I decide to replace them with automotive belts, which must of tripled my uptime between blowing up belts.
After the 10th year of owning this machine ( bought it new), I called sears parts, once again, to order some more spare parts for stock so I can fix it when it breaks during the season and to my surprise they couldn't find my machine listed. After some discussion, the punchline was, they said..... "when a machine is 10 years or older, it's not in the system any longer since we do not expect it to still be in service" ..."and we may not stock the parts" I quote.
So with the p/n's in hand I was still able to get friction disk and cable and shoes and some other hardware... all came not in sear bags as in past , but it was either YTD or MTD.. I'd have to go out to the workshop and look. All were correct and looked just like the original parts.
I've taken that machine apart so many times that the threaded holes in the sheetmetal were gone and I had to put PEM nuts in for the case so I could still screw it back together and take it apart as needed.
The front auger gear box is now ratteling around with tons of end play on each of the inputs of the three shafts. I'm afraid of that just come apart in pieces one year.
It's time to shoot it and put it out of it's missery.
The engine still runs strong, it's a Tecumseh SnowKing 6hp... still starts well. Just started using oil this year.
At the 10th year, had to replace the carb. Over the years I've had to unstick this, replace that, de-rust this to get something moving again in the "transmission" or drive disk housing. I guess pretty normal stuff considering?
So with all my problems I figured I was just over working this light duty machine ( or it's a POS?). So I started looking at the Ariens. A friend of mine from NH says that up there the machine of choice, and he owns, is a Toro.
I started reading that the Ariens don't really have the quaility they used to and parts are hard to come by and there are fewer and fewer authorized dealers each year.
As I looked around, everyone here sells Toro. I can't find a local shop selling Ariens. A few Polound (spelling) dealers.. never ran across that brand online during my research.
Last year was the first time I saw the HD ( the big orange box) selling Ariens. After visiting Ariens' website, I found that HD wasn't selling the better grade of Ariens either.
I have a bunch of good local dealers selling Toro.
After looking at both machines, the Toro's at the dealers and the Ariens at the HD, it seemed that the Toro had heavier steal and impressive braces from the outer ends of the front housing to the frame.
I do see both as premium brands. But is the Ariens that the HD is selling apple and oranges to the Toro's at the dealers?
Do I need to be looking at a better grade Ariens at a dealer?
Or am I just not seeing a good comparasion since they aren't truly side by side?
Again I read statements else where saying that the lesser grade of Ariens doesn't use as thick of metal, no real bearings-just bushing and such.
I've come to think I should buy a 10hp 28" snowblower to get it as far as possible and to deal with my EOD and Queing piles.
Smaller opening and more power = more power to push out the snow that's in the blades as far as possible. Bigger opening = more snow with same power = less available pressure to push present snow out the chute.
I'd buy a 26" 10hp if I could. As it is with my present blower, I take 1/2 width cuts to keep the loading down with heavy snow.
I wanted the 11hp from Toro, but the auto adjusting scraping blade is getting bad reviews around here.... so two dealers say and they have the 11hp model to sell me, it's not like they don't.
And with the added price... ~$300 from the 10 to the 11hp.. not sure if I need the extra 1hp.. until I read that the 11hp is the OHV and a better series of engines from Tecumseh. Being on Long Island, we can get 2 inches or 2 feet. Either way it can start melting before your done cleaning, or the snow can start to turn to rain.. in which case you better start cleaning before it refreezes. So it's usually a very heavy snow, rarely light and fluffy.
And with moving pile to pile to pile, it tends to compact and become wetter each time , even if it's not warm enough to melt.
So been thinking big and tough and strong, real bearings - no bronze sleeves, so I'm not loosing nuts and bolts to stripping threads, and blowing belts and seizing things up. The funny part, I never lost a sheer bolt on the auger. My father as the same model, but track drive and a few years newer, and he always blows his sheer bolts.
So I've been drawn to the Toro, more dealers around and more service centers. 12months free financing.
I've been thinking atleast 10hp.. but still thinking about the 11hp (also better engine)... but the auto scraper and money keep bringing me back to the 10hp model.
Since I have a lot of spinning around, turning todo of the machine and of the chute ( kinda like a MA1A, I have to aim and shoot on the go to make the piles in the right place) , the Toro keeps my attention with it's stick chute control, over the fine and old reputation of the Ariens.
Every time the Craftsman broke, while I was turning wrenches and warming up next to the turbo heater, I kept telling myself I'm buying a Ariens.
So now it's time to spend a good chunk of money, and I've run into to the Toro during my research.
And honestly, if I couldn't find anymore info I would either be buying the 10hp or the 11hp Toro.
But as an engineer, the more data the better.
Can I go wrong with the Toro?
Any long term issue with the trigger stearing on the Toro?
10hp vs 11hp?
Is the new "automatic leveling scraper" a liability? (maybe it has todo with how much icing and heavy snow we get here?)
I see a lot of plastic on the Toro, my only real negative, problems?
(my plastic chute on my Craftsman never broke and for half it's life, my drive way was 3/4" gravel not blacktop like it is now, but that was the only real plastic "hardworking" piece on it.)
Sorry about my spelling, and writing. English was never my best subject, and I never can proof read what I write, I always read what I thought I wrote.
Not too much posion on those arrows please, " just the facts mam, just the facts".....
Thanks abunch and sorry about the long winded post, I guess I babbled long enough at the keyboard...
Long Island, NY
This is what we like to do during the summer...
older, but more camping/fishing pix... www.tdr4x4.com/dt/
And after the 1st snow storm last year, daughter snapped some pix after I finished cleaning and went to work...