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oldcrow

Name John Keane
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Location Northern MI
Personal Quote If it ain't broke, try harder
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Date Joined Jan 15, 2008
Date Last Access Jul 15, 2016 8:32 am
oldcrow's last  
Re: Easiest Snowblower to Use
#1   Jan 20, 2014 1:15 pm
I've got a Toro 421QE, and would highly recommend that unit - or any comparable performer. PROVIDING that a single-stage will get the job done for you. Wet, deep snowfalls and EOD glaciers will choke the best SS snowblowers. But for moderate conditions, you just can't beat a quality single-stage. Lighweight and a breeze to maneuver, not to mention small footprint and easy to transport. Quick-Chute on the Toro is a godsend - you'll never want to go back to cranks or handles. A pleasure to operate, as long as you don't have too much area to cover. It will push 10" of fluffy stuff all day. My first choice when conditions warrant.

On the other hand...

When I moved to northern Michigan, I was asking too much from the trusty Toro. It got the job done, but it ate up paddle rubber (gravel drive) and was ineffective on the insane plow EOD. This year I added an Ariens 921035 28" 2-stage to my arsenal. Have had ample opportunity to try it out, am quite satisfied with it's performance. For the price, it's pretty hard to beat. The auto-turn feature works great, saves a lot of grunting on tight turns without extra grip controls. Starts easy and runs smooth. A bit underpowered, IMHO, but I haven't bogged the engine down yet. Chews through everything in front of it, even hard, icy EOM. No, it's not as comfortable to operate as the Toro, but even with my twisted back I can stand a 1-hour session without too much pain. That's been rare, though - the Ariens gets the job done in about half as much time as a SS, so I'm normally done in 1/2 hour or less. For light snowfalls, I still rely on the Toro SS.

It's always a tradeoff between the heavy hitters, and the sexy little paddle blowers. 2-stage units are more difficult to operate by design, but there are some big differences between brands and models. Look for a balance of [relatively] light weight and resepectible horsepower. Tire size, traction controls, and front-to-rear weight distribution all figure in for comfort. Don't forget the handlebar grips, either -  some models have you holding the grips at unnatural angles with can really add to fatique and hamper maneuverability. Ideally, get one of each if that's practical. But if you rarely deal with megastorms or snowfall over 10", go with a quality single-stage.
Re: Farmers Almanac predictions - how is everyone doing?
#2   Jan 20, 2014 12:09 pm
Up in Northern Michigan, 50 miles south of the Mackinac Bridge. Around 40" on the ground today, most of it coming steady since mid-Dec.. No thaws to speak of, the sun hasn't put a dent in my ice dams or driveway ice. Worst I've seen in 10 years. And it ain't letting up.

No big storms so far - a couple of 10" dumps, but mostly 1-2 inches a day - EVERY day. Pretty typical for these parts. The big story is the bone-chilling cold. Temp bottomed out below -20F several times so far, with unbelievable wind chills. What falls to the ground stays on the ground. Generator and snowblower have been getting a workout, and the cost for gasoline is ridiculous. Batteries on two vehicles bit the dust, one comepletly froze and cracked the case. Temp climbed to +22F a couple days back, seemed like Miami beach.

Gonna be a long one...
Re: Ariens back in the game again, a new single stage snowblower.
#3   Oct 30, 2013 1:27 pm
That does seem odd on Ariens' part. My local dealer knew next to nothing about the two machines I looked at - it was like shopping at Home Depot. He actually tried to sell me a Snow-Tek SS , bragging that it's bucket is 1 inch wider. Excuse me? The sales rag had less info in it than what I found on the website. Sounds like a real stealth rollout.

I dunno, maybe they're just trying to plug a hole after a couple mild winters. Come January, I'm sure folks here will snatch those machines up on name alone. The "Beggers can't be choosers" marketing strategy.
Re: What specific aspects of the Toro SS makes it better than the competition?
#4   Oct 30, 2013 1:04 pm
You can fetch throwing distance from each manufacturer's website.These figures are not standardized, and often inflated - but you knew that. Dry snow figures only give you a rough idea of what to expect.  In the real world...meh

I don't put much weight on individual featuresets - or even engines. Chute controls are the one exception - those can vary a lot. Toro has my vote on that one. Every mfgr pretty much offers the same options list, and all the reputable engines are built well. You need to do your homework to decide if you really need an extra 50cc on the same machine. Most likely, you don't.

No SS handles EOD very well. They're all similar in auger design and paddle material - I'd expect performance to be about equal when new. Not a whole lot to go wrong with this type of system, but I give Toros the nod when it comes to durability/reliability.

With the new offerings from Ariens, prices may start coming down to earth. That could really change the game. 750 bucks for a single-stage? That's crazy.

I've used SS Toros for many years, and they've all been tough little die-hards. You can routinely push them over the limit without breaking. I suspect I'm not the only one who pushes their machine beyond those limits. If that's important to you, the Toros should be on your short list at least. I haven't used enough other brands to really compare each Toro model model to the competition, but I know Simp, Cub, Honda and Husky owners who wouldn't trade for anything. Wouldn't it be sweet if dealers let us try before we buy?
Re: Ariens Deluxe 28 Muffler Question
#5   Oct 30, 2013 11:56 am
I checked out the Super Trapp, and it's quite a piece of work. I used to see those on supercross bikes. From what I've read, though, noise reduction is variable - these are primarily used as spark traps and tuneable scavengers. At $160 for trapp and resonator, that's too rich for my blood. But, that was a good jumping off point - thanks.

I found a cutaway view of my stock muffler, and it looks more like an arrestor than a silencer. Wouldn't take much to improve on that design. After more time spent on the 'net than I wanted, I still came up empty on a direct replacement. I did find countless home-brew solutions, particularly on generator forums. Some were pretty clever, many others were downright wacky (tractor muffler on a 5-HP engine?). But, I found nothing relevant to current Briggs snow engines. Disappointing, to say the least. Seems like a very reasonable thing to ask for on a pony motor.

If my machine wasn't new, I'd consider breaking out the torch and cobbling something big and fugly. Not gonna happen. But I am thinking of clamping some flex tubing to the generous exhaust outlet, and experimenting with length and direction. That may work well enough to take the edge off, without any warranty-voiding consequences.
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