moved the story to this seperate page, because its rather long and
originally had this all on the one webpage, but then realised people
want to scroll
past all this just to get to the goods..(the info about the 1971
I moved this all over here to a seperate page, so people can read
they wish to, then they can just skip over it next time they visit the
story of how I ended up with a 40 year old antique snowblower,
I started out looking at NEW ones!...
wife and I bought our first house in 2006. For the last two winters I
bigger snowfall could take 2 hours to clear by hand! and I would
my back muscles for days after. (im not getting any younger!)
did get some help from a friendly neighbor, who would help plow us out
after the bigger storms, and while I greatly appreciate that help, I
I still really needed a snow blower for
own use. I want to be "self reliant" and be able to clear the driveway
in November 2008 I started looking at Snow Blowers.
I started, I knew very little about them.. So I hit the
is my friend.
also went out and looked at LOTS of machines!
Home Depots, Three Lowes, and about five or six local "independant
wont even consider Walmart.)
learned that due to my native snow fall amounts, I definately want a
machine..I never even looked at single stage machines.
the terms "snow blower" and "snow thrower"..
basically mean the same thing..but generally "snow blower" means the
single-stage machines, and "snow thrower" refers to the larger 2-stage
these terms are not etched in stone, they are not "official", and
term "snow blower" is used to describe them all.
of it as.. "a snow blower (single stage) blows small amounts of
snow off your driveway, and is good for smaller snowfalls...but a snow thrower
(2-stage) is more powerful and throws
large amounts of
you want to be technical, you can use the terms that way..but my entire
life I have only ever
people say "snow blower" to describe any and all machines, both single
simply used in the generic sense..so thats how im going to continue to
use it..rather than use "blower" and "thrower" to distingiush beween
stage and 2-stage,
simply easier to just say single stage and 2-stage! that way
are talking about..
I went out shopping for a 2-stage snowblower!
are some things I learned about modern snowblowers.
For decades, Tecumseh has been the primary engine supplier for the
probably the last 40 years at least and a major percentage of the
are considered fine engines, although I got the sense from lots of
general, most people consider Briggs and Stratton to be a slightly
quality engine, although Briggs has never been a major player in the
interesting viewpoint a few times, along the lines of:
its for winter, get a Tecumseh engine, if its for summer, get a Briggs."
Tecumseh is exiting the snowblower engine market starting right now,
years models, 2008/2009 season, will probably be the last regular season
will find Tecumseh engines on new machines.
a particular manufacturer has a stash of engines.)
leads to a "future support" question, which, while valid, IMO isnt
a deal, because there are SO many millions of Tecumseh engines out
that I dont see parts supply being a major issue.
Briggs and Stratton will likely gain market share, due to Tecumseh
Tecumseh leaving the market has also opened up the door for a new breed
in China. some are called "Chinese Honda Clones".. Basically a company
in China takes apart a real Honda engine, then tries to build and sell
copies of it..stealing the
of Honda research and intellectual property in the process..(and
not 100% duplicating the Honda quality..) Honda has sued over
of these obvious illegal copies..
is cloning entire
above four points are facts..the following is all my opinion!
only on personal observation of machines and lots of reading..your
one really knows how good these new Chinese engines are yet..they are
say they look ok, others say beware..
for me, the words "Chinese-made Honda Clone" dont exactly instill
I made the decision to completely rule those engines out.
looking for Tecumseh or Briggs engines only.
advice, when looking for a new snowblower, pay close attention to the
it doesnt have a Tecumseh or Briggs & Stratton label on it,
I would pass.
only for the questionable quality issue, but I also dont want to
dont know if all Chinese made engines are clones..but even if
arent, im still not intersted!)
leads me to an interesting snowblower myth I came across constantly in
myth goes something like this: "The snowblower manufacturers make
machines for the Lowes/ Home Depot/ Walmart market, they arent the same
machines that you will find at an independant dealer."
discovered this is simply not true.
EXACT same machines are being sold at my local Home Depot and Lowes
and all the independant dealers.. I checked model numbers.. all
the independant dealers have the exact same machines as the big-boxes,
and I found no models that were only at Home Depot or Lowes,
not at the independant dealers.
is no such thing as a lower quality machine FOR the big-box market
like all good myths, there is probably a grain of truth in there
believe what might have happened is this..
lower-grade machines are now being built, because of the
sadly, these days Americans dont really care about quality anymore. All
we care about is price. "I dont care if its junk, as long as its cheap!"
getting our wish..we buy
awful lot of cheap junk. This attitude has led to the great success of
Walmart, and the loss of all our jobs. (you cant make junk cheap enough
for Americans to buy it, if you have to pay Americans to build
why the jobs go to China, because we demand to pay less and less for it
all the time..at Walmart.) by the time we, as a society, finally "wake
up" it will be too late..everything will be made in China. You
still be able to buy it all at Walmart, but you wont have a job to pay
this all does relate to snowblowers!
back to them...Yes, its true you will find the "low end" machines at
the big-boxes carry the mid and higher levels too)
in my travels around Western NY, all the dealers carry the same
big boxes! they probably arent happy about it, but they have to carry
just to survive..
you are a dealer, and Home Depot is selling machines for $599, and all
yours start at $800..well, anyone can see thats not a healthy business
I suppose there might be some independant dealers out there who can,
all honesty and truthfullness, say "Home Depot and Lowes carry the
machines, I dont have those cheap models in my store".
that is true, its only due to that dealers personal choice.
if there are any dealers making that choice, I bet they are few...
havent seen any.
is the only scenerio where anyone could truthfully say "The snowblower
manufacturers make lower-quality machines for the Lowes/ Home Depot/
market, but I dont carry those models here."
in a general sense, its a total myth. there are not different models
the Big-box market. they are all the same models. However I
its quite likely that newer, lower-end models have been created because
the big-box market! (because people must have their
to the detriment of the entire industry, and that is likely what led to
this myth..but thats really a different scenerio.
said all that, I agree with the many who say its always much better to
buy from the independant dealer! for two major reasons:
Quality assembly by knowledgeable technicians. this is VERY important!
Service and support after the sale, also very important.
get neither of those from the big-boxes.
read a lot about problems with newer, quality machines..almost always
machines were bought from a big-box..and were assembled by people who
know what they are doing. I went to a lot of Big-box stores for
just to look at lots of different machines..but if I was going to buy a
new one, I wouldnt buy one there.
if you are looking at new machines, skip right over the $599 level.
if you do look at that level, take note of the engine!
you need to start at the $800 to $1,000 "mid level" to get a quality
when it comes to engines on a new machine, with Tecumseh leaving the
leaves only Briggs & Stratton and...China.
look for a Briggs..
Briggs is making some low-end engines in
although I dont think they are used on snowblowers..yet.
you are reading this several years after 2008, the story could be very
did all this knowledge leave me?
made me start looking at used machines!
it would be nice to pay $599 for a brand-new snowblower..but armed with
all this new information, and knowing what a $599 new snowblower
I didnt want to pay that much
get a low-quality, possibly trouble-prone machine..
be fair, many people have great success with these machines! im not
they are ALL junk at that price level..im only saying the "odds of
junk" are higher at that level!)
theory, I could have bought a new $800 machine..and I almost did!
was very close to buying a new 824 Ariens...I did a lot of research on
it, and it looks like a great machine! but with tax, its almost
I simply didnt want to pay that much!
though I was confidant it would have been a quality machine.
job market is very iffy, layoffs at my company have been rampant for 10
years now, and show no signs of stopping yet..my wife is still looking
for a job..we need to buy a new car soon..etc etc..I just made the
that I didnt want to spend that much for a new snowblower..its just a
more than I was comfortable spending right now...I just cant justify
kind of expense right now..
I started looking on the local craigslist for used machines...lots of
with all my new knowledge, I had a good idea of what to look for!
looked at a few older (5-10 years old) used $400 - $500 Ariens and
Toro's, but they
a bit "not worth it" based on the condition..of course it didnt help
I was looking during snow season! they
are probably a lot cheaper in April!
But January is when they are for sale.. and
January is when I need one..so thats that.
first I ignored all those 1960's and 1970's Ariens machines that
kept popping up on craigslist, quite a few of them! I probably saw 7 to
10 of them listed for sale over a span of a few weeks, just in my
surely I wouldnt want a machine that old..when it comes to
"newer is better" right?
already discovered there are a lot of new but not necessarily better
machines on the market right now..so maybe I should look into these old
1970's machines? see what they are about.. Google brought up some
reading! Check out some things I found:
Sno-Thro, in excellent original condition!
machine is not "restored"...it doesnt need to be
in such good condition simply because it has been very well maintained
over its entire life! a great example of how something of high initial
quality can last for many decades if properly cared for..
And there are several stories on-line about people who have
replaced their tired old original engines with new replacement engines.
like an engine swap can be fairly straight forward..definately
plan to keep in mind for my machine if it ever needs a new engine...and
there is lots more information out on the internet..
after reading these things about the old 1960's and 1970's Ariens, they
began to grow on me! I tried to resist.."I should really get a newer
I kept thinking..
the more I thought about it..the more these old machines made more
Money is tight right now..Ideally I dont want to spend more than $400
even if money wasnt tight..I probably wouldnt ever want
spend $1,000 on a snowblower! shoveling is a lot cheaper! )
Everyone says these old machines are built like the proverbial tank!
Even if the old Tecumseh engine dies, I can install a brand new briggs
engine for another $300, and end up with a $600 machine (~250 for the
plus $300 for the new engine)
would probably be FAR more reliable and well-built than any brand-new
the market today.
They are just really cool!
I'm about 1970 vintage myself, (1969 to be exact) so I feel
odd kinship with these old machines! they are the same age as me.
They are basic, (I can probably do a lot of simple work/repairs
well-built, 100% American-made quality.
with the 1971 Sno-Thro (youtube link above) says his Dad bought it
1971 for $371..doing a conversion,
$371 in 1971 dollars equals about $1,500 dollars today!
were NOT cheap machines in their day!
were quality, expensive machines! marketed and sold to affluent
out the cool vintage advertising, from an Ariens owners manual:
those hip late-60's suburbanites and their yard machines!
love the names!
VI and Jet tillers! (its the space-age!)
tractor, the Emperor mower..very cool!
though they may have been expensive in late 60's - early 70's
they are very reasonable! I have seen many operational machines listed
for sale between $100 and $300, depending on condition, and non-running
but fixable machines can be had from between zero to $50. many people
rescued them from the side of the road, after being put out with the
perhaps with only minor problems.
appear to be common as dirt..a lot of them out there! I saw about ten
sale just in two weeks of looking around my immediate area..so they
exactly collectors items..but thats good that there are a lot of them!
because its means parts should be readily available for a long time to
come, and many new parts are still available directly from Ariens!
this leads me to my only reservation..my only area of doubt..
one drawback I can see..the mere fact that these things are
first, most important goal was to buy a machine that actually works..
want it to "blow snow" for the rest of this winter..I can tinker with
in the spring!
wife wouldnt be too happy if I said "I finally got a snowblower! paid
good so far!) but oh yeah..its really old, needs a lot of work, and it
as a snowblower right now..(not so good!)
a functional machine was the primary goal.
a local guy via craigslist, who takes in these old machines, fixes up
sells them off..he also has an extensive supply of "junkers" and a good
had two listed for sale when I went over, one with an electric starter,
and one without..
tried them out, they ran good! plenty of snow on the ground, so I
them on snowbanks
along the edge of his yard..
showed me the basics, showed me what he had fixed..
went for the one with the electric start!
all original! certaintly not "restored", but in good original
$270 it was mine!
loaded her in the truck and away we went..
1971 Ariens Sno-Thro Snowblower.
She seems all original, no obvious modifications or changes.
to be in original,
un-restored condition. not bad shape for almost 40
think she probably even has the original engine!
I bought her on January 12, 2009, for $270.
I was planning to wait until spring to post photos of my
machine..so I could clean things up first!
wash off the dirt and grime...but I photographed her in January
instead, because the snow makes a nice backdrop, and this records her
in "as purchased" condition!
so here she is:
as you can see, looks quite original! nothing obviously
changed or replaced..(im sure some
parts have been replaced over the almost 40 year life of the
machine..but nothing major.)
On to Page 3, Owners Manuals.
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