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
I started, I knew very little
about them.. So I hit the
is my friend.
also went out and looked at LOTS of
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
the terms "snow blower" and "snow
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
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
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
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
are some things I learned about modern
For decades, Tecumseh has been the
primary engine supplier for the
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
a particular manufacturer has a stash of
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
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..
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
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
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
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
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
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
of 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
said all that, I agree with the many who
say its always much better to
buy from the independant dealer! for two
Quality assembly by knowledgeable
technicians. this is VERY important!
Service and support after the sale, also
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
look for a Briggs..
is making some low-end engines in
although I dont think they are used on
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
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
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
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
are probably a lot cheaper in
But January is when they are for sale..
January is when I need one..so thats
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?
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
machine is not "restored"...it doesnt need
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..
are several stories on-line about people
replaced their tired old original
engines with new replacement engines.
like an engine swap can be fairly
plan to keep in mind for my machine if
it ever needs a new engine...and
there is lots more information out on
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
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
tractor, the Emperor mower..very
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
a functional machine was the primary
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
went for the one with the electric
all original! certaintly not "restored",
but in good original
$270 it was mine!
loaded her in the truck and away we
1971 Ariens Sno-Thro
all original, no obvious modifications
to be in original,
un-restored condition. not bad shape for
think she probably even has the original
her on January 12, 2009, for $270.
planning to wait until spring to post
photos of my
machine..so I could clean things up
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!
as you can
see, looks quite original! nothing
changed or replaced..(im sure some
parts have been replaced over the almost
40 year life of the
machine..but nothing major.)
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