Snowblowers and engine choices - Ariens vs Toro vs Simplicity and

bfguilfordOctober 25, 2005

I live on the shoreline in CT, where we get anywhere from 0-6 storms (6-12 inches) plus some smaller snowfalls per winter (and this winter is predicted to be on the high side). My driveway is around 150 feet (single wide with a slight incline for 100 ft and double wide plus and flat for 50). It is mostly paved except for a 10x20 patch in front of one of the garage doors (the one that I would likely store the snowblower in).

My budget is $1,000. So far, I am considering four snowblowers:

1. Ariens 7524E ($760), 24 inch with a 7.5HP Tecumseh OHV.

2. Toro 826LE ($899), 26 inch with an 8HP Tecumseh L-Head.

3. Ariens 926LE ($999), 26 inch with a 9HP Tecumseh L-Head.

4. Simplicity 8560E ($999), 24 inch with an 8.5HP Briggs & Stratton Intek OHV.

What would you recommend (and why)? Thanks.

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After reading the input on the ARIENS 926LE snow blower I've decided that's the one for me. I have one question: Has anyone used this blower on gravel? Is it height-adjustable so I won't be firing gravel all over the neighborhood?
Several references mentioned Home Depot as a retailer but their website doesn't show any Ariens products. Any information?
Thanks, Fred

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 10:05PM
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nor_easter(z5 MA)

Fred go to the Ariens web site for info

From what I have read around here the set up of the snowblowers from Home Depot have been less than adequate. Better yet why not support a local merchant that sells Ariens products, there is a locator on the Ariens website, and shake hands with the person who set up, sold, delivered and will service your machine if you ever have a problem. I purchased a 926LE from a local dealer in August and it was the same price that I have seen the ones at Home Depot being sold for when I went in yesterday.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 7:26AM
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There are only two reasons I can think of to buy a machine from Home Depot: 1) The nearest dealer is too far away, or 2) You think you have a better chance of returning the thing for a full refund if you aren't satisfied. Home Depot prices usually equal the highest price of any local dealer.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 10:26AM
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aesanders(8b Alachua, FL)

From your choices, I would choose the Ariens 26". Ariens has a long history of producing quality snowblowers and this one is a popular choice. Simplicity makes a very good product as well but the model in your budget only gets you into their intermediate level machines. If you increase your budget a bit, I would highly recomend looking at the 10560e model. They are around $1500 but this is their fully welded large frame model. It will be a smoother running and longer lasting machine (but costs half agian as much as well). All the companies listed make good throwers. Also, buy from a good dealer not Home Depot if you can.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 11:17AM
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newjerseybt(5b NE PA)

I bought both of my Arien's snowblowers from the same local OPE dealer. I have the 1128DLE and bought a 8526LE for my Dad last year.

If there is no other choice, only then would I buy from a big box store. I find that HD is generally cheaper, but my 86 year old Dad needs service more than a cheaper machine and HD is almost useless for service. I don't think they are allowed to even put gasoline in the tanks by law in NJ.

Toro's greatest competitive advantage is the one handed quick stick chute control design. Unfortunately it is an all plastic design. Last year there was a post in which a piece of ice cracked a plastic chute, but this is not very common. Toro has dropped their commercial line for the moment and have terminated their Power Shift models.

Ariens redesigned their all metal chute control for 2005 which is an improvement over the 2004 models as it is quicker and locks in position, but the pitch is a separate control. The hand grip levers on the Ariens are all metal which is not the case on many snowblowers in the $1000 price range. Ariens has a great 3 year warranty for homeowner use.

Nothing wrong with the Simplicity either. Their commercial models have a box frame design which departs from the traditional pipes that connect the handles to the main engine frame housing. In my opinion, that is Simplicity's greatest marketing edge.

Honda also makes great machine. Their greatest design advantage is their trak option which also allows the operator to change the intake chute angle while maintaining
a large foot print due to the trak design. Honda engines are highly touted in other forums.

The over all design of Honda machines are excellent but they tend to be a bit pricey in many people's opinions on this site.

Nothing wrong with any of the engines you mentioned. It is all about maintenance.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 11:22AM
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Are the Ariens and Simplicity dealers both nearby, or the same?
Although I own 2 Ariens that 8560 is a nice machine.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 11:35AM
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aesanders... I wish I could increase my budget, but that's not going to happen.

newjerseybt... Thanks for your views on all the machines.

Garandman... I have dealers for all of these options within 10 miles. One has Simplicity and Toro. The other has Ariens and Snapper (which looks to me like a Simplicity with some plastic parts - same size and same price). The Simplicity/Toro dealer is recommending the Simplicity. The Ariens/Snapper dealer does not seem to know his stuff (I felt like I was educating him and, given my limited knowledge, that's a scary thought). There's also a Simplicity/Honda dealer a mile away.

All (and others to come, I hope)... Do you see any advantages or disadvantages to the L-Head vs. Tecumseh OHV vs. B&S Intek OHV?

Thanks (and please keep that input coming... it is greatly appreciated).

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 1:03PM
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I have a Toro, so I'm biased. I love it. The quik-stik is great. Don't be put off by the plastic parts, they're durable. Based on your post, the only reason I have for not recommending the Ariens is your dealer. That doesn't fill me with confidence. If it ends up being a choice between the Toro and the Simplicity, i's probably a coin flip. Both machines are quality. So decide how badly do you want to save $100 and can you live with an L-head which some folks think is old-tech, or do you want an OHV which some think is the wave of the future? If you go with the L-head, watch that engine oil level like a hawk.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 5:15PM
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Need to know if gear box housing auger/impeller is essential to longevity? Arien's 926LE w/ aluminum housing (like most models) or 926DLE w/ cast iron housing. The price difference is big and the DLE has a differential for traction. I'am not a contractor, just sick of these deep Boston winters. I want a machine that is capable and can take a beating. Arien's is my choice but wich one? Does HP matter?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 6:50PM
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Most people do not purchase the Professional model because most residential snowblowers are only used about 15 hours a season. The Pro models do have substantially better resale value than a regular Ariens - which has very good resale value - so if you can readily afford the difference in price or take the financing deal, the Pro model is little more per season.

There are Ariens out there with cast aluminum gearboxes that are at least 15 seasons old. I have an ST824 that is 10 years old, for example, and has the cast aluminum housing and no worries.

The steel construction and OHV B&S motor of the Simplicity make it a better choice than the Toro to my mind. My OHV B&S 7.5 is much quieter than the 8hp Tecumseh L head on my other Ariens. They are said to use 25% less fuel as well.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 7:39PM
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aesanders(8b Alachua, FL)

I'd go with the dealer that seemed to know his stuff then. Either the Toro or Simplicity (I am a Simp fan so I'd get the Simp, but they are both good). I like working with dealers that know their equipment well.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 7:49PM
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My local Snapper dealer is blowing too much snow up my a$$. He wants $1300 for a Snapper 9hp/26" machine. I paid teh same price @ Home Depot for an Ariens 11.5hp/28" The Ariens has the following: Bigger tires, OHV Tecuemseh Sno-King engine, headlight, heated hand grips and a remote chute height adjustment. The Snapper has none of the above and has a Briggs Intek engine, which uses plastic timing gears. My dealer insists that the Snapper is a superior machine. Snappers are made in McDonough, GA while Ariens are made in Brillion, WI. I think Wisconsin knows more about snow than Georgia. Buy Ariens!!!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 8:30PM
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I thought the Snappers were made in Wisconsin?There a Simplicity painted red I own a Simplicity and im almost positive it was made in Wisconsin?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 11:11PM
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You may be better off stepping up to the Ariens 1128LE as this machine has the trigger control to lock the differential. The 926LE has the locking diff control on the wheel, which would be a pain to switch in a snow storm. I personally just bought a new Ariens 1232PRO(DLE).


    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 4:36PM
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airbearma(z5 MA)

I'm not familiar with the Simplicity but I do know that you can't go wrong with either the Toro or Ariens. My Ariens 10/32DLE has been reliable with no breakdowns in over 10 years of use so far.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 4:45PM
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I just found a really good Ariens dealer around 15 miles away. He actually suggested that I get the 926LE or, if I can afford it, the 1128LE. His feeling it that the larger 14 inch impeller would be important in wetter snow. Of course, that threw me back into the L-Head or Tecumseh OHV debate, along with possibly getting away with one less pass on the driveway due to the 4 inches extra width if I get the 1128LE. Right now, I'm leaning toward either the 7524E or the 1128E... the 926LE seems like getting half-pregnant (L-Head, no trigger lock differential, a little more horsepower, a little more width, bigger impeller). I feel like a boater who has a bad case of 2-foot-itis :) Anybody care to talk me into it or out of it?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 5:31PM
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Correction: I meant I bought a Ariens 1332PRO (DLE) model.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 5:53PM
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Simplicity's are made in Port Washington Wisconsin if you look at them and then look at a Snapper you will see the only differance is the paint and decals.njguy was that a commercial model?Seems like a good deal to me?Home Depot Ariens models are not the Commercial line and do not compare.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 6:20PM
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If you have now found a good Ariens dealer, that's great. Any of the machines on your list would handle the snow conditions you describe very well. Even the smallest one, it just might require 1-2 extra passes to do the job. That's nothing. An 11/28 is a big hoss. I wouldn't let any salesman try to just talk me into it unless I felt that machine offered something I really wanted or needed. I don't know how much the 1128 costs but I bet if you got the small Ariens and a small single stage to do your walkways, then you'd have the best of both worlds for approx the same price as the 1128, and you'd have a back-up. Something to think about.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 8:22PM
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Well, it came down to the Ariens 7524 and the Simplicity 8560 (I eliminated the Toro and 9 HP Ariens because I prefer OHV to L-Head engines). My wife eliminated the 11.5 HP Ariens because I promised not to spend more than $1,000 (she just doesn't understand the concept of toys).

After comparing the two again (and again and again), I'll be going with the Simplicity. It has a couple of features that I prefer (one-hand operation, an extra 3 inches of height and the slightly more powerful Briggs OHV engine). Of course, there are features on the Ariens that I prefer as well (the 12 inch impeller, easier to operate chute control and the $210 savings). Dealer quality is about equal as well, according to friends who know both dealers.

Thanks for all your help. Maybe I won't hate snow as much this winter!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2005 at 9:17PM
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aesanders(8b Alachua, FL)

Let us know how you like it after you get some snowfall. Sounds like you made a very educated decidion.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 9:20AM
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I know it's a little late for posting this, but my 2 cents:
I just "retired" my 1985 Toro 724 (20 years). Except for replacing a broken spring on the shift linkage I never had do any other repairs...only PM things like replacing the belts a couple of times. Even then I only did it because they were getting old and didn't want them breaking in the middle of some big storm. It was a very tough,heavily built machine. I believe the metal on the auger housing and sides had to be at least 11 gauge: like a lot of pro/commercial mower decks. Only complaint was at times I needed more power, mostly when we got a heavy wet snow fall. I sold it to a relative when I found a mint 1996 824 Power-Shift an older man was selling because he couldn't horse it around anymore (health) and decided to start having his driveway plowed. This guy was a fanatic about his equipment. Except for a scratch or two on the auger housing it didn't have a mark on it. It couldn't have got much use as you could still see the inked production numbers between the knobs on the tires! Anyway, he sold it to me cheap. I'm glad I bought it: we had an awful winter here in MA last year including a rip-roaring honest to goodness Blizzard. (25+ inches in places). The Power-Shift feature is un-believable. Shift it in and nothing stops the machine: it digs right down throught the packed stuff you get when you drive over the snow before you snow-blow. I finally got the 8HP I always wanted. I really love Toro products. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 7:22PM
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I am thinking of buying my husband a snowblower for Christams. Our driveway is half blacktop and half gravel (large pieces) approximately 20 ft. Any suggestions about what I should look at. Are there snowblowers that don't cost a fortune that will work on gravel surfaces. Thanks for any guidance as I am totally ignorant in this area. Judi

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 6:04PM
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Several years ago I too lived in CT in a town on the Long Island Sound though closer to Stamford than you are. The problem I found was that the snow tended to be very heavy and wet and often times the storms would change over from snow to ice and then rain. This required way more power from the snow blower than I realized when I purchased my 7hp 2 stage Snapper.

I would go for something that can really push out the heavy stuff, otherwise you are just wasting your time.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 6:14PM
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>>Our driveway is half blacktop and half gravel (large pieces) approximately 20 ft. Any suggestions about what I should look at. Are there snowblowers that don't cost a fortune that will work on gravel surfaces.Most two stage snowblowers can be adjusted to work on gravel drives. Having them graded before they freeze is helpful.

Ariens makes a Compact model 7524 for around $700 that is a good small unit, and Simplicity (8560E) makes a slightly larger model.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2005 at 10:29PM
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    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 11:20AM
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Might not be the right place to post this but here goes...just bought a Simplicity 38" cut Regent with a 20hp B&G. Question I have is get a seperate snowblower or get the snoblower, wheelweights/chains for the Simp or just have it plowed? Some have suggested a seperate snowblower and others say get the whole setup of course the other option is get the small plow for the Simp.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 11:11AM
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The big question is how long is your driveway? And do
you have room to pile up the snow?

I have a 1200 foot driveway. The last storm this winter - 26 inches deep - took me 4 hours to blow out with a Toro 826. Don't get me wrong, the Toro is a great machine - Tecumsah Snow King engine - but not for my drive.

I'm keeping the Toro and getting the 42" two-stage snowblower for my 06 Conquest. The Toro will open up the garage area so I can get the Conquest/ snowblower out to do the rest of the drive.

Enjoy the journey.

eal51 in western CT

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 5:00PM
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I have the Toro 826 and tried the Ariens, no comparison Ariens is the choice. The bigger the better, Ariens is so smooth compared to Toro.

The 9hp 26 path is a nice machine.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 7:40PM
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about 5 years ago i bought an ariens 8524 from home depot $1050.00, big mistake. i was a two stage snowblower virgin and thought "its an ariens" they are supposed to be the best. it has a 8.5 hp tecumseh that ran like crap from day one, locked drive system that leaves you exhausted after a few hours of snowblowing. from what i heard from people is that ariens made a cheap version for home depot then "they" stuck it to customers with the price of a good blower.i'm going to pull the trigger and buy a blower with all the bells and whistles, getting to old to fight my blower and the snow!!!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 7:33PM
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I own an Ariens Snow King 1130 DLE and have to keep replacing 2 of the the cables for around $60 a year. Not good for a supposed quality snowblower. I have an older MTD that still works and haven't had to replace anything yet. It also has a Tecumseh engine on which the carburetor bolts fell off and had to be replaced. Not a big fan of Ariens anymore.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 3:05PM
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This is a very old thread, things have changed at Ariens. The units sold at Home Depot are rebadged Husqvarna/Poulan/Craftsman and certainly not up to their usual standards. The average consumer simply will not pay for the traditional quality although long time Ariens fans such as myself will step up to the plate and go for the dealer only models. Having said that, it appears all models are getting an Ariens branded engines which likely means Chinese. With my experience with MTD's Powermore crapola, I will stick with an older model and repower with Briggs if necessary if and when I need a snowthrower, certainly not at the moment in southwestern British Columbia lol.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2015 at 9:19PM
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