Pros: Fits in my garage, not too heavy, throws snow, handles the dreaded "end of drive"
Cons: Have to grab the chute to adjust the height of snow thrown.
Last season I purchased the 7.5HP version of the Ariens Compact Sno-Trow Model 7524E.
The Compact Sno-Thros are Ariens entry-level 2 stage snow throwers. Ariens also offers larger machines that they call the Professional, Classic, and Deluxe lines. Ariens also offers single stage throwers as well.
The Compact Sno-Thros come in 2 different widths, those being 20 and 24. They also come in several different engine sizes. The model number generally identifies the engine size, width, and options. For 7524E= 7.5HP engine, 24 width, electric start. Depending on which model you choose the Sno-Thro will be equipped with either a Tecumseh or Briggs and Stratton engine. Opinions on engine manufacturers are all over the spectrum. It seems people either hate or love a particular manufacturer. However I personally feel that you cant go wrong with either. Tecumseh does claim that 8 out of 10 snow blowers sold has one of their engines on it. My 7524E has a 7.5HP Tecumseh Snow King that has so far been trouble free but honestly only has less than 10 hours on it as I write this. If you find a 7524E that was manufactured in 2005 it may have either a Tec or Briggs engine. Apparently Tec couldnt keep up with demand last year and Ariens had to switch to Briggs mid season. This year the 7HP version has a Tec engine and the 8.5HP version has a Briggs, so take your pick. There is no 7.5HP version this year. You should also be aware that last year Tec had a recall on some of their engines. The fuel line could become disconnected from the gas tank.
Even thought the 7.5 HP version is not made this year there seems to be no difference in this years models besides the engines offered.
The 24 Sno-Thros offers: (with my comments surrounded by * * )
Pin-Lock Axle:, *This snow thrower is self-propelled. There are pins to insert to connect each wheel to the drive shaft. If the pins arent in, the self propel mechanism will not move the thrower. So, why do they do they have pins? If the machine is off you want the pins out so you can easily move the machine around. With both pins in you get maximum traction when you have the self-propel engaged. However with both pins in it is difficult to turn the unit while you are using it, so you may want to leave one pin out. I have found that the machine is light enough to muscle it around with both pins in. If the machine was 26 I would probably leave one pin out for the turning. Higher priced Ariens machines offer remote pin disconnection to assist in turns but these models do not offer that feature. *
120V Electric Starter: * Great for cold weather starting, but I have never had to use it. Mine has always started on the second pull when cold. *
Variable Speed Disc-O-Matic Drive: * This is a proven transmission that Ariens developed and are the only MFG to offer it. It has been around for a long time and it is very reliable *
6 Forward and 2 Reverse Speeds * You can find a forward speed to make you happy. The two reverse speeds are pretty slow *
Briggs or Tec Engine
12 Three-Blade Impeller
Manual Deflector Control * If you want to adjust the height of the snow being thrown you are going to need to reach over to the top of the chute and make the adjustment. More expensive models have a control on the handlebars for this.
Aggressive 13 x 4 Trac Tires * Ariens claims that with these tires you will never needs chains. So far I have no reason not to believe that statement *
THF Chute: *The output chute is higher than competing models and is also made out of metal where others use plastic.*
Durable Aluminum Gear Case
Heavy Duty Reversible Skid Shoes: *Skid shoes ride along the ground as the thrower moves. They are made of metal and located under the intake of the machine. They are height adjustable. They will wear down overtime and you can simply flip them over when they do. I have no idea how long they last. Ive only been through 1 season and see no noticeable wear. *
Clean-Out Device * This is a great feature. Every snow thrower has the potential to clog and you absolutely dont want to stick your hand in the chute even with the machine off. If the machine clogs you would normally need to go find a broom handle to clear it. But now you just simply have a go at it with the clean out device that is attached to the machine. Ensure the engine is off whenever you use it and keep your hands clear from moving parts as they have the potential to spin when freed from the clog.
195 Degree 2.5X Quick Turn Chute * This control is near the handle bars. The chute can be turned 195 degrees in 2.5 turns of the crank. A nice feature *
Made in the U.S.A.
How the machine operates:
After you have the proper amount of oil and have filled the tank with gas you are ready to start the machine. Turn the speed control to fast, turn the choke to on give the primer about 5 hits and pull the rope. Hopefully by the second pull your engine is sputtering to life and you can start to slowly turn back on the choke. Within 5-10 minutes the engine should run just fine with the choke fully off. You dont have to wait for the engine to completely warm before using the machine. Just make sure it is running smooth at full throttle.
Set a forward/reverse speed that you want and assuming that you have 1 or 2 pins in the drive shaft the machine will move when you squeeze the left handle. When you squeeze the right handle the auger will start to turn and now you are throwing snow. If you need to stop the auger or motion of the machine simply let go of either the left or right handle.
When you are done destroying snow you want to store the machine someplace where it wont have the opportunity to freeze up. If it does you will have a heck of a time starting it the next time. I store mine in the garage and it does just fine in there.
Buying a snow thrower is pretty complicated because of all of the available options available. First decide if you want a 1 or 2 stage, then decide on what size, finally decide on any extra features you may want, such as heated handlebars. One thing you can do is poke around and see what your neighbors are pushing around. When shopping, great deals on these machines can be had in mid to late January as stores such as HD are looking to unload their inventory. So if you are willing to go with the shovel for the first half of winter you can save a lot of coin by waiting, sometimes 40%. Keep in mind that if you have a bad winter those machines may vanish before its end of season blow out time. Thats the risk you take by waiting.
I decided on the 7524E for the following reasons:
I wanted a two stage that was small enough to fit in my garage with the cars.
I thought that I needed a 7.5HP engine, but maybe the 5.5 is really good enough too?
I didnt need/want any fancy features.
So in short, I think this machine is great and I hope it hangs around for many years to come.
1 stage or 2 stage
Here are some things to think about if you dont know if you want a 1 or 2 stage.
If you get a lot of snow, several feet a year or more, you probably want a 2 stage.
A 1 stage machine is lighter and uses a 2 stroke engine that you mix oil/gas. They are also easier to store, some can be hung on walls.
A 2 stage machine is heavier, takes up more storage space and uses a 4 stroke engine.
A 1 stage machine uses a rubber auger. The auger is used as the self propel mechanism.
A 2 stage machine is the machine to get if you want it to handle the end of drive mess left by snowplows at the bottom of your driveway.