Pros: It blows leaves and other debris without a power cord.
Cons: High decibel level (loud), heavy, lack of power, reoccurring engine problems
Craftsman 25cc Gas Blower (Model: 358.797130)
Being able to blow leaves rather than rake is certainly a benefit at my house. I have over an acre of lawn; raking leaves is the last thing I want to do in the Fall. Additionally, the blower is helpful to use to blow off the driveway and walkways.
I purchased this blower from Sears in 2002. For the first year, it ran ok. After that, it had issues with starting and running, idle times, etc. Fortunately, I bought into the Sears Maintenance Agreement for about $59 a year, for a three-year plan. Since the first year had no problems, I returned the item to Sears when I started to get problems. Sears did not repair the problems because they have continued since.
What are the problems? Well, first I would like to briefly describe the specs to you.
Item Type: Gas blower
Air Output in MPH: 200 mph
Item Weight: 12.4 lbs.
General Warranty: 2 year limited
Motor-Engine Displacement: 25 cc
Fuel System/Type: Oil/Gas mix (40:1)
Performance: Decibels: 72 dB
Options: Vac Kit
This blower does not have the Vac Kit, but it is optional. I purchased a different blower previously that did have the Vac Kit. I did not like it because the vacuum bag would fill quickly and get very heavy. As it is, the blower is already heavy. There is really no good support when working with the vacuum kit and bag, once the bag is full of leaves or other debris. It is a blower used for cleaning sidewalks and the driveway, but with effort. You can also use this blower, or any blower, to blow light snow off your driveway. Most people don't think to do that, but it does work well enough to remove a dusting of snow.
Sears sells similar blowers, so you can compare my notes to the blowers similar to this one. The blowers are all pretty much the same in this category.
The convenience of a gas blower is great. You can go anywhere with it and not have to worry about a cord attached at the other end.
The air output is moderate, 200 mph. With this speed, the blower power is significant to other blowers I've tested. You'll need a high-powered blower to move a huge pile of leaves. However, I have found the 200 mph isn't quite as powerful as you think. I find myself taking more time to blow leaves than it should take me. The other problem with the high output is the decibel level. Make sure to use ear protection because this blower will not only blow leaves and debris, but may also blow your eardrums. I always wear both ear and eye protection. You should do the same when using any power tools. The high decibel level is very loud and annoying.
The weight of this blower is a pain, especially after using the blower for more than 30 minutes. There is no back or shoulder support for this item. You have to hold the blower in one hand, occasionally switching off to the other hand because of the weight strain. I've found that after using the blower for a good 30 minutes, later in the day or when attempting sleep, my upper body is sore, particularly my upper arms (triceps) and shoulder blades. I'm not out of shape either, so the soreness can only be devoted to the weight of the blower and having to switch from each hand. In another review on Epinion, an author describes their experience with this blower as having hurricane strength power. I disagree. The author also says they have a long driveway and using the blower to blow debris off driveway takes less than 15-minutes. I too have a long driveway, about 130-feet long by 12-30 feet wide. It takes me longer than 15 minutes, depending on what type of debris is on the driveway. Why? Because of the lack of power with this blower. I have Pine trees in my yard, along with other trees that like to drop their leaves down. This blower doesn't do a good job with pine needles.
This blower specifically has a 40:1 (40-to-1) oil/fuel mix. If you mix less or more, it can cause problems with the engine, either starting or general running.
I still have the original box for this blower. The blower is described as a lightweight blower (nope, very heavy). It also says the blower starts with less effort. Nope, that's not true. After the first couple uses, you'll find yourself pulling on the cord a few times to get it started.
A couple problems I am currently dealing with are that the engine does not idle well and start properly. I have dismantled the entire blower, including the carb. Cleaned everything, changed the plug and even replaced the fuel assembly. The engine still does not start. Very frustrating having to deal with this problem repeatedly. With the Sears Maintenance agreement I purchased for this blower, I had expected Sears' technicians to troubleshoot and fix the problem. All they did was replace the filter and spark plug, charging me the additional cost of items I already replaced. I don't even know if they cranked it up because of the problems I have with it now. There are two adjustment screws on the side of the blower. I don't know how to use them but am told they are there for fuel adjustments. I've also been told that to fix my problem with the idle and startup issues, I need to clean the carburetor and filters. In order to do this, you need to disassemble the blower. I've done all that but still have the problems. It's not worth my dropping off the blower to Sears and hope they'll fix it again. It's cheaper for me to go buy another, but definitely not another Craftsman. In the past, the blower did run, but not well. I'd have to run the throttle halfway with the choke fully open at start. That would sometimes start the engine, but the idle would drop off killing the engine.
**Update August 2006 ***
The problems I discussed in the previous paragraph escalated significantly to the point where I could no longer use the blower. I forgot that I had a service maintenance agreement with Sears on this product, so took some time to drop these problems off to Sears for service. Within a couple days, Sears Repair called to report they could not repair the blower and they would replace it for me, up to a value of $120. This was really the only benefit from buying the Service Agreement with them and it finally paid off! I know Ive said Id never buy another blower from Sears again and I still would never. But in this case, Sears was going to pay up to $120 for a replacement. I replaced it with its upgraded model, which I will discuss in another article.
Is the Service Maintenance agreement worth while? Well, in my situation, it was worth purchasing. However, I have purchased many other pieces of equipment from Sears, along with agreements, but never needed them. If you do prefer to shop at Sears, then I would recommend you get the maintenance agreement for lawn equipment. Good luck and thanks for reading.
--- One final note ---
This blower is equivalent to the Craftsman 25cc Gas Blower with Vac Kit, Sears item #07179494000, Mfr. model #358.794940, now selling at Sears for $89.99. I looked at this model when I went to apply the credit from the old unrepairable model and found it was exactly the same item, with a new model number.