Pros: Powerful, throws far, very light and easy to use, maneuverable.
Cons: Pulls to the left/right now and then, 2 cycle engine more Susceptible to gumming up(?)
We recently purchased a Toro Powercurve 3650GTS snowthrower. It has gotten quite a workout already this year!
WHAT WE BLOW:
We primarily blow snow from walks and as well as two car driveway. I also like to blow snow along my curb, out say about 10 feet or so to create some off street parking.
WHY A SINGLE STAGE:
We were replacing an 7 year old single sage Simplicity that was not running well anymore. 2 stage engines always seem to be more trouble, they are very sensitive to the gas/oil placed in them and many times become gummed up and won't start when you need them. My Simplicity could have been serviced but it never threw the snow very far and I always felt like it was underpowered in the street where the snow is always heavier after the plow goes through. We were all set to purchase a 5hp dual stage Ariens when my brother-in-law turned us on to this Toro model. He said with its 6.5 horses it would outperform the Ariens and be more manueverable. He said the gas should not be an issue. After discussing the gas issue with the dealer (*see note at end*) we bought the Toro.
WHY THE TORO BRAND:
Toro has an excellent reliabilty record. I own a Toro lawn mower and riding mower and have never had any problems. Plus I really like the Toro shop by my home. It also has a 3 year warranty....Guaranteed to Start on the first or second pull...so long as you have not gummed it up with bad gas. Finally, the thing is VERY easy to service. I am no mechanic mind you. Only 2 screws separate you from changing the plug and even dropping the carb bowl to empty it out at the end of the season. I would have had to actually remove the chute on my old blower if I wanted to do any servicing.
The unit has always started on the first or second pull. I did not opt for the Electric start (no convenient spot to pug in in) and is does not appear I will miss it. Just throw the choke over, prime 4 times and pull.
The unit blows snow much farther than I expected. I actually had to adjust the chute so it would not blow the snow too far. Heavier/wetter snow was thrown the furthest but surprisingly, the light fluffy stuff went real far too. It even threw slush several feet. It looked like a big slush worm coming out but it did throw it. The chute is easy to adjust and never once clogged. It does a fair job of getting down to the pavement. I expected a little better but most will be satisfied. Perhaps there is even an adjustment to get it closer....I likely will just leave it the way it is.
The main reason I bought this was because of the 6.5hp. In average snowfall (3 - 6) it just sails right through the snow. The real test came in 5 inches of wetter, heavier snow in the street. It went threw it no problem. I did not feel as though I was pushing it to its limits by any means. Finally I took it through plowed snow about 8 inches deep, very wet. It went threw but did struggle a bit. If I took it in smaller sections no problem.
It certainly is much easier to move around than the dual stage would have been. It weighs very little and the handles fold so I can throw it in my wife's Toyota Rav to blow the walks where she works. It will pull itself along for you but if you really want it to move fast you must lift or push it forward a little...do that and it really takes off. I did notice that sometimes it appears to pull to the left or right. This was a bit annoying....perhaps it is just over-powered in certain conditions. I'll have to ask my dealer if this is normal.
WHAT I LIKE:
So far, easy start, blows great, very powerful.
WHAT I DO NOT LIKE:
Pulls to the left or right now and then, when folding handles, the bar that engages the auger fell off...easily put back in place though. Also, there is really no manual for the engine if you like to have such things. I think they can order one if you really want it.
Home Depot sells these models now. I say, stick with your local Toro sales team. After all, it is not Home Depot who will service your unit if needed. Also, Home Depot was charging $50 more than the local privately owned shops!
When you get your unit..RUN IT BEFORE IT SNOWS! My unit worked fine but the engine was surging during the first mini-snowfall we had. I brought the unit back to the dealer. They said it could have been something in the the gas or a metal shaving from where the engine was machined that was caught in the carb. It took them 10 minutes to drop the carb bowl and clean it out. It has run fine since. This actually worked out well since they let me come back and watch what they were doing. I plan on doing this at year's end myself to attempt the engine from getting gummed up...likely overkill on my part but it appears to be simple enough to do. I also asked if this problem I had was normal and what other tyes of problems they see. They assured me this was not normal and that the only other issue they have seen on this model was that some of last years units were missing a little gasket that sits behind the choke lever. This was letting snow in by the carb and it would freeze making the unit hard to start/run. The little gasket should be installed on these models if you have trouble...again it takes only minutes.
A NOTE ON GAS:
The following may seem to be over kill but this was what was described as the MOST fool proof way to keep you engine from getting gummed up.
1) Use fresh gas. This is gas no more than 30 days old. If more than 30 days old, I was told you can dump it your car and go get more.
2) If your oil does not contain a stabilizer, add some STABIL.
3) Run the unit every couple of weeks starting around Thanksgiving and throughout the season.
4) At season's end run all the gas out off the engine. When it stops running, press the primer, pull the cord and let it run more. Repeat until it will not start. Wait 20 minutes and repeat the procedure again...you may find it starts I am told.
5) Drop the carb bowl and dump any remaining gas it contains. Remove the little brass screw (not sure what it is called) and spray some compressed air through it and around the carb area. Reassemble everything and put away until next year. ( I assume a can of compressed air will do...they have air compressors at the dealer)
Like I said this may be overkill but in the past I always ended up with starting issues...GOOD LUCK and HAPPY BLOWING!