by: Paul Sikkema
I know if you are reading this you are a savvy consumer. Someone who wants to know everything you can about the product you intend to buy before you purchase it.
You work hard for your money. Retailers work equally hard to separate you from it. Retail and discount stores are shouting “lowest price,” others “best value.” Being a savvy consumer means looking beyond the sales pitch and assessing the true value of a product.
Here is a list of engine brands followed by a list of snow blowers brands and who makes what.
Snow Engines – Who Makes What?
There are five manufactures of winterized engines currently being installed on the snow blowers I am going to review this season. Every one of the brands has a proven record of reliability. In fact in the last two years all of these motors have service records that are the best the industry has ever seen. Parts and service are easy to get from the dealer or retailer you purchased it from. They are designed to run on todays fuel (Do NOT use E-15 or E-85) AND HAVE MUCH LOWER EMISSIONS than motors sold just a few years ago.
Briggs & Stratton Snow Series: All B&S motors are labeled as such. B&S snow engines are warrantied by B&S, not the snow blower manufacture it is mounted on. B&S snow engines that are made in the USA have the “made in USA” sticker on them. Ariens Polar Force engines are B&S. According to the Briggs & Stratton website the following engines are NOT made in the U.S.A. 800, 900, 1150, 2100 Snow Series™ Source: Briggs & Stratton Engine Manufacturing Locations
LCT: Ariens AX, LCT Snow King and Storm Force, LCT engines have LCT on the valve cover. Storm Force, Ariens AX, and Snow King are LCT engines. You will mainly see this brand on Ariens, Sno-tek and Husqvarna Snow blowers but there are a few smaller brands now using this manufacture. LCT reliability on the Ariens and Husqvarna snow throwers is becoming legendary. LCT engines on Ariens and Husqvarna snow blowers are warrantied through the respective Ariens and Husqvarna dealers. LCT engines mounted on Power Smart snow blowers are warrantied through LCT
PowerMore™ OHV Winterized Engines: This motor is usually labeled the same as the snow blower it is mounted on. In other words if you buy a Craftsman snow blower it will be labeled as a Craftsman engine. Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, and Yard Machines engines are PowerMore. All PowerMore engines are warrantied through the snow blower brand they are mounted on.
Loncin: Toro’s Premium Engine is made by Loncin, one of China’s largest motorcycle manufacturers. They make their 87cc, 99cc, 163cc, 212cc, 265cc and 302cc engines. Like LCT and Powermore the reliability is way up compared to your old Tecumseh or Briggs engine.
Honda: No I didn’t forget about Honda. They only install snow motors on their own brand. According to the latest info I have these engines are made in Thailand.
Tecumseh: Lawson Power Products (Tecumseh:) quit making engines in 2008. LCT has partnered with them and is now using the technology and brand names from the old Tecumseh product line.
Snow Blowers by Brand: Who Makes What?
Ariens actually makes 7 different series of single and 2-stage snow blowers but for most of us Sno-Tek, the Ariens Compact, and Ariens Deluxe will be the models we will buy. The Platinum, Pro and Track series are high quality snow blowers designed to last a lifetime. I will make a point of reviewing all of the Ariens snow blowers at Home Depot so you can compare them to the other brands.
Manufacture: Briggs & Stratton
Briggs & Stratton makes 3 basic snow blowers. An economy, a residential and a pro model. The also have single and 2-stage. You will see them under various names like:
Briggs & Stratton
Some Craftsman Canadian Snow Blowers
Craftsman has 4 separate lines of snow blowers right now. The Craftsman at Sears models have the legendary service and parts availability. They have both single and 2 -stage units
Craftsman at Sears – MTD makes these for 2013-2014. No Pro models
Craftsman at Kmart – MTD makes these for 2013-2014
Craftsman at Ace Hardware – MTD makes these for 2013-2014
Craftsman at ?
Craftsman®/MD (Canada) – Husqvarna, B&S and MTD makes these for 2013-2014. Did I get them all?
MTD makes single and 2 stage snow throwers and labels them with different names. The Cub Cadet ones with metal chutes are dealer only models.
Yardman, MTD Pro, MTD, MTD Gold
Some Craftsman Canadian Snow Blowers
All Honda single-stage machines for the USA and Canada market are manufactured at the Honda plant in Swepsonville, NC. This includes the entire engine, from casting to final machine work and assembly. I believe Honda is the only current USA-market snowblower manufacturer who makes both the engine and snowblower at a USA factory.
All Honda 2-stage snowblowers for the USA and Canada market are manufactured at the Honda plant in Japan. The engines for these machines are made at the Honda plant in Thailand, then shipped to Japan for final assembly to the snowblower frame.
A few months ago, the Honda plant in Swepsonville, NC announced expansion and spending plans for the facility so it could produce 2-stage snowblowers. It is expected Honda 2-stage snowblowers will start being manufactured at this plant as early as next year.
Husqvarna has both single stage, residential 2-stage, and landowner 2-stage units
Some Craftsman Canadian Snow Blowers
Toro has a complete line of single, 2-stage and heavy duty 2 stage snow blowers.
Specialty Snow Throwers.
I am calling the rest of this list and any other brand not listed “specialty” snow throwers. At this time I don’t know which of these names are manufactures and which are brands named just for the U.S. market. These brands either have only one or two models (most are small electrics) or are internet only companies.
These companies all have the potential to be great, but for the time-being be sure you understand the return and repair policies. In other words, a 2 year warranty is great but if you can’t find a dealer, an address to ship it to, or even to get someone to answer your phone call the warranty is worthless.
Amerisun Inc. Parent company for Power Smart and Snow Devil. This company is coming on strong with their China built snow blowers. You can call them and get parts. They are currently building a nationwide service network.
Other names you will see:
Other Companies not listed:
One last word of warning. If the price seems to good to be true – it probably is. Be extremely careful of 2-stage snow throwers selling for less than $500! If you don’t recognize the brand there is a more than likely chance the snow thrower is made in China and service, parts, and repairs for it is non-existent.
Snow blowers have gone through many different design changes in the last 50 years and they still have a ways to go. The designs vary from a simple scoop and fan to a “sidewinder” to the current design. There have been many different variations of the 3X 3-stage design and some worked – and some don’t.
Gilson Snow Blower Shop has put together a long list of some of the old vintage machines. Go take a look here:Vintage Machine Showcase
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