What I Found At The 2015 GIE+EXPO For Moving Snow

GIE+EXPO is the largest Lawn & Garden Show in the U.S.

It’s a huge show! This year it was a lot bigger and busier – more than one person can cover. I’ll go over what I saw related to MovingSnow in this article. If you would like to read about the new items for lawn maintenance I’ll have an article over on TodaysMower.com is a few days.

GIE-EXPO

Wednesday Night at GIE-EXPO

GIE+EXPO is a show primarily for lawn equipment dealers and contractors.  So there is really very little for the residential retail market at the show. Yes the large brands like Ariens, Toro and Husqvarna show some of their residential products but for the most part though retail brands like Troy-Bilt and Craftsman don’t show their products here.

As usual I found many great ideas still looking for an audience. For example L. T. Rich had a prototype 4-wheel snow plow they were showing off and OxCart was showing a RealTree camouflage version of their great cart.

Ariens/Gravely

I have to start out with my favorite new product. Gravely is celebrating their 100 year anniversary and as part of the celebration they are is reintroducing the 2-wheeled tractor!

If you have been around lawn equipment as long as I have you’ve probably owned a Gravely 2-wheeled tractor at one time or the other. From the 1940’s all the way through the 1970’s the Gravely Model L and Model C were the standard everyone competed against. It was a very versatile machine with over 35 different attachments. You could mow your lawn, plow your garden and blow your snow with one tractor. The tractor was finally discontinued in 2004.

It’s Roots Are Residential But The Gravely Pro-QXT Is Built For Commercial Users. 

Gravely is one of those rare companies that really listens to what their customers want and came to realize that there was still a large demand from the government, industrial and school sector for these 2-wheeled tractors. The Pro-QXT Tractor, introduced at GIE+EXPO last week is a compact, walk-behind tractor with multiple attachments for performing a variety of tasks with a single machine..

Gravely Pro-QXT Tractor

Gravely Pro-QXT Tractor at GIE-EXPO

This new Gravely is so innovative that I will have to write a separate article just on the features of this new machine.

The new Pro-QXT is completely different from its forerunner. It’s bigger, stronger and easier to use than the original Model L. No, the old attachments will not fit. This new machine is so strong it will destroy them up in no time.

Specifically, the new Pro-QXT is built for commercial use and uses twin ZT-2800 hydrostatic transmissions for a smooth forward, reverse and zero-turn.

  • TheRapidTM Control System is one of the most intuitive and easy to use systems I have used in the last 50 years. One control seamlessly controls the forward/reverse and nudge the handles and the unit turns. Nudge the handles a little more and the Pro-QXT zero-turns right in place. It’s not Auto-Turn but direct control over the hydros. If you have ever driven a Caterpillar Challenger you know how cool this feature is. Even better the handles are height adjustable so the operator can use different style attachments. The handles even fold down for transport and storage.
  • Equipment tie-downs, lift rings and plenty of clearance. The Pro-QXT features tie-down points so you can easily secure it on the trailer. Many schools and businesses in snow belts still clear snow from their roofs and the lift rings give you secure lifting points. Extra tall tires for clearance for curbs.
  • QXT stands for “quick-attach.” The tractor features a one person, one lever attachment change over. The attachment point at the front of the tractor is self-aligning. The operator just drives the tractor into the attachment, walks around to the front and flips one lever. One operator can quickly and seamlessly change out attachments without the need for additional help.

The Pro-QXT is designed to transition through all seasons and conditions, from extreme hot to extreme cold, without the need to alter the tractor. It features an all-season Subaru® engine with 12-volt electric start and recoil assist, providing optimal performance in any weather condition.

Two attachments are available with the launch of the tractor: a 44-inch Power Brush and a 48-inch blade. The Power Brush attachment is made for all-season work and comes with a one-year limited warranty. The blade attachment is also available with an optional poly scraper edge, and comes with a one-year limited warranty. Additional attachments will be launched in 2016.

“As we celebrate our 100 year anniversary, we’re thrilled to be bringing back our most historic product, the two-wheeled tractor,” said Gravely Brand Director Bill Engler. “Benjamin Gravely launched our brand when he invented the revolutionary motor plow two-wheeled tractor in 1916. It was a machine that represented innovation, durability, independence and unmatched flexibility – all attributes that are still represented in our product lines today.”

“With the Pro-QXT, we’ve reinvented the two-wheeled tractor, leaving some of the old unchanged, but also adding a whole lot of new. New ergonomics, new controls, new transmissions—all of which make it easier and more efficient to operate than ever before. With 100 years of practice under our belts, we feel that we’ve come full circle with the launch of the next generation tractor.”

The Pro-QXT starts at a list price of $6,225 USD, and will be available in authorized Gravely dealerships only beginning in January 2016. For more information, visit www.gravely.com.

And It’s Made in the USA!

Gravely Pro-QXT

Nice large tires. You can see the kickstand in this picture

Gravely Pro-QXT

The Quick-Tach. Just move the black lever forward to release the front attachment.

Gravely Pro-QXT

Rapid Control. You can also see the large number of height adjustments for the handlebar.

Gravely Pro-QXT

Gravely invited a few media writers the day before the GIE-EXPO show to a remote location so we could get a chance to try out and thoroughly check out the new Gravely Pro-QXT

 

 

Ariens Snow Blowers

 

Ariens Track Drive

Ariens Track Drive. 28 inch with Auto Turn

Ariens Track Drive

Ariens Track Drive. 28 inch with Auto Turn

Ariens Track Drive

Ariens Track Drive. 28 inch with Auto Turn

Ariens is the “King Of Snow” so they had a good sampling of their entire line of snow blowers on display.  Very few dealers display the track drive so here are a few pictures for you!

Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet will be offering a fuel injected engine on a lawn tractor! Starting in 2016, the new Cub Cadet 547cc EFI engine will be available on the XT2 LX42 EFI Cub Cadet lawn tractors. The EFI engine has three features that make this one of the most advanced engines ever offered in a lawn tractor.

  1. The new EFI engine will reduce emissions and deliver great fuel consumption. It will use up to 25 percent less fuel than carbureted engines.
  2. The new engine will accept gasoline-ethanol blends up to E20.  Cub Cadet is also claiming you will not need to drain the fuel tank for off-season storage.
  3. This new EFI engine will have lower maintenance costs because less oil changes are required.

In addition, the Cub Cadet XT2 LX42 EFI does not have a choke. It will start in all weather conditions with just the push of one button Just use the Push Button Start feature.

The new fuel-injected XT2 LX 42 Enduro Series Cub Cadet lawn tractors will have a MSRP $1,799.99 and will be available in Spring 2016 only at Cub Cadet Independent Dealers.

Columbia

 Canadians know Columbia. Columbia has long been a good, reliable brand up there for many years.  It appears MTD is going to market this name through it’s U.S. Dealer Network. At the show they showcased a full line of products very similar to the residential Troy-Bilt line. To me this reinforced the rumor that Troy-Bilt will soon be a Lowes exclusive brand.

Honda

Honda HSS724AW
Honda HSS928AAT
Honda HSS932AAT

Honda had models of the 24, 28 and 32 inch tracked and tire outdoors to test. These new models are advertised to be a major improvement over the previous versions.

The new HSS models have an increased housing height, increased impeller size, power steering, and larger tires on the wheeled models. They kept the low clearance two pulley tracks on the track drive units.

They added some nice to haves like an LED light, electric chute control, piston assisted variable height (track models), and 12v electric start, all for the same price.

One of the more interesting features they added is a torque switch on the front gearbox of the 32 inch model that will kill the engine if the front auger hits an obstruction. The district rep I was talking to claimed it would stop the unit before any damage could occur.

I had a chance to look and drive them at the show and I am very disappointed in the new models. The ergonomics are not near as good as I expected and many of the features are still “old school.” It almost appeared that they let engineers design this snow blower without any input from actual users. Specifically the chute is still the old style friction type that rests on the impeller housing. The chute turning gear is thin sheet metal but at least it is replaceable. I have a feeling that it will bind from dirt and rust and take out the electric chute motor. I’m also concerned with the 12 volt electric start. Why would you put a battery start on a cold weather machine?

Other features that have long ago proven not the best design include wimpy skid shoes, huge plastic throttle control. flush shear plate carriage bolts, and offset auger shear bolts. The engineer made a big deal of the fact that they now stamp the side of the auger housing “to give it more strength”. Funny, the rest of the industry has been doing that for years.

Finally, the dash is weird. The electric joystick for the chute is a big lever in the middle of the dash and you have to reach all the way across the dash to adjust the speed lever. I would have made the control smaller and a lot closer to the handle bars. The only thing I really like about the new machine is the infinite height adjustment on the track drive machines. It’s a better design than the notched system other brands use for tracks.

They started building these in July but as of last week they had not started shipping them. They would not tell me why they have been delayed. Many dealers are stating that they may not even get them to sell this year. Update: It looks like some models will be available mid-December.

It’s great that Honda is now making them in the U.S. but in my opinion they are making just an average snow blower with an above average engine at an outrageous price!!! We’ll see if my opinion holds when they actually get them out of the warehouse and into the hands of people who have used other brands of snow blowers.

Honda HSS Snow Blowers

New infinite height adjustment and old low clearance track system

IMG_20151022_105300 IMG_20151022_105214

Honda HSS Snow Blower

Specifically the chute is still the old style friction type that rests on the impeller housing. The chute turning gear is thin sheet metal and not replaceable.

Honda HSS Snow Blowers

The rumor is this transmission is what is causing the snow blower to be delayed. The Honda Reps at the show would not comment.

Husqvarna

Husqvarna does not spend a lot of floor space at the GIE-EXPO on snow removal.  They did have the Husqvarna ST224P 24 inch with Power Steering, the HUSQVARNA ST327P 27In 2-Stage, and the ST121E Single Stage as a representative sample of the lines.
Husqvarna Snow Blowers

Husqvarna Snow Blowers at the show

Husqvarna Group – Jonsered ST 3368EP Snow Blower. Like MTD, Husqvarna is looking for a new brand name for the dealers. Jonsered is a well established chain saw name and Husqvarna is promoting the name to dealers in place of Poulan and Poulan Pro. For this year they took the Husqvarna ST227P and painted it red.

Briggs & Stratton

Briggs & Stratton displayed the Briggs and Stratton 1696614 24 inch as a representative of the line.

BOSS Snowplow

ATV/Mid-Size UTV Power V XT Snowplow. See your BOSS snow plow dealer for more info.
ATV/Mid-Size UTV Power V XT Snowplow

ATV/Mid-Size UTV Power V XT Snowplow

Kohler

While not specifically snow related Kohler introduced the Confidant EFI single cylinder vertical shaft and the Command Pro EFI horizontal shaft engines. Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) is more reliable, no carb, no choke, no primer bulb. In addition, Kohler is seeing about a 25% reduction in fuel costs. I expect this technology to show up in premium snow engines within the next 3 years and will greatly reduce starting issues and increase engine life.

Daye

Daye Snow Blower

Daye Snow Blower.

Daye was at the show and had a complete line of snow throwers and snow blowers on the floor. The products they were showing ranged from small electric shovels to the 24 inch, 2-stage snow blower I reviewed last year.  I didn’t get a chance to get information on the new products.

Snow Joe

Snow Joe has the best electric snow removal tools and they introduced a new model that I have been waiting for. The new Snow Joe Hybrid is a 40 volt brushless electric snow blower with a run time of up to 50 minutes per charge. In addition it will also run off an extension cord! This new snow thrower is perfect for decks, patios and other areas that are hard to get at with a single or 2-stage snow blower.  It is available exclusively at The Home Depot now. Snow Joe Snow Removal 18 in. 40-Volt Lithium-Ion Hybrid Snow Blower ION18SB-HYB.

By the way Snow Joe also makes a hybrid power shovel. Snow Joe Snow Removal 13 in. 40-Volt Hybrid Cordless Electric Snow Shovel ION13SS-HYB

Toro

Toro Snow Master

Toro Snow Master

Of Course Toro was showcasing the new SnowMaster. You can read about them here and here.

Toro GrandStand MULTI FORCE 

The new Toro Multi Force is personally my second most wished for landscaping tool. I have wanted a multi purpose stand-on since the mid-90’s.  Watch the video to see what it can do for moving snow.

Other Snow Related Products at the 2015 GIE-EXPO

L.T. Rich Snowreator

L.T. Rich was showing a Prototype stand-on snow machine.

Chinese Snow Blower

I’ll let you take a wild guess at where these are made. You can buy them in any color you want for less than $250 – $450 each – As long as you buy a container full at a time.

Small road grader

I wonder if a BOSS V-Plow will fit on this?

GT CVT snow blower transmission

GT CVT snow blower transmission. It’s offered with or without power steering and also has the option of the DI300 Intuitive Differential. This is a great snow blower transmission at a great price for OEM’s.

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