This picture review covers the Toro SnowMaster 824 QXE. The Toro 724 QXE is identical except for a smaller engine so read this review if you are interested in that snow thrower. I’ll warn you upfront – this is not a “feel good” review where I tell how much you will love to own this snow blower. It will be a features review and we will get into considerable detail about the snow blower.
This review is my opinion only. I did not contact Toro about any of the details in this review.
First Report From An Actual Owner of the new 724 QXE! Submitted on 2015/11/22 at 7:01 am | Detroit Michigan – 20X60 driveway that slopes to one side/
Paul, I ordered a 824 on November 2nd and it was still in the box yesterday when the snow prediction went from “2 to 4 inches” to “8 to 12 inches.” Very simple assembly with just 3/8 and 7/16 wrenches. I went through 8″ of very wet snow without a problem. No slipping or sliding sideways like my previous single stage. I find this unit a easier to use than a two stage. It’s more like a self-propelled lawnmower. Easy to turn, easy to pull back.
Update Dec 2016:
Just wanted to say thanks for your recommendation. I purchased a Toro SnowMaster after your last email and it’s been in my garage, anxiously awaiting the first snow. We got some snow (about 8 inches) on Sunday, December 4th here in (south suburb of Chicago) and it was wet and heavy. I got out my Toro and started it up hoping that I was not in for any disappointment. It was amazing!!! I did both my driveway and my neighbor’s driveway along with the sidewalk on my side of the street from corner to corner. Piece of cake. Two of my neighbors stopped by to admire the machine. I’m thrilled to know that I can keep up with the weather and to know that I don’t have to depend on neighbors when the heavy snow comes.
The Toro SnowMaster is available at your local Toro Dealer and The Home Depot:
I am not going to cover the SnowMaster 724 ZXR (36001) in this article
Who is this snow blower for? Anyone with a hard surface driveway. It’s designed to work on blacktop, cement, pavers, cobblestone, patios and decks. All the parts that touch the surface to be cleared are poly or rubber so you won’t mar your stained concrete driveway of nice deck. Even though the SnowMaster is the same width as Toro’s 24 inch 2-stage snow blowers they claim it will clear snow 30% faster. I’ll tell you why their claim is true later on in the article. This snow blower will handle all types of snow including heavy snow, wet snow, slush and light dustings. Toro claims it will handle snow up to 18 inches – we’ll see – I have a feeling the practical limit will be around 15 inches. Toro states it will throw snow up to 40 feet but remember all snow is different. It will throw “ideal” snow 40 feet but wet snow and slush won’t get thrown that far. Just use the 40 feet as a reference number when comparing this snow blower to other models.
From Toro’s Operator Manual: This machine is intended to be used by residential homeowners or professional, hired operators. It is designed for removing snow from paved surfaces, such as driveways and sidewalks, and other surfaces for traffic on residential or commercial properties. It is not designed for removing materials other than snow, nor is a model with a pivoting scraper designed for clearing off gravel surfaces.
I have a feeling many people who’ve never owned a snow blower will buy this model so I am going to go into more detail of setting it up and using it than I normally do. If you purchase it through The Home Depot and have it shipped for free to your home – it comes in a box. Let me know in the comments below if I went to far, didn’t go far enough or want a different method of review all together.
Why did I pick this model for myself? I like to have two snow blowers. I have a large 2-stage for clearing those 4-20 inch snow falls, my gravel side driveway and a patch of lawn out back for my dogs. I also like to have a single stage to quickly clean those “light dustings” off my front drive. A single stage is more convenient, faster and easier to use than a 2-stage for light snows. My front driveway is not that big. 16 by 60 feet. My single stage is getting a little tired so I decided this is a good time to try out the new Toro SnowMaster. It’s advertised as a single stage snow blower with “two stage technology” so it should be just perfect for my front drive.
Toro manufactures four different types of snow blowers. Single stage snow throwers, the SnowMaster, 2-stage residential and 2-stage heavy-duty. They also make 2-stage ride-on units for universities and municipalities.
This snow blower currently has no competition. It fits somewhere between a single stage and a 2-stage machine. Ask me in the comment section below and I will help you decide if it is a good choice for you instead of a single stage or two-stage snow blower.
I usually purchase one or two snow blowers each year for MovingSnow as base-line units to compare the other snow blower to. This year the economy unit I purchased a this Toro 824 QXE through my local Toro Dealer Eau Claire Lawn Equipment
When you first look at the Toro SnowMaster you can see right away it’s different. It looks like a two stage with the tall discharge chute and tall intake, but then you quickly realize it’s a single stage.
The front intake opening is 18 inches high. This is probably higher than your old snow blower and will allow you to go through deeper drifts.
The second thing you notice is the lack of levers and knobs and switches on the handles.
This is not an expensive snow thrower but Toro did not skimp on any of the details. Heavy duty control cables and clamps. I’ll show you examples throughout this article.
It won’t take you long to get used to this view. The operator’s position has a clear view of what is going on in the front. This snow thrower is no harder to use than your Toro Personal Pace mower! Do you see the black bar under the Loop Personal Pace handle? I will talk about that in later pictures.
Many of you will buy the SnowMaster from Home Depot and will either have it shipped to your home for free or pick it up at your local store. Because of that I asked Eau Claire Lawn to give me one in the box so I could experience the same conditions that you will. Based on previous experience I brought my wife’s van to carry it home. I was just going to slide it in the side door and head home. Guess What! The box the SnowMaster comes in was a lot larger than I had expected! She has the back end of the van full of “stuff” and the rear seat in so we ended up taking it out of the box before I left. At least I didn’t have to get rid of all that cardboard. The easy way to get it out of the box is to open the top of the box and pull out the cardboard corner supports. Then using a utility knife cut around the entire bottom of the box and lift the box off the snow blower. The chute and chute control rod are laying in protective cardboard on the top of the snow blower. If your SnowMaster came assembled you can skip these pictures and go right to checking the oil in the engine.
You will like putting the SnowMaster together. Set up is just two steps – unfold the handle and install the chute.
I raised the handle and tightened the bolts before I took the SnowMaster out of the van. It’s easier to lift that way. The SnowMaster is considerably lighter than a 2-stage snow blower (about 125 lbs.) but you still want someone to assist you with the lift.
Unfold the Handle. Toro has designed the assembly so that the cables should come right up with the handle but check them anyway as you lift the handle to make sure you don’t kink one. You will have to loosen both finger nuts and pull the handle lock (gold j-shaped bolt) out 1/2 inch to raise the handle up all the way. You don’t have to take the finger nut all the way off. If the j-bolt does not move wiggle the handle up and down – side to side. It will move. Once you have the handle raised all the way up push the j-bolt into the bottom hole and tighten the finger nut.
Here is what the j-bolt and finger nut looks like after it’s assembled.
The second and last step: Take the chute out of it’s cardboard protector and slide the long steel chute post into the square hole right in front of the engine. You can’t see it but the hole is tapered so the rod fits correctly the first time. Take the longer bolt (in the plastic bag this manual was in) and a locknut. Put the bolt through the hole in that bracket you just stuck the post in and tighten the nut. It’s a lock nut so tighten it just enough so the post and bolt don’t rattle when you shake the chute.
Here’s what the chute post looks like with the bolt and nut in place.
Look at these four steps and then move to the next picture below.
You found the black rod? One end is flattened and has two holes. Stick the OTHER end into the chute as show in the picture. Turn the rod with your hand as you are pushing it into the hole and the rod will pop in correctly. Go to the next picture.
Do you see how the flat spots are on one side of the rod? Align the rods just like the picture so when we put the bolts in it will be one straight piece. If your rod does not look like this pull it back out of the chute and turn it 180 degrees. Grab two of the remaining bolts and two lock nuts for the next picture.
Those bolts are carriage bolts and you only need one wrench to tighten them. Look at the bolts and you will see a square shoulder. Look at the two rods and you will see one set of holes are square. Put the bolts through the square holes, through the round holes on the other rod and then tighten the two bolts. Go to the next picture.
Ok, you still have one bolt, nut and screw left. In this picture you can see where one of the cables is held up with a clamp. You will see that cable hanging right below the rod you just installed. Take the remaining carriage bolt and put it through the square hole. Put the clamp on the bolt and then tighten the nut. Just one more screw in the next picture and the snow blower is assembled!
There is a cable hanging down by the right wheel. Lift it up and you will see a clamp on it. Then look at the snow blower just in front of the right wheel and you will see a hole. Put the screw through the hole in the clamp and then tighten the bolt into the hole. That’s it! You are Done! Go ahead and play with your new chute. Before you put gas in it let’s check a couple more things though. If you move it around at this point use the black bar under the Personal Pace handle. If the SnowMaster makes a clicking sound – pull back on the Personal Pace handle and it will quiet down.
Let’s cover the Toro engine next. In my opinion the 212 cc engine on the 724 is plenty for this machine and I was very surprised that Toro decided to offer a larger engine. Of course I had to feed the “Tim-the-Toolman” in me and buy the larger engine!
Before you do anything else check the oil. The SnowMaster comes with oil in it and the oil level should be correct. To check the oil get a paper towel and the loosen the Yellow cap on the left side of the engine. By the way, the engine also has two gray caps. These engines are made to be used in many different applications but the gray caps are not used on the SnowMaster – just ignore them.
Here is the procedure in the manual for checking the oil. Go to the next picture to see more.
Unscrew the cap and pull the dipstick out of the engine. Wipe it off with the paper towel and stick it back in. Don’t screw the cap down. This engine oil is checked with the cap/dipstick just resting on the threads. I like to leave it sit there for about 10 seconds. Pull it back out and check the oil level. The oil is new and a light amber color so you may have a hard time seeing the oil on the stick. If you do just lay the dipstick flat on the paper towel and watch where the oil starts to soak into the towel. A flashlight also works to show the reflection of the oil on the dip stick. The level should be correct. By the way: I’m a big fan of using 5W-30 Synthetic oil. The 212 cc uses 17 ounces (about 1/2 quart) the 252 cc uses 24 ounces (about 3/4 quart)
One of the biggest features to me on the SnowMaster is all of the engine controls are on the right side of the engine – out in the open – and easy to get at. The “mitten grip” started handle is located so you can stand in the operator’s position behind the SnowMaster to start it.
Let’s go around the engine – starting with the electric start. To use just plug in a 3-pronged outdoor extension cord. You can use a 16 ga cord up to 50 feet long, 14 ga up to 75 feet and a 12 ga up to 100 feet. If your shed is farther than 100 feet you should move your SnowMaster closer to the outlet. By the way: Electric starters on snow blowers are designed for intermittent use. You will burn up the starter if you let the starter run and run. That means push the red button for 5 seconds then let it sit for 5 seconds. It it does not start in 10 reputations – stop and figure out why. If your SnowMaster is operating correctly and you have followed the starting procedure it will start in the first two or three tries. We’ll get to the starting procedure soon.
The working end of the electric start. I like the cord wrap to keep everything neat and tidy. It’s in the details.
The part you’ll never see. I removed the protective cover to show you the engine output pulley and belt. The SnowMaster uses the new style high strength, flat belts. This belt will not dry out. It has plenty of strength to handle the power. This belt drives both the transmission and an output shaft for the working part of the snow blower. I expect that you will never have to replace this belt.
Moving around to the back of the engine. There is a nice, large hole in the engine shroud to change the spark plug.
One of my biggest pet peeve’s on snow blowers. Toro did it right! An easy to use oil drain. The pipe even has a flat spot far enough out so that you can hold the pipe with a wrench and loosen the drain plug. People, it’s in the details….I can’t find any area of this snow thrower where Toro cut corners to cut costs.
On the right rear corner of the engine – under the black cover is the carburetor. Do you see the two screws? If you are the type who has to remove all the fuel from your snowblower for storage the screw with the Phillips head is the drain screw. If you forget and let the fuel go stale in your SnowMaster you can remove this screw and drain all the gas out of the SnowMaster. Of course please be careful – it will take a 1/2 hour or so to drain.
Finally, Starting the engine. ALWAYS follow the starting procedure and the engine will start every time! The Toro engine has no throttle. It is designed to run at the correct engine speed to blow snow well. It is designed to shut off from “full throttle” without a cool-down period at idle. You turn the engine off by pulling the red key out of the engine. To start it. 1. Push the black primer bulb three times (make sure you cover the little hole in the center) 2. Move the gray lever (choke) all the way to the left. 3. Pull the starter rope or push the starter button. It should start and run very rough. If it has not started after five seconds on the electric start or 4 pulls on the handle push the primer bulb three more times and repeat. 4. Once it starts it will run very rough and probably blow gray/black smoke out the other side of the engine (muffler) Move the gray choke lever to the right and the engine will smooth out and come up to the correct speed (rpm) NOTE: If the engine stopped before you had a chance to move the choke lever to the right – move it now and pull the starter rope 3-4 times. It should start. If it did not start walk away from it for 5 minutes and then start the procedure all over. By the way: I sometimes forget to insert the key. It won’t start without the key pushed all the way in. If you turned off the engine and it has only been off for 5-10 minutes it will start without choking it. Just reinsert the key and pull the starter rope.
Moving around the snow blower. I removed the plastic cover in the center of the SnowMaster so you could see the workmanship. Toro used their famous one-piece frame to make this snow blower as strong – yet lightweight as possible.
Closeup of what’s under the hood. With Toro it’s all about the details. Remember how easy it was to insert the support for the discharge chute. The reason was Toro designed the bottom support so it slid right in! I’m impressed – I hope you are too!
The other side. The black box is the enclosed jack shaft for the front auger. You will never have to get in here to work on the machine or do any maintenance.
Moving around to the front. Here’s a quick comparison of the intake height of a typical single stage on the left to the SnowMaster. The SnowMaster will handle that end-of-driveway drift in one pass. Yes, they are always trying to photo bomb my picts.
Two stage technology. This is a play on words. The part of the SnowMaster that throws the snow is a single stage system but it is different enough from a conventional single stage snow thrower that I won’t give them too hard of time about it. With this front auger the outer areas grabs the snow and quickly sends it to the center. The center then throws it out the chute. Next Picture:
The center section is slightly cupped and curved. This allows this section to grab the snow and throw it out of the chute easily. The slight curve allows it to get most of the snow into the center of the chute.
As the snow is thrown off the center section of the auger, the back of the housing channels it into the chute. The black piece at the top in this picture (called a kicker) catches any snow that didn’t make it into the chute and forces it back down into the auger to be thrown again. This smooth tapered area is a big feature in how well the Toro SnowMaster gets the snow into and up out of the chute. It’s one of the reasons why it’s faster than their two stage snow blowers. What makes this system unique is all the smooth tapered surfaces. Most single stage snow throwers have corners and edges inside the housing that don’t let the snow flow freely through the snow thrower. In fact a few that I have used throw more snow out the front than they do out the chute. The SnowMaster is one of the best designs I have seen.
The chute hangs off of this bracket. The bracket is metal. The gears are self lubricating and covered to stay out of the ice and snow.
It’s in the details. Commercial grade cables. Heavy duty ends. Protective boot over the cable. Heavy duty clamps, springs and brackets.
Under the chute control. This is made from the same tough sub-zero poly as the chute. Ask any dealer if he has ever seen one of the gears wore out.
Just another angle. Here is what the snow sees going into the chute.
And what the snow sees as it leaves the top of the chute.
By the way: The SnowMaster uses sealed ball bearings. No grease fittings to forget or bushings to wear out. This snow thrower is about as maintenance free as you can get.
Toro uses a compression scraper on many of their machines and the SnowMaster is no exception. This scraper “gives” a little so it will ride over small cracks and obstructions. I show you more detail in the next picts.
I’ve tipped the SnowMaster back on the handles so you can see the scraper. When you are cleaning a smooth surface the edge rides on it to give you a clean, clear path right down to the pavement.
When you hit an obstruction like a crack in the cement or a rough spot in your asphalt the scraper flexes up and doesn’t get caught like a metal scraper will. You will be able to clear right down to the pavement most of the time. You won’t get the bone-jarring jolt that you get from a 2-stage when the 2-stage gets hung up on a crack. I know, it’s plastic…..but…
The scraper is made from a hard wearing plastic and reinforced the entire length with the channels you see here. These scrapers don’t crack or break and wear as well or better than than a steel one. Toro has been using this system for years and it works well.
Another picture showing all the wear points on the scraper
The skid shoes are metal and poly. They are made of the same dense material as the compression scraper and will last. This snow blower is so lightweight compared to the 2-stage machines that these skid shoes will give a much longer life. They will not scratch your pavers or stained concrete.
The SnowMaster uses a hanging chute. What that means is all the surfaces that stick on your old 2-stage and normally wear out on your old single-stage won’t. There are no load bearing parts other than the support up on top to wear out or rust. Most manufactures use this technology today because it works so well.
Big hole, solid workmanship. There is nothing flimsy about this chute. In fact many of the parts are used in the Power Max and Power Max HD snow blowers.
Chute Controls. People, it’s in the details….I can’t find any area of this snow thrower where Toro cut corners to cut costs.
No, it’s not the plastic you buy at Walmart. This is not the plastic the old guys complain about. This poly is rated to over -100 degrees and guaranteed for life. It won’t crack or break.
Extra braces as needed. People, it’s in the details….I can’t find any area of this snow thrower where Toro cut corners to cut costs.
Rubber boots, cast eyes, rust resistant coating on the springs, heavy duty cable clamps. People, it’s in the details….I can’t find any area of this snow thrower where Toro cut corners to cut costs.
If you ever have to change the auger belt it’s under this easy to remove cover. Three screws and it’s off.
If you ever have to change the belt it very easy to do. You remove the black pulley, have someone engage the auger handle and then remove the belt. Slip the new one on and reinstall the black pulley. This whole system is tough enough that I have a feeling you will never need to change the belt. In this picture the belt is shown in the tightened position.
Personal Pace cable and controls. People, it’s in the details….I can’t find any area of this snow thrower where Toro cut corners to cut costs.
Lock nuts on all fasteners. People, it’s in the details….
Extra support under the scraper bar. People, it’s in the details….I can’t find any area of this snow thrower where Toro cut corners to cut costs.
No sharp edges on the metal. Ok, I just like this picture…
Carbon Cold Drawn Steel Axle. The axles from the transmissions are carbon steel, cold drawn rounds. In terms of mechanical resistance, this is a good compromise. The shaft itself is not rust treated, so you should expect it to rust over time, which is normal and has no negative impact on the life of the transmission.
Let’s talk about the tires. I first thought the tires were too small. But they are not for two reasons. 1. The SnowMaster is a lot lighter than a 2-stage snow blower. Because it’s lighter it does not need big tires to get enough traction. 2. It’s for use on hard surfaces. You won’t be trying to clear your lawn or trying to clear loose gravel. Because of that you don’t need tall tires. These tires are actually bigger than the old Noma snow blower my neighbor still uses.
Deep Lug Tires.
The Personal Pace transmission with automatic steering. I like this transmission a lot. I expect to see this tranny on more snow blowers next year. Toro does not sell anything until it’s met their extremely high quality standards so don’t be cautious about buying this new model. This transmission has been tested and tested and tested in real world conditions for over three years. By the way: If you are moving the snow thrower around the garage and it’s making a clicking sound, pull back on the Personal Pace handles and the sound will go away.
A size comparison of the Toro SnowMaster to a 21 inch lawn mower
A size comparison of the Toro SnowMaster to a 21 inch lawn mower
A size comparison of the Toro SnowMaster to a 21 inch lawn mower
What else would you like to know? Please ask in the comment section below.
About Paul Sikkema
Paul Sikkema has been writing about snow blowers, riding mowers and other lawn and garden equipment for over 10 years. Paul does most his writing out in his workshop where he feeds the wildlife and birds in the yard. His goal is to have a red squirrel eating out of his hand.
He spends as much time with his granddaughter as he can.
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