This picture review is going to cover the 24 inch Vortex 2490. This snow blower is Troy-Bilt’s high-capacity 24 inch snow blower. It features a large 277 cc engine, 4-way chute, and is claimed to have 50% more capacity than their 2-stage snow blowers.
I’ll go completely through the entire machine. It will be a very detailed review. I even have two surprises that I will show you about his snow blower that no one else knows. I’ll also tell you why Troy-Bilt Snow Blowers don’t need gearbox braces up front. Sorry, you’ll have to hunt for them in the review.
The 2015 Troy-Bilt Vortex 2490 Snow Blower is very different from the other machines I have reviewed so far this year. Many of the features are unique to Troy-Bilt and make it a very dependable snow blower.
Update: I’ve had a chance to use it on snow. Go here to read that review and watch the Video!
I am going to use the same sequence of pictures that I used with the other picture reviews so it is easy to compare this to the Ariens, Husqvarna and Toro Snow blowers. I suggest placing this review and the other one you would like to compare side-by-side on your laptop or desktop screen.
This snow blower is available at Troybilt.com, Lowes and your local Troy-Bilt dealer.
This review is going to cover the 24 inch Vortex 2490. Troy-Bilt heard I don’t have a Lowes or Troy-Bilt dealer in my area so they dropped off a 3-stage 24 inch Vortex 2490 and 2-stage 30 inch Storm 3090 to test. Todd Pierce and David Rockwell from MTD Consumer Products dropped them off the week before GIE-EXPO. They spent 3 hours with me going over the products and showing off a Troy-Bilt Flex they brought along. Thanks Andrew Ziemba, for setting this all up.
The 2015 Troy-Bilt Vortex 2490 is rated a residential snow blower but has all of the same features as other snow blower with commercial warranties. The Troy-Bilt red is a baked on powder coat and I have yet to see a Troy-Bilt where the paint is flaking off.
The 24 inch front housing (bucket) is 21 1/2 inches tall. This lets you clear deeper drifts and your old snow blower.
The 2490 is balanced well. It takes very little effort to push down on the handles to maneuver this snow blower. With the balance and power steering it is one of the easiest 24 inch snow blowers to use. The handles are straight so they give a good combination of leverage and comfort.
View From the Operator’s “Seat.” This Vortex has a clear view of what’s going on up front even for shorter people. The tall chute is located way to the left so it does not get in the way of your view. Yes, The dash is plastic but it is made of the same tough polymer as the chute. When I visited MTD a few years ago they offered to show how tough their polymer really is. They took a chute out of a -20 degree freezer and threw it on a 100 degress blacktop. They proceeded to run over it with a pickup. No, it was not damaged at all.
Just a quick picture to show you the difference in handle height between the Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO and the 24 inch Vortex. The Vortex is great for people under 6 feet. By the way the handle height on the 28 and 30 inch Troy-Bilt’s with 16 inch tires is just a little higher.
Like the other brands Toy-Bilt doesn’t label their engine “Premium” but it a premium engine is by the criteria I use. Troy-Bilt® engines are a premium small block engine with advantages that in many cases are better than competitive engine models. Some of the premium features include: Overhead Valves. (OHV) Cast iron cylinder sleeve. Low tone muffler. Ball-bearing supported crank shaft. Large fuel tank capacity. The power output of the Troy-Bilt family of engines compares favorably with engines of similar displacement from Briggs & Stratton®, Honda®, and other popular small engine brands.
The Troy-Bilt Vortex has all the engine controls you are used to. Throttle with a stop. Multi-position choke, primer bulb and removable safety switch. There is a separate button for the electric start. Please remember to run the throttle wide open when blowing snow.
Troy-Bilt engines are designed to run on unleaded fuel up to E10 (10%) ethanol blends. NEVER USE E15, E20 or E85 in small gas engines like this one. Read the labels on the pump before you fill your gas can. E15 will ruin your snow blower engine and that failure is not covered by any warranty.
Troy-Bilt has a really nice gas cap. Both the tank threads and the cap threads are machined with the vent in the cap. A feature most people miss is the fill hole is not centered. With a Troy-Bilt when you change the transmission drive belt you have to tip the snow blower up on it’s nose. By having the fill hole towards the back of the snow blower you can have over a half of tank of fuel and it will not spill out.
Easy To Use Rear Oil Drain. No need to spill oil all over the frame or tire when changing oil.
If you ever forget to put fuel stabilizer in your gas and you end up with stale fuel there is a drain on the bottom of the carb. Just remove the Phillips screw and you can drain all the fuel out of the system.
Yes, This engine has a dipstick. To read it pull the dipstick out wipe it off with a paper towel and then reinsert it. Don’t lock it down, just leave it there for few seconds and then remove it again to check the level. If you are checking the engine before you run it for the first time you may have a hard time seeing the oil (it’s light amber in color.) Just lay the dipstick on the paper towel and see where the oil soaks in. By the way, small engines are now used in many different applications. The yellow oil plug at the bottom of the engine is not used to check the oil on this snow blower.
This low tone muffler is quieter than the ones put on snow blowers 10 years ago. This is not the “quiet muffler” that Craftsman has on the 208 cc engines. I measured 90 db with my trusty Craftsman decibel meter so please use hearing protection if you are going to use this snow blower for more than 2 hours at a time. (I measured the sound at my ear with the engine running at full throttle.)
Moving on to the controls. Troy-Bilt has made quite a few improvements to the internal structural parts of the dash. The controls are stronger than they were in the past but are still located in the same places. Do you know why Troy-Bilt uses a small cable from the gear lever to the transmission instead of a big, heavy rod? The reason is they don’t have too. When the snow blower is not being used there is no tension on the friction wheel inside the transmission. Because there is not pressure on the friction wheel you can easily move the shift lever even with the engine turned off.
The inside of the transmission. The black rubber wheel, called the friction wheel, does not rest on the aluminum drive plate when the clutch lever is disengaged. This keeps the tire from getting flat spots and allows you to change the speed control with the engine off. The spring that allows Troy-Bilt to use the smaller cable is hidden behind the top shaft in this picture. The bronze gears are self-lubricating so you don’t need to grease them. The only spot you should ever lube is the hex shaft in the middle of the picture. Wipe on a heavy grease – don’t use too much or spray it on or it could get on the large aluminum drive plate and make the trans slip. The power steering is located on the outside of this case.
SECRET NUMBER ONE! When most people first grab a hold of the chute control they grab it like a pistol grip from a video game but that is not the right way to use the control. It will be very hard to turn the chute if you grab it like that. The chute control is called a “forearm control” and there is an easy way and a hard way to use it. When blowing snow take your left hand off the handle and place it on the top of the control – like you are grasping the end of a baseball bat. Use your finger to pull in the red chute release lever and then use your forearm to swing the chute from side to side. See how easy it is?
This picture looks strange because the snow blower is tipped upon it’s nose. The hand warmer switch is located below the dash on the metal support bracket.
Nice bright light. The Snow Blower forums state the light is in the wrong place but that’s not true. On the Vortex the tall chute sits farther to the left and is narrower than many of the other brands. Because of that the light shines in all the right places to give you plenty of light if you ever have to blow snow at night.
All of the controls are easy to adjust and there are sections in your operating manual that explain how make the adjustments. If a cable is slack, the snow blower is not going into reverse or the handles are not popping up all the way you make adjustments to the three gold colored brackets at the bottom of this picture.
One more picture about the controls. There are two holes in the handles for bolts but you only need bolts in the top ones. The bottom holes are no longer used.
15X5 XTRAC tires. Most 24 inch snow blowers use a 13 inch tire. These larger tires have really good traction and you will not need tire chains. Notice the bolt in the center? We will talk about that next.
If you ever have a flat tire you will want to remove the entire wheel and take it to a shop for repair. To remove the tire take out the bolt I pointed out in the last picture and slide the rim off the axle. Troy-Bilt does not use keyways and keys that can fall out. Instead they mill flat spots on the shaft that align with flats inside the rim. If the axle is not going on turn your rim until it lines up with these flats. I strongly recommend once a year tip the snow blower up on it’s nose, remove the tire assemblies and grease the axle. Use a heavy axle grease. If you do this every year the rims will easily come off if you ever have to fix a tire.
Years ago it was very common for gravel and other junk to eventually wear a hole in the impeller housing. Even today I hear of owners who get a large rock, hammer or other surprise into the impeller and before the unit can stop it puts a large dent or crack in the housing. If the housing is all one piece you are looking at $300-400 for a repair. The Troy-Bilt uses a replaceable poly section that is inexpensive to replace.
All the modern snow blowers have gone to hanging chutes. These chutes don’t bind up, don’t get stiff and hard to use in cold weather and don’t rust. This Troy-Bilt uses a hanging chute and this area is just a guide to hold the chute in place. There is no load – meaning nothing to wear here.
The deflector control is simple. It doesn’t bind up or wear out.
Troy-Bilt’s come standard with large steel reversible skid shoes. If you would like ply you can replace them with large poly shoes for about $30. Take a look at how the Troy-Bilt’s shoes are tilted and how the auger housing tilts back compared to the Ariens in the background. The reason for that is because this snow blower uses the large frame transmission which normally has 16X6.5 inch tires. To get the clearance for the smaller 24 inch width Troy-Bilt had to use smaller 15X5 inch tires. These shorter tires cause the unit to look like it tilts back. There is nothing wrong with this. Everything works including the bottom scraper as designed.
The Working End. The 3-stage system on the Troy-Bilt is designed to collect the snow with the two red augers (flights) and then the white augers, spinning at 10 times the speed of the red augers, blast snow into the 4 blade impeller in the rear. Troy-Bilt claims that this system coupled with a larger engine will clear snow 50% faster than their 2-stage system. I have not had a chance to use on myself so later on this winter I will update as to how well it works.
Standard hardened scraper bar. For black top, cement and patios adjust the skid shoes so there is about 1/8 inch clearance under the scraper. (thickness of the cardboard the snow blower came in) If you are going to clear off of gravel set it a little higher so you don’t throw a lot of rocks.
No, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Thicker is not always better. The Troy-Bilt auger housing is actually one of the strongest housings on the market. Why? The answer boils down to metal thickness or structural strength. Other brands use thick metal to get the strength you want in the front but at a trade-off of making the snow blower heavier and harder to use. Troy-Bilt use a thinner steel but stamps channels into the steel to give it the same strength. Those bumps and ridges you see in the sides and back of the housing give the Troy-Bilt housing strength without adding a lot of weight. The channels are tapered so you won’t get stress cracks over time. This bucket will not cave in or warp like most of the Chinese brands (and even a few U.S. made snow blowers) Yes, the Internet lies! By the way: The white stripes are reflectors.
If you read comments on the Internet you will read the opinion that you must have a brace above the center auger gearbox to have a strong snow blower. That comment is from an un-informed person, not a person who understands how snow blowers are built. In the next four pictures I will use diagrams to explain why Troy-Bilt does not need to use braces on the gear box.
The reason some snow blowers use braces is because the auger shaft coming out of the center gearbox does not go all the way to the ends of the auger housing. For example this Husqvarna ST327P gearbox uses a stub shaft. This box has to be held in place with a bracket or it will twist and tear up the augers.
The augers on the Husqvarna ST327P are hollow tubes and supported on the outside with bushings and connected to the short shaft of the auger gearbox. The auger fits closely to the auger gearbox shaft so it doesn’t vibrate. The shear pins hold the auger tightly to the shaft.
The cast iron gearbox on the Ariens Deluxe and Platinum snow blowers is also designed with stub shafts coming out of the gearbox. So the braces hold the gearbox in place and keep it from twisting under load. Shear pins connect the augers to the gearbox stubby auger shafts. Ariens has a grease fitting here so the if a shear pin breaks the auger shaft will spin freely.
The Troy-Bilt is built differently. The front auger shaft runs the entire width of the snow blower. Because of this the center gearbox does not need a brace. The auger shaft is supported on the ends with maintenance free bronze bushings. (Bronze bushings are used because they will handle impact/shock loads better than ball bearings) The augers are not part of the load-bearing components and because of that they are designed to spin easily on the auger shaft if a shear pin breaks. This allows Troy-Bilt to use smaller shear pins that protect the whole system faster from hard objects like shoes, bricks and frozen newspapers. Which system is better? The stub shaft like Husqvarna or the full shaft like Troy-Bilt? The answer is neither one. Both do the same thing just differently. By the way the reason aluminum gearboxes got a bad rap was because another brand used stub shafts without bracing and the vibration and twisting tore out the gearboxes.
Troy-Bilt uses a shear pin to protect each auger flight so there are four shear pins on the 24 inch Vortex 2490. When a shear pin breaks it is designed to fall out so replacement is easy right out on your driveway. No need to get the drift punch, hammer and flashlight. Then try to find the sheared off pin in a shaft and pound it out with the punch and hammer.
The entire front end of the Troy-Bilt is designed to be maintenance free because most homeowners today don’t have the time or experience or tools to do any routine maintenance besides changing the oil and putting fuel stabilizer in the fuel. Instead of grease zerks. For example, The augers have more clearance between the tube and the full length shaft and plastic bushings keep the auger centered. You don’t have to lubricate the shaft and it never rusts and sticks onto the shaft. By the way these plastic bushings are just guides and don’t wear out or break.
The white augers use the same shear pins as the red side augers.
Secret Number Two: Replacing the back shear pin. There is one person on the Internet who made a big stink about breaking this back shear pin and then not being able to put a new one in. Look closely and you will see that the pin lines up with the blades on the impeller. So if you break this shear pin remember that the hole in the shaft is lined up with the blades on the impeller.
Lowes Service Tag
The parts you need – All on permanent label on the rear of the machine! Any Troy-Bilt, MTD, Cub Cadet will be able to quickly get these parts. The majority of the parts are also available at Amazon. Just use this link and type in the part number. MTD Snow Blower Parts
That’s it! If you have any questions feel free to leaves them in the comment section below.
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