The Toro Power Max HD 826 OXE Model 38805 is a great choice if you have a smaller area to clear but want or need the best, heavy-duty snow blower available.
In reality there are very few small heavy-duty small snow blowers on the market. The players are the Ariens Platinum 24 ($1699), The Husqvarna ST 324 ($1399) and this one – the Toro Power Max Heavy Duty 826 OXE ($1399). There are two others that claim to be in this class, the Cub Cadet 3X 24 HD ($1299) and the Honda HSS724ATD/HSS724AWD ($2519/$2379) but I have not had the chance to use/review them to verify if they are as heavy-duty as they claim.
Anyone who wants a heavy duty snow blower but only has a 1 or 2 car driveway up to 150 feet long.
You need to throw your snow as far as possible
You live in an area that gets over 100 inches a year.
You get a lot of heavy, wet snow.
You have hard surfaces, gravel and turf to clear.
You want to clear a path through the woods.
You have a driveway that slopes to one side or your drive is steeply sloped up or down.
You want a machine that will last. I will go into detail in the pictures why this snow blower will last.
This review is going to be a picture review. I started this type of review this fall and it has been an overwhelming success. The review will be all pictures with an explanation under each one. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and some popcorn. This review is long with over 50 pictures and explanations.
Toro manufactures a snow blower for just about everyone including an electric shovel, single stage snow throwers, the SnowMaster, two-stage homeowner Power Max models, two-stage heavy-duty Power Max HD models and a conversion kit for the Groundsmaster 7200
Even though I did not purchase one of these to test this year I am quite familiar with its features and capabilities. So to write this review I asked my local Toro dealer Eau Claire Lawn Equipment to “borrow” one to take pictures with. Thanks Jason and Tanya for letting me make a mess of your showroom!
The Toro HD 826 OXE looks different from other brands. The tall wheels and large discharge make it feel massive but in reality it’s dimensions are basically the same as the other heavy-duty snow blowers. It appears to have more “plastic” than other snow blowers. I’ll tell you later on why this “sub-zero” material is important in making this one of the best heavy-duty snow blowers on the market.
Toro uses a heavy-duty powder coating on the high tensile strength steel. Red is one of the hardest colors to make so that it does not fade when left out in the sun. Toro uses a high quality polymer that doesn’t fade or flake off. Toro has perfected this process so that all of their equipment looks as good after 10 years as it did the day you brought it home.
Right Front View. The 26 inch wide housing is 21 1/2 inches tall. This allows you to handle deep drifts but is not so tall as to obstruct your view of the snow in front of you. Toro has a unique optional drift cutter that not only cuts along the side but also cuts the top of drifts so that the snow falls in front of the auger housing instead of over the top.
The HD 826 OXE is the middle snow blower. I will show you the differences between the 826 OXE on the left and the HD 928 OXE to its right.
Toro’s labeling can be confusing so when you go to a dealer so try to use the model numbers instead. The Toro 826 OXE Model 38871 on the left is a medium duty snow blower. The HD 826 38805 is a heavy-duty snow blower. It compares to the Ariens Platinum 24 and the Husqvarna ST324. Looking at the two from the front you can see the larger auger and impeller on the HD 38805. The intake is a little higher. The gearbox is larger and the Power Max® Anti-Clogging System (ACS) above the front auger is also larger. I’ll show you other differences as we go along.
When you walk around to the back of the HD 826 OXE Model 38805 and compare it to the 826 OXE Model 38871 the differences are very easy to see. The HD uses much larger 16 inch tires, a heavier transmission case (frame) and does not have the poly transmission cover.
When you look at the handles the HD 826 OXE has triggers under the handles for the power steering. To turn the snow blower you just pull the trigger and the wheel on that side free-wheels so you can make as tight of turn as you want. The 826 OXE in comparison does not have triggers. The steering on the 826 OXE is automatic meaning when you move the handles the locking differential inside the transmission automatically unlocks letting you make the turn.
If you go to a dealer that does not sell Toro that dealer may try to tell you his snow blowers are better because, “Toro uses too much plastic.” In reality the “plastic” is a heavy-duty polymer that is rated for -104 degrees and guaranteed for life. This “Sub Zero Material” is one of the secrets that makes this Toro one of the most efficient snow blowers on the market. It allows them to make aerodynamic curves inside the auger housing that greatly increases the efficiency and capacity without needing huge amounts of horse power. I’ll discuss why it’s not a gimmick in a later picture.
Cockpit View. From the front or side this snow blower looks massive but once you stand behind it you notice that you have a clear view of what’s going on up front. The controls are larger so they are easy to use with gloved hands but are designed so even the smallest hands don’t have problems using them. Notice the light is off to the right side and has a wide pattern so you can easily see you work in the dark.
When you grab the handles and go to move it around once the best features of this snow blower quickly becomes apparent. It’s balanced so well that even the smallest person can lift it over a curb or turn it on the driveway. In fact, it’s balanced so well that if you install a snow blower cab you have to add a front weight to rebalance the snow blower.
Don’t let competing dealers tell you their snow blower is better because their snow blower has metal handles. Toro uses a material for the handles that is extremely strong, yet will give a little if you happen to catch it on a fence or other obstruction. One thing I like about these handles is they have finger grips molded in. My hands stay on the controls better. Note: The 88805 does not have hand warmers.
Toro’s Quick Stick Chute Control is simply the easiest mechanical system on the market. It is also one of the most durable and with 10’s of thousands of these controls in use it has proven to be very reliable. Even using this chute control commercially the system lasts.
The HD 826 OXE Model 38805 uses the same 252 cc engine as the 826 OXE Model 38871. I forgot to take pictures of it on the HD model so…. This is Toro’s Premium Engine and designed to give you years of trouble-free use. Unlike engines of the past this engine will last as long as the snow blower itself.
Throttle on the right. Fuel shutoff on the left. When you are done clearing your snow just turn the fuel shutoff closed and then let the snow blower run out of fuel. If you use fuel stabilizer like Sea Foam or Stabil 360 this will empty the carb and coat the interior of the fuel system with a protective layer to keep it from gumming up or oxidizing.
Starting the cold engine. 1. Push the throttle all the way to the right. 2. Turn the fuel shutoff knob to full open. 3. If you ran the carb dry the last time you used it, wait 10-15 seconds for gas to run into the carb. 4. Then follow the starting procedure in the picture. Make sure the safety key is inserted all the way. Push the primer bulb 3 times. Move the choke lever all the way to the left and then pull the starter rope (or use the electric starter) If it does not start after the third pull pump the primer bulb three more times. Once the engine starts to fire move the choke to the right until it smoothes out. Yes, it will blow gray or black smoke until you open the choke. Note: The choke has notches for a reason. You may not be able to move the choke lever all the way to the right even with the engine warmed up. Some cold weather or high moisture conditions will cause this. In fact, the engine may not stay running with the choke in the full open position. This is normal on a cold weather engine from all the manufactures.
Still on the engine. The engine oil drain is long enough so oil doesn’t drip all over the transmission case but it’s not quite as easy to use as a drain out the back of the engine. You still need to hold a shallow pan over the wheel or use a funnel.
Like all of the Toro Premium engines changing the spark plug is easy. There is also a screw plug on the carburetor bowl in case you have to drain old gas out of the snow blower.
Next let’s take a peak inside the transmission. The Toro Power Max HD is one of the toughest transmissions on the market. How tough is it? The story goes that Toro needed a transmission to power their commercial 36 inch Power Broom. Power brooms are so tough on drive trains that everyone else had to use a hydrostatic transmission. After much debate they decided to test this transmission on the broom to see if it would hold up. They connected the power brush to it and proceeded to dethatch the 29 acre lawn at their main headquarters. It worked just fine so they tested it again and again. 240 hours later they opened up the transmission and did a detailed review. The transmission had no appreciable wear! Even the friction drive tire only had about 40% wear. This is one tough tranny!
The transmission is called a chain drive and all the parts are over-engineered for strength and long life. The component in this picture is the left power steering clutch. It uses a set of tapered dogs that never stick and are built tough enough that they don’t wear out. The only maintenance for this transmission is to oil one component (the hex shaft) once a year. I’ve talked to the engineer who originally designed this transmission and he is very proud of how well it has held up.
Here is a picture of the left power steering disengaged. Every part is built for heavy-duty commercial use.
Every part of the Toro HD 826 OXE is built to last. Even the bolts holding on the transmission cover are Grade 5. Toro doesn’t have a “commercial” snow blower line. Instead the Power Max HD is strong enough that homeowners, municipalities, schools and commercial operators all use the HD line. In other words when you go to the Professional Contractor, Government and Municipalities sections of Toro’s sites you see the same snow blowers as you can buy here.
Grade 5 cover bolt.
The only reason you would ever need to remove a tire and rim is if you needed to fix a flat so Toro bolts them on the HD models. The bolt has that little black spacer on it so the threads don’t interfere with the strength of the bolt. Toro uses nylon lock nuts throughout the snow blower so you can repair the unit without ruining bolts.
Large 16 inch tires. Tall narrow tires give you the best traction. In addition the Toro Power Max HD has all the weight of the snow blower over the wheels. This makes it easy to use and gives you the best traction!
Toro is the only manufacture to brace the auger and impeller housing. This brace insures that the front end never twists or warps. This is a great feature if your teenagers or employees are little rough on equipment.
Metal skid shoes are standard on the HD models. They have long wearing poly shoes available if you have pavers or stained concrete that you don’t want scratched.
I am not going to spend a lot of your time on the Quick Chute. It is the easiest 4-way chute to use and every part of the chute is designed not to break. Metal is used where it’s needed and the parts that the snow moves through are made of Toro’s Sub Zero Material. Chute, deflector and Anti-Clogging System are made of this special cold-weather material durable to -104˚ F and guaranteed for life. It is also rust-free, so there’s no binding or lubrication needed. Snow and ice won’t stick.
Some of you think plastic equals “cheap.” But that is not the case on the Toro Power Max HD snow blowers. The poly covers on the Toro are designed so snow slides off the snow blower. The other poly parts are designed to give this snow blower uniques features that greatly increase it’s snow handling capabilities. I’ll go into detail in later pictures.
Before we move around to the front end two more pictures. The headlight uses sealed automotive type connections. This is the same dependable part Toro uses on their commercial mowers costing well over $100,000!
Sealed, pre-lubricated cables and commercial grade mounting.
Before I go into the details of the front auger and impeller watch the short video below. It explains Toro’s exclusive Anti-Clogging system.
I could write an entire article on why the Toro snow blowers work so well but I’ll try to keep it short for you here. One of the main requirements for most of us is that our snow blower throw the maximum distance. The Toro Anti-Clogging System is a no-gimmick way to do that. With a normal 2-stage or 3-stage system all the snow that the front auger throws into the impeller has to go out the chute. If the snow is sticky too much snow can plug the chute. If the snow is too heavy it lugs the engine down to the point where it no longer will throw the snow as far as you want. With the Toro system the black poly piece in the top of the impeller housing allows extra snow to move away from the impeller and gets recycled back into the auger. This allows the snow blower impeller to run at the maximum rpm all the time. This allows the engine to keep the impeller running at maximum speed which lets the Toro consistently throw snow as far as possible. This is also the main reason why Toro snow blowers don’t need the high horsepower engines (read gas hogs) the other brands use.
Another picture of the inside of the Anti-Clogging System. You can see it is aerodynamically designed to move the snow well.
The top of the impeller housing is Toro’s Sub-Zero material. It is extra slippery so snow does not stick. I rarely hear of anyone stating their Toro snow blower plugs when moving wet snow or slush.
Toro’s gearbox uses an aluminum housing for cooling. It is not a “cheap” gearbox. What makes the Toro’s gearbox unique is they use hardened steel gears for both the worm and pinion. These gears are so strong that Toro does not need shear pins in the front auger to protect it. Because it uses hardened gears the Toro gearbox uses 90 wt gear oil instead of grease. To check the oil remove the black pipe plug once a year. Finally, Toro’s gearbox does not need bracing because the front auger shaft runs the entire width of the snow blower housing. Anyone who tells you their gear box is stronger because it has braces does not understand how these snow blowers are designed.
This is not a shear bolt. In fact it is a hardened bolt so it won’t break. It is only used to hold the auger to the auger shaft. Why is it so long? Toro uses a longer bolt and that spacer so the threads on the bolt don’t take away from the shear strength of the bolt.
There are two shear bolts on the impeller. In case you get a rock, frozen newspaper or other surprise into the machine these bolts will break before the impeller gets bent out of shape and/or broken.
Other manufactures use heavy cast iron or thick plates to give their impeller more mass. For them that extra mass (and large engines) helps to keep the snow blower from lugging down when blowing heavy snow. Toro on the other hand wants the impeller to run at maximum rpm all the time so they use a lighter impeller with the Anti-Clogging system. This impeller is braced and balanced yet lightweight. This design allows Toro to use less horsepower but still move the same amount of snow as other brands.
Of course Toro has a drain hole in the back of the impeller housing. This keeps the impeller from freezing into the housing if you don’t get it clean enough when you put the snow blower away after a snowstorm.
One final feature that the sales associate at the big box stores won’t tell you. Toro uses a scraper bar like everyone else but they also use a rub bar behind the scraper. This rub bar helps the snow blower ride over rough areas better and I think it helps so the scraper bar does not wear down as quickly on rough cement.
Feel free at ask any questions in the comments below. In the picture, left to right: Toro PowerMax 826 OXE, Power Max HD 826 OXE, Power Max HD 928 OXE, Power Max HD 1028 OXE, Power Max HD 1128 OXE,
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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