Toro Power Clear 418 ZR/ZE Snowthrower, Model 38282
Winters in New England are harder to figure out than the end of the world. Even the weathermen don't try to second guess what's headed our way or out into the Atlantic. We have a favorite saying here: If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change.
However, last year was a recordbreaker with a 3-day event that dumped over 18" of snow in parts of Connecticut. It was that event that made me promise to get a snowblower before this season hit. I went to the local hardware store where two years prior I had purchased my riding mower and where I have equipment serviced. They know me there.
The most important issue for me was whether I could handle the machine: its size, its weight. The salesman knew I had a very bad back and had had two surgeries so these issues were critical. We examined the two smallest Toro snowthrowers. I'd had excellent luck with the Toro brand in other outdoor equipment.
The smallest one was the Toro Power Clear 418 ZR/ZE Snowthrower, Model 38282. The next size was considerably larger and slightly intimidating to me (5'2"), and I was sure it would be too much for me to handle so I selected the smaller of the two.
My driveway is 119" long and 10' wide with a 34' wide turn around in front of the two garage doors. The machine I picked would have to be able to handle that area. The salesman promised this model could do it.
The second most important issue was that it have an electric starter. A pull-cord and a bad back are not compatible. I got full instructions how to start it, which was simple enough. However, there is a Recoil Starter Handle as an option.
We went through the rest of the operating instructions, which were easily clear.
Warranty: Two-year warranty if used for residential purposes. What's good about buying at a local hardware store is they often repair the products they sell; not so with large chain stores, which would charge shipping costs.
Discharge Chute: Changing the direction side to side is done manually using the Chute Handle. The Chute Deflector Trigger is used to raise or lower the height of the discharge. Both adjustments are easily made even while the unit is running.
Electric Start: 1. Push the Ignition Key fully inward to the On position.
2. Move the Choke Lever fully to the right.
3. Firmly push in the Primer two times with your thumb.
4 Insert the extension cord to a power source and the machine.
5. Push the Electric Start Button. NOTE: Only Model 38282 has this feature.
Steps 4 and 5 above is how the start-up procedure is described in the Operator's Manual. I was told by the salesman that the cord can be plugged in before Step 1. You should get the same outcome whether you plug in before Step 1 or at Step 5 above.
Also, Step 4 and 5 are combined in the manual as one step. I've separated them here to be able to make the power before or after distinction. The snowthrower does not have to be plugged into a power source overnight or for any length of time for charging. That was also important to me because of the anticipation factor. I wanted a unit that would start when I was ready.
IMPORTANT! While discussing the operation with the salesman, he made it clear to me that: To get the Rotor Blades to operate, I would need to hold the Control Bar (#1 in the pix above) against the Handle throughout the time I used the machine to throw snow. Also, I would need to lift and hold the Handle up at the same time during the operation. This "holding up" the Handle in order to tilt the machine forward, was to ensure "the scraper and Rotor Blades touch the ground and that the machine would propel forward." These two operations would need to be performed simultaneously while the machine was running. This should have been warning enough for my not purchasing this model snowthrower.
It's snowed only once since I made the purchase so I have used this Toro only once. During that one-time use, I found this model Toro not to be ergonomically comfortable or user friendly.
The Control Bar could be tied or taped to the handle so you wouldn't have to grip it; however, while eliminating the need to hold it, it would still be uncomfortable. Long before I gave up, my hands were quite sore. My back was also in distress from having to tilt the machine and keep it tilted during operation.
The forward propel is little enough. On the inclines, I still had to push to propel the thrower forward. The two little wheels in the back are plastic and seem to be inadequate for the task. There are no wheels in the front. The unit has to be tilted sufficiently for the scraper, which is behind the Rotor Blades, to scrape the snow into the blades.
So here's the picture: I start the engine; wheel it to the starting position; pull the Control Bar back against the Handle and hold it there all the while I want the Rotor Blades rotating; lift up on the Handle so the scraper will hug the driveway and scrape the snow into the blades; push the unit while holding and lifting. The unit will toss snow without you lifting, but you won't get a clear path. So if you're okay with not clearing to the pavement, you can eliminate the lifting. However, this means you will be walking over the path you just cleared and will be packing that snow down and will also be in more of a danger of slipping on the path you're walking on.
The chute does not throw 30.' In the area that's 34' wide, I need to get into the middle and work my way out otherwise I will be throwing snow onto an area I had already cleared. Strategy is important if you have a wide area.
Clearly this was not the right snowthrower for me.
So unless you're Paul Bunyon or Shrek, I would suggest a different model.