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OT: repair ancient Toro snowthrower or buy new?

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  • OT: repair ancient Toro snowthrower or buy new?

    I had my old 24" Toro supposedly tuned up a few years ago and it was totally crapping out on me today, I think the carb was flooding. Sadly, I'm not an engine guy, was raised a city boy by a city boy. The guy at the local garden center that worked on it commented that it weighs a ton compared to newer models, that seems a good thing! Old iron is what we're about, right? It has to be at least 30 years old, my dad gave it to me like 18 years ago, and he had gotten it used.

    I'm too lame to screw around when I need this thing, I need a dependable unit. So....

    A: should I repair or replace?
    B: If repair, how do I find someone? Who works on these besides garden centers? You'd think I could find someone to work on it in my yard, rather than schlep it to their shop.
    C: If replace, with what? I don't have a huge place, but about 80' of driveway and 50 of sidewalk to do.

    I have a vague idea that when I no longer want to wrestle with one of these, I'll make a deal with a kid that he can use it to make money if he does my property for free. But maybe that would be only pennywise.

    Thoughts would be appreciated, hopefully last night was the last snowstorm of our season!
    Location: Jersey City NJ USA

  • #2
    Replace its not worth messing with.


    • #3
      Pictures? The old machines were loaded with actual bearings instead of bushings, heavy gauge steel, and cast iron gear boxes. If it's in otherwise good shape maybe consider a repower.


      • #4
        Have you been using ethanol free gas in it?

        Just as an aside, I have a Toro 20" "Snow Hound", around 50 years old now.
        Last edited by Arcane; 03-22-2018, 11:21 PM.
        Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada


        • #5
          Yes, keep that thing! If the unit is basically sound, you will be better off. The carb is probably the culprit but the ignition system could also use a check over as well. If it runs, it will likely out last you! Otherwise, just send it to me!


          • #6
            At least you CAN repair old ones. I'd do it.

            For one thing, that was probably made back when stuff was actually made to be used, and not made to sell, not made purely to a price in some low cost foreign nation. So, it was designed to work well, it was made to be repaired. I think the city boy needs to learn some basic carburetor and engine repair. I say carburetor, because that is the usual (but not the only possible) cause of problems. It may need cleaned out and washed out with solvent. Could be as simple as a blocked jet, something got through whatever filter is in place.

            There are three things needed to run a gasoline engine. Gas, compression, and a spark. Compression is somewhat negotiable, gas is not, and a spark is a bit negotiable also. If it does not start, drip some gas on the air cleaner element, or down the carb. If it starts, probably a carburetor issue. (a half teaspoon or so down the carb, just slosh some on the air cleaner)*

            To check basic spark, remove the plug, connect the wire to it, and lay it on some bare metal on the engine. have someone pull the starter while you look at the plug, shading the plug if it is bright out. You should see a good fat spark. Compression you usually can feel as you pull the starter, but it is rarely a problem, except in old engines where the rings are either worn or gummed up with carbon and not touching the cylinder walls reliably.

            I got a free lawnmower last year. Friend of my wife was getting rid of it because it did not work. it has a PLASTIC carburetor, not meant to be repaired. Of course that was the problem. They are university profs, not engineering, and would rather pay for repairs, or buy another.

            I did fix it, I found where and how to snap the plastic parts apart, and cleaned out a quantity of some sort of crystals, as well as gum and the usual crud from the machine being left with gas in it over winter. Worked on the third pull after it was re-assembled.

            the usual repair would be to replace the carb, which probably would cost as much as the mower.

            * someone is sure to warn about backfires lighting gas on the air cleaner..... I've never had it happen, but I put the cover back on, which should cool it too much to be lit.
            Last edited by J Tiers; 03-22-2018, 11:50 PM.

            Keep eye on ball.
            Hashim Khan


            • #7
              Fix the carb. Flooding is often as simple as new needle valve and/or seat. Trivial and cheap. Plenty of u-tube and DIY guides.


              • #8
                Yes, forgot to mention flooding, and OP even mentioned it. Have seen it so bad that gas ran out the muffler.

                Float valve jammed, crud in it, or needs a new seat and valve plunger. A few bucks only, plus a solvent washout.

                Keep eye on ball.
                Hashim Khan


                • #9
                  Do what it takes to learn how to fix it. Lots of info at your disposal if you choose to do so. You being here suggests you have some mechanical abilities and you can have the opportunity learn some new tricks along the way. Another feather in you cap if you will.
                  Buying a new one only prolongs the inevitable as it will still be fundamentally of the same working principle, only more difficult to actually fix, as in replacing components rather than being able to repair them. It's only a matter of time when it too will need some attention.

                  If this borders on a level you aren't comfortable with remember there is no shame in farming the snow removal out either. Everybody has their own comfort level.
                  Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                  Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                  Location: British Columbia


                  • #10
                    I live near the seattle area, and in this climate really the only problem i find is the ethanol separating out of the gasoline due to water soaking into the gas. this causes a jelly of aluminum hydroxide weird stuff in the bottom of the aluminum carb bowl that clogs the jet. no seafoam doesn't dissolve it.

                    most anything made in the last 20 years will probably not be affected by ethanol gas, but older systems will have orings that will expand and soak up ethanol, you will need to replace them.

                    it is possible the oring in the carb float needle valve has soaked up enough ethanol to expand and fold over itself, and that's why its flooding.

                    btw you can pull all the ethanol out of the gas simply by dumping about 1 fluid ounce of water into a gallon of gas and vigorously shaking it. the ethanol-water mix will separate out. no, i'm not tempted to drink it, although i've heard the phrase "jungle juice" came from doing just that.. some third world country we shouldn't have sent 20 year olds into.. but i digress.

                    but i doubt that you can put such ethanol free gas in your engine and suck the ethanol back out of the rubber. you will probably have to take it apart and replace the oring that the needle plunger sits against.

                    but if you can buy a gallon of ethanol free gas, you might be able to let the oring sit in that for a week and it might shrink back.

                    people keep talking about gas going bad. i burned 250 gallons of 4 year old gasoline in my 1996 s10 (4.3L vortec) (stored in a heating oil tank in 55F average temperature) and didn't notice any problems. we burned about a dozen gallons of it in my brother's vw jetta 1995 2L. he hesitated a bit saying "this doesn't even smell like gasoline" but we didn't notice anything different.
                    Last edited by johansen; 03-23-2018, 03:46 AM.


                    • #11
                      When I bought replacement keyboards for my laptops, I noticed that the seller also sells a wide range of replacement carburetors, mostly under $20. That might be a good option:


                      Another possibility would be replacing the entire engine with one of the new "Predator" gas engines from Harbor Freight. About $100 for a 6.5 HP:


                      If it were mine, I'd be tempted to retrofit it with an electric motor. Quiet, clean, simple, and reliable. But obviously not suitable for the "electrically challenged".
                      Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                      USA Maryland 21030


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PStechPaul View Post

                        Another possibility would be replacing the entire engine with one of the new "Predator" gas engines from Harbor Freight. About $100 for a 6.5 HP:

                        you can't be serious.


                        • #13
                          Only someone from NJ would say this about a tune up a few years ago and now it doesn't run right. My God man what do you exoect? Have you used it this year and it ran good?
                          Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                          How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by johansen View Post
                            you can't be serious.
                            Do you have direct experience or is this prejudice?

                            My local Honda power tool manufacturing plant makes Predator engines.
                            Bill Pendergrass
                            Rotec RM-1 w/Rusnok head
                            Atlas TH42 QC10


                            • #15

                              I'd repair it, but I'm running a 35 year-old Murray garden tractor with a snowblower and a 15 year old Honda Foreman with a snowplow. Expecting 7" of wet snow tonight and the Murray won't start and I think the Honda has water in the gas, freezing the float in position. But I just need time to do that, you need money.

                              If you want to start working on small engines, I'd say you have the perfect platform to start with. The Tecumseh & Briggs motors are easy to work on and there's lots of help online.

                              If you can't be bothered learning to fix it, it's going to cost you more and more to keep it running over time as parts wear out. My Murray came with the house and I lost track of how many things I've had to replace in the 12 years I've had it. If I had to pay $100+ every time I needed work done, I'd have tossed it out years ago.

                              Me, I'd keep it, but I like working on that old stuff (when I don't have a snowstorm breathing down my neck...). I understand that some people just want things to work, though, and that's perfectly reasonable.