I purchased this snow thrower from Amazon.com a few weeks ago, and haven't made use of it yet. However, I can provide some information that might help you decide if this is the right model for you:
- This (part 1696002) is also known as the Snapper M1227EX - It has heated handles (switch to turn on/off) - It has a pair of headlamps (always on - no switch) - It is electric start (via household power, no battery) - It has 2 electric chute controls (chute rotation and deflector height) - It has a Briggs & Stratton motor, 250cc (as described) with no throttle adjustment. - Standard built-in gas tank, no fuel cut-off that I can find. You will probably want to mix in some fuel stabilizer for summer storage. - It does NOT have easy-turn functionality that you will find on some of the Sears models. If you want to turn the blower around easily (without dragging tires) you will have to run it without a drive pin in the right wheel (i.e. one-wheel drive)
It appears to be reasonably well built. The sheet metal housing around the auger isn't super thick, and I worry a bit about the thin metal housing bending, but the frame itself seems sturdy enough. I would say similar in thickness to the sears models, if you have seen those. On the plus side, it's pretty easy to push down on the handles (which tips up the auger away from the ground) to move it around, since it is not very front-heavy.
It is easy to start, and has started on the first pull all 4 times that I have tried it (using choke and prime as designed.) I doubt that I will use the electric start option, as it has a nice pull handle and starts with so little effort. It's more work to push the device around than it is to start.
The motor is pretty noisy - my ears ring after running it for less than a minute. Definitely louder than a regular push mower. My guess is that most blowers with B&S motors are this noisy, as it appears to carry a standard B&S muffler. Consider wearing ear protection.
It is fairly easy to push around on dry pavement and/or loose, unpaved road base (part of my driveway is unpaved) IF you take the drive pin out of the right wheel. Otherwise, it's a bit of a pain to move around. Probably much easier in the snow. My driveway is flat, so I will probably just run like this. If you have a steep driveway, you probably want to consider a different model (maybe one with the easy-turn option.)
The case it shipped in was pretty serious. It had it's own wooden frame, which took some effort to tear apart. It was definitely packed well.
Looking forward to the first snow. I have high expectations!
I didn't have to use this last year with such a low amount of snow but I did anyway. The skid shoes on the sides of the unit need to be raised about 1/4" or the extreme tread grip will make the snowblower constantly bounce and do virtually no good at all. If you raise the frame too much it will leave a layer of snow everywhere. Other than that the unit is great. I wish it had the push-button turning feature of the more expensive model but if you're not too short and are patient enough you should be able to pivot the unit or make use of the VERY SLOW rear gears. It moves ven heavy, wet slow a long way. I like this and I don't min being the only one in the house who will use it. I did run out of as about two thirds through my driveway and sidewalk though. So when you finish mowing for the year, fill up the gas can again. When the snow melts don't forget to use the gas preservative that comes with the unit ensure the gas won't go bad. I am using this for my lawn mower as well, just in case. I put about ten drops in a full snowblower tank and it lasted all year, plus I started the blower a few times to make sure everything was working. What a joy to have the heated hand warmers and push- button chute operation!!
After extensive comparison shopping and evaluation of the features I found the exact snowblower on Amazon. However, what arrived was an older model without all the features described. Several communications with Briggs and Stratton and with Amazon concluded that this was a prior year model. Amazon refused to take snowblower back and exchange or refund.
I was stuck with this model, but it works beautifully. The power chute adjustments are easy to operate and work beautifully. Electric start is pure push button. We've only had a max of about 4" so far but the snowblower went through it quickly and easily.
I think the wheel releases I didn't get would have been great additions to make turning easier but this snowblower is excellent otherwise
I haven't ran the machine yet, but it arrived with part of the control area broken off. The piece of plastic that the spout swivel switch is mounted to didn't come with the unit (broke off in transit). I can't really return it easily because it took a long time to get it delivered (even with Prime) and snow is just around the corner. Also, you have to destroy the crate to get it out. It looks like a good solid unit otherwise.
I just received this snow blower but have not had an opportunity to use it yet. If it works as good as it seems I'm sure I'd give it 5 stars. I'm impressed with how well built it is, easy to set-up out of the crate, started right away, etc. Since I bought this in the middle of winter I can be sure there won't be anymore snow storms!