Toro Power Clear Snow Thrower - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Good value in a medium duty blower with a capacity of up to 1,700 lbs of snow per minute and a 30' throwing distance

toro_blower

Toro Power Clear Snow Thrower



When I lived in Ottawa my driveway was, I think, a fairly typical size for most urban centers - it measured about 12' wide and some 55' long. Fortunately for me, on either side of the driveway were lawns, where I could store the bane of winter until spring arrived. I researched several mid-sized blower and settled on the Toro Power Clear, model 221QR.
 
Apart from the handle and the black drive belt cover and access panel, the body of the Toro 221QR is made from a high impact ABS plastic. This helps reduce the overall weight of the machine (a paltry 74 lbs), and makes for less rust potential. I don't have a problem with plastic for the body - automakers have been using dent resistant plastic body panels for some time.
 
The two stroke 141cc commercial grade R*Tek (Reliable TEChnology) engine is made by Briggs & Stratton for Toro. Two stroke engines are light, powerful and simply designed. They've been around for eons, and if properly maintained can operate without problems for the duration of their work life. You need to feed the engine its proper gas/oil diet (in this case a 50:1 gas-to-oil blend). The model I bought has a recoil (pull the cord) start; an electric start model is also available if you have a shoulder or back problem that might be exacerbated by a pulling motion. However, I found the Toro 221QR very easy to pull start; typically one or two pulls is all it takes. And, unlike the electric start model, there's no need to bother with an extension power cord. Even at -20°C the Toro 221QR started easily.


017
Controls: ignition key, primer, and recoil start handle
020
Easy to use choke lever
 
The controls are up front - ignition key, primer, and recoil start handle. Right below this is the choke lever. I found that after a couple of minutes I could turn the choke completely off, which helped reduce the noise level somewhat. Two stroke engines are really loud - I measured this one at 98.6 dB in use.
 

blades
The Toro 221QR has three very nice features. First, is the 'Power Propel Drive System'. What this really means is that the two rotor blades pull the blower forward as they rotate. Which, of course, saves you from having to push the blower forward by sheer muscle power. I really like this feature. It also adds a level of safety when using the blower - as soon as you let go of the control bar the blower stops advancing. The rotor blades are made of a reinforced rubber. Still, this set-up means that the rotor blades will be subject to a lot of wear, as they are constantly in contact with the driveway surface - pavement, concrete or gravel. Replacement will be inevitable, depending on the condition of your driveway and the amount of snow blowing you do.
 
The second feature is the 'Quick Shoot Control System'. There is a large blue lever (the Quick Shoot Control) on the right side of the handle that enables you to turn the discharge chute 180°, via a cable connected to the discharge chute. You can easily direct the flow of snow exactly where you want it to go without slowing down or stopping.


quick_ shoot
Quick Shoot Control
chute2
Discharge chute with Zip Deflector on top
The third feature is the 'Zip Deflector', which sits on the top of the discharge chute. You can change the throwing distance (up to a maximum 30') by adjusting the angle of the deflector. The Zip Deflector however, isn't connected to the handle via a cable, as is the Quick Shoot Control.
 
The Toro 221QR has a 21" clearing width, and is rated at 1,700 pounds of snow per minute. The unique curved rotor and inverted funnel housing design helps move a high volume of snow and virtually eliminates clogging. The rubber rotor blades are quite large - 8-1/2" by 17-1/2". Wear indicators let you know when the blades need to be replaced - which will depend on the amount of use your blower gets.
 

inuse
On my 660 square foot driveway the Toro 221QR worked well. When there was a large snow storm I removed snow when it reached about 6" to 8" in depth; which meant I usually did the job twice. Otherwise, if the snow depth is over about 10" the Toro 221QR bogs down more noticeably. Where the snow banks were higher than the intake housing I found it more expedient to break up the banks with a shovel, which only takes a couple of minutes. The street plow usually deposits a foot or two of packed snow at the driveway entrance. The Toro 221QR is useless with this; I had to break it up and disperse the snow with a shovel. I elected not to ram the blower into the snow as this might cause damage to the plastic housing.
 
Still, I was pleased with the Toro 221QR. It makes quick work of cleaning out after a moderate storm - it took me about 20 minutes to clean up after an 8" to 10" snowfall (excluding the driveway entrance, which took another 15 minutes or so.) I found the snow thrower to be light and easy to manoeuvre, and the Quick Shoot Control System very useful. The Toro 221QR retails for $829. I bought it on sale for $769. In Ottawa, the cost of having a snow service plow the driveway is about $350 per season.
 
Safety
 
The Toro 221QR is a safe machine to operate, if you follow a few basic rules. First, and most importantly, never put your hand down the discharge chute or near the rotor blades while the machine is turned on. It's like the rule of not putting your hand near a table saw blade while the table saw is turned on. Second, don't smoke while handling fuel. It goes without saying that you shouldn't let children 'play with' the snow thrower, and if you do convince one of your teenage children to clean the driveway show them how to safely operate the machine before they being using it.
 
Storing Your Blower
 
It's a good idea to remove fuel from the tank before storing the blower. Essentially, you add fuel stabilizer to the fuel, run the blower for five minutes, and then empty the fuel from the blower tank. Fuel stabilizer keeps gasoline fresh and retards the formation of damaging deposits in the fuel system. You may need a friend to help you turn the snow thrower on its side to drain the fuel into a container. Dispose of the fuel in an environmentally friendly way, or reuse it in another 2 stroke engine (weed whacker or chainsaw). Once most of the fuel is removed run the blower until it stops. I then add a couple of drops of two stroke oil into the tank; this helps to keep the piston and engine lubricated throughout the summer. Finally, pull the starter cord a few times to circulate the oil. Toro has a set of clear instructions on doing this in the owner's manual.
 
Your owner's manual will also provide details about what to look for in terms of wear on the rotor blades, drive belt and spark plug. Or, you can bring the blower back to the Toro dealer for servicing.
 
Lastly, you'll want to cover the blower to prevent sun damage and dirt accumulation. Loosen the handle knobs that lock the handle and fold them down for more compact storage. It's best to store the blower under a car port or garden shed, not in your garage or basement. While most of the fuel will have been removed from the blower, any remaining fuel will, over time, vaporize into the surrounding air.


toro_logo
 
KEY FEATURES:


  • 141 cc R*Tek recoil start engine (electric start also available)
  • 1.1 quart fuel capacity
  • 21" clearing width
  • Up to 1,700 lbs/minute capacity
  • Up to 30' throwing distance
  • Quick shoot control system
  • Power propel drive system
  • Weighs 74 lbs (34kg)
  • 2 year warranty (5 years on the R*Tek engine)

MANUFACTURER:Toro
AVAILABLE FROM:Locate a dealer
RETAIL PRICE:$829.00
MODEL #:221QR
MADE IN:China
Carl Duguay, April 2010
Discover more great woodworking reviews!
Subscribe Now and get instance online access to our library filled with exciting woodworking information.
Continue to stay connected to the latest tool reviews with our bi-monthly woodworking magazines!