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"torque steer" (tracking off-line to one side) on snowblowers?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by RenegadeX, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. RenegadeX

    RenegadeX Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    Sorry for the long post, but I want to give a bit of background to my question: who here has difficulty keeping their snowblower going in a straight line?

    In a thread on another forum where snowblowers were being discussed, a new single stage Toro 421Q owner complained that his brand new machine was "hard to control" due to the fact that it pulled to one side - so much so that even after 3 outings with it (with apparently never more than 3" of snow depth), he was still maintaining that his arms were tired from having to fight with it to keep it going in a straight line.

    I was SHOCKED to hear this.. I have its Toro 'little brother' machine, the 221R, which uses an identical paddle to throw snow and propel the machine, and which is about 10lbs lighter than the 421Q - and have no problems keeping my snowblower staying on course with where I want it go.

    There are admittedly a couple of specific circumstances where it does tend to momentarily twist to one side - such as if the ground beneath the snowblower is uneven (such as straddling the curbing that separates the street from a driveway) or if one side of the paddle is running over compressed vehicle tire tracks that have turned icy, while the other side of the paddle gets good traction on the pavement.

    But another poster, who owns a 221, says the tracking problem is a result of having the chute aimed full left or full right, and that the force of snow being thrown out in one direction makes the machine track off-line in the opposite direction (a chute aimed full-left will cause the machine to veer off to the right, and vice-versa). He said he's tested the theory, and confirmed it.

    However, I do almost my entire driveway with the chute aimed full-left and my swaths are all more or less straight as can be. So what gives?

    The unhappy 421Q owner maintains that the problem is with the design of Toro's Power Curve paddle and said that Toro will come to regret the feature after enough complaints come in. Thinking he's jumping to bad conclusions and that it's got to be something else that's causing it, I Googled the problem, and .. found numerous references to the issue, many borrowing the automotive term "torque steer" to describe it.

    Interestingly, most of the hits were found in reviews on Toro's CCR2450 and 3650GTS, which coincidentally perhaps, happen to use the Power Curve paddles. But then I found a few Honda HS520 owners mentioning the same thing - that their machines have a tendency to track offline. I even found someone with an Ariens 2-stage saying the "torque steer" on that was "ridiculous". So it certainly doesn't seem to be a problem exclusive to one auger/paddle design. There's got to be a cause, but what?

    So.. I'm looking for feedback from people who DO experience the issue in normal operation of their snowblower (with chute aimed left or right). What make/model do you have, what type of driveway do you have (blacktop, stone or brick, gravel, etc), is it smooth or bumpy/rutted, is the driveway flat or on an incline, etc -- anything that might possibly contribute to the issue.

    And also: If you do have a Toro 221, 421Q or Honda HS520 or other single stage machine but DON'T experience the issue with the chute aimed left or right, I'd also like to hear that, again with your driveway type and condition, etc
    . Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  2. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    this will seem strainge... but i was told by a toro dealer.... the single stage , that have only 2 padels... (which is basicly all of them ) will pull to the right (i think) i own a bunch of them , they all tend to pull in one mannor or another.... really i think its from snow on one side of the intake and none on the other.... in otherwords..if you take a "full bite" what ever the max witdh of the machine is , then it has equal snow on both sides... but uyour next pass... is only like 75%.. your leaving room for over lap , so you dont leave trails.... well the padels on the side with no snow will grap the pavment more, and tend to turn the bower into the snow if that makes any sence....

    It is not a resultt of which dirrection the thing is thowing the snow..... it just so happens that you always throw the snow in the dirrection that your working

    I was told the snow commander (which they dont make) had 3 padels an for what ever reason didnt have this problem...

    I was told this from a VERY REPUTABLE DEALER m in the local area... and hes not a small guy with toro ... so i trust what hes telling me

    personall experiacne... yes you do have to fight it a little ... but im not that tired.... sounds like this guy just isnt in shape to work
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  3. RenegadeX

    RenegadeX Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    ^ Perhaps that's it, but the guy who was complaining was only doing 3" of snow.. not exactly a challenge for these machines, so I'm still kinda baffled what this guy's problem was.

    I was just looking at my Toros' intake area -- the 2 paddles are each full-width symmetrical curves, mounted back-to back (so only 1 paddle is grabbing snow at any one time) and they're each firmly secured to the rotor drive assembly on the left side, centre, and right side (so there's no flex if snow being grabbed is only found on one side). The shaft to which the paddles are mounted is secured to the snowblower frame on the left side and the right side (it's not free-floating, so no flex), though I do believe the rotor assembly is actually driven by the belt from the right.
    [​IMG]

    That last factoid lends some credence to the idea that they might 'pull to the right due to 'torque steer', but not due to snow only on one side.

    I'm unable to edit my original post now, but if anyone posts user feedback for their model, please add which side(s) it pulls to, and next time you're out blowing snow, keep this thread in mind and see if what 'elite1msmith' says is true. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  4. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    i dont think your understanding what im saying....

    lets say your clearing snow from left to right ... so on the pass coming out of your driveway , there is snow on the leftside of the blower, but 5 inch on the right side do not , your purposly doing that so the there is no spill over...

    the side with the snow has more resistance ..... and the side with no snow is already clean ... the padle grabs more clean pavment on that side , and thus the blower is accelerated that dirrection..... jsut like a zero turn mower.... one side is encring reisstance, while the other is moving forward, causing the machint to turn towards the resistance....


    and 3 inches...is nearing what these machines can effectively , quickly clear if your trying to walk at a normal speed, with no effort, much liek this gentallmen was tring to do
     
  5. RenegadeX

    RenegadeX Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    I totally understand that idea, but was sharing that as it agrees with what you said you believed the Toro dealer had told you about pulling to the right (specifically), rather than contradicts what you said about snow intake on one side.
    Sorry, but with that statement you totally have lost credibility as they will happily do 3" at a run, 6" at a jog, 10"-12" at a normal walk, unless the snow is really wet 'n heavy. And I live on a hill so half of the job is uphill. No problem.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
  6. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    im not gonna argue about it , but ill say thins..

    of the 20 blowers i have , all toros.... when we are running single stage units, we see a very significate labor increase (time increase) on our properties , that have THOUSANDS of feet of linear feet of sidewalk. some up hill, some down hill, some next to the roadway , in all different drrections, so unless you can disprove 5 years of commercial use , with 20 blowers or more, then yes 3 inches is about the max these blowers do , at a very easy quick pace... im not saying they dont do 6 plus.... im just saying you have to slow down a little and watch what you are doing , and more effort is required