Snapper Commercial 21" Transmission durability?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing Equipment' started by roody2333, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. roody2333

    roody2333 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 990

    I made this linked thread basically looking for a small, light mower with a trans that actually lasts and isn't consumer plastic gears and shjt which only last me about 50 hours before I need to take the mower all apart and replace the trans.

    I'm set on a 21" Snapper commercial Ninja/Hi-Vac after getting some suggestions in that thread.

    But I wanted to make this separate thread just to put Snapper in the title to get the attention of those who have put this mower though the ringer.

    Did all you have to replace was the rubber friction wheel, differential grease, drive belts, i.e easy stuff, or did you have to open the differential and replace stripped gears or something tricky? Did you just replace the whole differential for $200 instead?
    I saw a few videos of guys do easy repairs to vintage snappers (replace the rubber disc/belt) and they were fixed but I don't know, or know if they know, if it was fixed to only %50 potential or what.

    Do any other brands use this type of snapper/briggs transmission (if it's indeed basically bulletproof) or any other type that lasts much longer than the $50 plastic-gear trans?

    Some Toro proline 21s and Exmark 21s have a 3-speed metal trans which cost about $300 which should hold up well but I'm leaning towards the Snapper mower for half the price and it also has a differential which might specifically prevent any stripping/grinding of gears while turning thus making it last longer.

    The toro/exmark isn't a belt drive where each wheel has a belt and the gear box is allowed to always spin freely thus eliminating the need for a differential to prevent damage to the gears, nor does the toro exmark have a differential, so in theory, when you turn, it might cause locking/stress on the gears. It's furthered explained in the linked thread with a video on differentials.

    This guy said he had 3 Proline 21s with broken gear boxes which cost $300 each when I looked up the part, so they can break. Almost everything can break though. Maybe the Snapper differential only helps prevent from gear damage during turns which may not even be a major factor towards gear damage.


    the snapper trans I'm referring is basically unchanged for 45 years, so any year model testimonies should do (the older the better probably), just as long as it's the friction drive system and not the consumer-grade snappers which use a regular plastic sealed trans.

    There's a lot of frign parts in the snapper drive system as shown here if you click for the PDF

    If something breaks bad in the Snapper drive system, I can swap it out to the 7053943YP Transmission Assembly for about $200.

    basically, without any tutorial videos specifically on rebuilding these two gear boxes, if something were to break, I might just throw it on ebay as-is for parts and get whatever I can for it and then buy a new trans for $200 (snapper) or $300 (toro/exmark).

    It's not the cost difference, I just want whatever's going to last the longest.

  2. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Gold Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 3,563

    I'm not sure what your doing with these 22s. But you sure do have alot of trouble with them. I put hundreds of hours on cheap 22s and never had a trans problem. I ran some super hard and put them away wet but the trans always worked. I don't want to come off mean but at some point operator error has to come into play. Unless your using worn out cheap stuff even a new box store push should last more then 50 hours.
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  3. roody2333

    roody2333 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 990

    ok well maybe it's not 50 hours but it's definitely about twice a season I change the wheel gears and at least once the transmission and I'm not using it very much. I try and baby the trans as much as possible by second nature but it still breaks. I don't have steep hills. I push extra in thick grass or slight hills when it's slowing down as to not put all the work on the trans. The gears aren't grinding when it's eventually dead like some used mowers I've gotten/found, but the trans is still shot.

    regardless I'm looking for testimonies on these snapper etc drive systems.
  4. tlc23

    tlc23 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    We have had a commercial hi-vac model for several years. Never had any problems with the drive system however I don't like the cut. We cut mostly Bermuda and you have to use a lot of overlap for the cut to look right.
  5. tlc23

    tlc23 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    You definitely won't have to baby the drive system, it will pull you around with ease. Several years ago, I think someone here made a sulky for their snapper 21.
  6. roody2333

    roody2333 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 990

    I said in the other thread I wasn't expecting the friction wheel drive to have amazing power for hills etc vs a gear drive, but I don't have big hills to deal with and I mostly care about longevity of a drive system.
    But I de-winterized my dual stage snowblower today and those have a rubber friction wheel drive system, and that blower really has decent propel power. I only use it in 3'+ snow and it plows through it. Granted the snow is removed as it's driving but it just does have good power even though it's just a rubber wheel friction against a steel pulley frictioned by a small spring which I would think would just slip if asked too much from.

    I think Snapper patented their drive system, which is good because if it were such a great system you'd think all the other manufacturers would be using it too, but they can't because of the patents.
    These Snapper patents aren't exactly the drive system in their 21"s but it might carry over. I just skimmed though them:

    I did read at least one review they said it didn't leave a perfect cut but it was like an Amazon review and some of those reviews are very noobish, but if you say so I'll believe you, I just hope it cuts cool season grass well which it should since it's much thinner bladed grass.

    I mostly discharge, and I think that's the best way to get an even cut with no straggler blades etc. Sometimes I mulch, but discharging with gators is pretty clean and the clippings aren't much bigger.
    The hi-vac would be nice to possibly bag acorns or debris after dethatching. But mulching with the hi vac could be good too for possibly mulching Maple helicopters etc or mulching up acorns.

    I'm not sure if I want the mulcher Ninja or hi-Vac bagger. I can add a bag to the ninja and it would cost about $80 more total which is kinda messed up because they do give you the bag with the Hi-vac and the only difference is the Ninja has a flared out deck lip for better mulching and the hi-Vac is flared inward to vacuum better = same amount of manufacturing. Although the Ninja has a quad blade and the hivac has a regular blade, but I might prefer an $18 universal 21" Gator anyway.

    I might sell the commercial briggs engine off the Snapper new and net about $180 to bring the overall price down to around $400. And then just put a 'regular' 190cc briggs on which I have several of and are very reliable and don't require oil filter changes (although the commercial briggs says you never have to change oil, just top it off). Would I loose much performance if I swap to a 'regular' 190cc briggs? Isn't 190cc 190cc? RPMs matter much? all I could find was briggs claims the commercial one is a quieter and lasts longer. it says lasts %60 longer*. But I can't find what the "*" leads to, if it means their 'regular' engines or what. Either way, I have several 190cc briggs and come across them free or dirt cheap so I don't really care because I get plenty of hours out of them.

    anyway, I'm going off topic from the drive system longevity but I'm pretty much sold on it now but will hear more testimonies if anyone has them. Thanks.
  7. kawasaki guy

    kawasaki guy LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from USA
    Messages: 18,380

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
    Bumpmaster, and JLSLLC like this.
  8. LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,982

    Yes buy it. No don't buy it.
  9. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Gold Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 3,563

    Why even buy the mower if your just going to hack it up? Might as well just dump some money into a trans for your current one. Or since you have motors laying around buy just the deck and trans you want and Fab up a little frankenmower.
  10. roody2333

    roody2333 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 990

    roody2333 said:
    I might sell the commercial briggs engine off the Snapper

    If I sell the briggs professional it comes with for $180,
    -The price comes down to about $500 if I get the mulcher model and add a bagger.
    - $400 if I get the mulcher model and never bag with it.
    - $420 if I get the bagger model with bag but it might not mulch so great (but I'll probably side discharge anyway).

    The briggs 190cc professional says
    - "Dura-Bore cast iron cylinder sleeve for extended life."
    I guess that's what " * " means " * up to %60 longer life".
    -It has full pressure lube which always feed oil on slopes but I don't really that.
    -It says never change the oil, just top it off, which I'm kind of skeptical of because I've already read engine oil does have an expiry shelf life even if unopened it should be used in a few years. If opened, sooner. Some claim as long as no water/dirt contaminates it (such as in a sealed engine I guess), it should be fine for a couple years - I'd still probably change it once or twice a season (oil only costs like 5 bucks).

    but yea, to take it apart, list it, package it, I'll probably just keep it.

    I don't think I can mod a toro deck or something to fit a snapper trans.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017

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