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Snow blower advice
Old 10-17-2007, 09:18 AM   #1
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Snow blower advice

ER has me thinking of avoiding the 32 bucks a crack bite for having my drive plowed (sometimes twice in a day during big dumps). I'm going to trade that for my own cold sweat with a blower. I am looking for advice on the best brand and proper specs. My concrete drive is 300 feet long and twleve feet wide with a big circle at the top. It has some slope though not severe. I know I'll appreciate at least a 26" swath but could go to 30" though the cost is hundreds more. I'd appreciate any advice on makes and models before dropping a grand or so. Thanks!
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:40 AM   #2
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Move south!

You knew this was coming!
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:51 AM   #3
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Move south!

You knew this was coming!
Not an option. I much prefer seasons, like the cycle into cold, and don't like the prospect of hiding in AC for several months when the humidity soars with the heat. or ?
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:17 AM   #4
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We have a Toro Power Max that works like a charm on our HUGE driveway. It's a 2-stage and that auger really throws the snow without getting jammed -- well except sometimes if you run over the newspaper. As DH travels a lot, I end up clearing the snow quite often, and the Toro starts first or second time every time. Also, it has powered wheels, which make it more maneuverable -- and a pretty wide clearing path, big pluses for me. I think we paid a bit more than $1000 for it - but it's been very reliable for the past three years.

We used to have a Craftsman that was pretty similar, but whenever we needed parts (like shear pins, belts, etc.), we always had to order them thru Sears -- a bit of a hassle when you need the machine that day. We learned that Sears often changes the specs of their Craftsman line just enough to preclude using other mfg parts.
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:25 AM   #5
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Here's a link to a pretty good price on a Toro Power Max very much like the one we own (ours doesn't have a headlight and I usually don't use the electric start):828LXE Power Max E/S Snowthrower - 38630 at The Home Depot
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:46 AM   #6
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$32 seems cheap to this cheapskate. I'm in a similar situation, long driveway, northern Illinois area.

We just got this year's contract. $260 contract includes seven plows (no refund if fewer), $40/plow after that. The seven plow limit has covered us the past few years (I still have those notes hanging inside the cabinet door). Exactly seven for the past three years, oddly enough.

Just glancing at the big box stores, I also figure a grand or two for a machine to do the job. So, 4 to 8 years just to payback that, not including maintenance oil/gas. And, I need to store it, taking up even more room in the garage.

And, I would have to get up and actually do it myself in that cold weather - I just don't see a good cost/benefit ratio to this. It is so nice to look out and see that AWD plow finish the job in a few minutes.

OTOH, I do cut my own grass (1 acre). Schedule is a little more flexible, I can put off cutting the grass for a day or two, or even longer. Not so a snow filled driveway. Weather is usually nice to cut the grass - maybe hot, but come in for a break and a cold one if I want. Not so bad.

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Old 10-17-2007, 10:49 AM   #7
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but whenever we needed parts (like shear pins, belts, etc.), we always had to order them thru Sears -- a bit of a hassle when you need the machine that day.
My point exactly. I have 'outsourced' those worries.

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Old 10-17-2007, 11:17 AM   #8
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Hmmmm, maybe we got this backwards. We outsource the lawn service and do the snow blowing ourselves....

"Hon, gotta minute? Let me ask you something........"
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:23 AM   #9
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We have a Honda two stage and plow about the same amount as you do. It is a big honking machine. The Hondas are really well made, much better than the Sears Craftsman we had before.
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:23 AM   #10
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Buy a shovel for $9 and get on with it. Improve your health, save the environment, save money, etc. Big plus is if you could sell your wife on shoveling for fun & fitness!
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:33 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
$32 seems cheap to this cheapskate. I'm in a similar situation, long driveway, northern Illinois area.

We just got this year's contract. $260 contract includes seven plows (no refund if fewer), $40/plow after that. The seven plow limit has covered us the past few years .


-ERD50
Wow, that's a lot. I guess your driveway must be long. I also live in Northern IL (in the high rent district) and my guy charges me $20 a plow.
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:34 AM   #12
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Get the wife whatever model she wants.

Allow her to ride it in the house.

Two birds.
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:54 AM   #13
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Wow, that's a lot. I guess your driveway must be long. I also live in Northern IL (in the high rent district) and my guy charges me $20 a plow.
Well, the house is near the back of a one acre lot that is about 130' wide about 300' deep. So about 180' driveway, plus a parking area and a wider lane in one spot for about 25' - it is kind of tricky to plow.

Don't tell my plow guy this, but if the going rate was 2X that, I'd probably still have it done for me. And I AM a cheapskate.

No way I'm gonna shovel that. 2400 sq feet, maybe 10#/foot with a heavy snow? 24,000 pounds to move? That's what snow plows are for.

On the environmental issue (surprising that ....shhhhh 'gw' wasn't mentioned....), a snow plow on a truck versus a snow blower? I bet that is a HUGE difference. A truck will have a catalytic converter, and all the modern pollution controls. Snow blowers have very little. I remember reading that cutting the grass one day a week spews more pollutants than driving all your cars that week. Snow blowers are probably in that same category. It only takes a few minutes for that truck to clear my drive - I'm guessing 30 minutes with a blower, maybe more - spewing pollution that whole time?

Plus, all the energy that went into making that snow blower is for a single use device. Those trucks get used for other things the rest of the season. Just the plow is dedicated, and there is not much to that.

So, if you have a snow blower - save the planet! Hire a snow plower! Martha, isn't it greg who is always saying all the little things add up? Maybe you should tip him off to this one?

-ERD50
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Old 10-17-2007, 03:02 PM   #14
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We also have a honda two-stage, about 6 years old. Very reliable. Had to put new tires on it last year though. 300 hundred feet is a long drive way. I think I'd pay the 32 bucks and let someone else do it.
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Old 10-17-2007, 03:43 PM   #15
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Buy a shovel for $9 and get on with it. Improve your health, save the environment, save money, etc. Big plus is if you could sell your wife on shoveling for fun & fitness!
Did that when I first moved to Minnesota from California (you're not from Cal are you)...looked on with curiosity and concern by the neighbors...after the first 2 foot fall and having all 5 of the family out there and me feeling the big one coming on plus possible visit to chiropractor...I finally relented and took up the offer from 2 neighbors to buy into their 2 stage...later got a Toro 2500 - had it 10 years now - no problems - haven't bothered to have it serviced either - reminds me I should go out now and give it a pull...I get a good enough workout pushing it anyway!
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Old 10-17-2007, 04:47 PM   #16
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Buy a shovel for $9 and get on with it. Improve your health, save the environment, save money, etc. Big plus is if you could sell your wife on shoveling for fun & fitness!
Believe it or not, the first winter we lived here (91/92) we did clear it with shovels. 43 years old then we were, and soon learned that 5 am flinging fests made a long work day longer.
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Old 10-17-2007, 04:49 PM   #17
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30 years ago a bought a 5hp 2 stage TORO. Never had one problem with it and it worked great.

The best day with it though was last year when I moved to Fla. and dropped it off at my DS's house. (heh)
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Old 10-17-2007, 05:40 PM   #18
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I do some driveways around London but a 300'er is a little out of my league.

A light dusting would be OK but we had a metre one day last December.

Get the biggest and best you can afford.
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:24 PM   #19
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I got a deal on a 10HP 26" Yard Machine about 10 years ago with a Tecumseh engine. This is a 2-stage blower that I paid about $400 for. It gets alot of use on my 200' long, 12' wide sloped driveway in NH, including some storms each year where the town plow piles it taller than the blower at the bottom of the driveway. I have had minimal issues with it.

MORAL: You can probably do pretty well on ROI and reliability without spending over $1K.
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:51 PM   #20
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New Tires on a 6 yr old machine! Wow. I looked at the Hondas, but they were super premium priced (2 grand ?). The other problem I had was the local Honda dealer was pretty snooty........they take orders thru Sept and are sold out every year. They just snarl at you if you come in after that time to even ask a question. The best thing I recalled about them was they are 4-cycle (no mixing gas and oil). Some others are 4-cycle also these days.

If you mow 1 acre, you probably have a pretty decent mower (garden tractor) capable of pushing snow with the right add-ons....just an option.

Overall ya got two choices....get a relatively inexpensive machine (craftsmen/MTD/Yard machines/etc) run it till it needs fixed and replace the machine, or if you are more inclined get a top line model that will be more repairable and last forever (Toro, Toro, Ariens, Husqvarna, or Toro).

I harldly have any driveway now, but when I was in Indy, I bought a USED Toro single stage blower from the pawn shop and it was good for anything up to 15 inches for my 200x8 ft drive. Its 20+ yrs old at this point and I get spare parts on Ebay. The 2-cycle machines stink though...wife hates it.
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