Snow removal dilema..opinions wanted.

dooley(Alberta,Canada)January 19, 2011


Wife and I are both retired (which ages us) and we're looking at some way of cleaning up the snow without having to shovel up here in Northern Alberta (Peace River country).

We have about 800-900' of gravelled driveway. Currently our neighbour or his son ploughs it out with heavy equipment (grader, front end loader or 4WD tractor)for a very nominal fee but he can't clean up the yard (equipment is too big).

We can usually get the car in and out if the snow fall isn't too deep (> 7" which doesn't happen often) until the driveway is cleared. But it can quickly accumulate if the snow fall last a number of days which it often does. Usually we just drive over light (2" or so ) snow falls and wait until the driveway really needs ploughing before we get him to come in and do it.

Clearing walking trails to various other spots (wood pile , garbage bin) and general clean up in front of the house (parking area) is a problem. We currently shovel when it gets too deep to walk over. Everything is a relatively straight line and there's room between the trees to get a blower in (mow it with 54" deck right now)

Blowing would more than likely be done at -10 C to -25C. Any colder than that and I'd probably leave it until it warms up anyway.

I've been looking at various options but it's a mass of total confusion.

Option 1 :

Take over all snow removal and buy a 42" snow blower attachment for our 26HP Cadet SLTX 1054 . I've downloaded and read the snow blower manual but it looks like it can be a wee bit of a bugger to install all the hardware on the tractor after removing the mowing deck and all it's related hardware. The manual says it's a 2 man operation to lug this thing into position and hook it up. (I could get my nephew to come over and lend a hand or build an A frame hoist if needed I suppose.)

Would also need tire chains and some kind of counter weight presumably.

Apparently it's not really what they call "fast attach".

Option 2:

Keep using the neighbour for the driveway and buy a stand alone walk behind 2 stage blower (about the same $$'s or less) for clean up.

Read reviews on a number of models and it seems these things weigh a ton and sometimes require a lot of physical effort to drag around and can bog down in hard packed and deep snow.

Seems like the tractor would be the obvious choice but that's where my confusion crops up.

Lots of forum posts state that the walk behind outperforms the tractor mounted, moving more snow. Tractor belts always breaking in cold weather. Some even go as far as to say they abandoned their tractor mount in favour of a walk behind.

Other forums state that they wouldn't part with their tractor mount for anything. It's faster , does a cleaner job and moves anything nature can throw at it.

But no one seems to have the same conditions (long driveway , path clearing , -20C working environment and a neighbour to do the driveway).They're all clearing 60' paved driveways in T-Shirts and shorts.

So I come here hoping to find someone with the same (or near same) conditions to seek their opinion/advice.

Given the particulars , what would you do and what equipment would you suggest?


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First: Why haven't you had those neighbors committed, them being out there shovelling snow in T-shirts and shorts?! (Well, thats what you said--)
I think i'd go for the walk behind, if you can't do the work of attaching the snow removal stuff onto your tractor.
But, since you have a tractor that is good enough to plow with, that might be the best way to go. The walk behind is hard on old geezers, but they do work ok.
Go the tractor route. I'm an old geezer,(86+) and i treat the neighbors really nice, and they plow out my driveway, wide enough to park 4 cars, and smile when they leave. I let them park there, if the snow is too deep for them to get in their driveways. Only other remedy is: Move to Florida for the winter. Buy a nice motor-home, and flit away before the first snow!
Free sage advice from Rusty Jones

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 11:44AM
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We have a walk behind Ariens snowblower, and it routinely starts on the first pull, after opening the fuel valve, and priming the carburetor. I have never used the plug-in electric start feature. This machine works well, but it is slower than a tractor with plow, or similar equipment. It would likely take me two hours to do your driveway and all of the walkways on your property with this machine. The main advantage with a snowblower versus a plow is that you can throw the snow about 20 feet, and therefore you can put it where you want it. But snowblowers take more time to clear a driveway, due to multiple passes.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 12:23PM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

With that long of a driveway I'd continue to have the neighbors plow it and buy a walk-behind blower for cleanup'
I have a Craftsman 9hp blower that weighs 240lbs. that doesn't take that much effort to make a 180* turn, wheras my old Yardman must have weighed a 100lbs. more and and took quite a bit of effort to turn around at the end of a walk.
I've found that although my intake on the blower is 21" high it's best (fastest) not to let the snow build up and start blowing when the snow depth reaches 6-8".
I'm 73 years old and can clear in front of a two car garage with turn around, a short 30' drive, two paths about 100 ' total and in front of my mailbox which the town has plowed in front of in about 25 minutes providing the snow depth isn't over 6". It would take more than twice as long to do 12" of snow - need to go much slower.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 9:10AM
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When we lived in Maine, I seriously considered getting snowshoes and just walking on top of the snow.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:52AM
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I have a similar situation with a 300' driveway and used to attach the snowblower to my Wheelhorse every Fall. Then we had many seasons where there was little snow and the time spent prepping the tractor and removing everything again became a real pain. The grass would be growing and the blower was still on.

My brother bought a plow for his truck and that was the end of the need for my blower.

So, I bought a walk-behind. It brought back memories of relaxing in the tractor seat and after awhile I went back to the tractor blower.

Now, I'm back to the walk-behind.

The ideal situation is to have a dedicated tractor/snowblower and buy another machine for grass. That's what I would suggest you do.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 6:41AM
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A had a "Homer" moment...

Why not simply move the car when the neighbor comes in to plow the driveway so he can make a pass through the parking area in front of the house..

Get a walk behind for clearing the paths to the shop,wood pile , garbage bin etc.They're all fairly level and straight.


But thanks for the food for though..

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:24AM
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I'd keep the neighbors plowing and buy a good walk behind. Transferring mower to snow blower and vice-versa twice a year is a pain. You mentioned that you're retired, in changing attachments you're going to be down on the ground or garage floor a lot, consider that. Buying a second machine so as to have one with blower and one with mower seems pricey but would work.

My experience with snow blowers (Oswego, NY for 10 years) was they work great, HOWEVER you have to have a heated space to periodically melt the slush, etc. or you'll end up burning belts and popping shear pins due to everything freezing together. You'll read various posts on this topic, a lot of folks simply put a 60 watt trouble light down the chute, leave it on and hope for the best.

Also, with any of the Garden tractor or walk behind units, if you get a very deep snow, well you can eventually clear it, but it's a royal pain and you'll probably call in the neighbors with BIG equipment.

I have a 1000 foot gravel driveway and it's cleared with a 26HP GT500 with blade, weights, chains and Ag tires. I might have to plow twice which means going out after there's 6" or so of snow then doing it again later. I own a farm so have large farm tractors one of which has a blade to use when we get a lot of snow. Since moving to Southern Ohio have only had to do that once in 9 years. I'm in no way suggesting a blade for your application, you need a blower.

Good Luck,


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 10:41AM
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Used to have a Case 610 with a 6' 3Pt hitch blower that worked wonders but the tractor was old and suffered hydraulic problems (could raise the blower but not lower it.Case had positive up and positive down). What I know about hydraulics would fit on a match book cover so sold the outfit to a HD mechanic.
Decided to keep using the neighbor who uses a JD 4WD reciprocating or a CAT 980 loader or a Case grader for the driveway and in front of the house and get a GOOD walk behind for clearing the trails.
Got all summer to look for one now.
Never thought of having to de-ice it.Have to give that some thought as we don;t have a heated garage.
Txs for the feed back though.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:16AM
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MY left arm is in a sling. My younger son managed to clear th drive way and turn-around wearing a Tee shirt and shorts. 125' and a 3 car parking area. This is with a 35 yr old 5 hp Ariens. A good running 5 hp, 24". A tad small perhaps, but the impact is low and I'm not sore the day after.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:01AM
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deicing is more of an issue where salt from the street gets carried onto your driveway and while blowing snow it partially melts what's in the impellers, etc. then freezes. check out some posts, there's discussion about using PAM (vegetable oil spray) and things to offset this. Also, a hair dryer and ten minutes of so of melting then using Pam might also work.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:46AM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

I've kept my blowers in an unheated garage and not had a problem with either of the two blowers icing up. Once in a while the chute wouldn't turn, however I just "wiggle" the handle a bit and that usually frees it up. I think one time I had to pour hot water on the chute to free it up.
I don't know how the market is in Aberta but down here there's a bunch of used ones for sale on Craig's List and the dealers will be discounting new ones as the snow season winds down.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 4:42PM
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Andy , hows the arm hope its nothing serious . Squirrel , a little heat from a prepo (propane) torch will assist with any freeze up issues without a heated garage . Only during extremely wet snow conditions have I ever had auger or chute icing issues , I also have both cold or when required heated storage availability , when repairs are needed .

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 10:08AM
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