Snow Blower

vanessa879December 22, 2009


Please help! I need some suggestions and advice on buying snow removal equipment. I am undecided between a walk behind snow blower or a riding mower with a snow thrower. I never used either one of these machine before but I will learn.

I am a single mom who just moved into a new house in Seymour, CT. I work full time and take care of my daughter along with my elderly parents. My house sits on top of a hill with a long driveway (500ft plus). The driveway is poorly designed. The pitch and grading makes it impossible to plow. The driveway is narrow and curvy so the plow truck was not able to get up the hill. It was terrible being snow in this weekend because I was not able to find anyone to plow the driveway. I was so worried that something will go wrong and emergency vehicles wouldnt be able to get to us on time so I HAVE to resolve this problem immediately.

With that being said, I need to be able to care for the driveway so my family will be safe and would appreciate any suggestions on the best choice. I have a budget of $2500. Also, I would need something that I can easily maneuver because I am barely 5'2"tall and 120 lbs.

Thank you so much in advance.

Happy Holidays!


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500 feet up and down a hill with a walk-behind is too much for the average man, much less a woman, not to be offensive.

You need a tractor, but you probably won't find one with a blower in that price range. Maybe a used one.

In your situation, it should be a dedicated machine because it's not easy taking a blower on and off.

My opinion, look for a used combination with a 42" or less width and good luck.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 6:01PM
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My suggestion would be that you find a local dealer in outdoor power equipment, or OPE, who has been in business for a while, and looks like he will be around in the future. You want to buy from someone who can service your snowblower or tractor as needed, in a timely manner. After you have found the right business, then you can buy whatever you like, or whatever they recommend. I suspect that a walk-behind snowblower might be best for a driveway that's "too steep to plow," because our Ariens snowblower has a very low speed setting that works well on our driveway. Snowblowers don't have to gain speed or forward momentum to in order to move snow. They can work just fine at one mile per hour. Personally, I would not be reluctant to buy used equipment from a local dealer. Be sure to have him demonstrate a cold start, and also a warm start.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 7:29PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

I agree with ericwi. Don't go with the first one however. Shop around and find one you are comfortable with. Ensure that he/she understands your needs and limitations and remember,service is more important than the lowest price.
IMHO, a walk behind might serve you better than a tractor due to the slope. Be sure you can comfortably handle it, it does not need to be a rasslin' match.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 11:49PM
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I guess it depends upon the meaning of 500 foot "hill".

In Pennsylvania, there is a definite conception of what a hill is. Maybe to a flatlander, a hill is a 5% slope, where in PA, a 5% slope is about as flat as it gets.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2009 at 6:42AM
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My driveway is steep and 600 ft.. I recommend a small two-stage, approximately 22 inches with 5hp engine. I purchased a Husky, 30" with 8 hp tecumseh engine. This machine is heavy and will wear you out. Husky is not known to be high quality but I can't complain - it has run well for five years now. If I changed anything it would be the size.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2009 at 8:03AM
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Just look for an independant shop that does snowblowing.Or maybe there is someone in the neighborhood that would do this on the side,without charging a fortune.Around here people just put a request on the radio(Want Ads)and they would have lots of calls.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2009 at 11:56AM
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In your situation, you are better off buying something brand new since it comes with a warranty and has no previous wear, tear and abuse by others.

While a garden tractor with a blower on it might be nice, your budget rules that item out but so does your description of the task at hand. Considering the described grade, you should have a tractor with four-wheel drive but since that's not in the cards, let's look at the next best option.

The link below will take you to Honda's website and the snowblower that I think suits your needs the best. First off, it has AC electric start. What does that mean to you? Simple. You plug an outdoor rated extension cord into a socket on the snowblower and push a button to spin the engine over until it starts. No battery to go dead on you. No battery to maintain during the off season or replace down the road.

The second thing is the track drive instead of wheel drive. You have a steep grade to climb. If a Honda snowblower with tracks can't climb it, then nothing will. With a 20" high housing, this unit will cut through most snowfalls with ease. With a 28" wide cut, you can clear a ten foot wide driveway with six passes, based on removing just 20" of snow on each pass. That means, three times down the driveway and three times up the driveway.

Honda outdoor power equipment is second to none. Honda engines are famous for their reliability and longevity. This unit is hydrostatically driven and that gives you instant and continuous control over the rate of ground speed the snow blower travels, as well as instant reversing. It's like having an automatic transmission in your car compared to having a manual gear shift.

As you can see, the MSRP is a bit above your budget ($2799.00) but dealers do sell for less. You have a big job to do. Going with a smaller model means you will spend more time outside in the cold weather. Only you can decide whether that's OK or not.

If you go with the smaller HS724A with a MSRP of $2,369.00, you will be giving up 4" of cutting width, 4" of cutting height and more importantly, the electric start feature which I strongly urge you to have.

Even if you have to stretch your budget to get the 928, you will not regret that decision. The purchase of a snowblower is a major decision because most people that buy a quality unit end up owning it for twenty plus years. Snowblowers don't see many hours of use during the winter season but those are crucial hours when you're outside freezing certain body parts off. If the snow is keeping your car locked in at that house, then reliability is paramount as well as the ability for you to be able to just guide the snowblower instead of having to try and muscle it in order to get it to do what you want it to.

No.... I am not a Honda dealer nor do I work for Honda. I'm just an average guy who has used many brands of equipment over the years and have found the Honda brand to deliver the best bang for the buck. Shop around.

If you go to you can use their dealer locator to find retailers in your area. Find yourself the best deal and the best dealer. Ask them for a demo so you can try it for yourself. Yes, it will take a bit of getting used to but once you understand what each control does, you'll be blowing snow like a pro in no time.

Let us know what you decide and how it's working out for you.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2009 at 12:35PM
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If you get a chance to try a snowblower out before you buy,you will be surprised to find what little effort it is when running.
Like it is called ,you just walk behind.
The problem you will have is turning it around since you will need both wheels locked in for traction up the slope.
I have seen a model ,sorry I can't remember what brand, that has a trigger under the handle that disengages one side of the drive to make turning much easie
With your stature you really should try out what ever you buy just to see if you can handle it

    Bookmark   December 25, 2009 at 3:47AM
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I overlooked the track drive blowers. I actually use a Yamaha track drive to do the walks at work. They easily climb over curbs, don't need chains, and have amazing traction.

I withdraw my suggestion about a tractor and believe that you will like any good quality trackdrive machine.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2009 at 8:08AM
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Thank you all so much for the helpful information and I hope you had a great holiday with your love ones. I have to make a decision today. My parents are going to help me out with the purchase so my budget is now $5000. Not sure if the commendations will be any different with the higher budget and the driveway slope is 17% by the second turn (middle of the driveway). I like the trackdrive machine because it looks less intimating. I visited a Husqvarna dealer yesterday and they suggested the riding mower with a snow blower model # 2146xls with extra weight and chain for the rear tires.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 9:29AM
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Of course they did, Vanessa. A Husq dealer is in business to sell you what they have to offer and to get you to part with the most money. Buying some riding mower with a blower on it for the express purpose of clearing your driveway of snow a few times each year is not a wise investment.

Husq machines are the same as Sears. They are what we call "big box store quality" and that means you are buying product that is in the low-end of the marketplace. I urge you to disregard that advice because it is highly biased. No one from that store has been out to your place to see what you are faced with. Based on your first post, you need a true garden tractor, not some lawn tractor that has been badged as a GT. To get a true GT, you would need to spend upwards of ten grand to purchase the tractor, weights, chains and a blower. Kubota, Deere, Ingersoll all make quality garden tractors but as said many times in the past, you get what you pay for.

This list is full of threads from owners of big box store lawn tractors made by MTD, AYP, Deere (yes, they make low cost stuff too) and Murray. The reason for this is that these units just don't stand up very well.

If you buy a lawn tractor, then you will need more room to store it during the off season. You will also have to worry about the battery in it because all batteries discharge if left idle for more than 4 months at a time. The value of your Husq LT will drop like a stone within two years time. Not so with the Honda snowblower. They hold their value far better due to their standard for quality.

DO NOT RUSH THIS DECISION or you will be sorry down the road. This is a lot of money being spent here. Go find a Honda dealer. Tell him that you want to talk to customers who have bought the 928 model. Then speak with them about how well that unit works in their application. Most Honda owners are happy to brag to others about their purchase and fully understand your reservations and need to gather information.

Going with the Honda means you are paying a premium price to buy a premium product but that price will still be less than what you will pay for low quality lawn tractor from Husq or others.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 10:21AM
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I just found out that the same dealer, sells Honda snow blowers. I am going back to check out the model you have suggested. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:12AM
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Some riding lawnmowers are equipped with hydrostatic transmissions that are not well suited to climbing hills. They will work OK on gentle grades, but anything over 15% will cause the transmission to fail in about one season of use. I'm not sure that you need a tracked snowblower- a wheel drive model might do the job OK. In my opinion, what you really need is a local dealer, who knows his stuff, and will stand behind the equipment that he sells.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 3:11PM
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I wouldn't discount the guy's advice about the tractor with blower. There are honest people out there.

A track drive is a good choice, but you still have to walk up and down the slope on less than ideal conditions.

I've had wheeled, tracked, and dedicated tractors. The tractor is best by far, but I would have to consider just how much it would be used.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 4:54PM
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You guys are free to suggest whatever you wish but I'm not going to advise this lady to spend upwards of five grand on some LT/snowblower combo that she is going to use maybe eight times per year.

Part of the problem here is that none of us have seen her driveway. We don't know whether it's paved or gravelled. We don't know if the land next to the driveway is even with the driveway or it falls off into a ravine. Maybe it's full of potholes. What we do know is that she can't get a guy with a 4x4 pickup truck to come and plow her drive. That speaks loudly about the difficulty of the grade and the driveway. If it's that tough, then who knows how suited some LT with teeny 8" tires will be?

The driveway is also narrow so using a blower that will fire the snow well away from the driveway instead of creating windrows at the sides seems to be the best method. I don't see walking up and down the driveway behind a tracked snowblower as being a problem. I do see possible issues with using a two-wheel drive LT that won't be there with the 928 Honda. She weighs a mere 120 pounds so a tractor would need 2-link chains, wheel weights and likely loaded tires to find the sort of traction she would need to climb that grade while blowing snow.

Try to keep in mind that this lady ISN'T like you and I. She is not "into" tractors and all the nuances that go with buying, operating and maintaining them. Going with something that needs ultra-low annual maintenance, a very shallow learning curve and a high degree of quality that will serve her well for many years to come is what I based my recommendation on. And if she ever decides to sell it, the Honda name will command a bigger return on her investment than any Sears, MTD or Ariens snowblower will.

There are also universal plastic cabs available that will fit the Honda and keep her out of the wind and the snow mist that she will undoubtedly encounter whether she has a walk-behind or a tractor. At least, walking will help keep the blood circulating to her feet and she is likely going to stay warmer with the walk-behind than she will with a tractor.

If anything, she should get this Husq/Honda dealer to come out to her home and see the jobsite before selling her anything. And then, he needs to guarantee that what he does sell her, will do the job.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 6:47PM
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I would have to say that kompressor nailed it with the track drive. It is the right tool for the job. Get comfortable with maneuvering, controls, cold starts etc while you are still at the dealer.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 8:37PM
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I have a long paved driveway on a slope. I am using a Craftsman (MTD) 928 two-stage snowblower, but have added a Clarence impeller kit to get decent performance out of it.

Given past experience, this is what I would recommend given your situation and budget ($5k) and assuming your driveway is paved: Two snowblowers!

You need a good two-stage for snows greater than 6 inches. Good brands are Ariens, Simplicity and Honda. Honda can't be beat, but they are expensive! Maybe go for a smaller tracked model. If you get a wheeled model, look for one that releases either wheel with finger triggers, that makes it much easier to handle.

You need a good single-stage for snows less than 6 inches. Why? If your driveway is paved, then you know that even a small amount of snow left behind can turn to ice after driving over it once or twice - bad news on a slope! A single-stage will clean the snow down to the pavement and eliminate that problem. Use it for light snowfalls, and use it for clean-up after using the two-stage on larger snowfalls. The single-stage is also lighter and easier to handle. For a brand, I'd have to recommend a Toro 221Q (2-stroke) or 421Q (4-stroke) with the 221 being a little better than the 421. Toro beats even Honda in this market.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 11:02AM
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What did you buy, and how is it working? You have a pretty difficult driveway to keep clear of snow, from your description, so I'm curious how you are doing this winter.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 5:48PM
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Too bad there was no answer to what the result was.

There are a lot of tracked recommedations, which make sense for the slope. However, the Honda tracks have no steering; do you really think she can manage it? Most men have to wrestle it.

The Ariens track models have a differential put no assist in turning. The MTD track model, a rather small engine (208cc) with left/right free wheeling 'power steering' does have assisted steering. Its track should make it up the slope.

Her solution is probably too part. Getting a unit that can move the snow and hiring someone to do the plowing with it.

As some gdj204 recommended, also getting a $400-700 single stage would giver her an easy machine to use for light snows and small walkways, if they are paved.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 11:49PM
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You need a gravely walk behind with a snowblower. Or a gravely tractor with a snowblower attachment. Very powerful.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 6:23PM
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