Needed: Snow Blower advice.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by GGardner, Oct 4, 2019.

  1. Stubee

    Stubee Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I bought one of these at least 20 years ago after a big NY Eve snowstorm. I’ve never had a single problem with it and it gets hard use on our beat up old driveway. I cannot say this enough: buy the Honda! They make great small engines. This little sucker can handle a foot + of dry snow and will throw wet snow though not as easily. I even use it to clear the city snowplow pile in my driveway if it’s not just slush, and also blow snow outta the street to reduce that snowplow pile, plus neighbor sidewalks, driveways etc as needed.

    The only key maintenance is this unless they’ve changed things a lot: when done with snow in the spring either run it dry or drain all gas, then remove spark plug, add a teaspoon of motor oil in there and pull cord a couple times to get oil in the cylinder. Put spark plug back in & you’re good. This eliminates “varnish” in the carb and helps protect bore etc from rust.

    I do use Stabil in plain old regular unleaded gas. It starts 2nd or 3rd very easy pull every winter. Trust me in this: buy the Honda! 70B4B1AA-C922-482F-971A-4A31D93BCCBD.png
     
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  2. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Single stage snow blowers are for areas that get little snow.
    They will still sell them to you in areas where you will be back in a year for a two stage.
    They also use them on tractors but those are a little bigger.

    After agonizing over what to buy for a year or two and paying a guy to do my driveway and paths, I concluded that Honda and Ariens were the two most reliable long lasting show blowers.
    Couldn't afford a Honda so dropped $1000 on a last years $1200 Ariens 30" with a big enough engine to move that much snow.

    The only real problem is traction on icy areas because I clear snow from a gravel drive where snow melt pools then freezes.
    Could buy chains but these decisions take time...
     
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  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Used rental equipment?
    Or do they also sell new?
    I've bought a few things from the Home Depot tool rental dept but didn't find the right snow blower when I was looking.
    Ended up going to a full service gas powered tools shop.
    No regrets and it's nice to know the seller is capable of parts/ service/ warranty repairs.
     
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  4. MickM

    MickM Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Agreed. A single stage will only blow dry powder;any moisture and it'll dribble out of the chute and that's if the engine is cranking a bunch of RPMs. The only thing I regret about my 2 stage Ariens is that I also bought a year old 32" I think and it's too damn big for me to muscle around corners and such. I'd sooner have a 28" and make more trips but that as they say is hindsight.
    I do most of my snow with a '01 Polaris 400 and a 4 ft. blade. (maybe 200 yards of driveway and parking area) but need the blower for the walks.
    Advice to home buyers. The amount of snow you can clear at age 35 is much more than you can do at age 60 using the same equipment. Think ahead.
     
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  5. Dave W

    Dave W Friend of Leo's

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    Briggs & Stratton's small engines are NOT made in USA. They've been made in China for many years. Likewise with smaller Kohler engines. Just because it's an old established American name doesn't mean the product is still made here.

    The Ariens AX and Husqvarna Snow King engines are made in China by LCT, a US-owned and managed company. They're LCT's top of the line and I'd choose them over Briggs & Stratton.

    On any small engine, you're much better off using ethanol-free gas. Yes, it's still available at some stations, just search for it near you. Don't take my word for it, just ask any snowblower or lawnmower repair place.
     
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  6. dogmeat

    dogmeat Tele-Afflicted

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    2 stage unless you only have dry snow and it doesn't get too deep.

    electric start, because sometimes you need it

    NOT Tecumseh... out of business and parts are scarce.

    buy it nice, or buy it twice.......
     
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  7. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    I had a Toro for quite a few years that was given to me (wife's grandparents estate).

    It was dual stage probably about 250cc.

    It was not really enough for Massachusetts. With the climate changing we are seeing a pattern like this the last 10 years:
    - Maybe a little snow in November
    - Not much in December
    - Not much early January
    - Starting end of January into Feb -> March. Tons of super wet snow that melts and becomes slushy very easily

    Slushy snow absolutely destroys snowblowers. Our driveway is also much wider than normal. We essentially have a half a basketball court shaped portion up near the garage. Great for basketball, not good for snow cleanup, cause it means you sometimes have to move the snow a lot further cause the driveway is very wide. In the middle of that section you need to throw the snow 25ft or you're throwing it right back onto the driveway. When you throw it right back onto the driveway it compresses and becomes much harder for the snowblower to pick up the second time.

    I've never broken a shear pin. We keep on top of things like tree limbs that will break shear pins. But drive belts... drive belts get destroyed if your snowblower is not heavy duty.

    The Briggs & Stratton motor in the Toro we had was super solid. Never had trouble starting it, it never gave any trouble. But the auger drivetrain on the Toro sucked. I had to work on it many times. Times when there was no way someone was going to be able to get into the driveway to pick it up and work on it. At one point I was out in the garage replacing the belt in 15 degree weather with 6' of snow outside the garage door. It was not fun.

    Anyway the point is buy bigger than you think you need. NJ seems to get plenty of heavy snowstorms. I have a 450cc Ariens "Pro" model now that has dual drive belts for the auger/blower. The mechanicals around the auger/blower drivetrain are much, much better thought out. Things like mechanical linkages with more freeplay for cable stretch before the machine slips belts and destroys belts. Things like a much smaller output shaft to blow snow through even though the engine is 2X the size of the Toro. More powerful blower moving more snow + smaller output chute means the snow has to travel faster through the chute and it flies a lot further. These are things that probably don't cost much at all in manufacturing, they just require the mechanical engineers doing the design work to put the thought in.

    Buy carefully cause buying 1 that is not good enough will not save money in the long term. Also just cause you're not shoveling doesn't mean you can't hurt yourself with a snowblower... they're big heavy machines. If the drivetrain doesn't work well you will end up muscling the snowblower, if you're not physically fit or getting older it's easy to hurt yourself. A good drivetrain will let you do a lot less physical work.
     
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  8. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    gilson 002.jpg
    Single stage will work for the light stuff, but a 2-stage is what you need for snow with drifting. Here in the Midwest, we can get some killer blizzards and if you don't have a good machine, you can be stuck in your house for days.

    My advice on brands is to look for an old Gilson brand snow blower. Gilson was the first to produce the snow blower and nearly every patent out there today originally belonged to Gilson....even many parts today interchange with a vintage Gilson. I own several of them dating back to their first models which were little freight trains with zero safety features and weighed a ton on up to their final line-up in the late '80's. They also produced models for Montgomery Wards and some others during their history. They sold a ton of them so they are out there used all over the country and can be had for a couple of hundred bucks normally. There are no better built machines out there with Ariens and Bolens being just clones of the Gilson design.

    I bought this '80's model a few years ago for $175. It sat in the guy's garage for 9 years, but when I pulled the cord, it fired up on 3/4 of the pull. It has an electric starter as well, but never need it. Been my best machine for 3 years now.
     
  9. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

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    Get a Honda with tracks, not wheels. I live in snow country, Truckee, CA. in the seirras at 6000', where is snows 10 to 20' per winter. Here, everyone has a snowblower or a plow service and almost everyone with a blower has a Honda because they are the best in every way except they are not the cheapest. The 928 is the most popular size because it is the sweet spot between powerful yet maneuverable. Whatever you get, get it with tracks, not wheels.

    Also, with Honda you don't need electric start because they have a special way of reducing compression until the instant it starts. That makes it much easier to pull the rope.
     
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  10. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    Yah I didn't pony up for a Honda blower.. everything Honda makes is really expensive.

    But they are the best. Around here Ariens has a stellar reputation, but everyone knows Honda makes vastly better motors than just about anyone making small motors.

    I did Pony up for a Honda lawn mower. The lawn mower gets used a lot more than the Snow Blower. That is one fantastic lawn mower.
     
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  11. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for all the advice! Funny, I'm sitting here watching YouTube videos of people demonstrating their snow blowers at work and find them to be utterly entertaining. It's like watching videos of people demoing their guitar gear but w/ way more ambience (and w/o the typical long-winded introductions ;)).
     
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  12. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    Just to add...

    1) Ethanol free gas is very hard to find in New Jersey so it's imperative that you run the machine dry before you put it away for the summer.

    2) There is no correlation between the number of stages and whether it runs on a mixture of gas and oil. Two strokes engines, which use a mixture, are typically used for smaller things like leaf blowers and trimmers where lighter weight is a big advantage. For a snow blower you want a four stroke, which has a separate oil supply. Replacing the oil every season is no big deal.

    3) I never broke a shear pin. Even when I loaned my machine to a neighbor and he ran over a Sunday NY Times covered in snow. It did take us a while to get all the soggy paper out of the chute!

    4) On a freezing cold morning you really want electric start, which by the way means that you plug an extension cord in it to fire it up. As soon as it starts up - typically immediately - you unplug the cord and you're on your way. There is no battery involved.

    5) As mentioned, these machines are heavy and require some muscle to maneuver. Try turning one and pushing one around in the store before you buy one that is too big.
     
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  13. Tommy Biggs

    Tommy Biggs Friend of Leo's

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    I’m in NJ, and have had a couple of craftsman snow blowers. The first one lasted 25. years, and my brother in law has had it for the last 5 and hasn’t killed it. Mine cuts through the banks where the trucks plow your driveway in.
    Lowe’s sells Craftsman now. Ariens, and the pro brands are going to be a lot better, but these usually go on sale, and are a lot cheaper. The 24” looks a little too underpowered.

    You definitely need 2 stage. Electric start is a REALLY good addition.
    Finally, my wife (who doesn’t care about power tools) thinks it was worth spending on the snowblower.

    https://www.lowes.com/pd/CRAFTSMAN-SB410-24-in-Two-stage-Self-propelled-Gas-Snow-Blower/1000602823

    https://www.lowes.com/pd/CRAFTSMAN-SB450-26-in-Two-stage-Self-propelled-Gas-Snow-Blower/1000602831
     
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  14. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    gilson 69.jpg Now if you want to be a caveman and scare the neighbors, get this old '69 Gilson that I have. There is nothing safe about it: The auger extends a good 3 inches beyond the chute; the bottom of it is not covered so the chain and sprockets can roll over your foot when backing up; It has a single speed so it goes backwards just as fast as forward; Weighs about 250 lbs depsite being just a 22" path; And leaks fuel from a 2 piece carburetor so a fire ball shoots off the exhaust about every 3 minutes of operation.

    I still roll it out at times though as it will throw a rooster tail from my driveway all the way across the street. Sometimes you just have to get mean when the drifts get waist high.
     
  15. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Spend for a MIM around 24 inches wide, two stage. Unless you have a tiny driveway that barely fits one or two cars.
    Get new, not used, as the engine and it's tendency to start or not is the weak link.
    ... I'll buy used guitars but I only buy new gasoline snow blowers and gasoline weed string trimmers.
    Electric start option, as a backup to the rope pull.
    Can of starting fluid for when the motor isn't starting and you're standing in a blizzard with the need to take the car somewhere.

    After you get the new snow blower, put a sheet on the wall of the garage where you mark off every time you use the machine. Compare the uses with the price and the price of hiring the kid down the street. You'll quickly "pay it off". You can use the sheet to record any maintenance too. Sometimes it's cool to look back half a dozen years or a decade and see it all, identifying the break even point "was right there".

    .
     
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  16. ale.istotle

    ale.istotle Tele-Meister

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    Then you should really see this V8 Snowblower.
    https://www.popsci.com/node/205277/
    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?...17CD3B055B24582393C817CD3B055B24582&FORM=VIRE
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
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  17. HighlonesomeF5

    HighlonesomeF5 TDPRI Member

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    Ariens
     
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  18. Dave W

    Dave W Friend of Leo's

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    There haven't been any 2-stroke snowblower engines on the market for years. They aren't specifically banned, but the EPA's pollution standards made it very difficult for any engine the size of a snowblower or lawnmower engine to meet the standards.
     
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  19. joealso

    joealso Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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  20. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    You know, that's what I figured but in earlier posts there was talk of mixing oil with gas. I do remember having a 2-stroke Lawn Boy mower but that was a long time ago. I believe its engine was manufactured by OMC who also made Evinrude and Johnson 2-stroke outboard boat motors.

    Another thing with Snow Blowers is that many of them might have different names on them but they look can suspiciously similar. That's because one company, MTD Products (formerly Modern Tool and Die) makes a ton of them that sell under brand names like Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Remington, Troy Bilt, Yard Machines, Yard Man, etc. Briggs and Stratton also makes blowers for Brute, Simplicity and Snapper.
     
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