Craftsman 88700 SnowBlower for $500 ?

Anyone have any comments on this model for my needs? It's a 5HP, two-stage, 4 cycle Tecumseh engine. The downside is that it only has one forward gear and a 22" clearing path. I have one being held for me for $500.
I live in NJ and snowfall is normally not extreme. I'll be clearing an 80' x 10' driveway, a 40' x 10' walkway, and 35' x 25' patio, and a 100' x 3' sidewalk. All relatively flat land except the drive has a very slight uphill grade.
Is there another manufacturer/model that I should consider before making this purchase?
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I also live in NJ and except for the patio have exactly the same areas to clean as you -- the drive even slopes like yours. My 5 hp MTD 2 stage, now about 5-6 years old, is just barely adequate for a heavy snowfall, especially a wet snow. Mine has 5 speeds forward and 2 reverse, mostly useless as I almost always have to plow in 1st or 2nd. 3rd gear can be used in only the lightest and driest of snow cover. 4th and 5th are for? -- well I have no idea, maybe for driving it around in the summer. And a second reverse speed? Again, no idea.
All in all, I would be happier if I had gone for the 8 hp model. The 5 hp conks out in packed snow -- such as the end of the drive after the plow has gone by. You have to really baby it and stop and go constantly. Significant ice layers on or under the snow, which we often get here, makes it equally likely to stall. I keep finding that just a little more power would have made all the difference.
On the flat and without really soggy-wet or really icy snow it works perfectly, no complaints.
Be sure to get chains for the tires, no matter what the literature claims or the salesman says about knobby tires.
At this time of year you are not going to have many choices, so you might not be able to find any alternatives.
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wrote:

I'm going with the 9HP $799 model per your experience. It has 6 gears and a larger 29" clearing path. The auger is not serrated so I don't know how well it will do with ice, but it will surely handle any snowstorm that we get here in NJ. I received a free 3 year on-site service contract in addition to the warranty, because I have to wait 10 days for it to arrive. I'm going to hold off on the chains, though. Is there any other uses that you have for your snowblower? I've seen a sweeping brush that attaches to one unit. I wonder if this device could serve any other purposes with optional attachments.
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wash the cars. ;-)
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5 hp will do the job, but barely. A little higher (even 6hp) is much better. I also once had a craftsman, and to be honest, it was obviously "cheap". I returned it and bought a Toro 6/22 from a local dealer. A much better machine, and handles my driveway / walkway easily.
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Do yourself a favour and buy yourself a Honda snowblower.
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why? The toro is just fine. Maybe honda is "better", but there is a point where it really doesn't matter much.
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Except when you try to start it!
HAHAHHAHHAHA
AMerican crapola
Buy Jap
Starts first time every time
Like Zeros!
HAHAHHAHAHHA

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Better take a look at the posting about the snowblower that wont work
"I've got a Honda HS-55, a 5 1/2 HP track machine that worked ok only 2 weeks ago. Upon pulling it out today, it will run in reverse or in 3rd gear but will not move when shifted into 1st or 2nd gear. The blower and auger work fine. Anyone have ideas? thanks. Walt
That and Honda's cost almost twice what any other cost's Maybe buy two snowblowwers and then have a spare for the price of the honda

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David Babcock wrote:

http://www.whatsthebest-lawnmower.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=wtb-lawnmower ;action=messageindex;start0
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I had a couple of mowers with B & S engines. After a couple of years they were hard to start. I decided to buy the best mower I could find. Starts on the first pull every time after five years of use. Yep, that John Deere is the best U S of A mower you can buy and it starts reliably every time with the Kawasaki engine it has. Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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