Do you clear snow on a long/large driveway (am I insane to be doing this?)?

Hi,
I have a long (~250 ft) and uphill (~50-60 ft vertical drop) paved driveway. Width is ~12 ft with grass on either side, and opens up at the top with waist-high stonewalls near the garage entrance. It's not straight - goes up with one not-so-sharp turn in the middle, somewhere between a banana-shape and a boomerang. I live in Massachusetts.
Initially, I thought about hiring a plow truck (one guy quoted $75 per 24hr period), and now I'm thinking of dong it myself with a snow thrower.
First off, am I crazy doing this myself? I'm not in my 20s anymore (40+), not big, but not in a bad shape either. I know it'll be cold, snow will come down at inconvenient times, but I just don't like being at the mercy of the plow schedule and getting my lawn dug up by the plows. I guess I'm answering my own question here. Can anyone with a long driveway share experience?
Also, if I do it myself, I'd be choosing between Honda 928 (WAS or TAS) or Ariens 11528. Which would you use for a long driveway like mine?
I've looked at three models by the two makes, and this is where I am.
** Honda 928 W/TAS vs. Ariens 11528 : - Honda feels higher quality. Price is higher, but doesn't bother me too much. Hydrostatic drive. - Ariens has handwarmer & drive differentials.
** Wheel drive (Honda 928WAS/Ariens 11528) vs. Track drive (Honda 928TAS) - Trackdrive feels very heavy, hard to maneuver. There is ~30x50 ft area where 3 sides are blocked (by garage doors, stonewalls), and I wonder how easy it'll be to turn the thing, even with hydrostatic drive. They say it's not easy to turn 180 even on the snow. But then, I hear it can go anywhere. - Wheeldrive : I hear you have to lift up to get good scraping off the pavement. Will I have problem going up the driveway, even with chain?
I've looked up consumer review sites and asked people at 'plowsite', got some feedbacks but looking for more. Anyone can share experience on these models? Which one would you get in my shoes?
Thank you in advance.
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You need to visit here:
http://www.whatsthebest-lawnmower.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl
From there, hit the OPE forum. Filled with people who live for snowthrowing. True fanatics who know the ins and outs of every model.
FGreen wrote:

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My driveway is about 220 feet. It is somewhat up hill from the road, but not as much as yours. I use a snowblower mounted on my lawn tractor. This gives plenty of power/weight to blow the snow and get the tractor up the hill on the slippery snow/ice. I tried the cheaper 'walk behind' snow blower and I always had problems with the drive wheels spinning out going up hill.
Spend the bucks to get a tractor with the snow-blower attachment. You can use it year around for outside work. You will be thankful you got it.
BTW, get the tire chains and wheel weights for max traction.
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No, you are not crazy. There are many good blowers that can be equipped with shielding for the operator and even heated handles. I'm 10 years or more older and I do mine. Only difference is mine is smaller and my machine is smaller. Although I don't know the specifics of each model, I think you are buying the right equipment. End result, you'll have a better job than the plows will do. Especially near the house. Ed
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I blow a 150 feet of two lane driveway with a tired old Bolens 8 HP snow blower. North Dakota winters. I do not see a problem doing 250 feet. How mush snow do you get? Less than us I would guess. I would buy the Honda, no question! As far as track or tires? That one I can not answer. A fiend has the tire model and likes it allot. Greg
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FGreen wrote:

I live in Mass. too, near the NH border. I have a 450' driveway which goes uphill towards the street.
I have a plow guy who does my driveway $35 a storm, but I've been with him for many years and I'm sure he's giving me a break on the cost.
Six years ago I got tired of doing the "clean-up" after he came with hs plow with shovels and decided to buy an Ariens 8HP with 24" mouth on wheels vs. track drive. Best investment I made. I have done the whole length of the driveway a few times when I needed to get out prior to the plow coming down. It took me a few laps up and down the driveway obviously but I was able to do it and the Ariens wasn't overwhelmed by it. (You do have to learn to go slow and easy though and not try to rip thru it in a few minutes). I have friends who have bought the Honda's and they are very happy with them. None of them have as long a driveway as I do. If I had to do it again AND I wasn't going to have a plow come, I may have gone with the 10 or 12 HP models just to be sure. Whether it would be HONDA or ARIENS, I can't say. I'd have to see them up close to see the material used. I have noticed the Home Depot models of Ariens look like a cheaper version than what I have though the price is also a few bucks cheaper too. So I probably wouldn't buy them at HD. If you have tight areas like I do, you want a more manueveral beast to work with. Which is why I went with the wheel vs track model.
Good luck, -TheKidd
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Nope you can do it as has been posted riding lawn tractor (NOT mower) will work best. I have a Ryobi 10 HP walk behind when we had heavy wet snow a year ago April I did my whole street along with 5 driveways. For the downhill part you should only blow snow downhill it will take you longer but will be a lot easier it depends upon your budget. you could even buy a beater pickup and put a plow on it!
The snow I went thru was about 2-3' deep but very wet it was so warm the snow was melting from the bottom! Pictures here
http://groups.msn.com/AlaskaCruiseCrystalHarmony/snow.msnw
Wayne

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and use it for other things too...
randy
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (FGreen) wrote on 28 Sep 2004:

Walking behind a snowthrower isn't much work. The only unpleasant part comes when there's a high wind and you catch some of the snow being blown in the face.
I have about a 200' driveway and about 300' of sidewalk including the neighbors'. We don't get terrible snows, maybe one 12-16" storm a year. That's about 90 minutes worth of work to clear, and I only have a single stage Sears/MTD wheeled blower.
Just be careful when working downhill. Use a low speed and let the engine hold you.
--
Doug Boulter

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My driveway is not as long as yours; but mine is longer than the other hours in my area. I don't feel there is any problem of cleaning a long driveway. As long as the driveway is narrow and the snow thrower is powerful enough, this should be easy to do.
I feel that cleaning snow in area that is long is not a problem; on the other hand, cleaning snow in area that is wide is troublesome. When we are cleaning an area that is wide, we end up throwing snow within the area instead of out of the area. This means we have to throw the same snow multiple times before getting all the snow out. This is especially true if the area is surrounded by wall, building, car, or dense trees where we cannot throw snow into.
Therefore, if the driveway is narrow and you can throw snow to the area surrounding the driveway, you should not have problem -- Of course, this is assuming that you are in good health.
Jay Chan
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