Removing Snow From Driveway - Best Long Term Solution?

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Anthony,
Tell us where you live.
Dick
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SW Washington state. Generally a mild climate, but we're at roughly 1500' elevation so we get more snow than most people around here. For example, we had 14" of snow Saturday, but just 2-3 miles down the hill they had nothing. Location is everything.
Of course, the folks who live even farther up the hill from us probably laugh at our snow totals. :)
Anthony
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Just about the same here in SE WA. Can figure on several snow days eveery year that will usually be gone in a week. Rare to get more than 4-6" and really doesn't need clearing except to keep the drive clear of ruts. I will be out there anytime 3" or more falls though as I live in the county and the state is so kind they donate all the snow off of 20' of state highway to my drive. It is keep up with it or wind up with an impassable berm.
This year is an anomaly. Don't know about over there but here we have the 4th snowiest year on record so far and looks to be closing in fast on #3
When shopping for a 'blower and looking at significant falls you need a two-stage one. Don't go for a tracked model unless you can control each track individually - they can be a real beast to move around and even steer if there is no control. Also go for a 6 or 7 hp model minimum. Unfortunately, I would prefer the higher HP models to restrict the width a bit. My new one is 10hp but 30" wide. It would be much better at around 24-26".
Harry K
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Yep, our driveway is right on the outside curve of the county road, so when they plow the road it all ends up in our drive. It's usually a wall of packed snow and ice over two feet high, and takes a metal shovel to break through it.
Many years ago we had a big snow storm and I walked up to get the mail, only to discover a wall of snow taller than me! :) It took a while to dig our way out that year.
Thankfully, the plow guy this year actually took the time to push the snow out of our driveway up at the road. Very nice gesture and saved me a huge amount of work, but I won't count on it next time.

I don't know how this year compares to past records, but it is definitely more than we've had in the last 10 years or so, both in quantity and the length of time it's been falling.
When we bought the property 18 years ago, we used to have lots of snow up here. Then it seemed like the climate just warmed up and we hadn't had any significant snow in years. We complained about it every winter. This year, we got more than we asked for... :)

As you mentioned, this year has been unusual. While it's tempting to go out and buy the biggest snowblower I can find, I also have to remember what conditions are normally like. I just don't think I can justify the expense, maintenance, and storage space for a gas powered snowblower.
I'm still considering a small electric blower, like the Toro 1800, just to simplify the cleanup of our smaller storms. I just wonder how it would hold up in deeper snow? I don't mind going slow if it will eventually clear the way without breaking or burning up. Can't be any slower than hand shoveling. :)
Anthony
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HerHusband wrote:

I developed a trick to prevent that with a snow blower. What you do is snow blow down the side of the road leading up to your driveway for about 50', cutting back to the curb and tossing the snow further back. Then when the plow comes by, whatever it is pushing is dumped in that leading area and there is nothing left to push into your driveway.
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-snip-

I did a 30" snowfall with mine. End of drive was 5' high-- Nice thing about these is they only weigh <20pounds, so you can lift it to the top of a snowbank and watch it gobble it all up.
In over a foot of snow, the first pass through the drive is almost like work. Then you slice off a foot at a time and it goes pretty quickly. Infinitely better than shoveling. [when you see one of these little machines tossing wet slush 15 feet from your driveway you'll be doing a happy dance]
Jim
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Jim,

Thanks again for the info on the 1800. I'm thinking I'll probably end up ordering one, as all the alternatives seem too expensive or just plain overkill for my needs.
I wish I could run down to the store and see one in person, but I checked several stores and no one around here carries snow blowers of any kind. Heck, Home Depot was the only place I could even find a snow shovel in stock. Obviously, snow is not usually a big problem here. :)
Assuming the 1800 breaks the first time I use it, is there a place you recommend for purchasing replacement parts?
Of course, we're heading towards the end of our snow season, so if I do buy one, it'll probably just sit in the shed till next winter. Bummer. :) Knowing my luck, we'll go through another several years of nothing but dustings.
Anthony
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HerHusband wrote:

It's called "insurance", the same thing happens when you get a generator, you won't have a power failure for several years, even if the power was out every other day before you bought the generator.
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Let it melt
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The small 'paddle' blowers are fine in light snow falls, useless in deep snow or in packed snow from what I have seen. Never used one myselft. As for the plow berm. If you can't get right at it, even a big gas blower is almost helpless faced with a huge berm of plowed snow that has been allowed to settle. They tend to pack down to a dense, if not frozen, mass.
Others have made the one suggestion other than a blower - hire it done when needed. Buying a vehicle so you can get out of a drive is not a very economic idea.
Harry K
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-snip-

Then one wonders what you "have seen". The single stage blowers are slower in deep [over 1 foot] snow-- but they are far from useless. And in general they are less prone to clog in wet snow, or snow that has to be thrown twice, like a deep turnaround.

Once frozen all bets are off-- but I regularly do a huge plow berm with both single and 2 stage blowers. The 2 stage has the advantage of being propelled under power-- the single stage is less likely to clog.

I'm with you on 'buy a car' being a silly idea. For me, the $3-400 for a blower buys a whole lot of independence for the odd times that snow falls in his part of the world.
Jim
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buy a tractor to cut grass, add a plow for snow.
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Hmmm...now why did it take this long for that to be suggested. Not a bad solution for light snow areas such as his except for that plow berm. Dunno how good one of those would be in his area.
When my old (and I do mean oollllddd) 'blower died and I went shopping early Jan that was what the John Deere dealer suggested (he had no 'blowers). I had been there before 30 years ago with my Bolens. Found that it worked fine in light snows, useless in any deep ones. Of course back then the riders were in the 10 hp range. I did have the tires filled with liquid plus wheel weights plus chains though. When it comes to plows it is all about traction. where to push it to also comes up. Plow a couple times and then you are pretty much screwed unless you pushe the first one way back off the road.
Harry K
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On Wed, 6 Feb 2008 08:11:00 -0800 (PST), Harry K

Another idea that has been buzzing in my head. I used to have one of those mechanical walk behind push lawn mowers that had spiral cutter blades. It was hard work but good exercise for someone young. The larger snow throwers use an archimedean screw. Shouldn't it be possible to have a 5hp to 10 hp gas engine powered unit where one can replace the snow thrower a-screw with a spiral grass cutter assembly?. Maybe it will need a different pulley and some extra shielding but that's no big job.. That way we won't need two separate machines.
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Interesting. I was playing with a 'plug n play' type set up where just eh head was removed and a 'bush hog' type mower plugged in. Not all that easy with the current ones as removing the blower head is not a quick operation.
Harry K
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Harry K wrote:

middle-age office-worker body clearing the wall of ice the plow guys left blocking my driveway. Not deep, only about an 8-inch snowfall over an inch of ice, so the dam was only about 18" high, and maybe 2 feet wide. But being almost above freezing, it was totally waterlogged, and it felt like shoveling wet concrete. I knew it would be frozen solid by morning, so ignoring it was not an option. I was getting sudden flashes of how they used to clear ice jams on rivers, to avoid taking out bridges- dynamite. Too bad you can't buy that in the hardware stores around here any more... :^/
aem sends...
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Looking at mch the same problem this morning. It was predicted but I went to bed praying they were wrong. Snow/wind started about 6 pm with the snow coming horizontal. I shoveled a path twice to the woodshed for wood. They said it would turn warm and rain by morning. It did. I am now faced with a 100'x30' drive covered with drifts and a plow berm. All wet. After breakfast it will on the 'blower and work away at it.
Harry K
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do note running a snowblower is nearly as much work as shoveling...........
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-snip-

If all you have is an inch of dry snow, I agree.
If, OTOH, you have more than 6 inches, dry, or 3 inches, wet, I think you need a new snowblower.
Lessee, walk up and down my driveway 10 times, or shovel several tons? . .. I'll take the walk, thankyou. [and I have to walk *up* and *down* my driveway- a rise of about 15 feet in 150]
Jim
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?? Not in my experience. Whether the snow is a few inches or a bunch I have always (even with my old, small blower) finished the drive far faster than shoveling. That it is work = no argument there. As much as shoveling? - not even close.
Harry K
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