Snow Thrower / Blower advice?

I have a 300' long gravel driveway with a 15-degree incline at the end, and I want to buy a snow thrower to clear it.
As I use the Honda web site "dealer locator" in search of the beloved Honda HS724TA track drive 2-stage,
http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/ModelDetail.asp?ModelName=HS724TA
it appears that they cannot be found within an hour's drive. Driving that far to buy it would be fine, but is it sensible, cost-wise, to have the unit transported that far (there and back twice = 4 hours) by a dealer for service? The Honda track sounds wonderful, as long as the handles aren't too short for us 6-footers. But, I wonder if I would be better off getting a wheeled Toro or Ariens (I can't find any Simplicity) that are said to be of good quality and can be serviced locally. I could also get local service for the tracked Craftsman or Troy-Bilt; both made by MTD. But reports about MTD reliability scare me. Would you expect the MTD/Craftsman to be about as reliable as the MTD/Troy-Bilt? This weekend, at a local Sears, the Craftsman is on sale for $1110.
http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?pid188890000
It looks like I have three choices: *** I could give up on the tracks and get a Toro or Ariens that could be serviced locally after the 2-year warranty period. *** I could buy a Honda from afar or via the Internet, and hope that I don't need to get it to a Honda authorized service center while under warranty. Then have it serviced locally after the 2 year warranty. *** I could go snag that sale price on the Craftsman tomorrow at Sears. What you think? Thanks for the help! Teffy
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I just went thru the same thing. The honda is great, but too rich for my blood. I ended up getting the ariens 11528. We'll see how it works this winter. I paid 1299.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 16 Oct 2004 20:20:19 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spammotel.com (Teffy) wrote:

Teffy;
My $.02 worth:
I've owned/used MTD products of various labels in the past. In my experience not a single one lived up to expectations. Since then I've tried to stay name-brand. When I replaced my snow blower 20 years ago I purchased a Toro wheeled 724 model. With very little upkeep it worked perfectly, was able to get up my driveway which is about or steeper than yours and never really plugged up in wet snow. I did have to have the belts, scraper, skids and traction wheel replaced three years ago because I sort of "wore it out"!
This year I decided it was time for a new one because as much as I liked the unit I had, I needed to keep both wheels locked to provide the traction to get up the driveway. With both wheels locked turning it any which way was always a chore. So, as I really didn't need one but I figured why wait until the 20+ year old one eventually breaks, why not purchase a new one. I looked long and hard, used reviews online and especially consumer resports as my guide. I did visit and try out the Troy-Built, Airens, Yardman and the new Toro. Truth be told, none of them even came close to the handling of the Toro (the Troy-built came close). So, visiting a local Toro dealer I traded in my old for a new PowerMax 828 with power drive. This model has a joystick for controlling the chute, it has a large pull start handle as well as electric start and, most importantly, it has triggers on each handle to disengage the clutch on the respective wheels. This means that both wheels drive full-time but when it comes time to turn, a simple pull on the appropriate trigger and the unit turns itself. Honestly, I couldn't be happier. And now that this unit is so easy to operate, I feel I can even convince my wife to try it sometimes (hope hope).
Therefore, I would highly recommend the Toro because of its quality, durabilaty, reliability and features. The price I paid in CT was $1240 minus the trade value of my old unit.
Hope this helps with your decision.
Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The closest Honda dealer I found selling models with tracks is an hour away, and the owner is not at all enthused about providing service from that distance. So, I have given up on Honda.
I bought the 9 hp Craftsman with tracks for $1150. Should I get the 5-year in-home extended protection for $150? ??? The salesman said they come to your home to repair for free whether it is a warranty issue or my screw-up. I am responsible for periodiic mantenance, which is fine with me.
Usually I think extended agreements are a rip-off. But if this unit, which is made by MTD, "lives down" to MTD's reputation, it might be a good deal. What do you think?
One potential downside - the delay in getting them to come out may be a matter of luck. One salesman said he thought they came around "about once a week."
Thank you, Teffy
snipped-for-privacy@spammotel.com (Teffy) wrote in message

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have a Sears (MTD) Track drive I bought more than 10 years ago. Never had a problem with it but I don't have a driveway like you do and it is only a 6 HP. The first oil change I switched to 5W30 Mobil 1 (I have used it in all my air cooled 4 cycle engines since it came out).
If you have any rocks in that gravel driveway, get some spare shear pins. If they are like mine they are just soft bolts that hold the auger.
The maintenance I would worry about is throwing a tread. I think if you annually check the tension on it you should not have any problem.
Also be certain to drain the gasoline at the end of the season, run the engine until dry and squirt some oil into the cylinder (and turned the piston over a couple times).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Teffy wrote:

It's a crap shoot. $2.50 a month for 5 years is probably less than you pay for postage stamps. You may be lucky (or $ unlucky) to go the whole 5 years without a problem, but if you do need the warrantee work, it may pay for itself the first time you use it.

So, they do all the warrantee work on one day of the week? Or perhaps he meant it may take up to a week to get to you. If you are lucky (again), you may be the first on the list.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In my experience, the "in home" services aren't that at all. Before you sign it, READ the contract very carefully, from start to finish, and get whoever answers your questions about it to put his answers in writing. The ONE contract I ever bought, it turned out we were "outside" the area for that service but I could bring my mower to another city nearby (turned out it was 55 miles one way) and they'd fix it when the guy got to that area, which no one could determine his schedule. OH, and of course, I could have shipped it! Yeah!! I made enough noise I got my money back; but wow, what a hassle! Oh, and I got it fixed for $20 plus parts. It was an air conditioner motor. One of the best things Sears does, and why I go back to them, is provide nearly complete parts lists and assembly diagrams.
Your mileage may vary of course, but, my advice is Read. Read carefully.
My OPINION is, let someone local fix it if/when it breaks. If I can't do it myself, there's usually someone around that can if I look hard enough. Also, $150 is an awfully expensive contract for an $1100 dollar piece of equipment. I think, anyway. I like Sears, I hate their hype and crappy useless contracts.
Pop
| > I have a 300' long gravel driveway with a 15-degree incline at the | > end, and I want to buy a snow thrower to clear it. | > | > As I use the Honda web site "dealer locator" in search of the beloved | > Honda HS724TA track drive 2-stage, | > | > http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/ModelDetail.asp?ModelName=HS724TA | > | > it appears that they cannot be found within an hour's drive. Driving | > that far to buy it would be fine, but is it sensible, cost-wise, to | > have the unit transported that far (there and back twice = 4 hours) by | > a dealer for service? The Honda track sounds wonderful, as long as | > the handles aren't too short for us 6-footers. | > | > But, I wonder if I would be better off getting a wheeled Toro or | > Ariens (I can't find any Simplicity) that are said to be of good | > quality and can be serviced locally. I could also get local service | > for the tracked Craftsman or Troy-Bilt; both made by MTD. But reports | > about MTD reliability scare me. Would you expect the MTD/Craftsman to | > be about as reliable as the MTD/Troy-Bilt? This weekend, at a local | > Sears, the Craftsman is on sale for $1110. | > | > http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?pid188890000 | > | > It looks like I have three choices: | > | > *** I could give up on the tracks and get a Toro or Ariens that could | > be serviced locally after the 2-year warranty period. | > | > *** I could buy a Honda from afar or via the Internet, and hope that | > I don't need to get it to a Honda authorized service center while | > under warranty. Then have it serviced locally after the 2 year | > warranty. | > | > *** I could go snag that sale price on the Craftsman tomorrow at | > Sears. | > | > | > | > What you think? | > | > Thanks for the help! | > Teffy
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.