Snowthrower opinions?

Ok, I'm rushing the season but I need input.
We're going to be moving to a house with a 300ft driveway and an extra parking area to the side of the 3-car garage. I currently have a 15hp Simplicity riding mower that my dealer can outfit with a single stage blower attachment for around $1000.
Just Internet shopping, I see 9-12hp; 2 stage; 26-32 clearing path, walk behinds for $1,300-1,600. Some even have hand heaters.
I'm in an area of Wisconsin where the average snowfall per season is 45 inches, although the last two years I never even needed my 3hp, the snowfall has been so light. Now, we're either going to pay for that, or there is global warming. Who knows?
Opinions on the snowthrowers please, not global warming.
Thanks
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jj wrote:

I'm not far from you. I've paid my neighbor for several years to do this chore for me. I look forward to the replies.
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Can your riding mower handle a plow blade instead? The thrower attachments suck, but a plow attachment could be great. Otherwise, buy a separate 2-stage snowblower, 5 HP or bigger.
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On Tue, 19 Aug 2003 15:55:44 +0000, xymerg wrote:

I have a small tractor (15 horse) and have a 42" plow for it. It is way too much plow for the weight of the tractor. The motor has the guts to push it through snow, but even with wheel weights and chains, I can't keep the drive wheels stuck to the ground.
I had planned on getting a thrower attachment, but ended up with falling into a "if you can fix it, you can have it" deal with a 7 horse toro snowblower. I just couldn't see myself dealing with the plow for another winter. The driveway ended up getting too narrow after a few snowfalls (no way to move a lot of snow at once).
I'd suggest a separate snowblower long before I suggested putting a plow on a small rider/tractor (unless you're dealing with 2-3 inches at a time). I'm in upstate NY, and it just didn't cut it for me.
-Hal
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It's been my experience that riding mowers make terrible snowthrowers. Spend the $1000 on a two stage walk behind of at least 8HP. As for brands, they basically fall into two camps. Low end (MTD, Noma et al) and high end (Toro, Deere, et al). Both will get the job done. The high end brands will take more abuse and last longer. I live in the northeast where we get a lot of snow. I have a 6 year old MTD 8HP that has been fine for what I paid for it and has moved a lot of snow.
jj wrote:

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Definitely stay away from the Depot brands like MTD. If you take the plunge, get something quality like a Deere.
Bob
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Here's another vote for the MTD, coming from Buffalo. I wrote up an epinions review of it a couple of years ago if you're interested: http://www.epinions.com/hmgd-review-5FF0-39F6414C-3A1AA15F-prod6

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I have an MTD 8 HP for three season now (Chicago area). When I was looking for a new thrower, HD had the MTD and the equivalent Ariens. The Ariens certainly looked more like the cadillac of models, and seemed to be sturdier all around. At face values the engines appeared to be the same. The Ariens also appeared more convenient to turn the chute. However, the $400 price difference was a little too much for the amount of snow I thought I would be moving on a 100 ft long driveway. So far the MTD has been reliable. I wish they used more stainless steel for bolts and some other fittings; I am already seeing more rust than I think I should.

Gary Dyrkacz snipped-for-privacy@attbi.com Radio Control Aircraft/Paintball Physics/Paintball for 40+ http://home.attbi.com/~dyrgcmn /
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About five years ago, we had a heavy storm here, and I stomped around back of my trailer to drag out the electric snow thrower I found on the curb the year before. Major labor saver. I'd been shovelling all this time.
I was able to clear the driveway and get some of the trim I'd never had the strength to do with a shovel. And then a couple years ago I got a used twocycle gas mixer. Greatest gadget I've owned in a while.
Best advice I can give you for the big machines. Use good quality gasoline and oil. Cheap oil is worse than useless sometimes.
Opinions on global warming (no extra charge): Remember a couple years ago when the world council on Global Warming in Wash DC was cancelled due to a friek snow storm? When I was a kid they couldn't predict the weather past a couple days ahead, and they still can't.
--

Christopher A. Young
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