Snowthrower recommendations

I'm looking for a snowthrower recommendation.
We're in the Chicago area so we get dumped on now and then but the driveway isn't very long and we have used a Toro single-stage (the old kind with the straight rubber flappers and rubber vanes to direct the discharge) for years but it's just getting too temperamental. I'm sure a single stage with the newer curved rubber blades and central discharge chute will be fine in terms of actually doing the job.
Here are the shopping considerations:
Electric start is a must.
Greatly prefer a model that has convenient system to re-aim the chute so one doesn't to bend down to turn it with each pass. The old Toro with the vanes had that but most current single stage chute models that I've seen do not. Toro "Power Clear" with "Quick Shoot" seems pretty good in that regard.
Would prefer 4-stroke-cycle but a 2-stroke is not ruled out since we've dealt with gas/oil mixture for many years.
I know Toro has their 221QE (2-stroke) and 421QE (4-stroke) which fit the bill but I want to know what else is available as the latter is around $800 which is a huge price for a 21" single stage snow thrower! What else should I look at?
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honda
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RickH wrote:

Honda is probably a top notch product but the only one that would suit would be the HS520AS where "convenient" chute control is simply a longer handle. And still about as pricey as the Toro.
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airens is big around here , make's good snowblowers .
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On Sun, 07 Dec 2008 14:56:20 -0600, Steve Kraus

Ariens are excellent. You'll see a lot of them being used in commercial applications because they work well, and live a long time.
A 4-stroke 2 stage Ariens of about 8 HP and 24 inch wide will run around $800 or so. Take reasonable care of it and you'll still be using it in 25 or 30 years.
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snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote in wrote:

Ariens is a great product. We've used the brand for years. Does an excellent job with heavy Lake snows. We bought ours from a local "lawnmower" shop. They give excellent service if we need it. (as opposed to home depot).
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wrote:

You'll also find that the local lawnmower shop's price is the same or better than Home Depot - and the money stays in your community!
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On Dec 8, 8:03am, snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

And if it has a defect or breaks HD will do nothing.
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wrote:

Just roll it inside to the returns desk with gas in it. They love that. Start yanking on the rope. Heck, if ya get lucky maybe it'll start. Vaaaarooooooom! Vaaaarooooooom!
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Steve Kraus wrote:

$800!!!??? Where are you buying them? The big-box places here in MI have the electric-start 24" 2-stage Toros at $600 and change, last time I looked. The single stage are under $500.
I bought one of the 24" 2-stage Toros for $500 last January, essentially brand new, from a 90-pound fellow who had it for a month and was scared of it, off of Craigs List. My back is much happier. It has a crank to re-aim chute, so you don't have to bend over.
Note that at the 21-24 inch size, brand does not matter much. There are only about 3 factories that make them for everybody. Look close at the stamped sheet metal parts, on the display floor.
-- aem sends...
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Model 421QE (single stage, electric start, 4-stroke, "Quick Shoot" chute control) was $819 at an Ace HW store. Figuring they were high because they were a small dealer I poked around online and saw that this price, while high, wasn't all that far above prices I saw from other vendors.
The store also had what I think was the 221E at about a hundred bucks less.
My local Home Depot only had a few ST; just the really tiny Toro and the Toro single stager without electric start or the convenient chute control.
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Steve Kraus wrote:

Hi, Honda. Cold weather starting is easy.
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Steve Kraus wrote:

http://www.opeonthenet.com /
These guys are almost religious about their snowthrowers. They know more than most of the dealers. Look for their Discussion Forum (left hand side of the page). You'd probably have to join to ask a question, but that's fast & spam-free.
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Robert Barr wrote:

Thanks; I will see if they have any further suggestions.
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I just bought the Toro 421QE. What sold me on Toro is the 2-pull start guarantee (even though I went for the electric start so my wife could start it). By the time you go 4 cycle, electric start, Quick adjust on the chute, the price is up to about $819.00. If you buy from a dealer in Wisconsin (free shipping) you can save the substantial Illinois tax. I've only used it once and it did a good job. However it is pretty noisy but I suppose most are.
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With the style Toro you have it never clogged with snow because it has no chute to clog, Chicago gets some wet heavy junk, I have 2 of those toros, I also have a 700$ John Deere single stage that Consumers Reports rated second best, they would have rated it last had they tried wet snow. it can clog every 30ft with Chicagos snow, be carefull of your pick or you might be sticking a stick in the chute every 30 ft, go to a local lawn equipment shop and ask what does-doesnt work in Chicagos wet heavy snows.
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There are a lot of styles and prices. How about considering an electric. If you drive is not too long, I believe you will find it easier. No maintenance, no starting problems and light weight. What they generally lack is the power for really heavy deep snow. You have to answer that part. Some areas close to you would be fine and others would be marginal at best.
    If I had to chose a liquid fuel model I would look at Honda.
Good Luck
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On Sun, 07 Dec 2008 14:56:20 -0600, Steve Kraus
We're very happy with our Honda HS520AS snowthrower; I've posted about this before on the group if you want to Google my comments. Works great on our 110 ft. long western New York driveway, very easy to use, uses regular gas (89 octane), and is smaller than the 2-stage machines, important for our small garage. And cheaper than $800.
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