Snowthrower Recommendations

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I finall got rid of my old 2-stage MTD last year after many years. I have priced new units, and see 2-stage units in the $300 range. I would end to shy away from them because I hate the gas/oil mixing.
I see 4-cycle engine starting in the mid $400s and up. Aside from avoiding the gas/oil mixing, are there advantages to these? What about breakdowns, etc.? I don't mind regular maintenance, but I do mind machines that are hard-starting or need to be taken in for repairs frequently. I am trying to avoid too expensive a unit, but I don't know enough to distinguish between them.
Any advice?
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I finally got rid of my old Toro after many year. I have a fairly large driveway and will need to pick up a new unit. Upon a cursory pricing, it seems to make sense to avoid a 2 cycle to avoid the gas/ oil mix. The other units are a bit pricier, but would be worth it over the life of a purchase.
Is there anything I should be considering with regard to maintenance, likelihood of breakdown, etc.?
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I checked Consumer Reports. Their best buys for two stage blowers are two Sears models. They both have four cycle engines. Craftsman 88999 for $900, and the Craftsman 88955 for $600. Their best buy for single stage is Toro Powerclear 210R 38587. It has a two cycle engine. $580.
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On Sat, 13 Nov 2010 18:55:18 -0600, Dean Hoffman

I have had 2 stage and single stage blowers over the years and I'll go double stage any day of the week for MY purposes. I have a double wide driveway that will just hold 2 cars end to end, and 150+ feet of sidewalk (on a corner lot) in the fringe of the SouthWestern Ontario Snow Belt. We get wet snow. We get dry snow, we get freezing rain, we get thaw/freeze cycles, and the snow plough ridges can be 4 feet of frozen slush by the time I get out in the morning to clear the driveway. A single stage just doesn't cut it.
If you get mostly dry snow, in reasonable amounts, and are not located on a corner where the plough fills your driveway with overburden, a single stage can do the job well - and the rubber beater type clean right down to the sidewalk/driveway.
I don't like or trust 2 stroke engines. They stink. They are fussy. The oil mix is a hassle, and did I mention, they STINK. In a chain saw where a 4 stroke is not an option I put up with 2 strokes. No excuse in a snow thrower.
Too bad the old standby Temumseh SNow King is no longer available in the new market. They were very dependable. The Briggs engines are pretty decent, but the pricier Honda , Yamaha, and Kawasaki engines do tend to be slighly more reliable and durable. Subaru Robin (aka Wisconsin) is also a pretty decent engine. The jury is still out on the Chinese stuff. I wouldn't expect one ( or count on it) to still be running in 10 or 15 years.(like many Tecumseh engines are today - even 30 years old)
Toro makes pretty decent stuff, as does Ariens. The John Deere stuff is also pretty good - not sure of the cheap stuff sold at Home Despot etc. MTD products span the range from totally awfull crap to just plain awsome, with prices to match. Briggs and Stratton owns Murray and several other companies that they took out of recievership and again span the quality range.
Don't expect to get a great blower for under $600 - a decent USED one can be worth more than that.
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On 11/13/2010 11:03 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I have two 1970 model husky bolens garden tractors with 12HP Wisconsin engines that run fine. Actualy I do need to rebuild the carbs, did them once without a kit, and with home made gaskets. Time for real kit with needle valves and all. Zenith carbs by the way.
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What is so difficult about mixing a little container of oil into a gallon of gas? I use a separate 1Gal gas can for the snowblower. I have a 2-cycle electric start and pull start single-stage Yard Master by MTD. It easily clears a 2-car wide 50 foot long driveway in the western Chicago suburb of Naperville, as well as 2 or 3 neighbors' similar driveways. As long as you get an electric start, there should be no problems. My garage is attached so it usually stays above freezing even at 0F outside temperatures, so that may help the starting.
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wrote:

Its not that its difficult. Its one more thig you have to remember to buy and keep around. I have also have more trouble with fouled plugs and such with the 2-cycle machines. With the heavier snow, it seems that most I have seen aren't capable of clearing it without killing repeatedly. Not usually too hard to restart, but just a pain. My father does have a 2-cyle Toro that does a good job, but he has had it a couple years and had it repaired twice. I am looking for something that doesn't require constant repair. In reference to something someone else mentioned, I have a way to get one in for repair. I just don't want to have to do it all the time.
I am not far from where you live, and I have an attached garage, so cold starting is not too big an issue. What I am looking for is a machine heavy-duty enough to clear big snowstorms and wet snow without too much difficulty, without having excessive need for repair and preferably no need to use 2-cycle oil so I won't have to run out and get it when I just want to go out and clear the snow.
I am heading to the Lowes in St. Charles to see what they have there.
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On Sun, 14 Nov 2010 10:22:50 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

I'm switching to synthetic oil in my 4 stroker this year - no electric start on Briggs L Head 5HP. It sits in a detatched shed all winter and I've not had any trouble starting up 'till now. Shoulder surgery last year so if I can make starting a bit easier I won't complain.
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On Sun, 14 Nov 2010 09:39:11 -0800 (PST), "hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net"

2 strokes HATE ethanol - and particularly if significant moisture gets into the mix.
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On Sun, 14 Nov 2010 12:30:55 -0500, Tony Miklos

Those old Wisconsins are long before the Subaru/Fuji Robin engines - and are darn near bulletproof. Make a good anchor for a good-sized boat too---.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

In the main, 4-cycle engines are more durable, more forgiving, and start easier than 2-cycle.
As an example, you just don't see many large 2-cycle engines (automobiles, motorcycles, airplanes, generators, pumps in New Orleans flood mitigation facilities, etc.).
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From your comments and starting price at $300 I think you are confusing '2-stage' with '2-cycle'.
I haven't had a 2-cycle one in like...?40? years Don't they ahve separate oil/gas tanks now and the mix metered somehow in the carb?
Anyhow, 4cycle as other have said, more reliable, last longer (but youwon't wear out either for years and years) and have better torque.
Harry K
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You are correct. I unintentionally used the terms interchangeably in my post. I know there is a difference, but I would not be able to tell you what it is.
What I am looking for is a decent snowblower, preferably one that does not require a gas/oil mix. That type of engine seems to have fouled plugs more readily than others, although I don't really know if that is the case.
I need to keep it reasonable in price, since I am currently on a tight budget, but I don't want to go through a Chicago winter without one. I have a pretty sizable driveway and walk, and I typically do the neighbor's dirveway as well, because he is a little older. It is less a matter of not wanting to do the shoveling as it is a matter of wanting to get the job done (although I confess to enjoying walking behind a snowblower considerably more than shoveling).
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On 11/14/2010 12:04 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Any of the name-brand 2-stage 24" blowers in the $600 range will do you fine. (In Chicago, forget about the plastic-paddle toy machines- they won't move wet snow very well.) There are only about 3 companies that make them anymore, no matter what the brand name on them is. If you aren't set up to haul it home yourself, or haul it in for service when needed, recommend buying from an lawn equipment dealer (that delivers) rather than a big box, even if you have to pay a few more bucks. Go visit the nearest 2 or 3 places, and buy from the place that doesn't try to fast-talk you.
--
aem sends...

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On 11/14/2010 1:00 PM, aemeijers wrote:

Snip
Troy-Bilt are doing free shipping on 2 stage snow throwers direct from their website for limited time.
JC
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On Sun, 14 Nov 2010 13:32:26 -0500, Archon

TroyBuilt are now made by MTD Products. Not a BAD product, but not quite what the Troy was 15 years ago.
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On 11/14/2010 2:03 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I had an MTD blower, lasted me 9 years with very little maintenance and for its size it handled pretty much everything except the wettest snow. The 24" troy I just bought was discounted at Lowes by nearly $70 and looks well made but I haven't had opportunity to try it out as yet. JC
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On Sun, 14 Nov 2010 15:47:42 -0500, Archon

Like I said in a previous post - MTD products range from the truly awfull to awesome. And like any other company/product, the quality evident in older equipment and the reputation earned by those products is no guarantee of the quality of today's product sold under the same nameplate.
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On Sun, 14 Nov 2010 15:47:42 -0500, Archon

GOOD snowblowers generally last about 3 times that long, and are less physically demanding to use.
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On Nov 14, 11:03am, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

When it comes to yard/garden equipement it is getting hard to find something _not_ built by MTD :). I bought a TroyBilt log splitter last year and while shopping found the identical splitter under 3 (could have been more) badges.
Harry K
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