What snowblower/thrower to buy


OK, It's about time I take the leap. Almost every winter, I would be snow bounded at home for a few days to a week long since I moved to Maryland. I plan to buy a snow thrower this year. I have a 400x10 feet driveway with a steep slope in some spot.
Would 6 hp be sufficient for my zone or should I go for higher power? We only get moderate snow here. I am looking for
- Easy start (This is number one for me. I bought a chainsaw a few years ago and only used it one season. Couldn't get it started ever since).
- Easy maneuver (for a 58 going on 59 year old but still going strong woman)
- Wide enough sweep so that only two rounds would clear a 10 feet wide road.
I am not looking for spending lots of money for top of the line since I would only use it a few times a year. I have been tracking prices for Craftsman at Sears. But still hesitating since a number of posters here compared Craftsman unfavorably over Toro. I don't mind owning a "crappier" but cheaper equipment if it can do decent job for a 58 going 59 year old woman.
Thanks in advance for your responses pac
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You just eliminated about 90% of all snow blowers. That means you need a 30" wide blower with enough capacity to take a full bite. That puts you up into the 10 hp range and makes it harder to handle. Plan on making 3 passes each direction.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Well, that depends. If she really means clear the whole 10ft width in 2 round trips, that's true. However, if she means to remove enough snow to make it passable, then a 26" one will give her over an 8 1/2 foot width, which should be OK. If she wants more than that, then with cost in mind, the best solution is probably going to be another pass, which really wont take all that long.
As for HP, I have a Sears 5hp/26", which I've used in coastal NJ for 8 years and it's been fine for here. The biggest snowfall was higher than the top of the front of the blower, where the snow enters and I got through it pretty easily. It also does a good job at the mail box, which is higher and tougher due to the wet snow plow mix. It's been trouble free so far, just routine oil changes,
I'd recommend getting an electric start. And while I don't think you need to spend a lot, I also would not try to get the cheapest one. You're going to use it for many years and if you figure out how much your saving by not having to pay to plow, it's well worth it to spend a little more for something that will work well and last. She can also look in the local papers or Ebay. Sometimes you can find a relatively new one that someone is unloading because they are moving away from the area.
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She is in Maryland, so that may be OK. I'm in CT right near the MA border. Sometimes it snows in December and the original snow stays until March and continues to be added to. If it is deep, you tend to narrow over time so it is best to start out clearing the full width.
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400ft of drive, you should just hire a plow service, you dont say how deep the snow is, or how wet and heavy. You may find out to late 6 hp is to small and may with 400ft spend half a day doing it. Your local lawn mower- commercial equipment supplier would realy direct you best, but consider the cost of a service to a 5-6 yr or less life span of the unit because you might just burn it out quickly by forcing a small unit to overwork itself.
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PacKat wrote:

Thanks for the quick responses. This is really a great group.
Cost is not that big a factor for me. The big factor is ease of use (start and maneuvering). 400' may be a bit overestmated. Part of t he driveway is not going to be critical. The only part that I will need to get in and out is only about 200 feet. In that case I can do 3 or even 4 trips.
So looks like it is going to be a 5.5 or 6 HP Craftsman from Sears depend on the special sales they will offer in t he near future. I might need their in home service, so e-bay is out.
Thanks again for you'll responses. pac
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Snowblowers use considerable gasoline. So, you'll need a couple gascans to feed your machine.
I used to work for Shears, and have little respect for them. If you insist on Shears, get the MA, those folks get slightly better service than cash calls.
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Christopher A. Young
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for ease of use and great reliability i'd have to recommend the machine i have which is the Honda 7/24 Series. 7hp& 24" opening up front. it has great snow throwing ability,even the heavy stuff and is easy to pull start. my machine is about 5 years old and has never caused any trouble and starts right up every time. it's a little pricier than the Sears and Home Depot/Lowes models, but when i was shopping around i wanted something i knew i could depend on and would not be in the shop every year or losing nuts and bolts here and there. at your age, (no disrespect intended) this machine will give you many years of solid service for little worry or concern about getting all of that snow off your dirveway and is a breeze to use. this model was avbailable with tires or tracks, i chose the tires and couldn't be happier. you may want to look at the getting tracks if your slopes are severe, the tracks may give you better traction going up those hills.
here's a link to Honda for you if you think the 724 is too small a path to cut then the 928 Series may be up your alley, but for an extra 4", the price may be quite a difference.
http://www.honda.ca/PowerEng/Snowblowers/HS724/default.htm
here's a link i found while i was shopping around and can answer may questions, provide some buying tips, safety tips and other info.
http://home.gwi.net/~spectrum/snowblower.html
good luck and be careful,
mike...........
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JerseyMike wrote:

Mike, Nah, non disrespectful detcted. I went to the link you provided. Love the one with track. Would be great fun to use it. But the price is a bit high for something to use only a few times a year. I don't get much snow In my area. I guess Sears Craftsman or Lowes Troy build is sufficient for my need. I hope Sears still maintain their reputation when it comes to their workmanship.

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Based on what I saw in 1996, I can say they have suffered greatly.
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Really? I'd hope not. IMO, most are horrid places to take anything for repair. That is why most people in my area buy power equipment from the John Deere, Cub Cadet, Stihl dealers. Everything comes assembled, set up, test run, and they give you any instruction you may need.
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Go to Lowes and get the Troy bilt 5.5hp 24" twostage. Light enough to maneuver powerful enough to do the job. Electric start included. It may take more passes than a larger one but still quicker than shoveling. Remember , MTD makes most outdoor power equipment you find atbig box stores. Sears, Troybilt, yardman, and many othersare allbuiltby same company. I picked up a Troybilt thrower for $549 after 10% coupon. Sear has the exact same for $698
PacKat wrote:

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With that size of driveway, I'd be looking for an atachment to a riding lawn mower. Either a pusher blade, or blower. With 400 feet to do, I can imagine that sit and drive device would be easier than a walk behind.
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