We are two retirees, 50' long double driveway (concrete). Shoveled a
lot of snow last year, but getting older and lazier. I would like
recommendations for a snow blower if there is one that isn't a monster
to handle, doesn't throw snow into neighbor's yard, and won't break the
bank. We can have it plowed, but that still leaves enough snow that it
refreezes and gets icy; neither of us want to navigate ice to get to the
mailbox or have visitors fall on the ice. Any recommendations for a
reliable, manageable machine?
On Friday, January 9, 2015 at 7:20:26 AM UTC-5, NorMinn wrote:
I've had a Craftaman for 20 years and am happy with it. It's 5hp,
about 24", two stage, I think. Cost about $800 back then. The only
problem I've had with it is that when I've forgotten to drain the gas
at the end of the season, sometimes the carb gets fouled in just a
few months. But even that was a quick fix with a $10 rebuild kit
on Ebay. Of course what Sears and others sell today may be very
One thing I would definitely get is electric start. It's worth it
to not have to pull start. And you want two stage. Another possible
feature is some of the more expensive ones have tread type drives
instead of tires. I never used one of those, but it might be a
good thing if you have a grade to deal with. You can also put chains
on the tire ones. I've been fine here with just the tires. I have
a little grade at the end of the driveway and no problem getting
the blower to go up it.
Lived in the Chicago suburbs until I was 60. Don't know where the OP is
located. I used a Craftsman electric (made by the old Sunbeam on the
west side of Chicago) for many years and it was ok. A little getting
used to the cord thing. When it finally bit the dust, I gave it to a
cousin that had worked for Sunbeam and had one himself ... he now had
lots of parts). I bought a single stage, 2 cycle, with an electric
(120VAC) start. You had to push it as it wasn't self propelled. This
unit was a whole lot better. Out of the cold garage it always started
(AC) and if it would die along the sidewalk because I hit a hard chunk
of ice from the street snow plow, the pull starter was there to get it
going pretty easily, because it was nicely warmed up. When we moved to
western NC 6 years ago, I gave it to my son. He had a similar unit, but
no electric start. In a way, I wish I would have brought it with. We do
have some snow here and it might be nice. That all said, I have seen
commercials for the new Lithium Ion battery units (36 volts or something
like that) ... looks pretty slick, especially for smaller areas ...
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Mine's a two stage 24 inch Troy Bilt with electric start. It will
handle a couple of feet or more of snow. Only trouble I had with it was
time I did not run it dry and ethanol containing stabilized gas clogged it.
Neighbor has one exactly like it and no problems, except, maybe last
year when he accidentally ran into his newspaper buried in the snow.
I'm 75 and have no trouble handling it.
On Friday, January 9, 2015 at 8:37:13 AM UTC-5, Frank wrote:
Funny, I had both those experiences. Leaving gas in it fouling the carb
and the newspapers. Newspaper thing is really bad. You can check the
driveway before a storm, then go out the next morning and not even think
that the delivery guy chucked it somewhere and it's now buried. Have extra
shear bolts for sure....
When neighbor hit the paper, it was a mess. He came over to look my
unit over to make sure he got his back in its original condition
thinking he bent the blades.
Gas problem was either ethanol attacking the seals as their is a caution
in the manual not to use it. That's all that is available around here.
Newer units may not have this problem.
I'm told there is also the potential for gas to evaporate from the
carburetor gumming it up.
PITA with all small engines with long inactive periods in keeping them
clear. Best to run these engines dry.
On Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 10:31:04 PM UTC-5, Frank wrote:
Good luck with that. IDK where you can find gas without alcohol in
it around here, NJ.
That's all that is available around here.
Yes, IDK how much better newer ones are. I don't think it's just
alcohol attacking the seals. You would think there are suitable
gasket, seal, etc materials that alcohol would not affect. I think
the other part of the problem is the alcohol attracts water and that
in turn creates gunk, corrosion, etc.
Yes, that;s probably the best. If you can remember. I forgot again
with my snowblower. But tested it a couple weeks ago and it started
right up, runs OK. Guess I got lucky. Not sure why. It didn't have
stabilizer in it either. As I said, other times, in just a few months,
when I realized I hadn't taken care of it, it was already fouled.
I think gas at marine areas is alcohol free otherwise only places around
here I've seen were in MD 100 miles from me.
My lawn mower and generator have shut off valves from gas tank and they
are easy to run dry. With snow thrower I have to siphon and then it
still takes several minutes to run dry.
Guy I know that used to have a service gas station and now deals with
lawn service knows engines and said it depends on type of carburetor
that might have evaporation problem.
I store stabilized gas for generator and recycle in 2 years in car if
not used. I was using some stabilized gas in a can for my weed wacker
with 2 cycle oil and it lasted over 5 years before going bad.
On Monday, January 12, 2015 at 7:09:15 PM UTC-5, Frank wrote:
I used to have a boat, sold it a few years ago, never paid any attention
as to how the pump was marked.
I found this site that lists places alcohol free is available by state.
For NJ, only one place listed and in the details it's from someone who
drove by, didn't stop to try to actually buy it and it was $10 a gallon.
You would think that since there is generally agreement that the best
practice is to run it dry that they would provide a drain so you could
easily empty the tank. I always try to manage the gas when using it so
that little is left, then just run it dry at the end of the season.
If I remember.....
I've also kept mixed 2 stroke gas for long periods, left it in weed wackers,
etc with no problems.
No snow thrower can clear ice. Ice requires:
-- for individuals, studded boots to inhibit falling;
-- ice can be cleared only by a vehicle (1) heavy enough to
break ice into pieces, (2) capable of lifting and
throwing the pieces.
The cheapest alternative is to distribute a sand/salt mix
atop the ice, renewed daily as needed.
On Friday, January 9, 2015 at 6:20:26 AM UTC-6, NorMinn wrote:
Ariens, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt. CC and TB are made by MTD so I would ask a dealer if TB was just a re-labelled Yard Machine or a Cub Cadet? (Maybe you could look at them side-by-side). John Deere's larger blowers were made by Ariens.
Based on personal experience, I offer the following comments:
- Snowblowers are just that. They do not throw slush or ice. That means if you
do not get outside to use them as soon as the snow falls, you are not going to
see good results. Attempting to throw slush or snow that has melted near the
ground results in the blower packing up. That means you have to turn it off and
clean it out. Rinse, repeat. The only thing that will break up ice on the ground
is a blade on a pickup.
- The little electric brushes are toys and shouldn't be considered.
- I have a self propelled Sears (really MTD) with a 9HP gas motor. Use it to do
a 250ft driveway up the side of a mountain. Electric start is an absolute must.
Trying to use a pull starter on a gas motor in the winter is nuts. It's two
stage, which means it has an auger and a blower. The blower is adjustable, so
there is some control on where and how far the snow gets thrown.
- It is self propelled, but that doesn't mean you sit in a rocker chair behind
it. There is some physical effort in managing it.
No recommendation, but I would concur with the idea of getting a snow
blower instead of shoveling. Shoveling is pretty strenuous activity
and if somebody only does it a few times per year I would think they are
placing themselves at risk - more risk the older they get.
First you have to determine your real needs. If snow is a twice a year
thing with 4", you can get away with a little single stage machine.
If you get 6" or more at a time and you get it a couple of times a
month, you need a decent two stage machine. You want something that can
trow the snow.
Look at features. I set out to buy a 24" as it would easily do my
driveway. After looking at different models, the 28" had a better
system to change the discharge, had a headlight and was slightly wider
for a few bucks more.
I did not see any big differences in brands at a given price point. I
bought mine early in the season at $100 off.
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