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Snowblower Choices.

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Honest Mike, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. Honest Mike

    Honest Mike Member
    Messages: 75

    Hey guys. I have been really tinkering with the idea of getting a snowblower. We have been getting alot of snow this year, and trying to shovel all of the sidewalk is way too much work, especially when its deep snow. Also when the town plows the street, and pile it on the curb, it falls onto the sidewalk. I live on a cul-de-sac, so its even more of a problem. Anyway, after the blizzard we had, the cops came around and had the nerve to put notes in everyones mailbox "to clean snow from sidewalk." Are they kidding?? Its winter, no one is using the sidewalk, no one is walking their dogs, or walking or jogging for that matter, plus with the piles the town trucks made, you would need a bulldozer to dig through them lol! Im not blaming the town trucks, I know they dont have a choice where to put the snow and when its so much, of course it spills onto the sidewalk, but the cops leaving notes to clean sidewalk is a bit much.

    So, that brings me to why I want/need a snowblower. If they are going to keep coming around after every storm, then I guess we have no choice but to clean our sidewalks. I definitely want a good one, 2 stage for sure. I dont mind spending good money for a good one, but how much am I looking at? So far I have narrowed it down to 3 brands I like and can get to rather easily around here where I live in NJ. Craftsman from Sears. Honda from the local Honda dealer minutes away from me. And Ariens, which I am told there is a dealer in Chatham, not too far from me.

    2 questions I have. Tracks or tires? And, is Honda worth the money?? I was looking at their top of the line track model, the 1132, and it goes for $3400?? Of course I dont need the best one, but I want to buy it once and be done with it. I want to buy a good one that starts when it is suppose to and doesnt let me down when we get alot of snow, or end up in the shop cause a belt broke or a pin broke or whatever. I have no clue how much an Ariens is, but Im sure they are pricey too and right up there with Honda? Craftsman is about $1000 or so, thats not bad at all, but is it any good?

    Any help you guys can give me is appreciated! I posted this on another forum too in case anyone sees it there, as well as here. ~Mike :cool:
  2. pmorrissette

    pmorrissette Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    I have a Craftsman and love it.

    Things to look for:

    ~ Hydrostatic drive.
    ~ Power Steering.
    ~ High CC or torque rating motor.
    ~ Electric start
    ~ Heated handles
    ~ Work light
    ~ Big tires
    ~ Big bucket
    ~ Drift cutters
    ~ Serrated Augers

    I have a 28" big bucket model with a 305cc (13.5 torque) motor and all of the above.

    It is 3 years old now and works great.
  3. tomcat01

    tomcat01 Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    My dad and i clear A LOT of snow with snow blowers (yeah we need a plow) we use Two ariens snow blowers we have an older (3-4yr old) 36" electric start and what not does a great job troughs the snow a good distance. this year we added a 28" (pro) ariens blower. within the last couple years they came out with a new differential that makes it REALLY easy to turn as well they came out with a really fast way to change shoot direction. This blower doesn't through as far its still a good distance. as far as dependable the things a beast as long as you don't hit crap and if you do it takes about 10minutes to replace the shear pin
  4. LVHardscape

    LVHardscape Member
    Messages: 38

    whatever snow blower you decide on, buy shear pins right away!!! they're usually like 5-10 bucks for a pack of like four. but if you snap one you'll have the peace of mind knowing you're covered.
  5. tyler

    tyler Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    I can tell you I have played with all kinds of brands of snowblowers and the only one I take out into the storm is my Honda 1132ta. Nothing will come close to the preformance and features of the Honda. You will thow wet snow a minimum of 35 feet and send the light stuff down the block if you would like. If you were to buy a Honda it will litteraly last you a lifetime. Most other snowblowers a just painted a different color and slap a different company name on them and call them the best. Honda has engineered their blowers since the late 70's I believe. I will say the tracked model is a little bit harder to turn but once you learn to turn it with your hips and body not your arms you will find it to be much less work. As for the huge piles at the end of the drive you will be able to move them without effort. If Honda were no longer availaible new or used to me, I would probably run into the Ariens dealer and pick up one as they seem to be well built also, just not on the same playing field as a Honda.
  6. KEC Maintaince

    KEC Maintaince Senior Member
    from N.J.
    Messages: 265

    i run toros single stage.
    210r power clears.
    they work great
    you have to use some muscle but for me they are fine.
    i do my resi with no problem
    Mike you know how jersey is the coffers for the towns are low on cash so they are told to write tickets for this.
    also be careful if you blow it in the street to go back in the street and blow it on the pite.
    a friend of mine who is a business owner got a warning from a cop and a town plow operator that if they see him blowing snow into the street with out clearing it the best he can afterwards he will receive a ticket.
    most towns it is an ordinance that snow must be cleared off sidewalks 24 hrs after the last snow flake falls.
  7. peterng

    peterng Senior Member
    Messages: 249

    Ditto on the Toro's. They have their limits, as do the big blowers, but they amaze me what they can handle. 12" light/fluffy and go as fast as you want. 4" wet snow is the limit without reducing the width of the swath. 80lbs lift in/out of the truck. No shear pins, they are simple and they work very well.

    I use it to save me from shoveling, not as a main gig. But I find it works good if you don't like shoveling. One of my contracts has 600'+ of ramps, walks, decks etc. and the Toro's do it all year, every storm. We are not light on snow up here either.
  8. tomcat01

    tomcat01 Junior Member
    Messages: 24

  9. TDS Landscaping

    TDS Landscaping Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    Agreed completely.. Bought 2 of the Toro 210Rs for the sidewalk crews this year.. The absolute BEST thing about them is that they clear down to pavement, (as long as the snow has not been walked on, driver over, etc..) we have really cut down on salt use this year, which is good.. Also, they are super easy on gas, easy for 1 guy to throw in the back of the truck, faster and more manuverable than 2 stage (in light snow) and easy to work on if they have issues.. However, if you are planning to clear wet heavy snow regularly, or want to clear the snow from the end of a drive way, or snow thrown onto walks by city plows, or even clear 8"-10" snow on a regular basis, look elsewhere.. We have had issues with the blowers stripping out the built in rotor shaft pins which in turn also strips out the pin slot in the drive pulley. (not covered under warranty, parts over $80 per incident) This is do to the "ramming" type usage required to clear through deep or heavy snow.. The things simply will not self propel through this type of thing if you try to simply slow push through, they will tend to instead ride right up on top of the snow if you don't ram them back and forth. Obviously this could be considered abuse, so i am not blaming Toro, but in my situation you would have to shovel in those situations instead or have a 2 stage blower around just for certain situations/accounts with lots of the road grime, or for times with heavy snow, or for those larger 8+inch snowfalls. With around 100 residential accounts and 2 crews, we simply need something that is not so situationally specific, and that require repairs/adjustments every 3rd snowfall.

    Another note is that the rubber paddles wear quickly when used commercially, and as they wear, they continue to work, but the snow throwing distance/height decreases. With the abundance of snow this year in south central MN, the snow is getting too high on the sides of some walks to the point where the blower will not throw the snow over the banks unless the paddles are brand new, effectively causing need to replace paddles long before they "need" to be unless the crews are going to shovel at every 3rd house.

    I will keeping one of the Toro's around for the situations when we get 2-5" of light snow because like I said, the things are unbeatable for situations where road grime, drifts, etc.. are not present because they clear down to the pavement beautifully, easily loadable by a 1 man crew, incredibly manuverable and with smaller lighter snow you can damn near run behind the things. But for next year, the primary rigs for both sidewalk crews will be 21-24" 2 stage blowers.

    Oh, and sorry for sidetracking OP, i can vouch for the fact that Honda blowers, especially the commercial models are incredible machines.. If you shell out for one, plan on it holding its value in case you go a different direction, or last forever with proper care and maintenance.. The tracked systems will allow you to use some down pressure, thus allowing you to get a cleaner scrape, but i have heard they can be a bit tricky to maneuver, especially when you are using down pressure..

    I have never used Ariens though i have heard good things.. If you are looking for quality anywhere in comparison to Honda, make sure you are not buying the big box versions like they sell at Home Depot, because i have looked at those and know for a fact they are no different than every other big box home depot/menards/lowes snowblower.

    As far as craftsman goes, it seems like they make a comparable, or maybe slightly superior product to your typical big box blowers, however my father in law had one and it worked great, until it started to need parts, we found out very quickly that the craftsman parts are incredibly expensive.. so much so that you are better off buying another one than fixing anything major. (an set of augers and a cutting edge for his craftsman was $400, he paid $800 for the blower 4 years previous).

    Good luck with your decision, if i have learned anything in the last 5 years it is don't cheap out on vital equipment, the initial sting of paying for the right equipment is far less painful than the sting of not having your equipment when you need it most.. Not to mention, good stuff will hold its value even through years of use, so you will get some of that money back if you ever outgrow what you have.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011
  10. Honest Mike

    Honest Mike Member
    Messages: 75

    Great replies guys! Thumbs Up Looks like no one has a bad thing to say about a Honda snowblower either. Thanks to all for the replies so far. :drinkup:
  11. peterng

    peterng Senior Member
    Messages: 249

    I agree completely with both of these guys. I am constantly hitting hard egdes from concrete pavers and the like. VERY hard on the plastic cutting edge. You'd be lucky to limp through a full year without repacing the plastic cutting edge midseason. And the rubber paddles do take a beating. On smooth surfaces they would wear very consistently. But I have quite a few sites with very poorly laid pavement, all dibbles. I've changed the paddles on one of them once already this year.

    I don't put anything ridiculous through the paddles as far as ice chunks etc.. Back off them. Give the gear box a chance. As I said before, they have their limits. Work within them and they are a lot of fun to run.
  12. KEC Maintaince

    KEC Maintaince Senior Member
    from N.J.
    Messages: 265

    yep the toros work fine for me now but next yr i will be adding a 2 stg unit to the line up.
    probley a honda or something of the sort .
    i have also been looking at a small tractor with a blower on it . what is every ones opinion on that??
  13. lukesdad

    lukesdad Junior Member
    Messages: 1

    I have a JD 47 in. blower on one of my tractors. Works great,but the only thing is getting it to and from the site during a storm. If you have customers who will wait thats great!
  14. Freebird

    Freebird Member
    Messages: 41

    In this area you have 12 hours to clean the sidewalks or they fine you. As someone who does walk the dog daily and sees a lot of other people out there, we do appreciate a clean walk.

    That said I would go Ariens for a two-stage. We have one from 1979 that has had a few belts, some shear pins and regular oil changes without any major repairs. It still throws snow and its great machine. My neighbor just bought a 28 inch deluxe this year and that thing goes through everything like a hot knife through butter. It clears the snow, throws it 50 feet and he can do a drive and walks in 45 minutes with that thing on a pretty large drive. I would never spend double for the Honda, the Ariens is more than enough. Unless its very hilly you do not need tracks anyway.

    The Toro single stage is great for less than 6 inches, little ice and will clear down to pavement which is great for doing walkways. However, it does not throw as far or as high as the Ariens and over 6 inches you will actually have to work it.

    Since you are cleaning a lot of plow crap I would go Ariens. My dealer here has the new machines listed for about 1K-1200 depending on the features.

    JDKSERVLLC Junior Member
    from MI
    Messages: 15

    Toro, Toro, Toro.....

    Toro's for me and my crew all the way!!! I started with Toro S620's (4pcs) 3 years ago and graduated to Toro 210 Power Clears (3pcs) and Toro 180 (2pcs) and would never look at another comparable machine again. I had a few MTD's and a Craftsman and the Toro machines out preformed. Ya cutting edges and paddles need to be changed mid-season but there easy to change and not expensive. Toro's are the best bang for the buck.