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Need Snowblower Advice

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by mrmattp, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. mrmattp

    mrmattp Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    I'm a new homeowner looking to purchase a snow blower. I live in the Chicago area that gets some good snow falls but but not the lake generated snows like Michigan and Buffalo NY. I'm looking to clear a 80' x 20' cement driveway and about 20' of cement sidewalk. The unit will be stored in the garage (non freezing) during the winter, and I would like to keep it off the floor and on hooks during the summer months to save floor space for my summer equipment. My first quess would be a single stage in the 5hp range. However, several options are available. My choices are as follows...

    Craftsman 5hp 4cycle 21'' clearing path
    Murray 4.5 2cycle 21" clearing path
    Toro ccr2450 2cycle 5hp (not sure on path)

    The toro is on the high end of the price scale, the Murray is on the low end, and the craftsman is in the middle. Weight is sort of an issue because I want to store is suspended during the summer. Performance, Price, Noise, and Weight in that order. Any advise would be appreciated.
  2. NJ Plowman

    NJ Plowman Senior Member
    Messages: 794


    Your best bet is get one of the guys on here to do your plowing! :redbounce That way you don't have to get up in the cold to clean your property and you also don't have to store the machine in your garage all summer long. If you still want to buy a blower, you should get a two stage machine, preferably a commercial one like Simplicity or Ariens. They run about $1200, but you will get your money's worth, they are twice as tough as homeowner machines and are fully rebuildable. If you amortize it over a few years the cost isn't that bad either. Stay away from the home owner stuff like you have listed above...

    For all you guys here with Craftsman, Murray's, and Toro's :cry: ....no offense meant so don't get mad, but it is like the difference between a Western light duty plow and a Western Pro Series Plow. :eek:
  3. wfd44

    wfd44 Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 369

    NJ plowman - true enough as to quality of commercial equipment vs homeowner equipment. However Matt clearly stated in his first sentance he is a "homeowner"

    Matt - that said, 80'x20' (+ walks) is still quite a bit of area to clear with a small single stage machine. I have a driveway that is 25x45 (give or take a bit) and in my area I wouldn't think of using a single stage. Being on the Maine coast we frequently get storms of 12", 6-8" of wet heavy snow, or nor'easters with significant blowing and drifting. Some of these are beyond the limitations of a single stage blower. With any blower you need to blow with the storm just as those of us that plow must plow with the storm (not wait for it all to end then go play). One thing to keep in mind is that Murphy's first law of snowblowers states that the wind (and I know Chicago gets that) will blow in the direction to place the largest quatity of snow directly in the snow blower operators face. All of these things considered if you still want to buy a snowblower (and be self sufficient - not a bad thing) I would suggest a two stage machine like an Ariens, Toro, or Simplicity. Among the single stage options the Toro is far superior in performance and quality.

    My mom keeps mentioning that I am always smiling when I plow their yard. I told her yesterday morning "why shouldn't I be I am dry and I have heat, tunes, and a windshield to keep the snow out of my face." A friend of mine onc said that the first line in the instructions for a snowblower should read "go outside, roll around in the snow - now your acclimated to the task of running a snowblower".
  4. mrmattp

    mrmattp Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Thank you NJ and WFG!! I see that the both of you recommend a two stage and I'm not completely ruleing that out. However, is buying a "beefier" unit feasable? Can one get almost the same performance from that kind of single stage unit? Also, the Chicago suburb that I live in does not get a whole lot of wind due to our heavy tree population and our position (Just below a ridge that blocks most of the wind out of the north and west) so drifts are not a big problem. OK guys. If you had to choose between one of the three single stage units below, what would you choose based on my needs. I have ruled out the Craftsman and Murray.

    Toro CCR3650
    Simplicity 520
    Toro Snow Commander

    I can't thank you guys enough. I totally respect you professional opinion.

    Thank You,
  5. wfd44

    wfd44 Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 369

    Of the three you listed I would go with either the Toro 3650 or Simplicity 520. Both have very similar specs and weight. The Snow Commander uses the same engine as the 3650 (and 2450 toro). I would be afraid that the Snow Commander would be short on power with the bigger impeller (not sure how they get more volume and distance withth same engine). Beyond that I would look at the dealer's attitude/reputation first - price second and choose based on those criteria. I think either will work for you as long as you work within the machine's limitations.
  6. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    Never-Never-Never :nono: buy a single stage blower.

    Buy the biggest you can get 12-16 HP with the narrowest chute. I've had all the rest and they will not do the job. :gunsfiring:
  7. mrmattp

    mrmattp Junior Member
    Messages: 7


    I believe that the toro 3650 is a 6.5hp 20 cut. The snow commander is a 7 hp 24 cut, and the simplicity is a 5.0hp and 20 cut. I just so happend to run into a simplicity rep at the lawn and garden shop that I saw it at. He pointed out that the simplicity offers steel in places that toro and others have plastic and the auger has double the rubber at the point it most meets the ground. BTW. Is simplicity a more professional grade unit vs toro and others? This was the only place I've seen that brand, and the store seems to cater to Lawn and garden contractors. So I guess it's down to the toro 3650 and the simplicity 520. One other question. Is electric start worth the extra money? My opinion is that it is not. If the unit won't start with a pull or two.. I won't start with the electric starter. What do you think?
  8. LINY Rob

    LINY Rob Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    I would go to sears before the sale on the 28" 8 hp 4 cycle engine sale ends, its on sale for $699 right now.

    I have the 29" 9hp model from last year, that 28" one is new this year.

    clearing a 80x20 driveway with a 21" will get old very fast

    btw- bigger is not always best, sometimes if you have winding paths or narrow ones you cant fit a larger snow blower down them, as it is I can barely get my 29" snowthrower in my garage past the car, some of those big ones take up ALOT of room in the garage- especially in the off season.
  9. MLB

    MLB Senior Member
    Messages: 110


    he's not doing it all day on driveways that size. He's a HomeOwner with ONE driveway!!!

    Buy a good single stage and understand that if you get a real blizzard you'll need to go out and blow the first 6" off while it's still coming down, then do it again when it stops. (big deal once or twice a winter). In general, good single stages are very impressive machines, a lot of snow thrown by such compact units.

    The Murray and Sears are junk. You'll replace them every few years.
    Buy the Toro or a Honda and they'll last your lifetime with minimal care. You'll save money in the long run. JMO
  10. LINY Rob

    LINY Rob Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    I only use my snowblower on my house

    my sears has the same engine as the Ariens
    what exactly makes it junk?
    engine runs a blade that throws snow up, not a very complicated machine.
  11. The Boss

    The Boss 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,099

    Hmm, my craftsman has never broke down and my old man's is over 10 yrs old and all he's ever had to do was replace the plug. :rolleyes:
  12. mrmattp

    mrmattp Junior Member
    Messages: 7


    You are correct. I'm not using this for commercial use. However, my main concerns are that it starts, works well (as well as a single stage should work), is somewhat compact, and won't break down all the time. I don't have a problem in knocking off the first six inches of a 12 inch blizzard. We don't get may storms on the west side of lake Michigan that generate that much snow. Most snows are in the range of 4 - 8. In looking at several threads, toro seems to get good grades. But, as mentioned, I ran into the Simplicity rep at the local garden shop that sells that brand, and I was impressed with how the unit was built.. Metal construction, double rubber on auger in center, easy access to carb, ball bearings instead of bushings, etc. Any input on simplicity single stage units. And is electric start worth the extra money? We are expecting snow on the 5th of Jan 05, and I want to have this puppy ready to go by that date. Thanks again folks.

  13. ToolMaker

    ToolMaker Member
    Messages: 84

    I would go with the Toro , one reason they start up every time ,one or two pulls. Just remember to drain the gas out at the end of the season then start it up and run it until it will not start again, then in the fall put the gas back in and you are ready to go.

    I don't envy you doing a drive that big with a snowblower though.

  14. wfd44

    wfd44 Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 369

    I wasn't able to find the horsepower on the Toro's. The fact that the Toro 3650 has an extra 1.5 hp (30% more) over the Simplicity with the same clearing width and weight would sway me towards the Toro in a big way.

    The Toro has their GTS (gauranteed to start on the first or second pull) warranty for 5 years.

    The Simplicity rep is right to point out what he feels is superior the same as a Toro dealer would do. It certainly can't be much beefier as both have the same advertised weight.

    As a statement on single stage blowers and their usefullness. My grandfather had one of the first Toro Snow Pups (same idea earlier design) in Maine back in the 70's. He cleared his own driveway (12 x 80) and every widdow (he was a widdower) on the street too. Now we did have to overhaul it a few times (not due to poor design put due to over use) and replaced several chains but it was by and large a reliable machine that would move some sserious snow even back then.

    As far as electric start goes. Well, if I had bought an electric start self propelled lawn mower my wife would mow the lawn every week. So, you may want to think about electric start if a wife/girlfriend/significant other may need to operate it. But then again with GTS and a fairly light pull???
  15. DJL

    DJL Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    Funny, my little Toro single stage seems to do just fine.

    Spent half the amount of the 12-16HP, I can lift my single stage into and out of my truck on my own (it's around 50#'s), with help I can get the single stage into the attic/loft above my garage so it's out of the way the rest of the year.

    And yes, it does the job. Granted, I can't wait till after the storm, but it suits my needs well, in fact better than those 12-16HP.

    So tell me BOLTS, why "never-never-never"?
  16. DJL

    DJL Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    Good to see you are looking at a local shop. You may save a few bucks from Blowes and/or Homeripoff...but when you need to service them...good luck. They will send them out to the local shops. Meaning you will be using the trusty old shovel until it gets shipped back.
  17. mrmattp

    mrmattp Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Well folks. Looks like my decision is quite clear. Toro 3650. Point is, Consumer reports rated the 2450 pretty high with ease of controls being the only pitfall. However, the 3650 in addition to the extra power, the chute control is located closer to to operator in the form of a crank vs an arm on the 2450 that requires the operator to bend over the Handel to make adjustments. Thanks for all your help and I wish everyone lots of snow and lots of $$$ this season. I'll check back on this thread later this season to let you know how the unit is operating.

    Thanks a whole lot.
  18. wfd44

    wfd44 Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 369

    Good luck. I think you will be happy with your decision.
  19. brian m

    brian m Member
    Messages: 57


    Your decision to buy a Toro single stage is a smart and educated choice but you may want to give the Toro Snow Commander a closer look.
    I’ve owned a Toro CCR2000 (which is similar to the 3650) for over 10 years now, it also has the crank for the chute. In the 10 years I have owned it I never had a problem with it, it is a great machine that I have used commercially, but I always hated that chute crank, it's too damn slow.
    I recently got a new Toro Snow Commander which has the handle on the chute, yes you have to lean over to turn it but it takes only a second as opposed to what seems like 20 seconds with the crank!
    The Snow Commander is an awesome machine; it is wider and faster and will handle deeper snow better than any other rubber paddle single stage machine on the market. It also has 3 paddles instead of just 2.
    If you can afford it buy the Snow Commander, you won't be disappointed.

  20. lawnmedic

    lawnmedic Senior Member
    Messages: 703

    We run Snapper single stage blowers that have the handle on the chute to change direction of the discharge and I also find it much faster. Yes I need a 2 stage to do part of my circle drive(it goes downhill around a raised island), I would never want to load and unload a two stage blower from my truck....