PDA

View Full Version : Snow throwers advice


OilHammer
02-10-2012, 09:42 AM
So I live in South central Denver, wash park specifically, but I have only been here three winters. The house I rented had a drive, but only a little bit of sidewalk, so it was no big deal to shovel, and was actually kind of fun.
I bought a house last year on a corner lot, so I've been feeling it a lot more since then. I've got some 175' of sidewalk down a North side and another 60' on an east side to clear, not to mention the walk to the house, the alley up to the garage, and eventually a drive in the back. This last big dumper put the hurting on me, literally. My back is not the greatest, and with each 18" of progression forward, being full shovel load, it whooped me.

So here's my question: Do we regularly get snow dumps large enough to warrant a snow thrower for the kind of footage I have to clear? My main thought about buying one, is the North sidewalk never gets sun on it in the winter and if I don't clear it before it gets walked on, it's nearly impossible to get it all up with a shovel. A thrower can chomp down on the ice and compacted portions and get it out of there.

A thrower is a major expense for something, and I have to justify that for how many times a year it's necessary. I just haven't lived in Denver long enough to be sure. I do know that one trip to the doc again and the snowthrower will seem cheap. That or one lawsuit over ice on the sidewalk and the thrower was a drop in the bucket. I still don't understand how I can be sued for property I don't own, but that's another story.

Romer
02-10-2012, 09:49 AM
I bought one, not because of frequency of snows, but the fact that every now and then onw happens where you are damn glad to have one. This snow last week for example

It doesnt snow a lot, and many times its a dusting that is easy work with a shovel

I would say that there are at least 3 snow storms a year you would use the snow blower. Some years, many more. I have used it 4 times already this winter

It just seemed to me to be a neccessary tool for when its needed. I have a lot of driveway and a circle drive in front.

wesintl
02-10-2012, 09:57 AM
I'd get one if i were you.

I got one of these little snapper blowers at a garage sale the first summer I moved here. it was the best $40 I spent. I put a belt on it and haven't looked back. it's a little small for all the big dumps like this last one but I make it work. I went out 3x and snow blew so it wasn't so deep. best part is when it's 3-4" I'm done in like 10 min. I usually get magic cookie bars and fresh tortillas from the neighbors after a good snow. There have been a couple years i haven't pulled mine out but for when it does snow It's great. totally worth it.

http://img.bonnint.net/c/1559/155976/15597676.jpg

Caribou Sandstorm
02-10-2012, 10:03 AM
We have a neighbor that has one and on the big dumps, he does the whole block. It is really nice to hear him humming down the side walk!

I am guessing unless you found one cheap, your best bet is to wait for summer when they are selling for less??

BTW, looks like we are in for another storm tomorrow and then potentially mid week.

Air Randy
02-10-2012, 10:22 AM
Definitely look for a good used one. For only a little more money I would suggest you go for a 2 stage unit that is self propelled. The small lightweight (typically 2 stroke) single stage units are good for very small snowfalls or very powdery snow. When you get deeper snows, especially the really wet stuff that we tend to get in March and April, the single stage unit will struggle. There is a guy, I think he goes by PatrolMan on the forum that posts up periodically with used snow blowers for sale. I think he buys them, fixes them up and re-sells them. Or look on Craigslist. There is always someone who ran out after the last big snow and bought a new snowblower that now they have buyers remose over.

Or, are there any reliable teenagers in the neighborhood that want to make extra money?

DaveInDenver
02-10-2012, 10:31 AM
We have a neighbor that has one and on the big dumps, he does the whole block. It is really nice to hear him humming down the side walk!
We have neighbors with decent sized snow throwers. They do the whole block and get a porch filled with plates of brownies and sixers for it (and few bucks, gas and upkeep ain't free).

corsair23
02-10-2012, 11:12 AM
What ^they've^ said

In a couple months snow blowers will go on sale or look for one on CL etc. In a typical year I use mine 3-4 times. Last year though I think maybe I used it once. Murphy's law dictates that once you buy one, you won't need it fow awhile :hill:

My general rule of thumb is 6" or more I break out the snow blower. I do our stuff and usually a couple of the neighbors as well when it is deep.

The smaller ones are nice because they are easier to handle but as mentioned, larger snow falls will tax them. My small single stage Craftsman was good to about a foot of snow (less if it was a heavy wet snow). The big honker 2-stage unit I bought from Romer is more difficult to maneuver but nice because it is self propelled. It is overkill for small snow falls but on this latest big snow it was nice to have. We got 26" of snow and it taxed the snow blower.

Just a note...a typical snow blower won't really "chomp down on the ice and compacted portions and get it out of there." Most will just sort of beat on it but the augers aren't super sharp. If we drive on the driveway before removing the snow, the snow blower has a hard time removing that compacted snow...I usually have to scrape that off with the shovel.

OilHammer
02-10-2012, 11:16 AM
The old man the block behind me, does do my North side sometimes. I don't like counting on him though, and he only does the North sidewalk, and I have LOTS more to do. My section of the alley is sloped pretty good, so I actually have to use 4wd to get through my back gate or up to the garage. That first snow we had back in Oct. or whenever, took until mid December to melt out of the back yard (where the parking pad will be) and the north sidewalk had ice over 80% of it for months. I just couldn't get it up with the metal edged shovel.

Yeah, so I found one on Clist, but it's super spendy. Trick is, after researching, I think the design is exactly what I need. It's a Honda tracked unit. Because it's tracked, it balances itself and the auger/scraper can actually be elevated a bit instead of dragging on the ground. They can also be tilted down to directly bite into compacted ice. Since a large part of my snow clearing is on large stone pavers with 3" gaps between them, this makes a lot of sense to me. Well, and for the super compacted alley. It's just damn expensive. I talked the guy down, but I still think he is wicked high. I treat yard equipment like buying a Toyota though...don't buy cheap, or you will buy twice....but buy used and let the first guy take the depreciation. :)

corsair23
02-10-2012, 11:22 AM
With the slope you talk of, you'd definitely want something powered and even better tracked like you have found...Even on the slight slope of my driveway, I ofter have to go down vs. up because the snow blower will just slip and spin...Forget about pushing it up the slope.

OilHammer
02-10-2012, 11:23 AM
It's this one...just significantly cheaper. http://powerequipment.honda.com/snowblowers/models/hs928ta

corsair23
02-10-2012, 11:28 AM
It's this one...just significantly cheaper. http://powerequipment.honda.com/snowblowers/models/hs928ta

Sweet :)

smslavin
02-10-2012, 11:32 AM
BTW, looks like we are in for another storm tomorrow and then potentially mid week.

Sweet! Just in time for our move. :hill:

60wag
02-10-2012, 11:35 AM
Hire a neighborhood kid to shovel it. Likely cheaper than the machine, no maintenence, and you don't have to store something that gets used 3 days per year.

OilHammer
02-10-2012, 12:45 PM
I would be totally into that, but there are no kids in Wash Park that would do it. They are either under the age of 6 or counting their trust funds. Honestly, I haven't seen a single teenager. I'm actually surprised by the number of homeowners that get out and shovel. My neighbor and I threaten to buy a snowblower every time we get one of these (he's also a corner lot) so maybe the thing to do would be to split it. He's got a $130k Porsche in the garage, so it probably won't bother him $ wise as much as me.
I figure the Honda has another 6 years in it at a minimum w/o needing much....probably 8. Those things are darn near impossible to kill.

FJCDan
02-10-2012, 03:10 PM
I live on Denvers west side and I have a long north side as well. My north side can see as much as 3-6" more than the rest of my walks. This last storm left 17" in back yard, but 2 feet on north side of fence. I want to get a nice 2 stage self propelled. I am tired of spending 3or4 hours shoveling. Every once in a while I will see a good one at pawn shops.

Jacket
02-10-2012, 03:40 PM
Your future.

wesintl
02-10-2012, 04:06 PM
does it have hand warmers? don't get one without hand warmers...

I thought you'd rig a tractor pto driven blower up to your 40....

Woodsman
02-10-2012, 04:18 PM
That Honda is one sweet blower but if I had a rig like that I'd want to make it pay for itself.

I would be much more inclined to buy one of the larger units with knobby tires (Ariens, MTD, etc) which can be had new for $1K or less. My parents have one which I've managed to shove through heavy snow 30" deep.

OilHammer
02-10-2012, 04:35 PM
Hand warmers? WTF?
You know, I have one of those massive walk behind mowers like the landscapers use. I don't have the little wheel on the back, but could. I really wanted to rig that thing to pull the mower deck off and hook up a thrower attachment to it. Thing is, I would have half the cost back into it, and it might not work very well, especially with no diff lock.
I thought about rigging something up to the 40's PTO, but my sidewalks just aren't wide enough Wes.

sleeoffroad
02-11-2012, 08:50 AM
Yeah, so I found one on Clist, but it's super spendy. Trick is, after researching, I think the design is exactly what I need. It's a Honda tracked unit. Because it's tracked, it balances itself and the auger/scraper can actually be elevated a bit instead of dragging on the ground. They can also be tilted down to directly bite into compacted ice. Since a large part of my snow clearing is on large stone pavers with 3" gaps between them, this makes a lot of sense to me. Well, and for the super compacted alley. It's just damn expensive. I talked the guy down, but I still think he is wicked high. I treat yard equipment like buying a Toyota though...don't buy cheap, or you will buy twice....but buy used and let the first guy take the depreciation. :)

First one I bought was a garage sale special. Was very proud of it, spent the summer making sure it ran good and revved up. Well, first snow storm I am ready. Started right up, I even bought the 100v plug in starter accessory for it (due to previous garage sale special that would not start when cold, but ok when warm). Man was I ready. First bite of snow, kugh kugh and it dies. WTH. Turns out the motor ran fine but made no power due to valves being burned. Got pissed and gave it away.

Then I said, not again. We moved to a new house with a sloped north facing driveway. If you don't get it cleared, it becomes an ice rink when you drive over the snow.

In the spring time I thought I would be clever. Don't wait for the snow. Bought this one well in advance, decided nothing but Honda due to reputation.
http://powerequipment.honda.com/Images/Models/HS520AS_250x250.jpg

Fast forward first snow storm. Man am I ready, started on first pull, go outside and this little mother throws snow like no other. Except no drive and it sucked pulling it up the sloped driveway. Also did not do so well on the downward run. Hey it is ok, I have a shop with flat walkways and we normally spent a lot of time clearing those. Loaded it on the truck and took it to the shop.

Now I am convinced on Honda, but I a not going to hold back. Priced a new one like this, ouch, but I had it justified.

http://powerequipment.honda.com/images/models/HS928K1TA_PE_IMG250.jpg

But then it showed up on CL for 1/2 money due to divorce and wife not going to snow blow her own drive in Evergreen. I was there in a flash. Man this thing will go through everything. I regularly do the walks for my neighbors. I also regularly suck up their newspapers and make confetti. Only thing that has stopped it is sucking in a chain. Starts on first pull, even after sitting for the summer. So no need for the starter on it.

It is more difficult to maneuver, so not recommended for small areas. The fact that you can actually make it bite it is nice. It won't destroy an ice bank, but when I have packed snow /ice on the driveway I can set it on the bite in mode, and clear it pretty effective. It has a hydrostatic drive, so you can set it as slow as you want. If the snow is wet and thick, just set it slow and wait for it to do it's thing. On full blast it will throw the snow across the street into the yard on the other side.

So in short, get a Honda!

Inukshuk
02-11-2012, 08:56 AM
Man up you Wash Park sissy: http://youtu.be/81y9XSQ9Ru0

Uncle Ben
02-11-2012, 09:10 AM
Now I am convinced on Honda, but I a not going to hold back. Priced a new one like this, ouch, but I had it justified.

http://powerequipment.honda.com/images/models/HS928K1TA_PE_IMG250.jpg

But then it showed up on CL for 1/2 money due to divorce and wife not going to snow blow her own drive in Evergreen. I was there in a flash. Man this thing will go through everything. I regularly do the walks for my neighbors. I also regularly suck up their newspapers and make confetti. Only thing that has stopped it is sucking in a chain. Starts on first pull, even after sitting for the summer. So no need for the starter on it.

It is more difficult to maneuver, so not recommended for small areas. The fact that you can actually make it bite it is nice. It won't destroy an ice bank, but when I have packed snow /ice on the driveway I can set it on the bite in mode, and clear it pretty effective. It has a hydrostatic drive, so you can set it as slow as you want. If the snow is wet and thick, just set it slow and wait for it to do it's thing. On full blast it will throw the snow across the street into the yard on the other side.

So in short, get a Honda!


I have that same one but in the 3211 version. I only use it on big snows but there is none like it! I am a freak and I actually like to shovel snow so I figure as long as I'm able I will. I don't plow (commercially) nearly as much as I used to because I'm sick of it. I have plowed snow since I was 17! I have used many snow throwers and blowers and in my experience you can't beat Honda's! My first blower was an old Jacobson that I bought used, completely rebuilt it and completely wore it out! The quality of that old machine is just not out there but Honda comes close.

Romer
02-11-2012, 09:24 AM
One thing I learned with my Craftsman 28" is to let it run dry when the season is over. Don't let fuel sit in it all summer long. It gummed up the carb when I did after a couple of years.

The two stage and the wider path you can afford the better

OilHammer
02-13-2012, 08:12 AM
Christo, that Honda is the one I was looking at. I decided it was too rich for my blood and that I would wait for Spring/summer to pick one up cheaper. The guy just emailed me and said the Honda sold over the weekend anyway. Wonder what it went for.....doesn't matter. Even at $1500 I would have had a hard time swinging it right now. I think a grand might be possible during the early summer from what I have seen.

Corbet
02-13-2012, 02:42 PM
For a big machine anything but a Honda is a waste of money IMO. I just got done using my 928. Sometimes I wish I would have stepped up to the 32" wide model but not often. Get tracks and don't bother with an electric start. First pull every time on the rope.

1997Runner
02-14-2012, 03:20 PM
For a big machine anything but a Honda is a waste of money IMO. I just got done using my 928. Sometimes I wish I would have stepped up to the 32" wide model but not often. Get tracks and don't bother with an electric start. First pull every time on the rope.

I agree with the Honda endorsement 1000%. Spend your money once. My retired neighbor has one (928?) that is at least 11 years old (as many years as we've lived here) and when we get the big snows he offers to let me use it. It never fails to start, goes through anything, and doesn't get stuck or clogged up like the other neighbors wheel-drive MTD (chain'd up too). I've used both machines and the Honda wins.
I'm in the same boat with the corner lot + 2 driveways...I tell the wife that after I turn 40 I might break down and get one (she just turned 40 - inside joke). Of course, as soon as I do we'll have consecutive winters with relatively no snow like in recent winters.

OilHammer
02-14-2012, 09:42 PM
Yup, no doubt. Honda tracks is what i will go with in the late spring/early summer. Just going to wait until somebody decides to clean out the garage or move. My drive in back won't be complete until spring, so I can tough out the sidewalks the rest of the season. Thanks for all the input guys.

OilHammer
02-28-2012, 04:18 PM
Well, that didn't take too long. One popped up on Craigs for a third of retail and I snagged it in 30 minutes. HS1132TAS. Their top of the line back then with electric start and all the goodies. Runs great, can't complain. Hopefully we get at least one snow so I can do the whole neighborhood before next year. If not, I plan on using it to pull trees down in the backyard.....not really, but the tracks looks badass and like it would be strong enough to use as a tractor.

sleeoffroad
02-28-2012, 04:52 PM
Good deal. Make sure you get the blades on the front adjusted right before you have to use it. Also make sure you get some of the shear bolts for spares.

OilHammer
02-28-2012, 04:57 PM
Do you mean the auger, the skids, or the scraping blade at the bottom? The auger "teeth" are scraped up so it appears he had been digging into concrete with it some. Doesn't look worn out by any means, but used.

sleeoffroad
02-28-2012, 05:01 PM
Scraping blade on the bottom and the little pads on the back of the auger housing. If you don't have manual download it. You can use it in free floating, or step on the bar at the back and have it lock in place for scraping or then lift more for digging in. They manual explain how to set the clearances. If the augers are scraped, it might be adjusted wrong.

Corbet
02-28-2012, 06:12 PM
do yourself a favor and take a primary sheer bolt down to a place like Fastenal and order a hundred of them. It will only run you like $10-15. My local Honda power dealer sells sheer bolts for $1 piece. I had enough of that after one winter.

OilHammer
02-28-2012, 09:49 PM
Other than sucking up my neighbor's barking weiner dog, what causes those to "fuse"?

Corbet
02-29-2012, 12:31 AM
I have a gravel driveway in addition to a wiener dog so I break them pretty often. You city folk may not have the same issues with your fancy concrete sidewalks.

sleeoffroad
02-29-2012, 07:30 AM
The one for the two augers are just a small M6 bolt to be had from Ace. The main one is a special bolt that you could probably find on-line. Yes, stock up on those as well. The little ones goes more often. Newspapers is the main culprit for me.

Uncle Ben
02-29-2012, 07:36 AM
The one for the two augers are just a small M6 bolt to be had from Ace. The main one is a special bolt that you could probably find on-line. Yes, stock up on those as well. The little ones goes more often. Newspapers is the main culprit for me.

Murdock's stock the shear bolts!

Red_Chili
02-29-2012, 07:48 AM
I got a 5HP Craftsman two stage, which was a bit of overkill for Littleton. Now up here at 8K feet, it is purrrrrfect. Not tracked, haven't needed it. Good for 2' of snow, if more is expected or it drifts I get to do interim clearing if I want to have a good day. Buy spare shear pins!

Oh, and Ken, not necessary to run it dry in the spring, in fact, it is better if you don't (condensation). Use Sta-Bil. Stuff works wonderfully. Add the Sta-Bil in the spring and run it through the system.

In fact, I just tried to fire up my XR650 after two years of sitting and expected the worst... ewww... Huh. Started third kick, which is saying something with that bike. Runs great on the old gas. If that isn't a testimonial I don't know what is.

You can get Marine Sta-Bil which handles ethanol issues too, run that in the Duc year round because of the plastic tank.

OilHammer
03-02-2012, 09:22 AM
Murdock's stock the shear bolts!

Where? I saw a bin labeled "shear bolts for snow blowers", but everything in the bin was not Honda sized. Lots of MTD specific bolts in there. Looked all around the area where they have the Honda blowers, no parts section there.

Great store though....I was looking for a Tractor Supply out here and I guess that's why there aren't any. Murdoch's is basically the same gig.

subzali
03-02-2012, 09:34 AM
There's a Big R up in Conifer too, if you're ever passing through. It's on the east side of the King Soopers parking lot.

Red_Chili
03-02-2012, 11:19 AM
You can also use mild steel bolts in a pinch.

OilHammer
03-05-2012, 11:11 AM
This may turn into a Honda snow blower build thread. Doh!
Upon closer inspection of the blower this weekend, I found that the previous owner ran it out of adjustment for some time. Like long enough to grind about a half inch off the bottom of the metal sides for the auger housing. I saw some wear when I was buying it, but didn't get a full grasp of how much metal was missing until I went to Murdoch's and looked at a new one. Also, I noted that the auger teeth had wear when I was originally looking at it, but now I know that nearly 1/4 to 1/2" are worn off of them. Holy crap dude, that guy must have been destroying his driveway with that thing. Good news is the motor runs great, the tracks are in great shape, and the drive assembly looks and works like new. I'm baffled as to how/why this guy ran this blower in the "chomp" mode out of adjustment for so long. The idea is the auger is within an 1/8" of an inch of the sidewalk in chomp mode, not biting it! Ugh...well, it's not like I don't know how to weld sheet metal or weld on new teeth to the augers. At $500 to replace them, I will at least give welding a shot first. The $1,000 spent, though still a deal, might have been worth waiting for one to pop up at $1,500 w/o the wear. Meh...still beats the +$3k for a new one. Besides, now I can bust out some plasma cutter action and make some 1/8" plate scabs for the sides.....and put a link suspension on it with coilovers. yeah...