1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Snowblower Advice

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by ChrisN, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    271
    Loc:
    Southeastern, Ct
    Hey All, I'm looking for a little snowblower advice. I've never owned or even used a snowblower before, I've always hand shoveled my driveway. However, due to new job responsibilities, I will most likely be at work during any significant sowfalls this winter leaving my wife to clear the driveway so she can get to work. I went out to a local power equipment shop and told them my situation and they suggested since my wife would be doing a lot of the work that I get the Honda single stage model HS520. I live in Southeastern, Ct, my driveway is about 150' long, paved and slightly uphill from the road to the garage. The Honda isn't self propelled, but according to the salesman it pretty much pulls the operator forward with the augers. It's light, only about 75lbs. Pull start only. My concerns are that in this area when we get significant snow it is commonly the wet, heavy stuff. So, with a single stage machine will it have the oomph to throw the heavy stuff? We don't typically have too many deep snows annually, maybe a 2 or 3 each winter >12". The guys at work think I should go with a 2 stage machine, but I like the simplicity of this one and it's size and maneuverability. Any thoughts? better yet, anyone have any experience with the HS520? Thanks

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2008
    Messages:
    2,266
    Loc:
    Wisconsin
    Get a 2 stage - something larger than 5hp w/electric start - she won't miss that you are not there to remove the snow! :)

    Shari
  3. festerw

    festerw Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2009
    Messages:
    171
    Loc:
    Cambridge Springs, PA
    Never used the Honda but we've got a few 2 and 4 cycle single stage Toro's, they work very well on light snow up to about 8 inches and heavy snow to around 4. I would not want it to be my primary equipment over 8 inches especially for 150 feet. IMO get a 2 stage I've got an 80's model track drive Honda HS-55 that is unstoppable they aren't cheap but are worth it repairs since new are a few plugs, 2 belts and a friction disc.
  4. doublewide

    doublewide Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Messages:
    119
    Loc:
    Eastern PA
    I would look for a 2 stage with about 8HP and 24" path. Too big and it is too heavy. To small and it is not enough. If you get a decent snow 8-12" and your wife does not get the driveway cleared by the time you get home or there are drifts, a small single stage is not going to have the balls to move the snow. Look for these features: electric start, cable chute control, (for height and swivel), and self propelled. Check out Ariens they have a decent line and solid engines I like their Tecumseh snow king engines. Also there is nothing wrong with a used machine if it is fairly new and well taken care of. You can get more for your money used. Good luck.
  5. mrurbplanner

    mrurbplanner Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2008
    Messages:
    36
    Loc:
    Atlantic Canada
    I'd definitely recommend a 2-stage. I have had a Honda 11/32 (2 stage) for 3 years now and and I am satisified with it, it can really move the snow. Honda also offers a 7 horsepower 24" and 9 hp 28 " model (2 stage) that you may want to look at.

    I just have the pull start on the snowblower instead of the electric start and it starts on the first pull.

    The only thing I notice is it is a bit more work to turn the track drive models versus the wheel drive models and the muscles around the elbows tend to get a bit of a work out.
  6. Beetle-Kill

    Beetle-Kill Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,849
    Loc:
    Colorado- near the Divide
    Paved driveway is nice, mine's dirt. That being said, plan on the worst and hope for the best. If your wife is the primary user, you have to go for the two stage. AND- a self propelled model. I know they'll cost more, but totally worth it. To really clear a 8' wide drive is really gonna take 6 trips- 3 up and 3 down, assuming a 24" swath. That is gonna get old quick, with a push only single stage blower. Add the heavy snow into the factor, and you'll be sleeping on the couch for not getting a self-propelled model. I have a husqvarna 30" 2-stage, self propelled blower, and that is a workout when it's a heavy snow. Wife won't even touch it. Don't blame her. When you decide, pick up some auger shear pins for backup, you'll appreciate having them when you need them.
  7. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    271
    Loc:
    Southeastern, Ct
    Thanks for the feedback everyome. I guess it is pretty much unanamous! I've paid for the single stage Honda, but haven't picked it up yet. I'll go back over there today and upgrade to a larger 2 stage machine.
  8. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,938
    Loc:
    Peru, MA
    Do you have a lawn tractor? Get a blower for it. Otherwise, get a 24" or bigger 2 stage. I have a Simplicity 24" 8hp I got for free from a friend, Had to do my driveway the other night since my plow is out for repair...unpaved 400' long drive with a 2 car turnaround and 4 car parking at the top. Took an hour start to finish and thats with the fool thing getting hook up on each and every freaking rock in the driveway becasue the skids were never adjusted for the height I need.

    It was kinda fun really...wouldn't want to do it every storm, but boy was I glad I had the thing when I needed it.

    Now I just ahve to get my Ariens 824 back into shape and I can use them both (not at the same time).
  9. raiderfan

    raiderfan Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    254
    Loc:
    Western MA

    Agree 100%. That's what I have for my driveway (which is also slightly uphill to the garage from the road). I have the Ariens Platinum Series. Wish it had a 27" path, but the only choices were 24" and 30", so I took the 24". Works out just fine.
  10. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    960
    Loc:
    East Central, NY
    I've cleared a lot of snow with a snow blower and I can't imagine cutting through deeper snow with anything less than a self-propelled unit.
    Let us know how it goes.
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,379
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    I think the Ariens is a pretty good mid-level model. Hondas are great, but expensive!

    I have an Ariens 2=stage which cost about $950 on sale.....it does not have the heated handles, but is built like a tank. I'm amazed at the quality of the paint job - this thing does not have a scratch on it after 5+ years!

    We bought a cheapie single stage for our son in law.....it works fine on up to about 5 inches, so if you are home every time it snows and can get out there and move it before it builds up, it might do fine. The price was right, and they had a tiny driveway at the time.

    My Ariens will cut through drifts and plow piles which are taller than it's mouth is.....that's the ticket for real snow blowing!
  12. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,504
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    I had a rather small single stage years ago.
    Good enough for a driveway 20-25 feet long.

    The tough stuff at the bottom after the plow went by was a bit of a chore.
    Sometimes it was easier to grab a shovel.


    I have a 300 foot driveway now and a old Snapper 824 (8hp, 24 inch wide) self-propelled, electric start , chute control at the handle.
    No way would I want something smaller.
    Deep enough snow can be too much for the height of this, too.
    I bought a cab for it, but it is still in the box.



    It is an older machine and a bit of a bear to turn around.


    I'd have whomever was going to handle it make sure they could handle it.



    If you have a gravel driveway you want the lift feet so you don't throw rocks and dirt.
    You miss an inch, but the sun usually takes care of that.
  13. Later

    Later New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    456
    I am a BIG fan of John Deere - not the ones at the home center but the ones at a Deere dealer. I traded in my 1974 7 hp (724) for a 2001 electric start 11 hp (1128) unit. The big 10 inch (or so) tires provide great traction and it walks through in medium to light snow as deep as 18" at good speed. I have shift to low and to advance and pause in the waist high dumps that the plow puts in the end of the driveway. Used an Ariens 5HP unit that had the 5-6" wheels with chains and while it blew the snow well, all it wanted to do was fight by swinging back and forth in heavier snow.

    Good idea to see if she can handle it. If you try to muscle one around it will fight you but a gentle technique will allow you to steer it through most snows.
  14. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,027
    Loc:
    The island of Rhum Boogie
    If you want a Honda, then the 724 with wheels would be great. Very light and very easy to turn even though there's no differential on the Honda models. I've tried the others but they're pretty much junk. Other than that, the good ones are very heavy and much larger. Anything you get at the big box stores are going to be 2yr junk (break after 2 years). I've owned 5 snowblowers and have only been happy with two of them. Both were Hondas.

    Hondas are definately the way to go. I can't say they're worth the money but they're definately the best. Don't bother with the electric start, because you or your wife won't need it. The GX motor has automatic decompression so even a six year old could start it.
  15. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    271
    Loc:
    Southeastern, Ct
    Alright, I went back to the dealer today and talked to two other guys, both in the maintenance dept. both of them said they thought the singel stage honda HS520 model should work just fine for me (her). They said they have never had a customer come back complaining that the blower couldn't get the job done. I made it clear I was willing to spend quite a bit more for a beefier machine but they really felt given my wife could be the primary user, our typical winter snowfalls and customer feedback, that we should be fine with this. So, I think I'll stick with it for this season anyway and see how it works out. Hey, for the last 30 years of marriage we've shoveled our driveway by hand, so this machine should spoil us rotten if it does anything at all!

    Thanks again for all your advice. They are calling for a possible big dump here Sunday and Monday. I might have to make this an early X-mas present. I'll let you all know how it works out.
  16. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Messages:
    507
    Loc:
    Eastern CT
    I wouldn't go with anything less than 7-8 hp two stage 24' wide. We do get some wet heavy snow in SE CT as well. I've got a Simplicity that picked up at Gano's in Colchester 24 years ago my first summer in the new house. He wanted to clear out last years inventory so he made me a goood deal. The only thing I've relaced in a V belt. You want something self propelled, the auger isn't going to pull you thrugh anything. When the snow is light you can put it in high and really zip along. When you get that 12" of heavy wet stuff youcan creep along. You want an impleller that will throw it a fair distance. The year we got 100" plus inches I had 3' banks on either side of the drive and had to keep angling the chute up to get over it.
  17. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,816
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    I have a hankering to trade in my snowblower for a model with a switchable differential or other way to lock and unlock the wheels for easy turning. You don't seem to have to pay much of a premium nowadays for ths.
  18. raiderfan

    raiderfan Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    254
    Loc:
    Western MA
    I spent the extra dough for that. The Ariens Platinum Series has it automatic. Turns on a dime. Makes a big difference compared to the one I had before it which was a royal pain in the ass to turn
  19. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,816
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    Hey, thanks for the info. I've had some trouble finding test info on that feature.
  20. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,938
    Loc:
    Peru, MA
    Both of my blowers have manually lockable differentials. I just leave them locked, doesn't seem to make it any more difficult to turn it arond since its on snow already, the tires just slide!

    Obviously I'm not using these things on a paved driveway.
  21. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,950
    Loc:
    NNJ
    I am impressed with the dealer. You wanted to spend more money and they stuck to their opinion. Sounds like a very honest dealer.
  22. Deere10

    Deere10 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    211
    Loc:
    Upstate N.Y
    Does that little Honda have the rubber strips on the augers? If so they may wear out quickly on a 150 ft driveway. Just keep that in mind also. IMHO I would go w a good med sized 2 stage w electric start. Good luck.
  23. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,938
    Loc:
    Peru, MA
    Either that or they sold him a $1300 single stage snowblower.
  24. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,027
    Loc:
    The island of Rhum Boogie
    Don't compare Hondas to other snowblowers. They are in a class by themselves. I bought a used honda once for $1300, and sold it for $800 8 years later. It sold on craigslist in 6 hours. I wish I'd never sold it because after 2 years of bumbling through lesser machines I ended up going back to a Honda.
  25. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    271
    Loc:
    Southeastern, Ct
    Yeah it does have the rubber augers. The dealer says with a paved driveway I can expect them to last for 3 or 4 years. He also suggested instead of buying new ones when it'a time to replace, I cut them out of a sidewall of an old tire. We'll see if it gets that far. As far as the price I paid $599 for it out the door. Not too bad I think.

Share This Page