In need of a strong single stage... - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
pfn
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In need of a strong single stage...

Hi Folks,
I live in Annapolis, Maryland. Some years we get snow (a lot on rare occasions) but generally it comes in small amounts, 3"s or less. That depth of snow doesn't hit the sweet spot of 2 stage snow blower. Besides not being deep enough it is often wet and slushy. Bottom line is my 32' Ariens doesn't do as well as I would like.
I'm hoping a single stage would do the job but they seem to be very lightly built and I have a good bit of pavement to clear.
My north facing drive is fairly steep, about 600' long and with even a VERY light dusting of snow your car will not be able to get up the drive. Besides the drive there is parking for 6 or more cars.
I need a machine that can handle this job. I need opinions for the best machine for job.
Thanks,

Last edited by pfn; 03-10-2014 at 09:30 PM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 08:12 AM
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Based on the incline of your driveway, I think I'd stay away from a single stage unit. They just don' track very well unless the surface is fairly flat. They can be a handful pushing up a snowpacked or icy driveway. Dont get me wrong, single stage units work fantastic when the surface is flat and level, but I'd hesitate to purchase a single stage for your application. I'd opt for something self-propelled to handle the slight incline. Sounds like a Compact Ariens (maybe Compact 24") might be a nice choice.

2009 Honda HS928WAS
2005 Honda HS520AS
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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Freezn... The Compact 24 is 2 stage. I think that's my problem. It's my understanding that any 2 stage has a problem with shallow , slushy snow. There just isn't enough of it to for the 1st stage to deliver it to the impeller. It just kind of slops around in the auger housing. If it does get to the impeller it shots it out like tooth paste, about a foot. That's if it doesn't get clogged. You said "single stage units work fantastic when the surface is flat and level". Won't a single stage pull itself up an hill. If it won't I'm going to be out of luck.
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 09:24 AM
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Moving at a fast pace your ariens two stage SHOULD be able to do a good job, if it isn't then look at a different 2 stage, there are other brands that throw wet stuff like a fire hose. Your other option is plowing such a long driveway. A single stage would be a mistake with that much driveway to do in my opinion. Good luck in your search.

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post #5 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pfn View Post
Freezn... The Compact 24 is 2 stage. I think that's my problem. It's my understanding that any 2 stage has a problem with shallow , slushy snow. There just isn't enough of it to for the 1st stage to deliver it to the impeller. It just kind of slops around in the auger housing. If it does get to the impeller it shots it out like tooth paste, about a foot. That's if it doesn't get clogged. You said "single stage units work fantastic when the surface is flat and level". Won't a single stage pull itself up an hill. If it won't I'm going to be out of luck.
You might try adding an impeller kit to your 2 stage, it will close the gap in the impeller housing and allow the impeller to work as the paddles would on a single stage. If I choose to, I can clear 3" with my 2 stage, it just requires moving in 3rd or 4th gear. Just be careful, if your driveway surface isn't smooth, the scraper may catch any imperfections and could be hard on the blower and you!!
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 09:47 AM
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I have no experience with Ariens, but I can tell you that Honda Single Stage Machines (HS621 & HS520) and Toro (3650, 621, and 721) all thrive in the slush. All those machines (when maintained well) can throw slush and heavy wet packed snow 15-20ft all day with no problem. However, all of them have the same drawback, small lawnmower size wheels that "skid and slide" in just about all conditions (even flat driveways). When manufacturers claim, "auger self propelled" they're really stretching it. Best way to describe it would be trying to push a small two wheels dolly (like FedEx guys use) up a driveway covered with ice and snow. Same thing going down the driveway. The unit just wants to slide left and right as you try to control it while tipping it forward allowing the paddles hit the ground. Just not a good choice for driveways with any kind of incline/decline. Again, I'm not knocking single stage units. I have two of my own and they're always my "go to" machines for snowfalls less than 8" and always for heavy slush. However, my driveway is completely level. The only section with any kind of incline would be the little slope where the driveway meets the street. I can tell you even that small 3ft section can be challenge to control the machine when the snow becomes hardpack. Having said all that, I can also tell you that my Honda 2-Stage (HS928) is a slush monster. It can fire slush 20-30 feet even with only 1"-3" of rain soaked slush on the ground. In the 6 years I've owned the machine, I have never (not once) had to clear the chute. It just never plugs up. Again, I can't speak for Ariens, but my understanding is that their 2-stage machines also do a great job with rain soaked snow and slush. The key is annual maintenance. Change the oil, lubricate the auger shafts, and most importantly retighten/tension the belt properly. Any kind of slack or slop in the belt will create poor throw distance. Another great improvement for throwing slush would be to add a clarence impeller kit. Here's a video link showing how the kit is installed and the before and after performance. Sounds like that may be all you really need for your current 2-stage machine. At the very end of the video they actually demonstrate the 2-stage machine with the impeller kit being run in 2" of soaking wet slush. Machine handles the slush with no problem.


2009 Honda HS928WAS
2005 Honda HS520AS
1996 Honda HS621AS
2012 Toro 1800 Power-Curve

Last edited by Freezn; 03-10-2014 at 09:57 AM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 10:01 AM
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It sounds like you own a larger property at 600' of drive. You haven't given us the biggest clue to this question. How much money can you throw at the problem? If you own a small tractor it could be you just need to add chains and a small blade. I've seen quads with an attached blade outdo snow blowers by ten times handling sludge. If that 3" all melts away between storms consider this option too. Only you know if you can place that snow all around quickly by pushing it a short distance to all sides.
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post #8 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 02:19 PM
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Great advice so far. I tried a single-stage machine, an Ariens SS322, and a cheap 5hp MTD.

The MTD was unimpressive (poor build quality, etc). I liked the Ariens, but it was the 3hp version, not the 5hp. So it bogged easily if the snow got more than a few inches, in my experience.

But it would do a pretty decent job of pulling itself up the incline in my driveway. Pull the handle up, and the paddles hit the ground harder, clearing better, and also pulling the machine better. It did a nice job of clearing down to pavement, even better than my 2-stage with the scraper bar right on the driveway.

However, any sideways slope was a real pain. The machine would just try to wander sideways. So if you're going straight up the incline, that's one thing. If you're going across it, I had to kind of angle the machine into the incline, crabbing sideways, to go where I wanted.

600' sounds very long for a single-stage, especially as they tend to be narrow cuts. Now, in a really light storm, I could let it pull itself quite quickly, which would help. But only to a point.

A plow, etc, does sound like an interesting solution, at least for light storms. There are more-powerful single-stage machines, Toro made one, I think it was the Snow Commander.

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post #9 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 04:15 PM
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Based on your description, I personally would shy away from a single stage unit. I used a Toro single stage for years, somewhat of an incline, and found it to be adequate for light snows, but pretty much worthless for slush (it spins so fast the auger turns the slush to water). One other problem is that the rubber paddles must hit and scrape the ground to help the machine pull itself forward. That causes them to wear. As the wear, they become less, and less effective in offering assistance pulling uphill. I remember buying my first two-stage because I got tired of "pushing" my single-stage up the driveway.

I agree with freezn, add the rubber pieces to the impeller and it will throw slush probably 10 ft. (probably less but at lease it will stop the clogging). That much distance will quickly wear down the rubber padles on a single stage and make going back uphill a real chore.

If you can't do it, have your dealer do it. Cheaper than buying a new single.

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2010 Yard Machines 600 Series, 24" w/179cc MTD engine
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-10-2014, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all for a well reasoned discussion. It seems a single stage isn't what I need. Too bad as my 2011 Ariens PRO does not handle slush in it's present configuration. I will add an impeller kit in the hopes that that will be the fix. I don't have a lawn tractor as was suggested. If I had one I'd want to do my own lawn and the guy that is cutting my lawn has been with me for over 20 years. I'm now retired and have the time now I just don't want to take the job from him. He's a good man. I do have a UTV (Kioti Mechron) but the available blade for that doesn't look like a sturdy unit and the UTV would finish the job in about a minute and that's just not any fun. Again, thanks to all. Good job!

Last edited by pfn; 03-10-2014 at 09:28 PM.
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