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post #1 of 38 Old 08-01-2019, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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2 stage or 3 stage

Hello! I am new to this forum. I have never ever used a snowblower. I went through the FAQ and found a bit of useful info, but now I just have a question.

I have a straight driveway, about 100 feet. ALL GRAVEL. If I were to get a snowblower I would do the sidewalk that goes in front of the house which is concrete. ( I live in a tri-plex apartment type setup, I am in the back so I drive the "furthest" and deal with the driveway)

The main reason why I would like to purchase a snowblower is at the end of the driveway is the wonderfully packed pile of snow left from the snowplows
This pile can sometimes get up to my stomach in height and I am 6'. I drive a truck but my wife drives a very low Ford Fusion. I usually don't mind shoveling the driveway except for the very end. It usually just gets driven over a bunch of times and is a deep thick mess.

So, now more on to the question... I am wondering If I should go with a 2 stage or 3 stage to plow thru that pile on the end... I have been looking at 3 stages only because I don't really mind spending around 1500+ on this snowblower as I expect it to last a while, and I have always been that way. If I'm going to spend the money might as well get the best of the best even if I don't have use right away Ill sure be happy when the time comes. But would a 2 stage do just fine and should I just go with that? Or, spend the extra money on tracks and power steering and bells and whistles... I don't know..

Sorry if this post is all over the place lol... Thank you in advance for all feedback/opinions!
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post #2 of 38 Old 08-01-2019, 06:51 PM
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2 stage or 3 stage

For gravel, a 2-stage track machine like an Ariens or Honda would be best (or a wheel/track hybrid like Ariens RapidTrak). That way you can adjust the bucket height and leave the gravel where it belongs. In my reading, the 3-stage seems to be more of a marketing gimmick than a true value-add. “If 2 stages are good, 3 must be better!”

Last edited by Jae0; 08-01-2019 at 07:23 PM.
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post #3 of 38 Old 08-01-2019, 07:35 PM
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post #4 of 38 Old 08-01-2019, 08:10 PM
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There are comments on here from complaining 3 Stage users.

1986 Ariens ST522, 5hp, 22"
1995 Murray Craftsman 10hp, 29" w. 12" impeller
A 1983 Real John Deere 10hp, 32" w. 12" impeller, 16" auger, 20" high front, cast iron gear box, chains
Noma 9hp, 27" w. 12" impeller
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Gravely Convertible, 12hp Kohler cast iron, 26" width, 600 lbs of cast iron & steel, 2 speed impeller, 4 ground speeds
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post #5 of 38 Old 08-01-2019, 09:04 PM
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snow blower needs

Hello Blake welcome to the forum,

SO am I correct in assuming your co tenants will not help with the purchase or are you the property owner????

Have you been shopping for snow blowers or are you beginning your search?? how close to the Canadian border are you or are you located in Canada?

The wider the cut the more power and the more reserve power you have to use 10 years down the road.
Having a snow blower with longer skis is a must for gravel and grass. You can purchase longer skis through the forum here.

You can spend a lot of good money on a bad snow blower-ask me I know how this is done personally.
I have two older 2 cycle toro snow pups that make my 2 stage john deere 44 inch snow blower cry in shame.

Have you asked your neighbors what they use and are they happy with the local dealers service?
How much time do you have to clear snow everyday if you get buried every few days or more often???

Please fill out the rest of your information when you have time. It is not because we are nosey we just want to know where you are as we may have a member that could help you.

The three stages are not what they are cracked up to be as they plug, the cross augers are thin and the shear pins break to often and they are a (*&^%$^&* to change with cold bare hands. The third stage snow breaking propeller is nothing more than a thin sheet metal hindrance in areas with wide temperature changes and not ice friendly.

What you refer to as the pile at the end of the driveway is what many of us affectionately refer to as the "THE END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER" and feeding the moat monsters in the ditch with its remains is a hobby of mine.

1. you need weight to create adhesion to create traction to cut into the snowpack and THE END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER. if your municipality uses salt that means they use too much salt rathe than sand and it is one more thing to not thank them for as it makes the snowpack heavier and freezes thicker during the overnight periods.

2. the EPA has made the small gas engines work harder with smaller fuel jets and they should be whipped with wet snow noodles. Changing them is not hard or expensive to enable you to have better high idle. torque.

3. The more horsepower you have the more high end torque you will have to deliver to the snow blower and its drive train. That also means that you will have more reserve power when you need to dispose the of the END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER and feed the moat monsters as they get pretty hungry.

4. the more money you spend on horsepower the better off you will be 5-10 years down the road as you will be older and snow removal will be much less of a chore.

5. If you expect the spousal unit to clear snow having electroc start and steering brakes are a must-what do I know-but I have seen thin tall beautiful Japanese woman ride herd over the older Yamaha 1070s with no steering brakes.

6. even the wheeled 1428 and 1432 Toro OXE are good machines to look at as they have electric and manual start and they have the patented TORO anti clog feature that meters the snow into the impeller housing. These units have the air cooled 14 horsepower engines.
a. how much room do you have to store it during the snow season?
b. the same question goes for the off season too
c. can you keep it in an area that is at least out of the weather and can you reach it with an extension cord to power the 110 volt starter?
d. can you wash it off with warm water between uses or at least use a space heater melt off the ice and snow to make the snow blower hot to the touch and in doing so you know the salt was baked off from the heat.

Once you purchase the right size snow mule with the most horsepower the work load will not faze it in the least.

7. you have time to look now so do it slowly and just take your time and do not take a salesman's word as gospel as commissions are what they are after. If this person refuses to sell a snow blower to you know that he is only interested in selling you the right snow blower for your needs as he knows that you need power and that is the number one concern for the homeowner.

We only want to help you not get in your way.
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Leon’s has a bit of a long post but he has some great points, never tried one but have heard from a few sources that the 3 stage are not that great, A tracked machine would be good only because they can hold the bucket up higher so not to dig into the gravel BUT are much over your budget for the quality ones, For $1500 I would look at the Ariens and as said use longer aftermarket skids so they don’t dig into the gravel.

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post #7 of 38 Old 08-01-2019, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leonz View Post
Hello Blake welcome to the forum,

SO am I correct in assuming your co tenants will not help with the purchase or are you the property owner????

Have you been shopping for snow blowers or are you beginning your search?? how close to the Canadian border are you or are you located in Canada?

The wider the cut the more power and the more reserve power you have to use 10 years down the road.
Having a snow blower with longer skis is a must for gravel and grass. You can purchase longer skis through the forum here.

You can spend a lot of good money on a bad snow blower-ask me I know how this is done personally.
I have two older 2 cycle toro snow pups that make my 2 stage john deere 44 inch snow blower cry in shame.

Have you asked your neighbors what they use and are they happy with the local dealers service?
How much time do you have to clear snow everyday if you get buried every few days or more often???

Please fill out the rest of your information when you have time. It is not because we are nosey we just want to know where you are as we may have a member that could help you.

The three stages are not what they are cracked up to be as they plug, the cross augers are thin and the shear pins break to often and they are a (*&^%$^&* to change with cold bare hands. The third stage snow breaking propeller is nothing more than a thin sheet metal hindrance in areas with wide temperature changes and not ice friendly.

What you refer to as the pile at the end of the driveway is what many of us affectionately refer to as the "THE END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER" and feeding the moat monsters in the ditch with its remains is a hobby of mine.

1. you need weight to create adhesion to create traction to cut into the snowpack and THE END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER. if your municipality uses salt that means they use too much salt rathe than sand and it is one more thing to not thank them for as it makes the snowpack heavier and freezes thicker during the overnight periods.

2. the EPA has made the small gas engines work harder with smaller fuel jets and they should be whipped with wet snow noodles. Changing them is not hard or expensive to enable you to have better high idle. torque.

3. The more horsepower you have the more high end torque you will have to deliver to the snow blower and its drive train. That also means that you will have more reserve power when you need to dispose the of the END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER and feed the moat monsters as they get pretty hungry.

4. the more money you spend on horsepower the better off you will be 5-10 years down the road as you will be older and snow removal will be much less of a chore.

5. If you expect the spousal unit to clear snow having electroc start and steering brakes are a must-what do I know-but I have seen thin tall beautiful Japanese woman ride herd over the older Yamaha 1070s with no steering brakes.

6. even the wheeled 1428 and 1432 Toro OXE are good machines to look at as they have electric and manual start and they have the patented TORO anti clog feature that meters the snow into the impeller housing. These units have the air cooled 14 horsepower engines.
a. how much room do you have to store it during the snow season?
b. the same question goes for the off season too
c. can you keep it in an area that is at least out of the weather and can you reach it with an extension cord to power the 110 volt starter?
d. can you wash it off with warm water between uses or at least use a space heater melt off the ice and snow to make the snow blower hot to the touch and in doing so you know the salt was baked off from the heat.

Once you purchase the right size snow mule with the most horsepower the work load will not faze it in the least.

7. you have time to look now so do it slowly and just take your time and do not take a salesman's word as gospel as commissions are what they are after. If this person refuses to sell a snow blower to you know that he is only interested in selling you the right snow blower for your needs as he knows that you need power and that is the number one concern for the homeowner.

We only want to help you not get in your way.
Hello! Some forums I know you can hide all of what the previous user wrote while still quoting.. cant figure it out here so sorry if this thread gets a little bit messy.

You are correct about the Co-Tenants not chipping in. Only one other parks on the driveway.. kind of hard to explain. Maybe a paint photo will be involved here soon. I have filled out more of my profile info. I live in the southern end of Minnesota! I am currently 24, married and have a child coming in hopefully under 9 days!!! I work in a factory producing fireplaces.. I believe last year we made over 150,000 fireplaces. Wife is a nurse.

Now, I am looking into purchasing a snowblower for the sake of wanting one lol. I have no real reason besides I like the idea of having one. I enjoy shoveling to be honest... just the erm "THE END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER" is a pain. Last winter it was alright because I would just smash thru it in my trusty '99 F-150 and my wife would follow in a decent ride height cobalt. Now, this year she will be going about it in a very VERY low Ford Fusion... so I am just looking for something that will demolish the Driveway Monster with little to no effort.

I am in the very beginning stages of looking at snowblowers. I was honestly looking at ATVs with plows at first but living in town I wouldn't get an extreme amount of use out of it and my only difficult task is the end of the driveway.

I was looking at three-stage snowblowers cause what I briefly read they are able to move snow a lot faster. I am somewhat capable of fixing my own things but if they are truly a pain I would rather avoid it, I was just simply looking for the DEWALT of snowblowers...

I don't think I will be purchasing anything till we get a tad bit closer. I read that October 1st is when the new models roll out and they have sales sometimes on them even.


I would like to get up and snowblow about an hour before work starts so that the wife can get out aswell. We both start work around 6:00 AM and I usually get home about an hour before her so I would then snowblow once more making sure she can get back in. The snowblower would be stored in our garage. Our unit comes with an attached two-car garage which is heated so that's where it would spend its life when not outside tearing up the snow.

I do not NEED electric start but it's one of those things that I would just rather have. I have plenty of access points to hook it up so I don't believe that would be an issue. Heated handles seem like a gimmick but I assume most models will have it. Tracks would be nice because I have read that units that have tracks are able to be lifted or something to make clearance for the gravel. The entire driveway is gravel except for about a two-car spot located right outside our garage doors. I would like to also go along the sidewalk tho while I'm out there for fun.

I probably missed some of your questions so I apologize but I would love to answer more as you think of them. Like you also said I have a good amount of time before I need one and I'm really looking for suggestions // tips. I will be keeping an eye out for the new models rolling out near October. I would like to stay away from used models only because I don't want to have to worry about issues right away.

Thank you very much for the responses!
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post #8 of 38 Old 08-02-2019, 07:17 AM
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Welcome to SBF, Blake.
Whatever blower you choose (avoid any 3 stage) be sure you attack the driveway monster ASAP. Don't give it time to freeze or solidify. The sooner you attack it the easier it will move.
Honda, Toro, Ariens Etc are all good machines. There are many out there that are not worth buying. Here is a link to a thread that discusses offshore blowers (chinese built) and other brand names besides the brands mentioned above.
https://www.snowblowerforum.com/foru...ade-china.html

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post #9 of 38 Old 08-02-2019, 08:36 AM
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Exclamation snow etc.

OK, stupid question time; who cleans the driveway and sidewalk when you do not do it????????????????
There is a problem with liability on your part if you have to deal with a landlord or condominium board as tenancy does not normally require the tenant to maintain the property.

If it is a rental property the landlord should be clearing the snow not you. If they are not, not why not? if not they are required to maintain the property in most states as far as I know; If you have a landlord you may end up having to deal with/pay for damage to the property that the landlord could blame you for.

(trust me when I say the electric start will prevent the engine from kicking back on you and causing you a lot of shoulder pain from a stretching injury)

(the larger honda and Yamaha track drive units have the advantage of climbing stairs if the rise and run is not too steep or if ramps are used)

(You need weight and or good traction in the snow mule to enable the quick disposal of the frozen END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER to feed the moat monsters.

(As of right now you will be spending more than your stated amount as you need a snowblower with power and large tires and snow chains. The anticlog feature of the larger toros will only help you)

(If you have heated handles your hands will not become cold and reduce the blood flow to your fingers; good gloves are OK but they are no comparison to heated handles not all brands have them)


Don't expect to clear "your" snow and "END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER" in an hour without a high power machine as a smaller one will be overwhelmed if you are dealing with a limited timespan to clear snow.

You need to check with your insurer about this as you could/can/will be held liable UNLESS you are the landlord for the property. Even if your home is a condo you are only responsible for the area inside your homes living space as that is all you physically own.
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post #10 of 38 Old 08-02-2019, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leonz View Post
OK, stupid question time; who cleans the driveway and sidewalk when you do not do it????????????????
There is a problem with liability on your part if you have to deal with a landlord or condominium board as tenancy does not normally require the tenant to maintain the property.

If it is a rental property the landlord should be clearing the snow not you. If they are not, not why not? if not they are required to maintain the property in most states as far as I know; If you have a landlord you may end up having to deal with/pay for damage to the property that the landlord could blame you for.

(trust me when I say the electric start will prevent the engine from kicking back on you and causing you a lot of shoulder pain from a stretching injury)

(the larger honda and Yamaha track drive units have the advantage of climbing stairs if the rise and run is not too steep or if ramps are used)

(You need weight and or good traction in the snow mule to enable the quick disposal of the frozen END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER to feed the moat monsters.

(As of right now you will be spending more than your stated amount as you need a snowblower with power and large tires and snow chains. The anticlog feature of the larger toros will only help you)

(If you have heated handles your hands will not become cold and reduce the blood flow to your fingers; good gloves are OK but they are no comparison to heated handles not all brands have them)


Don't expect to clear "your" snow and "END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER" in an hour without a high power machine as a smaller one will be overwhelmed if you are dealing with a limited timespan to clear snow.

You need to check with your insurer about this as you could/can/will be held liable UNLESS you are the landlord for the property. Even if your home is a condo you are only responsible for the area inside your homes living space as that is all you physically own.

The driveway will get cleared after it is too late. Usually will come by if I text him. Usually, we run into the problem at the end of the driveway at around 5:30 AM when we leave for work. I suppose that could be addressed but just has never gotten cleared that early. Sidewalk doesn't usually get cleared often... But the landlord is the one who does deal with this stuff.. when he does.

As for like me or other tenants doing things besides the landlord, another tenant mows the lawn for 75$ off the rent every month. If we were to not do it he would come and do it but he's a super laid back guy. I've been renting from him for a little over 4 years now. I suppose there are laws but I don't see him having an issue but will definitely be mentioned next time I bring out rent.


I would rather have electric start as well, I am lazy and I don't want to throw out my shoulder lol.

For steepness, the area being cleared is all flat except for a small portion in front of our garage, but it is very small incline... barely anything at all.

I am honestly thinking about drawing out the driveway for helping see the area. I measured the main stretch and it came out to 144'.

For the money being spent it really isn't an issue... I don't mean that as in I'm rich but I'd rather get something that is strong and durable and will last a long time. I don't think I want to spend $3000 on one but I am willing to go higher than $1500.

One thing I would like to mention I read somewhere that the units with tracks are hard to move when not turned on... not sure if that is true or not but If it is that might be an issue. I would like to be able to push the unit out of the garage before starting it for the majority of the time due to the new baby on the way that will be doing a lot of sleeping around this time.

I guess you say the heated handles are nice so I'll take your word on that I just didn't expect it to be very effective.

For the time crunch trying to clear the driveway. It would only be an hour time frame if it's before work and when I'm going out there to clear at that time my plan was to just go straight towards the end clear it and make my way back. If I have extra time I would then clear more, but for the most part I will clear the area after work every day like I did last year and so the only issue is usually from the lovely snowplows..
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