Recommendations for a user friendly machine? - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 37 Old 07-03-2014, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 9
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 0
Thanks (Received): 0
Likes (Given): 0
Likes (Received): 0
Recommendations for a user friendly machine?

Hey all, glad I found you. I'm the proud new owner of a driveway, and being located in the Chicago burbs, it's a driveway that's gonna get snowed on. It's a pretty typical suburban setup - asphalt, and not real long - maybe 45'. It's two car widths at the street and it widens out into a three car garage. I also have probably 85' of 5' wide sidewalk to clear. I'm sure we'll get a windrow every time the plow comes by.

I'm thinking an entry-level two stage would be perfect, especially for cutting through the windrow at the end of the driveway, but here's the rub - I travel a lot for business, and my wife commutes to a normal 9-5. She needs to be able to use the machine after any particular snow without too much trouble. She's pretty small, and I'm worried that she'll have a hard time manhandling a two-stage. She uses our recoil-start 21" walk-behind mower without much trouble. I've never used a snowblower, so I have no point of reference here. Would a single stage be easier for her to use (even if it takes longer)?

I'm fairly mechanically inclined, so while I'm not looking for a project, I'm also not scared of a (lightly) used machine. Reliability is crucial. If she can't get the thing started at oh-dark thirty on a cold blustery January morning to get to work while I'm on a trip to the islands, I'm in for a serious earful. Budget is 600-800, but of course less is better.

Mike
NewGuy is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 37 Old 07-04-2014, 12:21 AM
Moderator
 
detdrbuzzard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: 42.23n/83.33w/636
Posts: 6,578
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 213
Thanks (Received): 293
Likes (Given): 1655
Likes (Received): 584
hello mike, welcome to SBF!! I think my old toro 521 two stage is one of the most user friendly machines of its size. because of the size and weight I got one for my GF. she has a single stage toro 2450E ( 5hp ) now, she had a powerlite-E which she sold

current machines
1-toro2450E-38419. 1-toro3000E-38435. 1-toro 3650E-38445
2-toro 521E-38052. 1-toro xl824pt 38086
1-.............,TORO XL 624ps..............
1-............, TORO XL 824ps..............
william
detdrbuzzard is online now  
post #3 of 37 Old 07-04-2014, 12:49 AM
Banned
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Newington, CT
Posts: 2,029
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 32
Thanks (Received): 92
Likes (Given): 446
Likes (Received): 148
my 1986 toro 38080 824 is very user friendly, and with an impeller kit it is one of the best on the street. its chassis is heavily built and parts are readily available. controls are simple-throttle, 3 forward speeds, 2 reverse, and a single lever to engage the auger. the machine is also equipped with a safety interlock like a lot of modern snowblowers, and the engine will immediatly stall if the interlock lever is released while the augers or transmission is engaged. it is a great compromise between easy to operate machines with modern safety features and a well built piece of machinery that will last for years to come
43128 is offline  
post #4 of 37 Old 07-04-2014, 12:50 AM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: SW Ohio
Posts: 3,175
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 0
Thanks (Received): 142
Likes (Given): 0
Likes (Received): 291
Things I would consider, first is space for storage, second is weight of the machine and what the Mrs is comfortable handling on less than ideal footing, and third is electric start for the mornings that she does not want to be reminded of your current surroundings.

And welcome.

Garage:
MTD....2 stage(modern 8.5 HP) not my favorite
Honda HS622 TA-B - acquired at an auction- nice machine for it's size.
Toro S-140- Picked it up on trash day... it runs, sort of.
Yamaha YS 240 TB "Ricky" latest Craigslist find- on the bench now.
db9938 is offline  
post #5 of 37 Old 07-04-2014, 03:28 AM Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 9
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 0
Thanks (Received): 0
Likes (Given): 0
Likes (Received): 0
Thanks for the replies guys! My biggest concerns are reliability and handling. Storage isn't a huge issue; we have a three car garage and only two cars. No kids quite yet, so I've got plenty of room out there for at least the next decade and a half. When we have a kid, and that kid gets a car, I can sell the snowblower - at that point I'll have a teenager and a shovel!

Electric start would be nice, but it's not critical. I'm just beginning my research, and I was pretty surprised to see 120v starters on these things. Clever animals, those engineers!

Would anyone recommend a single stage? I do realize that I'm on a snowblower enthusiast forum, and you guys would probably tell me to get this if it were in my budget:



I can't decide if a single stage would be better or worse. On one hand, I've read that they get the pavement cleaner, is that correct? The driveway is on the north side of the house, so getting the last little bit of snow off is a bonus. Most of our snow events are only 3"-4", and historically we average about 36" per season. On the other hand, we got walloped with a bunch of big ones last winter for a total of 82". Do I get the smaller machine because it's easier to handle and is sufficient 90% of the time, or the larger machine because it's got the power to tackle the big winters with ease, but at the expense of usability for my wife?

Do any brands in my price range have any nice handling features? Single stage machines all seem to just be pulled forward by the blade running along the ground, but the two stage manufacturers all seem to have their own ideas about the proper way to address steering. Who's ideas are good and who's aren't?

Thanks for the education!
NewGuy is offline  
post #6 of 37 Old 07-04-2014, 05:45 AM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: SW Ohio
Posts: 3,175
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 0
Thanks (Received): 142
Likes (Given): 0
Likes (Received): 291
Well, that's the million dollar series of questions. Without knowing your wife, but using my 165 lb, nearly 5' tall,11 year old, she is quite capable using my Honda HS622TA. But that would easily triple your budget. My MTD is a brutal beast that even gives me a work out, and I am 5-10, 250lb. The Toro 521 that Det Dr suggested, might be the happy medium. You have, roughly, 2,040 square feet to clear, plus sidewalks, then stepping up to a two stage machine may limit the Mrs exposure time in the arctic environment. (making your life more sedate)

And while single stage machines clean closer, it does depend on the surface to begin with, as most use a sacrificial rubber paddle edge to both clean and pull it forward. And they work great on snow, but not so much on ice or crusted snow.

It's not a easy call, as there are a few machines that fits your needs, but are they within you budget, and what can you find on CL?

Garage:
MTD....2 stage(modern 8.5 HP) not my favorite
Honda HS622 TA-B - acquired at an auction- nice machine for it's size.
Toro S-140- Picked it up on trash day... it runs, sort of.
Yamaha YS 240 TB "Ricky" latest Craigslist find- on the bench now.
db9938 is offline  
post #7 of 37 Old 07-04-2014, 11:13 AM
Super Moderator
 
sscotsman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Western NY, USA
Posts: 3,702
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 61
Thanks (Received): 353
Likes (Given): 150
Likes (Received): 788
I would say no, dont consider a single stage..
if you have good chances of getting 12+ inch storms each winter, which it sounds like you do, you would want the 2-stage for for those events..
you dont want a snowblower than cant handle the job when you need it the most..

but your relatively light annual snowfall does mean you dont need a monster 2-stage..the smaller 2-stages will do you fine..
I would look at the Ariens Sno-tek 24E:
Sno-Tekā„¢ 24 - Snowblowers - Ariens Sno-Tek
(dont consider the Sno-Tek 20, its single-speed transmission is probably under-powered for your needs)

or the Ariens Compact 22 or Compact 24.

Ariens Compact Sno-Thro series of two stage gas powered snow blowers

Scot


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Last edited by sscotsman; 07-04-2014 at 11:15 AM.
sscotsman is offline  
post #8 of 37 Old 07-04-2014, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 9
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 0
Thanks (Received): 0
Likes (Given): 0
Likes (Received): 0
She'd kill me if she knew I was telling anyone, but she's 5'8" and 130-135lbs. So she's kind of tall and in good shape, but not much weight to throw around and not a ton of upper body strength.

I started looking at single stage prices. In the grand scheme of things, a nice single stage isn't all that much much cheaper than an entry level two stage, and as Scot said, I think it makes sense to buy a machine that can perform when we need it the most, even if it leaves a little residual snow behind. That's what they make ice melt for, right?

I didn't want to poison the well by telling you guys what I've been leaning toward, but I like the looks of the Compact 22 and 24. What is the difference between the Compact 24 and the Sno-Tek 24? Aluminum gear case, no headlight, anything else? It seems like the engines are branded differently, but they're both 208cc units designed by LCT and manufactured in China, right? So are they the same engine?

I like the remote deflector adjustment on the 24's, but I'm wondering if even a smaller 24 will be too much for her to handle. Again, I've never used a snowblower before, so I have zero frame of reference. I looked briefly at the Ariens 824 and even the Toro 824, but while I'm having a hard time finding weights online, I get the feeling they're going to be too big, too heavy, too much machine for her to handle comfortably.

Besides being newer, how does a Compact 22 compare to a Toro 521? Does the 521 have a pin lock steering setup? I imagine I'd keep the one wheel free for her to make steering easier, and she can just back it up and try again if she gets stopped by a drift. Any other good candidates in the 21" through 24" size?

I'm thinking I'll probably throw together or just buy an impeller kit right away to reduce the number of clogs. Happy wife, happy life.

Thanks again for all the guidance!

Last edited by NewGuy; 07-04-2014 at 12:36 PM.
NewGuy is offline  
post #9 of 37 Old 07-04-2014, 01:03 PM
Moderator
 
detdrbuzzard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: 42.23n/83.33w/636
Posts: 6,578
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 213
Thanks (Received): 293
Likes (Given): 1655
Likes (Received): 584
your wife and my GF are about the same size. my GF decided she wanted a two stage machine and tried my toro 826. she didn't like the safety inter lock levers and said it was too big. she used my 521 on one of the neighbors property and like the fact that by releasing a lever the machine stopped moving so we found a 521 with electric start for her rather than taking one of my recoil start 521's to her house. she read powershif93's post about his brothers of destruction and says her little toro brothers can destroy some stuff too, the little brothers of destruction

current machines
1-toro2450E-38419. 1-toro3000E-38435. 1-toro 3650E-38445
2-toro 521E-38052. 1-toro xl824pt 38086
1-.............,TORO XL 624ps..............
1-............, TORO XL 824ps..............
william
detdrbuzzard is online now  
post #10 of 37 Old 07-04-2014, 02:14 PM
Banned
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Newington, CT
Posts: 2,029
Post Thanks / Like
Thanks (Given): 32
Thanks (Received): 92
Likes (Given): 446
Likes (Received): 148
i would recommend a 2 stage mainly because they are capable of clearing more snow and clearing it faster. your wife shouldnt take to long to figure it out. a toro 521 might be a little 2 small for your driveway, but a 24inch toro would be a good size. tey made them in 5, 7 and 8hp configurations
43128 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome