Snowblower Forum banner

Best Snow Blower For 2+ Foot Drifts on a 100-Yard Gravel Driveway

  • Ariens Professional 32 Hydro Rapidtrack - <- 40+ Miles to a Dealer

    Votes: 1 10.0%
  • Ariens Professional 28 Hydro Rapidtrack - <- 40+ Miles to a Dealer

    Votes: 1 10.0%
  • Honda HSS1332AT < - Carried by my favorite local dealer

    Votes: 4 40.0%
  • Husqvarna ST 430T < - Carried by my favorite local dealer

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 4 40.0%
1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Quick Version: I'm looking for the best snow blower to help me deal with occasional 2+ foot drifts on a ~100-yard section of a gravel driveway.

Considering several tracked models with a max price limit of ~$3,500 USD.

Longer version: We live in a rural part of north-central Idaho. Most of our 1/4 mile driveway is easy to clear with our UTV + Plow, but there's a ~100-yard section that's exposed, and perpendicular to the prevailing wind, that will get 2-4 foot drifts a few times a year, which sometimes get compacted before I can plow them.

In those situations, my UTV can't handle the drifts (not enough weight/power/traction, and nowhere to push the snow out of the trough of our driveway), so I turn to my 26" Cub Cadet Snow Blower.

The Cub Cadet actually does pretty well with the drifts when it can get traction. The traction is the hard part. In reality, if we get "drifted in" I end up spending 2-4 hours trying to manhandle the Cub Cadet down that section of driveway, while it spins its tires, gets stuck on top of compacted snow, and breaks shear pins.

So, I'm planning to sell the Cub and replace it with a tracked model that will (hopefully) have a better time pushing itself into the drifts.

Besides the gravel driveway issue, I have two 20 x 40 parking pads that I clear, sometimes with the UTV, sometimes with the snow blower, as well as sidewalks around and leading to the house.

Here are the models I'm considering, with my thoughts on each.

I haven't put Cub Cadet's tracked models on my list because I've had a poor experience with our local Cub Cadet dealer, and while I've been honestly very happy with our unit's engine reliability (always starts easily, especially with the plug-in electric), I shear an awful lot of pins and I suspect that 3-stage system adds more complexity without much function.

Ariens Professional 32 or 28 Hydro Rapidtrack

Pros:
  • Lots of fans on this forum and elsewhere.
  • The possibility that the 28" width with the 420cc engine might have more drift-cutting power than the 32?
  • I really like the 120V electric starting system on my Cub Cadet. Easy startup when the machine is cold, and no need to maintain a battery.
  • "Dig-In Mode" looks like it might be helpful for extra traction on the driveway.
Cons:
  • My closest dealer is 40+ miles away, and I don't have any experience with them.
Honda HSS1332AT

Pros:
  • Honda reliability
  • Carried by my favorite local dealer/repair shop.
  • Resale value
Cons:
  • MovingSnow guy doesn't like their track design.
  • My personal experience with Honda engines hasn't really lived up to their reputation.
Husqvarna ST 430T

Pros:
  • A bit cheaper than other models.
  • Carried by favorite local dealer/repair shop.
  • Keystart
Cons:
  • Several reviews mention reliability issues and lack of parts, even on Husqvarna's own website.
  • Having to maintain the battery over the summer.
I'm sure some of you are thinking "Why doesn't this guy just get a tractor?" Basically, I don't really have much other use for a tractor, so I'm hoping to get by with a ~$3K solution, instead of a $20K+ solution. If I had an unlimited snow moving budget, I'd love a tractor. But I'm trying to get by with less.

I'm also going to try out a snowdrift fence this year, to see if that helps with the drifting problem. But I haven't seen many enthusiastic reviews, at least about the type of ~4' plastic snow fencing I'll be installing. So, I'm hopeful it might be an improvement, but not confident.

Long-term, we've planted trees that'll eventually fix the drifting problem on that part of the driveway, but we're at least 5-10-years from that solution being in place.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,844 Posts
You state the blower does well as long as you get traction, so maybe look into that first before spending a lot of $$ for a different blower. Have you looked into the tires you have along with the possibility of using tire chains? Here's something I just thought about: fluid in the tires. Growing up on a farm, Dad put something into the tractor tires to increase the weight. I honestly don't know what it was, but I assume it was some type of antifreeze solution as it didn't freeze in winter. You likely would need to add innertubes to your blower if you try that. Maybe something like that or some selective addition of weights to the frame? I would think some farm supply places could fill in the holes on tire weighting.
Personally, the Searsasaurus is a pretty stout machine but at times it had issues when there's solid ice under the snow with traction. I added some tire chains to the blower and that was all it needed to handle pretty much everything I come up against, including the crap the snowplows deposit on my walks (I do live in town). This is on a set of tires that are not what you'd call traction tires, just the ones that were on the blower when I initially bought it used.
Just some thoughts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You state the blower does well as long as you get traction, so maybe look into that first before spending a lot of $$ for a different blower. Have you looked into the tires you have along with the possibility of using tire chains? Here's something I just thought about: fluid in the tires. Growing up on a farm, Dad put something into the tractor tires to increase the weight. I honestly don't know what it was, but I assume it was some type of antifreeze solution as it didn't freeze in winter. You likely would need to add innertubes to your blower if you try that. Maybe something like that or some selective addition of weights to the frame? I would think some farm supply places could fill in the holes on tire weighting.
Personally, the Searsasaurus is a pretty stout machine but at times it had issues when there's solid ice under the snow with traction. I added some tire chains to the blower and that was all it needed to handle pretty much everything I come up against, including the crap the snowplows deposit on my walks (I do live in town). This is on a set of tires that are not what you'd call traction tires, just the ones that were on the blower when I initially bought it used.
Just some thoughts.
Thanks for the thoughts, I appreciate it!

I'm definitely not in love with the Cub Cadet, so in general, replacing it is more appealing to me than trying to "make it work". That said, I always do love saving money, so I'd be thrilled to not have to spend $$s on a new machine.

My impression is that the Cub Cadet is so far from being able to push itself through the drifts that incremental measures like fluid in the tires wouldn't do the trick. But, I'm totally open to the idea that I could be wrong, and pleasantly surprised.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,949 Posts
Honda, then Ariens... I've had the HSS1332AATD for 3 years and couldn't be happier. Huge improvement from the HS80K1TAS I had for 30+ years before it. I would strongly disagree with your Honda Cons. The additional features that the D model has are very much worth it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lunta

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Honda, then Ariens... I've had the HSS1332AATD for 3 years and couldn't be happier. Huge improvement from the HS80K1TAS I had for 30+ years before it. I would strongly disagree with your Honda Cons. The additional features that the D model has are very much worth it.
Thanks for sharing your perspective. You’re confident that Honda’s track system would perform as well or better than Ariens in deep snow on gravel?

And just to make sure I have it right, the extra features of the D model are the torque sensor, and the battery start, correct?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,915 Posts
have you looked at the new toro power trx commercial's yet? they are track drive Power TRX HD Commercial Snow Blower 1428 OHXE | Toro
Excellent choice!
The Power TRX comes in 28" and 32"

Some of the highlights:
Track drive
5 year warranty
420cc engine
Toro's Quick Stick chute control
Hydro transmission
Toro's patented ACS anti clog system
Handwarmers
Several skid options, steel, poly, cast iron
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,129 Posts
That Toro looks nice. They just don't sell out here. The tracked Honda's outnumber the wheeled models by about 100-1 here where we have big snow and mountainous sloped terrain.

Our Honda dealer just added the Ariens line up a couple years ago. My neighbor bought one 3 winters ago and is very happy with it. The price was much better than Honda, but personally I have no experience with Ariens.

Honda out numbers all brands around here by 8-9 to 1.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,561 Posts
Check with the Rammy dealer in the United States to see how much a Rammy single stage snow thrower for your UTV would cost delivered to your door.
It has a protected weather proof V belt drive system using a flat snubber pulley and single stage snow thrower rotor design has been around for close to 55 years now starting with the Toro snow pups in the early to mid 1960's.

You already have a winch on your UTV so the Rammy single stage snow thrower should be no issue as it is lighter in weight and has a briggs/loncin engine.

Short of that one of the two Toro tracked models would be more than enough for your needs as it has a proven Toro dingo hydrostatic transmission in it. The only thing is it has more parts than the Rammy single stage snow thrower.
====================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================
=====================================================================
A single stage snow thrower has many fewer components and does not have the enclosed worm drive spur gearbox that rotates the open cross augers that feed the snow to the center of the 2 stage snow blower.

The single stage snow thrower and is easier to maintain especially for the lay person wherein checking the engine oil, checking the V belt condition as needed and greasing the open end bearings on the snow thrower rotor and checking the roller chain tension and lubing the roller chain as needed are all that is needed.

The snow blower rotor operates at 600 plus RPM and the 4 center lift paddles that eject the snow through the chute and spout eject the snow at a very high rate of speed versus the 2 stage snow blower ejecting the snow in 2 separate operations.


Edited today 24, October 2020
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,949 Posts
You’re confident that Honda’s track system would perform as well or better than Ariens in deep snow on gravel?
Honda has been doing tracks for almost 40 years, and hydrostatic drives for 30, and steering tracks / pneumatic auger lifts for almost 10. They're the ground breakers in those areas. I have not had the pleasure of using a modern Ariens, so I can't give you a comparison, but in my experience the HSS1332ATD just quietly does the job. You use your left thumb to set the auger housing height and then adjust your speed with the hydro control lever and put the snow wherever you want it with the chute control joystick.
And just to make sure I have it right, the extra features of the D model are the torque sensor, and the battery start, correct?
In the US, on the HSS1332ATD, additional features are:
  • 18Ah battery and electric starter
  • Hour Meter with Auger Lock Indicator Light
  • Double articulated chute
  • Auger Shear Bolt Guard system - this alone is worth the price of admission!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,045 Posts
2' to 4' drifts? I voted "Other"

My vote is for a Gravely walk behind with the MA-210 snow cannon blower attachment.

$500-$2,000 depending on condition

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,180 Posts
That Gravely sure looks solid ... maybe some nice XTrac tires on it, as I cant tell what is on it now. I would also imagine the turn radius is a bit difficult.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
249 Posts
MovingSnow guy doesn't like their track design.
This is the same guy who says you shouldn’t go lower than 208cc for a 24” blower.
With that logic, a YT660/YT624 at 171cc isn’t up to the job. Which is clearly wrong.
I don’t doubt his devotion to blowers but somehow I find the guys on here to be more valuable for opinions. At least here, random statements can be challenged and debated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,915 Posts
IMHO Paul at Movingsnow.com sees his role as educating the uneducated or those new to the world of snowblowers. He also informs us snow machine crazies what is new or in the pipeline. Husqvarna loaned him a pre-production 400 series snowblower to give them his opinion.
If Yamaha sent him a YT624 I'm sure he would test. But since Yamaha pulled out of the US market that's unlikely.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
416 Posts
This is the same guy who says you shouldn’t go lower than 208cc for a 24” blower.
With that logic, a YT660/YT624 at 171cc isn’t up to the job. Which is clearly wrong.
I don’t doubt his devotion to blowers but somehow I find the guys on here to be more valuable for opinions. At least here, random statements can be challenged and debated.
I always believed, when I sold snowblowers, if your investing in a 2 stage machine, at minimum it would be a 8 hp machine. This after owning a craftsman 5 hp track drive. Once you figure in all the power losses and energy to move the machine, it was WAY underpowered in wet or snow of 12" or more.

You dont gain any power as machine ages, only loose it as things wear out. Overpowered is usually adequate.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AndrewFromIdaho

·
Registered
Joined
·
416 Posts
IMHO Paul at Movingsnow.com sees his role as educating the uneducated or those new to the world of snowblowers. He also informs us snow machine crazies what is new or in the pipeline. Husqvarna loaned him a pre-production 400 series snowblower to give them his opinion.
If Yamaha sent him a YT624 I'm sure he would test. But since Yamaha pulled out of the US market that's unlikely.
It's also nice to see somebody testing machines that usually sees some significant snowfall. Feast or famine in my part of Ct. Very poor winter last 2 years. But 2011- 2013 was fast. Multiple storms of 12-18, a 24", and grand daddy 38" storm. Oh I dream for a 24" blizzard this winter.


Also, love the head to head videos. Especially Toro vs Ariens. It shows how each brand approaches snow removal with different bucket design and engine sizes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Zavie

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,045 Posts
That Gravely sure looks solid ... maybe some nice XTrac tires on it, as I cant tell what is on it now. I would also imagine the turn radius is a bit difficult.
With the blower on it the radius is horrible and it requires some manhandling, for sure.

This is easier to operate, appears to be in great condition, and comes with a deck and cart. For half the price of a new walk behind blower...

 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top