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Northern Jersey shore was close to ground zero for the heaviest dumps of snow in the Christmas Blizzard of 2010 last week. My neighbor took pity on me and came with his blower to rescue me from my 50' driveway shoveling exercise. Man, I instantly saw the wisdom of a blower plus......now I sort of need to get one so that my wonderful good samaratan neighbor doesn't feel any kind of obligation to do me next time.

So...I am looking. I am, however, bewildered by the opportunities on Craig's list....phew!

Am hoping I could post a few units here that caught my attention and ask for your opinions. Would be super grateful for some veteran observations:

1. 70's; no make; 26"; 8 hsp; 2 spd fwd; 1 rev...............300.00. The 8 hsp sounds pretty good, no?


2. 5.5 hsp Snow King 3aa - 3ca; 2 yrs old; looks clean in the picture; 375.00


3. 1962 Craftsman, 24"; 6 hsp; looks clean in the picture; 200.00


4. 2007 or 2008 Airens; 5 hsp; 300.00


Do you guys agree that 5 hsp is adequate? Most blower use this size motor.

Many thanks for your guidance.
 

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hi rivertender, based on your post i'll assume you always been "shoveling" at your current residence, so whatever snowblower you get is better than your shovel. Unless you like to "tinker and fix up things" why not just get a "new" single stage toro (or equivelent for around 500.00 you will then have a basically worry free blower that will serve you for a long time(with basic maintenance of course). A basic entry level 2 stage can be bought new for under $1000.00. But if you like to tinker with and fix equipment then pretty much any "used" blower that you find that you would like to work on will do. In my opinion it is hard to find a worry free "used" blower,although they do exist out there. good luck....just my 2cents
 

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If you get a lot of snow at the end of your drive from the snowplow, you will want a two stage minimum 8 HP to contend with it. this tends to be heavy, salty and can harden if left for a few hours. I had a 5 hp, and it just didn't cut it. I had to wrestle it to get it to dig in, and just inch it forward to avoid stalling it. My 8 hp is much better. Good luck on your decision.. Larry
 

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If you get a lot of snow at the end of your drive from the snowplow, you will want a two stage minimum 8 HP to contend with it. this tends to be heavy, salty and can harden if left for a few hours. I had a 5 hp, and it just didn't cut it. I had to wrestle it to get it to dig in, and just inch it forward to avoid stalling it. My 8 hp is much better. Good luck on your decision.. Larry
Welcome Rivertender!
I agree with dakota60 that you may want to go for a snowblower with 8hp. However, I would be a bit sceptical about the top option on your list
because of the age; not that old snowblowers aren't good, I'd just want to check that one out a bit closer than others to make sure it doesn't have an underlying problem that could show up.
 

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RT,
in my experience and research, there are only four brand names you can ALWAYS count on to have quality machines on the used market:

Ariens
Toro
Honda
Simplicity

Plenty of other brands *can* be fine, and high quality..but also have a lot of lemons in their past..skeletons in the closet, so to speak..

For example..John Deere snowblowers..perfectly fine and robust until about 1991.
then they stopped making their own and farmed out production to other manufacturers, Ariens and Murray..the Ariens-build JD machines are fine..the Murray built machines are considered about the worst thing to ever wear JD green paint!
very bad..really brought down JD's reputation for snowblowers..current JD machines are better again, but through the 90's if you bought a JD snowblower, and you didnt know exactly which was built by Ariens or Murray, you had a 50/50 chance of getting a really good machine, or a piece of junk..

another example..Cub Cadet..once one of the most highly respected brands of all time..(1970's cub snowblowers also made by Ariens)..today, a mere shadow of the greatness that once was..todays Cub Cadet snowblowers are very low-end machines, made by MTD..

probably the most schizophrenic brand of all is Craftsman..no one even know how many different manufacturers have made Craftsman snowblowers! everyone under the sun it seems..older ones (1960's) are probably higher quality, but I would avoid any Craftsman made in the last 30 years..some are probably good, (especially the higher-end models) but a lot are not..and its really difficult to determine which is which..

So when looking for older used machines, IMO its best to stick with only those four names:

Ariens
Toro
Honda
Simplicity

nearly everyone agrees those are *always* good choices..

anything else, you just cant be sure..
and often, older is MUCH better than newer..probably half of the brand-new snowblower models in the stores right now are really remarkably crappy..quality has been going steadily downhill the last decade or so, and seems to be getting worse all the time..

Brands I would always avoid:
Cub Cadet (unless you know its a 1970's Ariens disguised in Cub dress)
Troy-Bilt
Craftsman
Yard Machines
Yardman
Murray
White
Powerland (the lowest of the low..really bad, sold at Costco)
ANYthing sold at Sams club, Costco or Walmart.

some of those brands *can* be good, ..but they also have a lot of bad models in the mix..
(except for powerland, which is never good)
so unless you really know what is what, its just easier to avoid them alltogether..

check here:
The Ariens 1960's and 1970's Sno-Thro info site - page 2
for some of the interesting things I have learned..

Scot
 

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OK... well from experance I will have to say that a 5hp is not a bad size... Granted I would say 8 would be prefered though. Ive used my 5hp MTD for YEARS and its done the job. Also as for as the entry level brands... the more basic the better. If you need bells and wistles go for the big brands like Scot said.. You want simple and basic the cheap MTD's and the like are not to bad... Simple is good. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Looking with more knowledge and many thanks............

............to all for a high quality education in a short time. I am looking and zeroing in on a few based on what I've read here.

The hunt continues.

Will keep you all posted.

Many thanks....again
 

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A possible gem...........?

Found a 70's 8 hsp........ Gilson snowblower.

Anyone ever heard of them?

250.00

I like the power and the price, but I am disciplining myself to stay with the names that Sscott mentioned.

thanks
 

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Found a 70's 8 hsp........ Gilson snowblower.

Anyone ever heard of them?

250.00

I like the power and the price, but I am disciplining myself to stay with the names that Sscott mentioned.

thanks
wow..Gilsons are rare! I didnt bother to add Gilson to the "good" list because I figured you would never come across one! ;) and I dont know enough about them to recommend them..(I search Buffalo, Rochester & Syracuse NY craigslists fairly often for rare snowblower models, mostly just for fun..mostly looking at old Ariens..but for every 200 Ariens machines for sale, there is maybe One Gilson..I see maybe ONE gilson a year show up! remarkably rare in these parts..although perhaps more common in other areas.) (maybe we just didnt have any Gilson dealers in western NY..I dont know..)

Check out this webpage:

The Gilson SNOW BLOWER Shop, where the Gilson Snowblower Legacy Lives

Pete (the owner of that page) likes nearly all Gilsons,
(and he clearly LOVES many of them!) although he did tell me a few models are quite small and underpowered, and might not be a good choice for those us in the high-snow areas..but in general, Gilson seems like a great brand!

Do you know the model of the Gilson that is for sale?

Scot
 

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I wish I would have seen this last year.:( I had 2 Gilson snow cannons and a Lawnboy of identical design. I basically sold them as part of a Toro "block" of machines I didn't want to work on. I got $15 per machine and the guy that bought them only wanted the handles off the Toro's.
On a good note though, I did record each model# and serial# and can sign them up on that web site as a sighting. Heck, I even have pictures.:D
 

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I wish I would have seen this last year.:( I had 2 Gilson snow cannons and a Lawnboy of identical design. I basically sold them as part of a Toro "block" of machines I didn't want to work on. I got $15 per machine and the guy that bought them only wanted the handles off the Toro's.
On a good note though, I did record each model# and serial# and can sign them up on that web site as a sighting. Heck, I even have pictures.:D
Butch,
dont feel too bad!
not *all* Gilsons are highly deseriable! ;)
some are just plain old boring old machines..

ALL brands have a few smaller under-powered models in their lineup that arent really worth much..Ariens has made a few VERY small models over the years, that are really only good if you live in Georgia or Florida!
(but there are actually people in Georgia who want a snowblower! ;)
but they dont need a full-sized monster machine like the people in Buffalo or Minneapolis need..so the manufacturers have always made smaller (but still high quality) machines over the years, to suit different markets and buyers..

Probably the only snowblower brand that *always* commands top dollar is Honda..Im sure Hondas are excellent machines, but IMO the Honda snowblowers are so expensive because of the "John Deere Syndrome" that appears in the Antique tractor hobby..

Sure, JD has always made a quality tractor..but when looking at old Garden Tractors, JD machines are often DOUBLE the price of other brands! *simply because* they are Deeres! they are good yes, but they are not *that much better* than other brands..the price is inflated just because of the brand name alone, and the large "collector market" for JD machines..

IMO used honda snowblowers seem to fit in the same catagory..
yes, they are excellent machines..but they are not TWICE as good as a used Ariens of comparable age and features..but the Honda will often sell for twice as much!...IMO you are paying a hefty premium just for the brand name..you probably wouldnt regret buying a Honda! if you dont mind spending the cash..but IMO you can get a used snowblower that is just as good as a Honda, for a lot less money..

Gilsons appear to be very robust!
but again..there really is NO "snowblower collector market" to speak of!
like there is for antique tractors..VERY few people would buy a Gilson becuse "they collect Gilsons"..Pete might be the only one! ;)
The VAST majority of people buy old snowblowers simply to *use* them..
and they buy 1960's, 70's and 80's machines because they know they are good quality..

An old Gilson isnt worth any more than an Old Ariens..and neither is really "collelctable" in the sense that people clamour over 1960's John Deere garden tractors..So at best, even the old Gilsons are only worth $100 to $300, depending on condition..(maybe $400 for a REALLY good example..but thats the top of the range for 1960's and 70's machines.)

Scot
 

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One more name to add to the "Quality antique snowblower" list..Bolens.

here is a 1970's Bolens:

http://www.machinefinder.com/images/machines/38/1088438/1505716_large_10570.jpg

I dont know a lot about Bolens, but from what I have read, they seem to have been a well respected lawn/garden tractor, and snowblower builder, back in the day..
I believe they made garden tractors and snowblowers through the 1960's, 70's, and maybe into the 80's..

Today the Bolens name is owned by MTD..but I dont think MTD is actually using the Bolens name for any modern snowblowers (like they do with Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt)..So I dont think you are going to find a modern MTD-built Bolens..which is a good thing IMO..

So when searching for the old machines, I would also add Bolens to the list..(unless it seems to have very modern features)..but if its one with that classic 1970's "teardrop" bucket shape (like in the link above) its most likely a quality machine..(or was, at one time! depending on current condition of course..)

Scot's updated "classics" list:

Ariens
Toro
Honda
Simplicity
Gilson
Bolens
 

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Gilson/Bolens...........

Found the Gilson Guy, Pete, who was way gracious with his Gilson expertise. He looked at the pictures of the Gilson that I was looking at for 250.00. He offered that it ought to be 50.00 - 100.00 (validating Scott's observation) and that parts are a bit of a challenge.

Bolens! I saw a Bolens in my search, but figured it would be on the no-go list. Guess I was wrong.

Hard to find rigs over the 5 hsp level and I am looking all Jersey plus Long Island.

Still sticking to the list from Scott plus now Bolens.

Again, to all......thanks for your sharing your info.

Am still looking.............
 

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Hard to find rigs over the 5 hsp level and I am looking all Jersey plus Long Island.
You probably live in a "smaller snowblower" area..Do you see a lot of single-stage machines? I wouldnt be surprised if you do..
New York City and New Jersey arent really heavy snow areas..so most people probably have the smaller machines there..which might not be a bad thing! but still, I would hold out for 7 or 8hp, unless they seem to be impossible to find..

"Gilson Pete" makes a good point about parts availability..
Gilson might be hard to get parts for, and maybe Bolens too..(although Bolens parts might still available through MTD)
But Ariens for one has very little parts availability problems..I know people have ordered parts directly from ariens for 1960's models! and 1970's models are very easy to get parts for too..

RT, I didnt notice you were in NJ!
One MORE thing to throw into your mix! ;)
We had a discussion on the other snowblower forum recently about prices..
Prices seems pretty consistent across the snow belts of the North East, Great Lakes, Upper Mid West..basically Maine to Montana, where used snowblowers are as common as dirt, and cheap..

except! for the major urban areas..Boston, New York City, Philly..
Prices seem higher in those markets..just because *everything* is more expensive in the cities, I guess..

There was a thread recently about a 10 year old used Cub Cadet..I said "that machine is worth no more than $100"..and around here, its true..
but a few people said that in NJ thats a $300 machine..which shocked me greatly! so sorry..you will probably have to tack on $100 to $150 to the prices Pete and I have been giving you as guidelines, just because of where you live..

Scot
 
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