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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,
I'm looking for some help choosing a new heavy duty snow blower for abundant, heavy, wet snow. I feel like I've read every possible review and forum post out there, and the more research I do, the less I know what to do!
I live in northern southeast Alaska, where the wet, marine climate meets a subarctic climate. That means I deal with just about every possible winter condition, but predominantly very wet, heavy snow that falls 1 to 3 feet at a time, plus a variable snow/rain/freeze cycle, which means I have to get out and manage the snow ASAP when it falls. A few years back, we had over 30 feet in one season. I have a gravel driveway with a slight to moderate incline, about 200', and I clear a parking area about 24'x30', plus paths to my woodshed and outhouse.

I'm looking for a heavy duty machine that handles easily and is easy to repair--due to my remote location, whatever parts I need will have to be ordered from the lower 48 or Canada, and I will have to do my own repairs or persuade a handy friend to help me out. Likewise, I'll be ordering my machine from down south and shipping it up as freight.

I had just about decided on a Cub Cadet 3x series--either the 3x 30" Pro H (seems like a very reasonable option for a hydrostatic drive) or the 3x 30" Trac, but then I started reading about the shear pin problems, and Paul at movingsnow.com advised me that the Cubs bog down and clog up in heavy, wet snow--everything else I'd read suggested that the 3X series did great in heavy, wet snow. Does anyone have experience with this? I've wondered if the shear pin thing was more operator error, or people just expecting shear pins not to break than anything else.

I'm also looking at the Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30, if anyone has experience with that. My instinct is toward the Cub Cadets if I'm going for an MDT, as I believe they are heavier duty and more reliable, but the Arctic Storm seems like it's getting good reviews.

Paul advised me towards an Ariens Deluxe SHO on the grounds that they are easy to work on and handle heavy snow well, but I'm not sure I'll like the autoturn system. If I go with Ariens, I'm tempted towards the hydrostatic models--does anyone have experience with the Hydro Pros?

Is hydrostatic drive worth the extra $800-$1000 for the models I'm looking at? I've been staying away from Honda, just because they are SO much more expensive, and I've heard the 2015 and 2016 models have been having transmission problems. I know Honda has a reputation above and beyond everything else, but I'm only looking to spend up to $2500, since I have to pay for freight as well.

I'd very much appreciate some advice from people who deal with heavy, wet, abundant snow and have experience with some of these models. If there are any members in Canada, I also have the option of buying a machine in Whitehorse, but it seems like I'm dealing with different brands and models over there, so starting my research again from scratch if I go that route.

Thank you!

Shannon
 

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IMHO the best snowblowers you can get for those conditions and that could stand the use and abuse are Honda, Professional Series Ariens or a Yamaha which will have to be purchased from Canada.
Being in US my personal available choice would be with no doubt a Honda HSS1332ATD.
If you want to stay at the 2500 budget, I'd strongly recommend looking for a new leftover Honda HS1332TA (some dealers are selling it for $2500-2600).
I don't think a Cub Cadete or a Troy-Bilt would be a good choice for you with 30' of snow winters.

If you can work on them, you can probably get a used HS1132-HS1332 for $1000-1800 depending on condition, and start saving the rest for another one as a back up (I'd want to have a back up blower being in your situation).
 

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Up where your at - I would have to agree. Looking for a good deal on a Yamaha or Honda would probably rank high. The Ariens are pretty good and a lot easier on the pocket book for sure..... I would say if you are diligent about getting out there and knocking it out as it's falling - the SHO may fit the bill pretty well. Just make sure to keep up on the maintenance on it - true for any machine, but more so when you are that reliant on it. Somebody can show you all the pointers to maintain it yourself easy enough. Keep plenty of shear pins on hand, extra belts, grease the augers regularly, check fro slop/play in augers, adjust shoes as needed, keep oil changes according to hours of use. Above and beyond that - you may need extra help. I would also base it on how available parts are to you...... if you have a dealer anywhere in the region you may want to factor that in. Good luck - and stay warm!! WELL - I guess there is the option of moving to a lower longitude!! ;>P
 

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Thanks, guys. I'm really hesitant to buy a pre-owned machine in this case for a number of reasons, mainly because it's a lot more difficult and I can't check out a machine in person. We have a very sparse population here, and my access to dealers is very limited. No matter what, I'm going to wind up ordering parts online, so as long as there are parts SOMEWHERE in the US or Canada, I'm more concerned about ease of maintenance than availability of parts. There is a Yamaha dealership in Whitehorse (the only place I have road access to), but I don't think they even keep snow blowers on inventory, because up there it's so dry, snow management is a different game altogether. In any case, I could order a machine through them, but I'm not likely to find any deals.

I am very diligent about knocking down the snow as it falls, having only a shovel right now! Looking at Yamahas, the only model anywhere near my budget is the YT624EJ--I suspect that might not have the power I need, and the intake specs are only 24" wide, 17" high.

So, looking at my budget and what's available to me this season, I could spend $2500 for an Ariens Hydro Pro 28", or I could get the Yamaha I just mentioned, or a Honda HSS724ATD--would those Yamaha/Honda models be enough for me?

With the Ariens, is it worth paying extra for hydrostatic drive and tracks?

Thank you!
 

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snow conditions in my area are quite similar to yours.....except that 30' thing !! good advice given, but i might go in a different direction......an older ariens machine. parts are plentiful and relatively cheap, easy to work on and tough as nails. with that option, i would do the impeller mod, and strongly consider a re-power to a larger than stock engine. jmo
 
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Thanks, NWCove. I'm really not looking for a pre-owned machine--I have very limited access to them and would have to buy something sight unseen and then have it shipped up on a barge--that's a big gamble. I'm also really not looking to build or modify a machine, having limited time, resources, and mechanical skills. What I'm looking for is the best available new machine that can handle a lot of heavy, wet snow for around $2500. Thanks!
 

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Not looking for an ATV or tractor mount, either, but thanks for the suggestion. Just looking for the best new snowblower in my budget.
 

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I would stay away from the mtd brands . I would look into the toro snow blowers and simplicity as well as well. The hydros are nice but it's another fluid to change.
 
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Thanks, NWCove. I'm really not looking for a pre-owned machine--I have very limited access to them and would have to buy something sight unseen and then have it shipped up on a barge--that's a big gamble. I'm also really not looking to build or modify a machine, having limited time, resources, and mechanical skills. What I'm looking for is the best available new machine that can handle a lot of heavy, wet snow for around $2500. Thanks!
with the situation you mention, i would go with the yamaha. imho, they move snow more efficently than any other machine available. ( if i could afford one.....i would sell my fleet....except for the ss toro...in a heartbeat!)
 
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I would stay away from the mtd brands . I would look into the toro snow blowers and simplicity as well as well. The hydros are nice but it's another fluid to change.
Thanks--I was looking at the Toro PowerMax HD line, but my hesitation is that they don't make a tracked model. That's not a deal-breaker, but I am leaning towards tracks if possible (and open to your thoughts on that). I'm also really curious about the Toros not having shear pins--does that wind up resulting in more expensive repairs, instead?
 

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of the machines you mention I would get the sho28 and possably an impeller kit
 
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Again IMHO your best option for a new snowblower at $2500 would be to chase a leftover Honda HS1332TA. I've seen them for 2500-2600 with 3 year warranty at a few dealers here in New England. Search ads close to your area.
 

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Again IMHO your best option for a new snowblower at $2500 would be to chase a leftover Honda HS1332TA. I've seen them for 2500-2600 with 3 year warranty at a few dealers here in New England. Search ads close to your area.
Ok, I had pretty much ruled out Hondas due to the cost and the transmission problems in the new models, but I just got a quote from the Honda dealer in Juneau for the 2015 model HS1332 with tracks and electric start for $2799. Sounds like a steal. Do these models have the transmission problems that I'm hearing about in the newest models?
 

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No these machines are tried and true and were manufactured at the end of the model life cycle, therefore Honda had plenty of time to address and fix any bugs in these units. I am a big Ariens fan and also like the high capacity Hydro Pro 28, however if you are offered a full 3 year new machine warranty on the Honda I would go for that machine for your needs. Best of luck on your search.
 

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No these machines are tried and true and were manufactured at the end of the model life cycle, therefore Honda had plenty of time to address and fix any bugs in these units. I am a big Ariens fan and also like the high capacity Hydro Pro 28, however if you are offered a full 3 year new machine warranty on the Honda I would go for that machine for your needs. Best of luck on your search.
Thanks, Cardo. Warranties are practically irrelevant due to my location and the cost/ordeal of getting service from a certified dealer or mechanic. I'm also looking at cost of freight--I can get the Honda here from Juneau for under $100, but if I have to ship something from the lower 48, we're looking at $600 in freight costs, and a 3 week or more wait. There are some Ariens available in Juneau, but mostly just the box store models, and if I get an Ariens I'd like one of the higher end models.
 

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Go for the HSS1332, you won't regret.
The newer Honda HSS series had issues with their transmissions but it was only the first year and all those faulty transmissions were repaired or have a recall to be repaired. The later ones have no issues with their transmission that we've heard so far.
 

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Thanks--I was looking at the Toro PowerMax HD line, but my hesitation is that they don't make a tracked model. That's not a deal-breaker, but I am leaning towards tracks if possible (and open to your thoughts on that). I'm also really curious about the Toros not having shear pins--does that wind up resulting in more expensive repairs, instead?
The toro does not need shear pins because there gear box is built like a tank. On the track thing , i don't know how the ariens are to move when the engine is off but the honda's move almost as easy as a wheeled blower.
 

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Thanks, NWCove. I'm really not looking for a pre-owned machine--I have very limited access to them and would have to buy something sight unseen and then have it shipped up on a barge--that's a big gamble. I'm also really not looking to build or modify a machine, having limited time, resources, and mechanical skills. What I'm looking for is the best available new machine that can handle a lot of heavy, wet snow for around $2500. Thanks!
Have you thought about a Husky track model, they have have 2 track ones. There should be a Husky dealer in Whitehorse, as the sell chain saws etc. and with your dollar you gain 35% it should work in to a great deal.

Save up to $50 when you buy a Husqvarna snow blower
 
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