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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hopefully this is in the correct forum.

I need a little advice in picking my first snowblower. I live in Northern Virginia which looks to get about 20″ a year avg snowfall. Of course we had a couple of large storms the last few years. I live on a pipe stem which the city doesn’t plow, except to plow the adjacent street and push it all up into our entrance resulting into large end of pipe stem piles. It is about 270′ long with a medium slope and has 4 houses on it. It will be myself and one neighbor that will do the road and driveways.

After a little research on movingsnow.com, it looks like I need a 28-30″ unit with at lease a 250-290cc engine. One key factor is that my wife or son may have to sometimes use it if I am away so weight and/or maneuverability is a factor. I’ve been able to see a few brands in person and had a few general observations.
Ariens +heavy duty, many dealers. – heavy
Honda +heavy duty, light/maneuverable. – expensive
Toro + good value, light/maneuverable. – didn’t like the amount of plastic, the drive triggers appeared flimsy,
Husqvarna +heavy duty, seems comparable to Ariens – fewer dealers, poor reputation in my area.

I’m considering at the Ariens platinum SHO 30, Husq ST330P, and the Honda HSS928A. Am I on the right track? Anything else I should be considering? Tracks? Is the hydrostatic transmission worth it or necessary? Are these to much machine for my needs? I do have an affinity for Honda from my experience with their generators and mowers but am concerned about some negative reports on the latest models. I appreciate your advice.
 

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Ariens is likely your best choice. I am not sure how many bells and whistles you need, based on your choices you are looking at higher end machines. I think the Honda 2 stage tracked models are likely overkill for your needs. You have a very large drive so I can see your desire for a big machine. I like the Ariens Platinum 30 SHO, however the gas tank is small for a 414cc engine, you may be refueling often. I would take a hard look at the Ariens Pro 28 with a 420cc Briggs engine and a huge fuel tank. This machine is $2200. USD in my area where my dealer offers "Online Pricing." With proper maintenance this machine will last decades, it has been beefed up this year. However it has a taller auger housing 23.5" instead of 21" this may be a challenge for the wife to see over depending on her height. The Auto-Turn will make it easy to handle. A Hydrostatic transmission is nice especially on a tracked model, it will offer you a smoother transfer of power and more versatility in speed. It is not necessary a good friction drive system is relatively simple, tried and true and can be maintained and serviced by the owner.

I also like the Husky 300 series machines, however they use tall buckets like the Ariens Pro series. Husky customer support is not Ariens caliber.

Best of luck on your search, let us know what you went with when you decide.
 

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Obviously I like the Husky!!!

That being said let me expand. I like Hydrostatic drive because the speed is infinitely adjustable. None of this, "first gear was too slow and second was too fast" when the snow gets really deep as in the end of your street where the plow piles it up.
If I was doing a street I'd get the widest machine possible with the biggest motor possible within my budget.
Unless you have some steep hill to clear you probably don't need tracks. The latest tires you see on the machines don't even need chains.
As far as the plastics go nowadays the manufacturers all seem to use some plastic that has good resistance to way below zero. -104 degrees seems to stick in my mind. True the triggers for steering look pretty flimsy but you really don't have to pull them very hard to get the machine to turn.
As far as reliability goes all three of the manufacturers are quick to "fix" any faux pas from the previous years. Husky with their belt problems from 2 years ago and Ariens with their autosteer last year.
So I say either a Husky ST230P with adjustable height handlebars for the wife or the ST330P with the hydro static transmission for you. Both have power steering. Also the ST230P actually seems to have smoother and easier to move handles for chute control.
 

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May look like an overkill, but for doing the road and driveways (plus the big pile at the "EOD") I would seriously consider an HSS1332ATD. The price difference from the HSS928 vs the HSS1332 is not that big if you consider the extra power, width and features that it offers.
:blowerhug:
 

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I am a track man because I have a sloped driveway which is also dirt. In your statement below, you did not specify what your driveway surface was, concrete or gravel. If it is gravel you should definitely consider a tracked machine.

I do not understand the "20" a year avg snowfall" statement:

I live in Northern Virginia which looks to get about 20″ a year avg snowfall. Of course we had a couple of large storms the last few years. I live on a pipe stem which the city doesn’t plow, except to plow the adjacent street and push it all up into our entrance resulting into large end of pipe stem piles. It is about 270′ long with a medium slope and has 4 houses on it. It will be myself and one neighbor that will do the road and driveways.
Do you mean that when you get a snow storm, the snowfall which accumulates during that storm averages about 20" (i.e., ~20" per storm). Or do you mean that from year to year the average snowfall you get in an entire Winter is only 20"?

If it is the former, especially with a big end of driveway (EOD) I would definitely second what hsblowersfan says: Go tracked, go Honda, and go big.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Appreciate the responses.

- Nice to hear some good husky reviews. You seem to get a lot for the money with them.
- Excellent advice on the fuel tank size. I never would have thought of that.
- No dirt, it is an asphalt road.
- 1332 is over my limit, really wanted to keep it under 2k and pushed it a little, but 3k isn't going to fly with the wife.

22" is the 30 year average annual snowfall for my area. Although we got 31" in January alone last year. So we do get some big snows once in a while which I have to be prepared for. I found a great resource for weather data, weatherdb . I can't list the address as I don't have enough posts yet.
 

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Thanks for the website weatherdb some good data. Where I live the 30 year avg. was a little more than 39 inches annually. I know some years we doubled that but interesting to see the average over a long period. Last year we probably got less than 20 inches. But we mustn't forget that the EOD plow pile can be 3X higher than what the snowfall was, this is where a powerful unit will prove its worth. The largest 1 day total was back in January of 1996 we had a 27" storm (interestingly enough I think Central Park in NYC beat that total in the past 2 years and we are about 25 miles north), hard to believe that was 20 years ago. My new MTD 640F (at that time) worked like a champ, just had to tighten the lever cables quite often.
 

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Tuco: Thanks that helps. Don't go tracked, don't go big, and no need to go Honda.

For comparison my annual average snowfall is 396.2" with an average snow depth of 27"

ECHO SUMT SIER TAHOE, CALIFORNIA - Climate Summary

My guess is that any wheeled blower with an easily locking/unlocking differential and with chains if you have ice (remember you cannot put chains on a tracked machine) will do. That said, Honda is just a pretty well designed and very reliable piece of equipment if you can afford and desire it.

I also have an older beast of an Ariens ST1032 and it is way too heavy and too big for your circumstances, but I can attest that it is also well built. I have read here about the newer Ariens auto turn which is very intriguing.

Keep posting and asking questions and then please post again about what you get and how it works for you, so that your experience can help others.
 

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A different take on things...

I had a similar situation when I lived up in the mountains in a small private community. There were only 8 homes and 3 of the homeowners took care of snow removal for the road and all the driveways. The road was approx 900 ft. long.

They all had garden tractors with snow blowers and/or plow blades
The Toro/Wheel Horse a neighbor had made short work of the road and the other 2 focused on the driveways.


You could pick up a Toro/Wheel Horse tractor w/snowblower for well under your budget.
Case in point....
[email protected]

A couple vids of Toro/Wheel Horse blowers... they work extremely well.



Case/Ingersoll tractors/blowers work very well also...

 

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Discussion Starter #11
The wheel horse idea is pretty nice but not happening. I don't have room for that thing. I think I'm narrowing it down. I probably don't need tracks and am concerned about them tearing up the asphalt so I'm leaning towards wheels. I've been told the Ariens platinum line has a small fuel tank vs the pro models so I need to look into that and see if that would affect me.
 

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It looks like you have narrowed it down well. I was unaware that tracked models can damage asphalt, that sounds disturbing. The Ariens Pro series fuel tanks I believe are 1.5 gallons, which is nice and are made of plastic which is also nice. Best of luck, please post some pics once you take delivery.
 

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I can't see or think of a reason why tracked machines would tear up a asphalt driveway. There isn't much loading on the track since the weight is distributed over a much larger area. If turning is thought to damage the surface, then the surface would already have to be chipped, broken and cracked. Besides, turning happens when there is snow on the ground acting like a lubricant. If someone has real experiences with tracked machine damaging a driveway, please let us know the details.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Tuco:

1. As to the wheels vs tracks scraping the pavement. I can't see why a tracked machine would tear up asphalt. In fact, the footprint of a tracked machine is larger than on a wheeled machine. If you have a lot of ice, I mean true clear ice, not snow and compressed snow, I can see a tracked machine slipping more than a wheeled machine with chains. And, yes, chains will cause scratches on the pavement surface.

2. As to the auger bucket scraper bar scraping the pavement on a wheeled machine. The weight of a wheeled machine rests on the skids attached to the auger bucket. A wheeled machine is a like tricycle where the weight is placed on both "rear" wheels and up front on the auger bucket. So the skids are always in contact with the pavement. You can get plastic or metal skids. Some here report that plastic skids scratch less.

3. As to the auger bucket scraper bar on a tracked machine. The entire weight of a tracked machine is on the tracks. No weight (except maybe in the "obsessive compulsive" lowest auger bucket setting), is ever on the auger bucket of a tracked machine. With a tracked machine you set the height on the auger bucket with a foot lever or a hydraulic lever on the new model Hondas and the auger bucket does not contact the pavement surface unless you want it to. The skids on a Honda tracked machine are really there to protect the auger bucket from wearing down, not to carry the weight of the machine. (And that is why you see so many "shoeless" i.e., skid-less used Honda tracked machines with auger bucket wear because their owners thought they didn't need skids.)

So a tracked machine, in my opinion, will scrape your pavement LESS than a wheeled machine.
 

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Hi, I just bought a new toro power max 826 OXE snowblower and got the one with the night time flood light on it can't wait till winter now I'm in nova scotia
 

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Let's keep in mind that Asphalt is different than concrete. I've seen Asphalt driveways get messed up by studded snow tires.
 

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All of the 2-stage snow throwers look nice. The biggest concern should be reliability. Then get a model that fits your needs. Make sure to get one with an engine that has the power to push through the snow and can throw it far enough away. The hydrostatic steering that most if not all of the newer snow throwers use these days make maneuvering easy.


I would find a local dealer that has many models for you to check out and has a good reputation for their service.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Just following up, I went with the honda hss928. It came down to quality. I felt the ariens pro models and the honda had the best built quality. They were similar in price so I went honda since I've had good experiences with their products in the past. Thanks for the advice.
 

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I would suggest Honda seems to be quiet and easy to use. They have proven record of removing heaviest snow and are reliable in cold weather. Both single stage and double stage seems to work exceptionally well
 
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