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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just putting this out there and all opinions are welcome.

I have an Ariens ST11528LE [28" / 11.5 HP] wheel drive and a Honda HS50 [22" / 5 HP] track drive. I plan to keep the Honda forever to do walkways and the back porch.
My driveway is roughly 75' long 10' wide asphalt with two car parking at one end there is little to no pitch. We average 3-5 major storms [10" - 18"] per year or so. I like things a little bigger than I need so if I think I need a 8 HP 24" then I will end up getting a 11.5 HP 28" [which is what I have, see how that works].

Now [sorry about the preamble there] here's the question. The Ariens, at 28" is probably too big for what I need, it also has the aluminum auger case [which I am already not a fan of just from a maintenance side]. Help me out, ground me back in to reality, do most of you think an 8/24 will do it?
Given my smallish driveway, what blower would you recommend [basically for my next project]? To make it interesting, here are some specific criteria that said model must meet:
  1. Must have cast iron gear box, or equivalent - no "split box" systems like the Ariens Aluminum ones - not badmouthing Ariens, just using it as an example.
  2. No specific engine type needed - BUT, must have parts available and be simple to work on, no shields and covers beyond the standard [i.e. getting to the spark plug on some of the Briggs 8 HP motors]
  3. Parts availability for the unit is a must - doesn't have to be readily available off the shelf, but parts must be available at the standard locations without NLA in any of the listings.
  4. 4 cycle engines only.
  5. 2 Stage blowers only
  6. Metal chute and chute deflector
  7. Grease zerk on the auger flights
  8. Pull start - electric start with an extension cord is not something I have ever used, so no bonus points for electric start via extension cord - bonus points awarded for on board starter system.
  9. Chute control [horizontal and vertical] from operating position.
  10. Must be able to handle ice/sand/salt mix at EOD - by the end of the winter the sand mix is excessive.
  11. Lighting - size and type doesn't matter on the lighting, no bonus points for LED over Halogen. Just something to light it up in the dark so I can get it started.
  12. Cost - This is going to be the hard part and the most debated - I am on the East Coast in Southwest Connecticut so the prices are probably higher than elsewhere so identify what area by State that you are using for pricing. Let's use $500 [plus or minus] as the target. I like to tinker in the workshop, getting something that requires a little work would be perfect, for example if a 1982 Model fits all the criteria I will seek that model, maybe they average in price around $750, if I look long enough in the right places, I can usually find one that needs a little help and fits my budget [my Honda HS50 is a product of this mentality].
The intention is not to debate price, it is just a way to get apples to apples based on a similar cost. I also don't want to debate which New blower is the best, It would be easy to say buy a new XYZ it's the best and then we debate why each new one is the best. That is also why I limit the budget, if you drop $800 [and up] on a blower the expectations are different and again, we would be debating which "newer" blower is best.

In a nutshell, what would be the perfect machine for me based on the criteria above and why.
This is for fun, it's not a contest, it is for me to determine my next project.
I should note that I am partial to older blowers and don't mind tearing something down to the bolts to get it just how I want it [see my Honda HS50 project if you're curious about how obsessive I can be with a machine].
Maybe the Ariens that I have is the perfect machine for my needs [*the horror*] so I should add that I have a tendency to get bored and need to keep busy, so in the end I can see myself selling the Ariens and getting something else just for the heck of it.
Thanks.
 

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I am also in CT and I find that anything around 6-8HP on a 24 inch machine is more than ample to attack what we get. Don't get me wrong, I do have a couple 26 inch for the big storms, but in reality, my 24 inch machines would be just fine for everything. I have a double driveway maybe 70ft or so long, plus I do neighbors .. I am retired now and have ample time to assist my neighbors and I enjoy getting all my units there chance .... :)

As far as a project, I pick up whatever I can get for free, or nearly free, that I know I can bring back to a good useful life again ... then I just usually flip it.

I feel that anything bigger than 26 inch is for commercial use, unless you have a 300 ft driveway, etc......

JMHO
 

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With your extensive experience with the 50 ( actually a 521 ) I would go with the old Honda HS80 ( actually a 824 ).

However it does NOT meet some of your criteria ( NLA parts for one ). I get around this by having parts machine that I get for free. There are hundreds if not thousands of these old Honda's working around here. I have 6-7 in the back and if you were close I'd give you one.

The Honda HS80 is my favorite Honda. Built like a tank. It is my main machine if we get snowfalls over 8 inches. I use my 520 or 621 for less than that. I use a HS55 for the deck.

Anyways, it doe not meet your requirements . I don't know much about other brands. I had a Gilson a couple years ago that was VERY sturdy. An engineer bought it off of me and is having a BLAST restoring it. There is a cool Gilson group on Facebook. The admin has parts for these old tanks.

Good luck in your search. Look forward on what you decide. Here is my American Patriot Honda HS80/824 Tire Plant Wheel Vehicle Car . It is so popular that I am building 2 928's just like it.
 

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I've had an MTD 8hp/24" wide for about 20 years now, I was a kid when my dad brought it. It had served us well in storms up to 28". It may bog a little when taking a full bucket of snow that is 2 foot deep, but it has never stalled out or stopped throwing. We also help neighbors and again, never had a problem with it.

I can't really speak to your criteria as far as your next project, but I think that Oneacer is right as far as looking for good deals. You may be able to get a machine for free, drop $50 in parts into it as well as some elbow grease, and have a good machine you can try out. If you like it, keep it. If you don't, then you know what model to stay away from.

Personally I would look at an Ariens or perhaps even a Toro. The Honda's by me (NJ) seem to be pretty high as far as price, considering their condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
With your extensive experience with the 50 ( actually a 521 ) I would go with the old Honda HS80 ( actually a 824 ).

However it does NOT meet some of your criteria ( NLA parts for one ). I get around this by having parts machine that I get for free. There are hundreds if not thousands of these old Honda's working around here. I have 6-7 in the back and if you were close I'd give you one.

The Honda HS80 is my favorite Honda. Built like a tank. It is my main machine if we get snowfalls over 8 inches. I use my 520 or 621 for less than that. I use a HS55 for the deck.

Anyways, it doe not meet your requirements . I don't know much about other brands. I had a Gilson a couple years ago that was VERY sturdy. An engineer bought it off of me and is having a BLAST restoring it. There is a cool Gilson group on Facebook. The admin has parts for these old tanks.

Good luck in your search. Look forward on what you decide. Here is my American Patriot Honda HS80/824 View attachment 181438 . It is so popular that I am building 2 928's just like it.
Orangeputeh, is the HS80 a hydrostatic transmission, or a final gear? What years was it manufactured?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've had an MTD 8hp/24" wide for about 20 years now, I was a kid when my dad brought it. It had served us well in storms up to 28". It may bog a little when taking a full bucket of snow that is 2 foot deep, but it has never stalled out or stopped throwing. We also help neighbors and again, never had a problem with it.

I can't really speak to your criteria as far as your next project, but I think that Oneacer is right as far as looking for good deals. You may be able to get a machine for free, drop $50 in parts into it as well as some elbow grease, and have a good machine you can try out. If you like it, keep it. If you don't, then you know what model to stay away from.

Personally I would look at an Ariens or perhaps even a Toro. The Honda's by me (NJ) seem to be pretty high as far as price, considering their condition.
Any particular year/model of the MTD 8/24, or just their 8/27 in a general sense?
There are always deals to be found, but I need to limit my search so I don't end up like a raccoon in a coin shop chasing everything that's shiny.
 

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Orangeputeh, is the HS80 a hydrostatic transmission, or a final gear? What years was it manufactured?
same set up as the 50. built from around 1987-91

if you want hydro in the 24 inch wide range then a 624-724 Honda. all parts are still available for these machines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
same set up as the 50. built from around 1987-91

if you want hydro in the 24 inch wide range then a 624-724 Honda. all parts are still available for these machines.
To be honest all Honda’s are so expensive out here that there is rarely anything in my price range. I would pick up a 624 without question if I saw it in the right range, but justifying the expense at $800+ is hard to do. The 50 I got was a unicorn of a find and it will be passed on in my will (I stockpiled enough parts that barring catastrophic failure I can repair it many times over). I guess I could save and get a 624 or whatever nice new model and be done, but where’s the fun in that?
Plus, I like doing the work and have no issue changing out my “large” machine every couple of years (this Ariens is #4 on the list).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Simplicity Pro 1524 ?
That’s a nice looking machine, I have a Simplicity Regent lawn tractor, never had a Simplicity blower. A quick search shows it’s been made for a few different model years, any one more recommended than another, or features available only in certain models?
 

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Any particular year/model of the MTD 8/24, or just their 8/27 in a general sense?
There are always deals to be found, but I need to limit my search so I don't end up like a raccoon in a coin shop chasing everything that's shiny.
The one we have is from around 2001-2002 I think, model# 31as644e129. I know it does not tick all of the boxes that you had specified in your earlier post. It is not going to be easy to find a machine with a metal chute or zerk fittings. The way machines have been cheapened in the name of profit, these were the first features to go. Honestly, if you come across something that is complete, for $50 or less, even free, it would probably be worth it. You can always part the machine out or just get the engine running good and sell it for more than you paid.

I picked up a Noma (nearly free) that was in pieces, which I am going to work on, simply because it had a 10hp Tecumseh on it that started and ran. After going over it, with the cost of parts that I figure it will need (belts, auger gear, idler pulleys, etc.), I will be all in for about $100. For a 10hp, 29" machine, i'll take a shot at it.
 
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