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Discussion Starter #1
I am thinking of getting a 2 stage snow blower and don't know much about them since it will be my first.

First off, if I buy new is there a better brand? I believe I can only fit a 24" in my garage.

Here are a few I am looking at:
1) new Ariens Deluxe 2-Stage 24 in. for $929
2) new Yard Man dual-stage 24 in. (31AM63KE701) for $603
3) Ariens Model 724 which is 5-8 years old for $425 which looks like in good condition.

Do any of these look good?

Thanks.
 

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New or used, I would only stick with the top-four brands, to be sure of getting a quality machine:

Briggs & Stratton - which if NEW includes John Deere, Snapper, Simplicity and Murray..(avoid *used* Murray and some John Deere..they werent all good)

Ariens

Toro

Honda

those are your "safe bets"..
I would avoid anything made by MTD..includes current Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Yard Machines..and several other brand names..

Dont ever buy any new power equipment at Walmart or Tractor Supply...very low-end.

Used machines: Ariens, Toro and Honda are generally good bets..

I wrote up some my experiences on new vs. used from a few winters ago..you can read it here:

The Ariens 1960's and 1970's Sno-Thro info site.

Page 2 has a long rambling write-up on what I learned! and why I bought a 40 year old Ariens over a new machine..

This section:
The Ariens 1960's and 1970's Sno-Thro info site.
talks about why some brands have good, and bad, designs..Older Cub Cadet snowblowers were great, new ones, not so much...John Deere was good, then bad, now good again! ;)

Scot
 

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Buying for the first time can be confusing, and it's easy to get all excited when looking a new shinny stuff in a store. Sscotsman has some good advise that I'd go along with. If you go used, ask questions about the service history, but be ready to take what is said with a grain of salt. Most John Deere and Honda snowblowers I've seen have a dealer's sticker where they were originally bought displayed on them. You might even be able to do some checking with the dealer about that particular machine if it was brought back to them for service.
 

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New vs used

I can add 2 cents on used, having worked on a number of Murray built Craftsman snowblowers this year. Some models are built like a tank and I used 3 last year, if you consider them look for 536.918xxx or 536.882xxx ones. These are ones with the cast iron Tecumseh engines and the Tecumseh-Peerless transmissions in them. With proper maintenance, they should last a lifetime, baring mishaps.

Issues usually found: gummed up carburetors, need for control cables and some newer ones have plastic auger and axel bushings. If it has the metal clamshell busings then virtually everything is available. If it's plastic ones, the 3/4" auger bushing so far has been the availability issue, but I've been researching a possible replacement bearing for that situation. Replacing axel bearings has been done, cables, impellar bearings etc.

The 536.905xx ones have a friction disk, looks like a Toro one may work with a little reworking of the center hole, but I haven't gotten into that yet.

If you are mechanically inclined, a used snowblower can get some solid machines at a decent price. Most of the ones I've found need a carb rebuild, some paint and maybe bushings or cables changed out. Along wtih that, usual maintenance like oil changes, new sparkplug etc.

One thing (regardless of brand), insure the augers are not rusted solid to the auger shaft. They can be removed in most cases but it can be very time consuming (or expensive if someone else does it for you). Once loose, grease them up so they won't freeze up later on for you.

I'm sure other brands can be much the same - good value if you find one within your price range. Long as you have time to wait for the right one, you can get a solid machine at a reasonable price. On a side note, I like metal chutes, no friction disks and good solid bearings/bushings in them.

My 2 cents.
 

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If you are looking for something in the MTD/Yard Man price range check out the Sno-Tek ones. They are made by Ariens, but use a cheaper engine and lack some of the extra features.

I was upgrading from a 21" Toro two stage and picked up a 1977 24" Ariens. Once I got it home I discovered it had a differential in it. Makes steering it a breeze. I wasn't aware that older blowers had steering options, but glad I picked this one up. Can spin it around 360 degrees with one finger basically. Much better than picking up and dragging the ones with solid locked axles.
 

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Used works!

Following input of scotsman i purchased a used ariens 24" unit in february for $140:00: It is 40 years old and will probably run another 40. The used price averages $100.00 less in buffalo than in cleveland or pittsburgh.

Recent summer prices lower (ads say need room). Try craigslist and search "ariens" under farm and garden. The older units lack modern safety features.....but you can let it run by itself and watch!
 
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