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Hello all. I've been lurking here for a few days. I became a first time homeowner in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area in the late fall. Thankfully it was a mild winter as my method for clearing snow was using a push shovel followed by a scoop shovel. My neighbors expected me to break down and get a snowblower during the snow season, but I made it through. So here's my situation;

The area of snow I'm clearing is on a 40'x30' stamped concrete driveway that is in excellent condition. The driveway does have a slope of about 15 degrees.

Annual snowfall here is 50 inches. There are an average of 2.5 snowfalls each year that go over 4 inches and every other year brings an 8+ inch fall.

I'd rate my mechanical skills as intermediate and I have no issue doing some initial tinkering. I'd prefer to be a penny pincher, but would spend up to $400. Bonus if my wife could maneuver it on occasion.

What would the experts here recommend for the stage and horsepower in my situation? Any specific models come to mind?

After browsing the information in this forum I found two local listings that I'm interested in:

Toro Power clear with R-TEK 141cc that appears to be in excellent condition (although no photo of auger) for $120.

An Ariens 724 in fair/good condition (also no auger pic) for $200 by someone who claims to have a small engine repair buisness.

Would you consider jumping on one of these or would it be better to wait for something else over the next 6 months?

I Appreciate any help

David
 

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Welcome to SBF, David.
Before pulling the trigger on a blower please watch this 13 min vid. It'll be worth your time. Happy hunting! You're looking at a good time. Low prices.
 

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to SBF David

I would take a good look at the Ariens 824 in Richfield for $200 https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hnp/tls/d/minneapolis-ariens-824-snow-blower/7086520347.html
Seeing a single stage and another snowblower tire in the photo makes me think the 724 is a flip and not something the owner really used and knows the history on but that's just a guess.

Second photo is your 724 in Lakeville.

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Thanks the the tips on Lakeville listing. I will pass on that one and will contact the richfield seller. They are not lying that they didn't use it this year based on the cobwebs in the auger. I will update. Thanks for the welcome and I've actually spent a lot of time in Hudson. It's a great town!
 

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Welcome to SBF, David.
Before pulling the trigger on a blower please watch this 13 min vid. It'll be worth your time. Happy hunting! You're looking at a good time. Low prices.
Thanks for the video. This has given me a good checklist to use and made me realize how little I know about snowblowers. I've never even used one. I grew up in the country with a long driveway, but we never had a snowblower and I always had to shovel. I lived in apartments for while after that. I did fix and maintain a 150cc carberatured scooter for a while so I at least have some small engine experience.
 

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With 4-8" storms, you might get away with a good single-stage machine. I have a Toro Power Clear 221, with the 141cc R-Tek 2-stroke engine. Since buying it a year ago, it has pretty much replaced my powerful 2-stage machine for this season.

The biggest storm we got was around 11" of wet snow. The single-stage handled it, but was about at its limit. I used the 2-stage to clear the piles from the plow, since the single-stage was having a tougher time with them. It probably would have done it, but the 2-stage was simpler.

For our other storms, which were 8" or less, the single-stage was awesome. It cleared faster than the 2-stage, letting my clear my driveway in as little as 10 minutes, vs close to a half-hour to clear the same size storm with the 2-stage. It does a better job of clearing down to pavement (since the rubber paddles hit the driveway), and can even loosen up snow that we just packed down by driving over it. It is also less tiring to use, weighing about 65 lbs, vs 300 lbs for my 2-stage.

Mine is the QR model, with the Quik Chute control for aiming the chute left-right. That's a nice feature for making frequent aiming adjustments. I just slide a handle, vs walking around to the front of the machine to re-aim the chute manually.

Given the size of your storms, I would consider a good single-stage machine. Models you might look for would include the Toro 221, and 721 (their more-powerful 4-stroke version; there is also a 621 with a smaller 4-stroke engine), also the Honda HS621.

A 2-stage will clear everything that a single-stage will. It will better handle the rare deep storm, or packed snow from the plows. But depending on the size of the storms you get, a powerful single-stage might provide a smaller, cheaper, convenient solution. With the storms we get here, if I could only keep one machine, it would be my 2-stage. But I really like having both available.
 

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With 4-8" storms, you might get away with a good single-stage machine.
For our other storms, which were 8" or less, the single-stage was awesome. It cleared faster than the 2-stage, letting my clear my driveway in as little as 10 minutes, vs close to a half-hour to clear the same size storm with the 2-stage. I

A 2-stage will clear everything that a single-stage will. It will better handle the rare deep storm, or packed snow from the plows. But depending on the size of the storms you get, a powerful single-stage might provide a smaller, cheaper, convenient solution. With the storms we get here, if I could only keep one machine, it would be my 2-stage. But I really like having both available.
Pretty much what I was fixing to post. If you can only have one go with the 2 stage. I am very fortunate to have one of each.
 

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With avg. snowfalls 8 inches or less I agree with Redoctobyr and perhaps go with a single stage. Toro or Honda.

I know Toro single stages are well regarded. I have used my Honda HS520 and 621 almost exclusively this winter and was pleasantly surprised by their performance.
 

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If your drive is truly 15 degrees, I'd pass on thinking about a single stage. You need something that has true drive traction wheels.
 

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That's a good point. If I remember, I'll try to check the incline in our driveway, I doubt it's 15 degrees. The single stage gets up it ok, but it pulls better on level ground, of course.
 

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If your drive is truly 15 degrees, I'd pass on thinking about a single stage. You need something that has true drive traction wheels.
Thanks for the reply. I estimated the steepest section looking at a diagram when I wrote that.

I just went outside with a 4 foot level to take some actual measurements. Roughly, there are three 15 foot sections with different slopes. The first is mild at 4%, the middle section I was thinking about is 13.5%, and the finish to the garage is 8%.

I did not receive a reply on the ariens I emailed on yesterday. I will keep looking.

While browsing I saw someone is selling their 25 blower collection that you guys might get a kick out of.

https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/csw/grd/d/clear-lake-snowblower-collection-25/7104024696.html
 

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As someone on the other side of the river, you have some decisions to make in your selection process. Single stage units work best for light snow, 2 stage work on the heavier stuff. Do you have to deal with end-of-drive or snowplow buildup?
Personally I'm willing to get the shovel out for the light snowfalls as a 2 stage doesn't work that well for under about 2" snowfalls. When it gets heavier than that I get my 2 stage out and thumb my nose at mother nature.
This last year was light overall for me but I lived here for the Halloween blizzard, the 100"+ snowfall years and numerous others in the past and that's where a 2 stage will be a back saver.
If you go single stage and get one of those bad snowfalls, you have the choice of blowing more often to keep ahead of it so that's an option also.
Personally have a couple of blowers with my machine of choice being affectionately known as the Searsasaurus. It's a 10 HP 26" blower i build using parts from multiple units to get the blower I wanted and couldn't buy. It doesn't work well for light snow but when it's deep or heavy, that's where it shines.
Good luck in your search.
 

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That's a good point, if you're home during a bigger storm, you can clear multiple times with a single stage, to keep up with it. Though if it's an overnight storm, or you're at work while it's snowing, etc, that approach doesn't help as much. But it's at least an option that can help with the occasional deeper storm.
 
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