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I'm doing research for my first (and hopefully last!) snowblower purchase.

Growing up I did some of the snowblowing at my parent's house. We had what I'm now learning is a single stage. It was nice because it could go pretty much as fast as I could walk and would only bog down a bit on the heavier snow. I now bought my own place and have a bigger and longer driveway so am looking at getting a 2-stage. The Ariens models that I'm looking at (Platinum 24 SHO EFI, Deluxe 30 EFI, or Pro 28 Hydro EFI) have more than enough power to get through the heavier stuff. I just hope that they'll be able to keep up speed-wise with my walking. I added the Hydro model since I've been spoiled with the hydrostatic drive on John Deere tractors and like the variable speed control. I have not used anything gas powered that has a fixed range of speeds and am a little worried about the control that I'll have with that versus a hydro model. Is the Hydro model any faster than the friction disc models?

I was able to find the speed (in mph) of the 28 Hydro EFI, which is up to 2.6 mph, but haven't been able to find anything on the speed (mph) of the other snowblowers. The searches keep returning tons/hour, which is a harder concept for me to visualize. If they are run drive with no snow to slow them down, anyone know the speed of these models?

I live about an hour north of Minneapolis. We'll get a few big snowfalls but also quite a few couple inch accumulations. It seems silly to get out the power 2-stage for these smaller snowfalls when it might be slower and less fuel efficient than a much cheaper single stage where I control the speed.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Scott
 

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it's hard to go back to gears after using a hydro.

you should be able to adjust speed. an ariens expert should be along soon.
 

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I have a Platinum 24 SHO (non EFI, but the same otherwise) and it will run forward so fast I can't imagine ever using that speed, so I suspect that it would easily give you what you need.
 

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If you are looking at wheel drive machines then there is not much difference in your effective speed. The 6th gear speed is usually too fast and just a transport gear. Your actual blowing snow speed is more dependant on snow removal speed if you want a nice neat job. In that respect the Ariens Pro model will be faster because it has more throughput (tons per hour). You will get used to the best gear for the type of snow and its depth for your circumstances. The gear will be a little lower (on smaller engine machines) for the snow bank at the bottom of your driveway (EOD) because it is heavier snow. With lighter snow or less depth you will use a higher gear and go faster.

Usually the snow conditions stay the same for me (no drifting) so once a gear is selected I don't need to change it, except for reverse on occasion. Hydro shifting is slicker and you can better accommodate significant drifts by shifting gears without stopping. If you go with the Ariens Pro model then it has the power to not be affected by drifting. My 414cc machine does not slow down going thru the EOD.

While tons per hour is considered an arbitrary statistic between different manufacturers because of the type of snow being measured, it may be a good measure of how fast your machine will allow you to walk with different Ariens models.

If the snowfall is very light, an inch or two, then the single stage machine will be better since the paddles touch the pavement and pickup most all of the snow. A 2 stage will leave a little snow behind, depending on the skid shoe height.
 

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I'm of the opinion Keep It Simple Stupid........in my opinion, the Hydro trannies are more expensive and difficult to fix if there is a problem.....there is nothing difficult about a rubber wheel drive to fix or maintain.....
 

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Imho, the only advantage of an expensive hydro is the “ infinite” control of speed . For the few minutes you save by getting the ideal speed for the conditions doesnt justify the cost for the average homeowner.
 

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I find the hydrostatic transmission to be great.

Being able to quickly select the exact speed I need. Never having to compromise by using a fixed speed gear that is actually slower than I could be working at. Over 25 years that saves me some time and effort, the cost difference is secondary in the long term.And no belts to worry about.
 

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I don't worry about keeping an $8 belt in inventory. In fact, on xx years, I have never had a drive belt wear out, and only replaced one friction wheel. Seems like a pretty reliable system.
 

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@RIT333 For sure it’s a reliable system and definitely proven over the years. So was a Ford Escort MK 2 but I wouldn’t choose Escort technology today if looking to buy a new car. I’m a bit of a Luddite myself but the benefits of hydro won over both me and my wallet.
 

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I ran the friction disc way my whole life (late 60s to 2018) until the new 28 Rapidtrak hydro (non EFI) last year. Maybe they've worked the bugs out of the EFI, but I chose the non EFI model based on some issues I read about here and my dealer's advice.

I never had an issue with the multi gear trannys, but I like this much better. I don't foresee hydro issues. I ran a 42" Craftsman lawn tractor with a hydro for over 15 years....never an issue. It ran flawlessly when I sold it for a newer bigger hydro Craftsman over 4 years ago now. Never an issue with it so far either. Quite happy with the Rapidtrak hydro. Plenty fast...or slow enough for any purpose. You need really slow in the track 'dig' position.
 

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Seems like they could have given people the best of both worlds if they had designed the shifter on the friction wheel tranny with the ability to move continuously through various speeds, instead of the 6 or so discrete steps that they provide. It doesn't sounds all that difficult, but it is not my responsibility to design it !
 
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