I chose electric because everyone I know that has a gas one has trouble getting it started. Apparently they’re hard to start when it’s cold. . . which is when you need 'em. . . .
Anyhoo, I got the next to the bottom of the line Sylvania 9-Amp 15" Electric Snow Thrower. It’s the bomb. I’ve abused the heck out of it already, and it’s tough as nails. I even ran over the cord for the Christmas lights, which was torn to shreds and wrapped itself around the blade axle. Only the noise of the flapping cord end clued me in.
If I’d known we would have lake effect snow in DC this year, I might have gotten the next higher model. But it’s been fine. I just had to lift it up, set it on top of the snow, and do the job in layers. . . I think if it were any heavier I’d be less happy with it.
I ordered it on WalMart.com and it was hear in a few days. $150 including shipping.
The only bad thing is it really only throws the snow straight ahead. the “aiming” mechanism doesn’t work well. You can throw the snow a little to the right or left, but basically it’s going straight ahead of you.
Which is what electric starters are for. I cranked mine for a minute before it started. It was a bitch holding that switch down.
What wasn’t specified was the area to be cleared and that makes a huge difference in the discussion.
If are doing a short driveway and a few feet of sidewalk then a single stage unit is a better option because it is easier to handle. If you have a large driveway then a multi-stage unit is called for. The bigger the machine, the more you need to take into consideration the ease of handling.
2 things make a large machine easier to handle:
one is the ease of controls for the direction and height of the exit chute. Some units come with a single handle that will rotate the nozzle as well as direct the height.
the other is the handle itself. Many large machines have handles that come straight out the back. By that I mean the ends of the handle point at you like bull horns. that is a very uncomfortable arrangement and you will get fatigued holding it that way. It also makes it harder to steer the vehicle. The larger the machine is the more this becomes a problem. It is better to have a crossbar to hold onto so you have leverage when moving it about.
You’re right, I didn’t specify the area. It’s a 2-car driveway, maybe 25ish feet long, and 30ish feet of sidewalk.
I wound up ordering (from Amazon) a Toro electric model a step or three above the one TruCelt mentioned, in terms of capacity. Most of the time, it should be more than enough; in the case of a bigger blizzard such as the ones we’ve had this winter, we’d need to go over everything periodically during the snowfall.
Given that it took my husband and the kids 5+ hours of shovelling to do the whole driveway and the walkway to our front door (the sidewalk, being covered by fresh plowage, is a lost cause), I’m hoping it’ll work out. If it doesn’t, we may go for a gas-powered one the next time around.
It won’t be here for Tuesday’s predicted storm and because fate is funny, I suspect we won’t have any more snow this winter!
Two things not mentioned. Make sure the handles are high enough or adjustable. The unit I have to use is about two inches to short and I can’t stand totally erect, which gives me a sore back. Handle height is very important. Also those stupid crank handles to direct the chute can be a nuisance for a man. You have to stand back to avoid genital damage at times. Get a model where that isn’t a problem.
Doesn’t sound like you needed a monster machine. I have even less space but I bought a much larger machine because a bad snow makes it impossible for me to get out of an alley and it was cheap insurance against a heart attack.
We have a 24" MTD that was bought at Lowe’s in 95 or 96. They paid $700 for it then. My parents gave it to us after they moved into a condo and didn’t need it any more. It is an electric start, all gas model. Five forward speeds and 2 reverse speeds. I have used it on my own (I am 110 lbs and 5’3" woman). My husband travels a lot and I want to be able to leave the house if it snows and not be dependent on someone else coming and getting me out.
Our driveway is about 200 feet long and has a slight descent from the road to the garage. It takes us about 1/4 of the time for one of us to use the snow blower than it did for both of us to shovel. I would not trade it for anything.
My recommendation is that, after you buy one, you keep your hands out of it.
Just this past weekend, my brilliant father did just that: stuck his hand in the blade thingys, presumably to free a chunk of ice or something. He mangled three of his fingers, which now have four breaks and two pins holding them together.
Just a public service announcement from sunny Florida.
I got a really great “Tecumseh” last year. Runs on straight gas, with electric starter. It can handle any amount or weight of snow. This is the first snow blower I ever bought, and I actually look forward to using it. I’m not out there nearly as long as some of my neighbors.
Another public service announcement. Check your tire pressure. I just pulled the tire off the bead on my 8 hp Craftsman and had to run it down to a tire center to air it up. When I checked the other tire it had 2 lbs of air in it.
I have a 2-cycle MTD snowthrower, and it’s been fairly good (and a lot better than shovelling) for the 8 years I have had it. I did learn one trick:
The first time you start it for a season can be a bear, even with electric start. This is because even if you run it dry at the end of the season, there is still some residual oil left in the system that settles out of the oil-gas mixture. To get around this, on an empty tank, add about a cupful of straight gasoline and start it up. It should start pretty easily this way. Once you can take the choke off, add your 2-cycle fuel at the appropriate mixture and you should be good to go.
Most electric models I have seen are not going to handle a snow like we’ve been having…heck I have had snows where mine struggles, I would hate to be trying an electric for those.
I put the tire on the rim and the strap around the tread, then ratcheted the strap to shorten it. As the tread was squeezed, the sides flexed outward enough to contact the rim for enough of a seal that I could inflate the tire.
That’s an excellent technique but if the bead is so far off the rim it doesn’t work. Been there done that with a wheel barrel assembly. I would have tried it again on the snow blower but my back was toast at that point. I’m pretty sure it would have worked given how close the bead was when at rest.
[apologies for continuing the hijack] You ought to see what the tire guys do to reseat a tire for a tractor or combine that broke down in the field - they spray in some ether and toss in a match. BAM and the tire is ready for reinflating.
And for those with a large 2 stage unit capable of single wheel or dual wheel drive I give you a heads up of what not to do. My Craftsman 8 hp 27" 2 stage blower allows the user to disconnect one of the wheels so it spins freely. This allows the user to maneuver easier around stuff. This is done by pulling a pin from the hub and inserting it in the outer hole of the drive shaft. When my tire went flat I pulled the pin and removed the tire to get it inflated. When I installed it I re-pinned the wheel to the outer hole setting. What this did was allow the shaft to float back and forth and the sleeve bearing popped out of the case (it just sits loose in the hole and is held in place by the wheels). when that happened the drive chain came off.
It turned out to be an easy fix once I pulled the cover plate off but it was user-error that it happened in the first place. So if you ever pull the wheel off that is pinned make sure to re-pin it to the same hole.