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February 26, 2008

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I shovel for the exercise =)

A few years ago my neighbor's wife gave him a Craftsman snowblower for Christmas, 3.8 hp, 21 inch swath. He didn't have a place to put it so we agreed he could store it in my garage if I could use it. This was a neighbor that never shoveled and only mowed his lawn about once a month.

We had a snowy winter and I used it often. The next winter it wouldn't start. The neighbor's son was a mechanic but he would never get it fixed. I wasn't going to pay to fix it so it sat in my garage for 6 years. Fortunately all 6 winters were light on snow.

The neighbors divorced and moved away. Nobody ever came to claim the snowblower so I paid $150 to have it fixed last fall. They wanted over $300 and said it wouldn't last the winter without replacing several parts. This was after it had been used for only one season.

We have had alot of snow this winter, about 70 inches. The blower worked well until about 2 weeks ago. The recoil on the pull rope starter broke and the rope hangs limp. This wasn't even one of the parts I was supposed to replace. I decided it wasn't worth it to pay to have it fixed this late in the winter. I'm either going to give it to a friend or take it to Goodwill. Since it broke I've had to shovel twice. Both were heavy wet snows and I sorely missed my snow blower.

I'm going out to buy a Toro at the end of the season. I'm hopeful I can get one discounted, if they have any left. Otherwise I'll get one before next winter. The cost will be between $600 and $700 and it will be worth every penny. What will be even better is if after I lay out the money, it doesn't snow at all next winter. I'll pay double if they can make that guarantee.

Also, NEVER buy a Sears Craftsman snowblower. I don't know who makes them or where, but the one I had was a piece of junk.

I shovel with DH. We each have shovels. Sigh. This is a record season, this year we've gotten about 30 inches in december, and total like 60 inches. Plus we're expecting a bunch more tomorrow. Ugh.

Where I am in Connecticut, the plowers let you choose whether you want to go flat for the season or per-event. I think it was $450 for the season or $50/trip. We went with the pay-as-you-go model. I'd rather just right-size my expense, even if I'm wrong. Interestingly, it's a much lower break-even point than in Michigan.

At some point, I'm going to have to think about whether it's just better to make the capital investment and buy a hefty blower. Shoveling is not an option, unfortunately.

rwh:

Avoid Toro at all costs. I have a Toro gas trimmer that died three months after I purchased it. This sucker was a beast and cost $200. I went to get it fixed under warranty and it turns out that Toro no longer makes their own equipment. All of their consumer-grade and some pro-grade equipment is rebranded from other, less reputable manufacturers. Mine was a rebranded Homelite.

Apparently my trimmer suffered a cracked engine block and had to be replaced. Toro would not grant me a new trimmer and opted to repair the one I had - except they had no replacement parts. I just got it back last month. I had to wait 18 months to get it fixed because the part was on factory back order for that long! Thankfully last summer had such a bad drought that I only had to borrow a neighbor's trimmer twice.

Unless you like having to deal with a corporation who doesn't care the least about you or the equipment they sell, don't go with Toro. I know I never will again.

(Craftsman electric tools are also rebrands. I would always go with DeWalt if they make what you need.)

Thanks Caveman. Of course I have several friends who swear by their Toros. I'll try to do an objective search, maybe using Kiplinger's as my guide.

If you have any suggestions I'm willing to consider it.

We shovel too (in Toronto), both my husband and I, great exercise. We do have a neighbour who snowblowers the sidewalk on the whole block if we get a huge amount of snow in one shot, which is nice of him. Now can we talk about the anti-social types who go for option five "none of the above"? Thanks to those degenerates I've spent more time on my rear end in ice this year than any other.

Living in central NY - Bought a Hugquavara this year- haven't had much snow this season, had over 100 inches last year. I'ld buy one every year if it keeps the snowfall low! But seriously - he loves it, says it works well- no problems so far. Go for the 2 stage, don't skimp!

During bad snow here, it's almost guaranteed the local schools will be cancelled. Lots of kids end up walking around looking to make a buck during these days with their shovels.

Costs me only about $40 for a pretty good job, and that's because I'm filthy rich and very generous.

another option is to install radiant heat in sidewalks and driveways. it's a popular option in ne.

I have a girlfriend that lives down the block with her mechanic boyfriend. He has a ton of tools and garage space using items, one of which is a little plow. I have a two car garage and live alone (also in Michigan) so we worked out a deal that he could use half of my garage to store some of his overflow as long as he keeps my drive plowed. Works great for me!

I'm surprised no one's mentioned the exorbitant price of snowblowers. We got a little (little in size, decent HP) Toro a few years back and it was around $700. They are super expensive when compared to push mowers. That being said, I don't think my back can go through a whole winter without one. Here in MN, we've had some pretty mild winters and this one isn't mild but is light on snow (had to use it a couple of times early). But March is the snowiest month of the year, so I might break it out a few more times--never liked that initial check I wrote even though it's still doing well after about 4-5 winters.

We live just north of Boston, and we are insanely lucky. My husband's best friend has a plow on his huge truck (which he uses to plow the parking lots of his father's commercial properties) so he stops by and does our place for free (he also lives a block away from us). The best deal going!

Great topic- I am not to far from you (S. Bend, IN) and we are getting SLAMMED.

We don't have a snow blower, but we want to make the investment. I am waiting until I find a good deal on Craigslist and then will pounce on it. The shovel is breaking our back, but I refuse to buy one from the hardware store because we just can't afford it.

Sometimes our neighbors take pity on us and blow the drive for me. I want to kiss them when they help :)

We have had over 80 inches of snow here in Iowa as well - I talked myself out of buying a snowblower this year (actually, my readers talked me out of it).

We have been shoveling ourselves (our driveway is at a pretty steep grade, making it a bit trecherous) - I can't wait for spring.

I live in Upstate NY and we get about 60" of snow a year. I only own a shovel right now which is fine for lighter storms

For larger storms, I found a guy on Craigslist that will plow my driveway for $20 a pop. No contract, no commitments. Works great for me since we typically only get 2-3 big snow storms a year and I don't have to hassle maintaining a snowblower.

I guess I have it easier than most, I let the landlord worry about the snow removal! I'm not sure who she hired this year, but he stopped by at 3:30am last week and woke us up.

I live in Wisconsin and we've been slammed this year - I think right now it's the third biggest snowfall ever.
Anyway, I used to own my own home and shovel the driveway myself (I'm a 5' tall female, so it was tough!). I had a really sweet 85-year old neighbor man who would bring his snowblower over to help me when the snowfall was big.
I just got married last summer, so now I have a husband who shovels the driveway. He's a sweetheart and refuses to let me help. He teases me that I'm too puny :)

Another Michigander here, although on the other side of the state. We're at 74 inches for the season (versus an average of 44).

We shovel, but I am just getting too old for this....

I'm in Michigan also. Last year we paid someone to plow our drive way. The only problem was they would plow it about 2AM so when we woke up there would sometimes be 6 more inches on the drive way. My brother-in-law gave me a snow blower before the snow hit this winter so this year I've been using it. It is nice and it really doesn't take me long.

I live in Texas now. Yee haw!

But I used to pay the neighborhood kids a few bucks. They were well organized, and shoveled as a team. They even came really early in the morning, if you asked them ahead of time.

Living in the tropics I find this thread very amusing and bizarre in a detatched sort of way.

If I returned to the deep freeze I would recommend pooling an investment of a snow blower with some other neighbors to get a better ROI.

-BC

I live in the snowbelt in NE Ohio. We get well over 100" of snow every winter. I own a Kubota BX2350 with a front-end loader and a rear blade that I use to plow my and my elderly neighbor's drives.

Our driveway is 300' long, we maintain 5.89 acres. I purchased the Kubota a few short months after we bought and moved into our home two years ago. I intend on keeping it 30 years while we live in our current home for 30 years. (We're just that type of people. We WON'T be moving any time soon.) Best $13K I ever spent. Hard to believe it cost more than my daily driver, which I bought new.

My dad lives in NW Indiana and gets *lots* of lake effect snow. He had a Jacobsen snowblower from 1979 to 2006 (yes, 27 years). He had to replace the rotating paddles once and do some other maintenance, but it was pretty reliable. I have a Murray that I like, but we don't get as much snow in central Indiana, so I've only used it a few times. I highly recommend the electric start feature, as snowblowers can be hard to start in the cold when they've been sitting all summer.

We have a flat 5-car driveway, and we usually shovel - I figure if it was good enough for my parents, it's good enough for us.

If we get hit really hard, our next-door neighbor will often come over with his snowblower and help us out.

If we couldn't take care of it ourselves for some reason, I'd rather pay local kids to shovel or snowblow our driveway than hire a plow and lose 1-2 cars' worth of driveway under a mound of snow (the "fifth car" spot is enclosed on three sides).

All my snow removal methods are free:

Number One son until he joined the Army. Now, Number Two son gets the privilege.

When all else fails I become philosophical about it. I figure God put it their he will eventually take it away. Once I meditate on that for a few weeks, it usually turns out that I was correct.

Ron

I live in northern maine and we get between 180 and 240 inches per year. its trecherous haha. rokin the ole boss 9'2" on a 2008 duramax single cab. make about 1800 per storm plowing 53 driveways. get about 15 plowable storms or more.

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