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Old 10-06-2010, 11:48 AM   post #1 of 35
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Default Should I get a snow blower attachment?

First off, thanks to everyone on this forum for information and community spirit! I'd been mowing happily with my 25+ year old Wheel Horse until August when the transmission went out. I investigated the cost of repair. Although it was a good lawn tractor, a 212-5 with Onan motor, with the tractor being that old I decided to just look at replacing it. I first looked at Toro and found that things have gone downhill for them in the last 25 years. So, it was time to start researching, and that's of course why I ended up here.

Simplicity was not a make I was familiar with and that seems to not be so uncommon. Of course, craigslist was my source to look for used and I saw a Landlord listed and went to look at it. It needed too much restoration to be interesting for my purpose, but it got me interested in looking for Simplicity mowers. I ended up with a 2001 Broadmoor that's not quite a Frankenstein but not stock either. It's got a 14 hp single cylinder Kohler Command from an earlier tractor. I've mowed 6 times with it and gone over it, it seems pretty much okay and it sure is comfortable. I'm frankly amazed at how much time it saves compared to the old Wheel Horse.

So, here's the question. I've got a 3200 ft.² driveway that's kind of steep. I probably have 3500 ft.² total that I clear in the wintertime. I've never used a snow blower of any description. We get about 30-40" inches of snow a year. The commercial plow people do a pretty good job but I always end up spending between a half-hour to an hour and a half shoveling walkways and cleaning up the driveway with a scraper and shovel. So, is it worth trying a snow blower on this machine? Is it easy enough to mount one? Would I be able get up and down my driveway with the traction control rear end? How about getting over pathways with lawn underneath?

Thanks for your thoughts!

KC
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:15 PM   post #2 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

First:

I can't speak to you particular situation, but here's my input:

You will need chains and weights (either wheel or suitcase or both) to handle your hill.
I have a Conquest with a snow blower, and it is impressive in operation. I clear a circular driveway and parking areas in about 20 minutes. I have both suitcase weights and chains, and have trouble going up a grade. I need more weight, proven by having someone stand on the back of the tractor.
I do have the 2-stage, which hangs a lot of weight out over the front, which reduces the weight on the rear. A single stage would probably not have as large an effect.
My blower clears the driveway well, but not as good as shoveling it. My drive is somewhat uneven, and since the blower has a straight blade, it leaves some snow behind. That's not a problem for me, but may be for you.
I clear a bit of the lawn with the blower, and it does that well, without digging up the grass.
I don't know what plow companies charge, but I imagine your machine will eventually pay for itself.
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Old 10-06-2010, 03:50 PM   post #3 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

Fcubman,

This is great input, thanks! I notice you're in Connecticut so we aren't probably too different for conditions. From reading here in the forums it appears the Conquest is a similar size machine to my Broadmoor, only with heavier duty running gear. So, it would appear that your experience would be pretty close to what I would expect, as far as balance and traction.

I do need to clean the surface reasonably well on my drive because any icy spots are a problem because of the steepness. The commercial guys do lay down some sand which works pretty well even though they leave some packed stuff from tires. I do seal coat the driveway and it is pretty much even. Do you think with rubber chains and suitcase weights I would be able to blow snow going downhill and be able to drive up the already cleared path to make another pass downhill? How much weight are you using?

Thanks again,

KC
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Old 10-06-2010, 07:05 PM   post #4 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

As you can see here, it moves the snow. We are at 1000 feet altitude, so get plenty of weather.
I have metal chains, and 150 pounds of suitcase weights hanging off the rear. The metal chains slip on the pavement, and leave marks. Rubber chains sound like they would work better. It may not show in this picture, but there is a slight upgrade, and the machine barely gets up it. I think I'll look into rubber chains, and/or more weight. I don't really need to clean this area, so leaving it alone is an option.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:08 PM   post #5 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

Fcubman,

Thank you very much for the info, it's very helpful. I'd say half of my driveway is noticeably steeper than what you're showing there. Maybe it's just not feasible to use this 2 wheel drive tractor, even with the traction control. I'm not sure how much it would be safe to load up that K61 transaxle with the suitcase waits. The Tuff Torq specs say 584 pounds static load, maybe it would be okay to put 200+ pounds back there. I guess it all depends on how much the blower hanging off the front is taking weight off of the rear.

I suppose I was just hoping there was enough traction with that traction control because the guy that plows my driveway does it mostly uphill and without chains. When it snows 10 inches he definitely slips some but he does get it done.

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Old 10-06-2010, 08:47 PM   post #6 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

You're welcome.

A thought - maybe a dumb one - you could make a pass down your driveway, sand that area, then drive up that path, make another pass down, and drive up the sanded area again.That gives you a small head start on the sanding, too.
I use that method (without the sand) in mowing areas of my property that are steep. I'll mow downhill, then drive up a less steep area, then mow down the next swath.

I might just take a scale and measure how much weight is on the rear tires with the mower on, the snowblower on, and the blower with weights, for curiosity's sake.

I am quite pleased with my 2-stage, but I have to wonder how much less a single stage weighs, and how much less weight it takes off the rear wheels, especially since it doesn't hang as far ahead of the front axle.

I gotta admit, it's still a thrill to see that blower shoot that snow high and wide. My driveway clearing is usually done all too soon (unless it's really cold and windy).

Oh yes, the traction control does work well. When I'm "stuck" on ice or snow, both wheels are spinning, and I don't use the differential lock in the winter. Don't need it. I use it very often in the summer on my grass, since the yard is so uneven in spots I'm on three wheels from time to time. The grass itself is quite slippery, since it has a high moisture content, and the turf tires don't grip it all that well.
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:32 PM   post #7 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

Fcubman,

Interesting ideas…

I had kind of decided that a single stage would be what I would consider. There seem to be enough people happy with them for the Simplicity, though there does seem to be a learning curve. An 18 inch snow at one time is a rare event here. I would guess that 6-8 inch is an average snowfall. So, you seem to think that the lighter weight might be an advantage, for traction. That makes sense.

The guy that does my driveway will come before the storm sometimes and throw sand on the driveway ahead of time. Maybe that would work.

Of course I would be interested if you do decide to weigh the backend with the various combinations. I suppose that when you raise the blower, as I was thinking about for going uphill, you actually take more weight off the rear end by hanging that thing out front. By the way how long does it take to hook up the snowblower? Also, do you have a lift assist for yours?

KC
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:48 PM   post #8 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

It probably takes me around 45 minutes to an hour to put it on, which means installing the subframe, attaching the blower itself, running and tightening the belt (there is a very nice setup for doing that), running the electric cable and the chute cable. But, that is working rather slowly, since bending and pulling is tough on me. The part I like the least is setting up the linkage for snow blower use. There is a pin that has to be moved to a different hole, and until I got the hang of it, was a pain. Now it's easy, but requires me to lie under the machine. It's so much easier without the subframe on, and it took me once or twice to remember to do it before putting the subframe on.
I rely on the spring that attaches to the bumper to help me lift. It still take a bit of effort, but it's not bad. Without that spring, it's a bear to lift!
I agree, raising the blower reduces drag, but removes weight from the rear wheels. I inflate my front tires to their max to ease steering while maneuvering in the garage. Once outside, especially on snow/ice, the steering is light again. I reduce the rears to around 10 PSI to help traction. I may be brave this year and skip the chains. I'm wondering if they cost me traction, since they are steel against pavement. There is nothing for them to dig into, and perhaps the rubber against the pavement would work better.
From what I've read on this forum, the single stages work well. The trick, I hear, is to feed them fairly fast in order to keep the snow moving in the chute so it doesn't clog.
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:07 PM   post #9 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

Again, very good information, I really appreciate it!

In my digging around I did find some comments saying that the rubber chains actually gave better traction than the metal ones, and of course don't mark the driveway. I would not be able to locate that one now, that's for sure. However, I'm pretty sure the same commentor said that turf tires with the rubber chains gave the best traction.
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:43 AM   post #10 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

Glad to be of some help.
Thank you, I'll keep the rubber chains in mind.
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Old 10-07-2010, 08:38 AM   post #11 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

I run wheel weights, and ags. no fluidized tires or chains. The blower is a 36" so i can do the side walks also. I've blown 12" of snow with no problem. You need to remember this is a different process than pushing snow. the blower is moving the snow out of the way so your not pushing anything. Backing up with the blower hanging off the front of the tractor is the only time you could get stuck. But if you do just lower the blower to put more weight on the rear tires
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Old 10-07-2010, 08:58 AM   post #12 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

One more added benefit with a snowblower...look at the expression on ezlivings face. Snowblowing will give you an overwhelming grin on your face and you will be doing arm pumps the first half of each season!
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:56 AM   post #13 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

ezliving,

Thanks a lot for your input! It looks like a nice compact outfit. How much do you have in wheel weights with that outfit?

How much of a grade can you handle with that setup? I don't know what mine is but it's pretty steep. Pretty much everybody that looks at my driveway says, "oh, I bet that that's fun in the winter".

I'm pretty sure that I'd have no trouble going downhill, and I could probably do my turnaround/parking area easy enough. It's just whether I'd be able to get back up to make the next pass. Or of course it would be nice if I could blow snow going uphill.

Burntime,

So, the fist pumping gets old about midseason? :-)

I've been shoveling the light stuff and the walkways for almost 25 years now, since I moved up from Tennessee. This Winter I turn 60 so maybe it's time for some mechanical assistance.

KC
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:27 AM   post #14 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

Quote:
Originally Posted by K.C. Walker View Post
ezliving,

Thanks a lot for your input! It looks like a nice compact outfit. How much do you have in wheel weights with that outfit?

How much of a grade can you handle with that setup? I don't know what mine is but it's pretty steep. Pretty much everybody that looks at my driveway says, "oh, I bet that that's fun in the winter".

I'm pretty sure that I'd have no trouble going downhill, and I could probably do my turnaround/parking area easy enough. It's just whether I'd be able to get back up to make the next pass. Or of course it would be nice if I could blow snow going uphill.

Burntime,

So, the fist pumping gets old about midseason? :-)

I've been shoveling the light stuff and the walkways for almost 25 years now, since I moved up from Tennessee. This Winter I turn 60 so maybe it's time for some mechanical assistance.

KC
Grade, its going to depend on the ice build up, on the drive. if its paved, with no ice, and you have ag's and weight you should be about to go right up it. Remember your only pushing the blower not the snow and the drive way is supporting the blower weight. I have no idea how much each wheel weight is, maybe 50 ibs each? maybe some can tell you by looking at the pic.

One other thing on the rubber chains, they act like lugged or ag tires. except that the lugs are deeper, so you end up with more weight on a smaller surface area, which is king. I didn't want the chains because it would mark up the drive, so I thought I'll start with the ags and if that doesn't work I'll get rubber chains and if that doesn't work I'll load the tires and if that doesn't work I'll get steel chains, etc. But it worked!

I guess my point is start with the basic's and if it doesn't work the way you want there are a lot of options (upgrades) to get it were you want it.

And the pic I posted is of me snow blowing a path around the house for the dogs,lol I have my skid shoes set at about 1/2" up. I also snowblow a path to the trash cans for myself,lol

If I were you with the grade your talking, I would rule out a plow.
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:38 AM   post #15 of 35
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Default Re: Should I get a snow blower attachment?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Burntime View Post
One more added benefit with a snowblower...look at the expression on ezlivings face. Snowblowing will give you an overwhelming grin on your face and you will be doing arm pumps the first half of each season!
I was loving it!! tractor time in the winter
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