Should I get a snow blower attachment? [Archive] - MyTractorForum.com - The Friendliest Tractor Forum and Best Place for Tractor Information

: Should I get a snow blower attachment?


K.C. Walker
10-06-2010, 12:48 PM
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. driveway that's kind of steep. I probably have 3500 ft. 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

Fcubman
10-06-2010, 03:15 PM
First: :MTF_wel2:

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.

K.C. Walker
10-06-2010, 04:50 PM
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

Fcubman
10-06-2010, 08:05 PM
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.

K.C. Walker
10-06-2010, 09:08 PM
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.

KC

Fcubman
10-06-2010, 09:47 PM
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.

K.C. Walker
10-06-2010, 10:32 PM
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

Fcubman
10-06-2010, 10:48 PM
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.

K.C. Walker
10-06-2010, 11:07 PM
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.

Fcubman
10-07-2010, 02:43 AM
Glad to be of some help.
Thank you, I'll keep the rubber chains in mind.

ezliving4ume
10-07-2010, 09:38 AM
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

Burntime
10-07-2010, 09:58 AM
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!

K.C. Walker
10-07-2010, 10:56 AM
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

ezliving4ume
10-07-2010, 11:27 AM
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.

ezliving4ume
10-07-2010, 11:38 AM
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

Burntime
10-07-2010, 12:00 PM
Heres my rig. I am going to possibly add some lites and a flashing yellow. I have the hard windshield with a wiper and a wired up spout rotator. I use 27lb wheel weights and tire chains. That and me are all I need for weight.:thThumbsU

K.C. Walker
10-07-2010, 12:27 PM
ezliving,

I like the practical approach and encouragement. My gut feeling is that I would be able to work it out, especially with some good tips like what I've received so far here . However, I don't want to spend time and money to figure out that I would have been just as well off to continue having a commercial plow do the driveway and not have it work out for doing the walkways.

You mentioned that you have your shoes set for a 1/2 inch. I'm assuming that works okay over grass for the dog path. How about for the driveway, can you drop it right down and scrape?

I'm chuckling about the walkway for the trash cans and the dogs. However, I like to have a walkway around to my workshop, trash cans, and also to my wood pile, I heat with wood, and now I do that all with a shovel. So it would be really nice to do it with a snowblower.

KC

K.C. Walker
10-07-2010, 12:33 PM
Burntime,

That's a great looking outfit! Totally worthy of Wisconsin. 54 pounds of weight and chains is all takes, I'm impressed. I would have figured more. Especially with fcubman using 150 pounds of suitcase waits. Do you have differential lock on that machine? Is the traction control set up that I've got on my Broadmoor effective at all?

KC

Burntime
10-07-2010, 01:27 PM
No diff lock, its limited slip. It does a great job on a slight upgrade drive for me. The secret is to let the tires grip and not to slam it back and forth. My 2wd ranger can not climb the drive with snow but the tractor runs right up it with no slipping. I also blow a giant path in the front yard to haul wood for the fireplace insert. With chains you will be fine. My machine is a little heavier. That may make a difference only when the snowthrower is raised. Get the snowthrower and enjoy! It was my favorite attachment when I got it. Shortly after it changed to the snowcab!:thThumbsU:greendr:

ezliving4ume
10-18-2010, 03:16 PM
ezliving,

I like the practical approach and encouragement. My gut feeling is that I would be able to work it out, especially with some good tips like what I've received so far here . However, I don't want to spend time and money to figure out that I would have been just as well off to continue having a commercial plow do the driveway and not have it work out for doing the walkways.

You mentioned that you have your shoes set for a 1/2 inch. I'm assuming that works okay over grass for the dog path. How about for the driveway, can you drop it right down and scrape?

I'm chuckling about the walkway for the trash cans and the dogs. However, I like to have a walkway around to my workshop, trash cans, and also to my wood pile, I heat with wood, and now I do that all with a shovel. So it would be really nice to do it with a snowblower.

KC

Well you could drop them down but for me a 1/2" of snow will melt in less than a day, most times.

Burntime
10-18-2010, 03:52 PM
I do the drive and blow a path in the yard for the dogs and trailer to haul wood back and forth. If you end up getting the grass it levels it out. Grass still grows. Your overthinking it. Get a snowthrower and have fun with it!

timflury
10-19-2010, 11:02 AM
Here's my rig. And some links to it in action. http://www.youtube.com/user/wingnut128wi?feature=mhum#p/u/7/qheMzvKl84g http://www.youtube.com/user/wingnut128wi?feature=mhum#p/u/6/7eRZRpfGGL8

I'l be adding and extra 50# of wheel weight this winter.

Now that tractor is all of FIVE HP, and I'm throwing snow into my neighbor's yard. The blower is a 27" cut. I can clear my small driveway in 15-20 minutes as opposed to 30-45 minutes with my old POS Yard Machines 21" paddle snow blower. Oh yeah, sitting is better than walking.

Burntime
10-19-2010, 11:27 AM
Tim, its time to put an electric spout rotator on that! It looks perfect for what you do although a few extra hp is never bad! You should have put the harley exhaust pipe from the Sussex show on that bad boy. The landlord is just waiting till winter and some time to get the motor switch and harley pipe by me!!! Great video!

K.C. Walker
10-19-2010, 12:18 PM
Well you could drop them down but for me a 1/2" of snow will melt in less than a day, most times.

I went out and measured the grade on my driveway and it turns out to be 17-18%, and some of my grass is steeper than that. I really need to scrape down and get some bare spots to get it melting within a couple of hours. If there is any ice or refrozen snow it's quite hazardous. I've had enough people fall crossing from the parking area to my house that I just don't want to chance that.

After my commercial plow guy finishes, and he does a pretty good job, I always go out and scrape with a pusher shovel. I might go out a couple of times after things start melting to scrape off the packed and icy stuff from his tire tracks. I then you sand and salt.

It's necessary for me to keep my paved driveway in good shape and seal coated so that I can get it nice and clear from the snow. I always use a sand mix in the seal coat for better traction. I really wouldn't mind replacing the wear strip on the front of the thrower if I could get it nice and clean with the 1st pass. So, that is why I asked about lowering the shoes down.

Even if I get a half inch of light snow I always go out and clear it with the pusher shovel. Actually, a half inch of snow is almost more hazardous than deeper stuff on this driveway. The last thing I need is someone sliding into the road or falling down.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

K.C. Walker
10-19-2010, 12:20 PM
Your overthinking it. Get a snowthrower and have fun with it!

That would not be the first time someone has accused me of that!

KC

K.C. Walker
10-19-2010, 12:37 PM
Thanks Tim! Nice video.

KC

cityboy2977
10-20-2010, 12:31 AM
get a blower, you can never have to many attachments.

John-RF
10-20-2010, 08:11 PM
This is for Fcubman, a single stage is a world of difference between the two-stage. I had to add the two extra 40 lb weights to my Prestige to move around where I hadn't blown the snow yet. I went back to a single stage cause I couldn't load it on the the trailer I have. Stuck out two far. If I was spinning with weights and chains I would put fluid in the tires. Makes a big difference. I keep my tractor out in the back yard in the little barn and don't blow much of the snow off the yard as it kills the grass. Always had problems going and coming with the two-stage. Did love the job the two-stage did.:thThumbsU

Fcubman
10-20-2010, 09:22 PM
Yeah, John-RF, that is a lot of weight hanging off the front. I bought the blower sight unseen - maybe I would have opted for the single stage if I'd known. I do love the way it works, though. It launches the snow 'way out there! It never clogs, and the snow has to be pretty deep and heavy to put much of a load on the machine. I have to really push it to load down the blower and/or engine.
Part of my problem is that there is no ice buildup on my drive, so the chains have nothing to grip. Steel against pavement is slippery. I think I'll try it without chains this year and see what happens. I can always put the chains on if I need them. I want to look into rubber chains; they sound like they'd work pretty well.

timflury
10-21-2010, 10:33 AM
tim, its time to put an electric spout rotator on that! It looks perfect for what you do although a few extra hp is never bad! You should have put the harley exhaust pipe from the sussex show on that bad boy. The landlord is just waiting till winter and some time to get the motor switch and harley pipe by me!!! Great video!

ummmmmm, no

Burntime
10-21-2010, 11:13 AM
Aww c'mon. I was thinking of putting a radio in mine:thThumbsU

K.C. Walker
10-21-2010, 12:21 PM
Aww c'mon. I was thinking of putting a radio in mine:thThumbsU

... with a big subwoofer as a counterweight!?

Burntime
10-21-2010, 01:11 PM
And the flashing yellow can be syncro'd to the music!

Jay H
10-22-2010, 01:07 AM
I'll add my experience to the mix...

For the past three years I have been using a Conquest with a 20 hp Briggs and the single stage snowblower. 100 pounds of suitcase weight and metal chains were also in place. I have a decent grade on my driveway that is almost 550 feet long.

The Conquest could handle most of what Mother Nature threw at me. I did have issues with some very harsh blizzards that taxed the Conquest quite a bit. However, I think you'll be surprised at what you can do with the single stage, weights and chains on your Broadmoor and that Kohler Command.

You can drop the single stage down right on the pavement if you want a very good clean up. You'll rip through that wear bar on the bottom of the blower, but they are not all that expensive (IIRC I was quoted $54 from my dealer) as compared to the whole blower setup. Flip on a new wear bar every few years and save yourself a lot of manual labor.

I'd suggest going for it and buying the snow blower for your setup.

Jay

K.C. Walker
10-22-2010, 09:37 PM
Jay,

Thanks a lot for adding to the mix. And, thanks for the detailed and useful information!

I think a 550 foot driveway with a grade in Wisconsin would be far more than what I would ever need, so that's a good endorsement. I'm curious to know how long it takes you to clear your driveway with, say a 6 inch snow?

KC