Abby's Guide to Outdoor Power Equipment (Lawn Mowers, Snow Blowers, Chain Saws and more)
Username Password
Discussions Reviews More Guides
Abby’s Guide > Outdoor Power Equipment (Lawn Mowers, Snow Blowers, Chain Saws and more) > Discussions > Best snowblower for the long haul

Outdoor Power Equipment (Lawn Mowers, Snow Blowers, Chain Saws and more) Discussions

Search For:
pgill


Joined: Dec 29, 2008
Points: 23

Best snowblower for the long haul
Original Message   Dec 29, 2008 3:05 pm
After breaking my Ariens 9hp twice this year (stripped worm gear in auger case) I want something tough and reliable for years to come.  With appropriate maintnance ofcourse.  I think I have narrowed my search down to two models.  Either the Honda 1032 or the Simplicity P1628E.

My driveway is about 150' long, 40' wide with a pretty good slope.  I also need to go along the side of the house to maintain access to the propane tanks out back.  Trouble there is the snow and ice comes off the steel roof packing in right on the  path that I need to keep clear.  This can be tougher that the snow at the end of the driveway after the plow goes through.

I like the Honda with tracks to get through the tougher stuff.  Not sure if the Simplicity will tend to ride up on it.  The downside of the Honda is the manuverablility (lack there of) and the inability to move the machine at all when not running.  A plus for the track system might also be to climb the steps to my back deck.  It would be neat to be able to snowblow the deck, but not sure if it is realistic to expect even the track dirve to climb the 25 steps up. 

The upside of the Simplicity is it looked to be a little better built.  Purely subjective from looking at them quickly, mayby it's the big steel plates instead of the tubes normally used for handle bars that make if look heavier duty.  The Simplicity's cast iron gear case looks heavier duty and the drive mechanism seems like it might be more reliable over time (less complex and fewer parts.)  The other thing I noted at my local dealers was the directional chute control.  The Honda seemed potentially better.  Well designed mechanical system.  The  Simplicity seems more convenient with the electric control and is easier to reach.  I think as convenient as the electric system is, I would prefer haveing the mechanical system rather than look for replacement parts in an electrical set up.  By chance can anyone say if the electric chute control will ever freeze up?

I'm trying to not factor in the cost of the machine, as I hope it will last long enough not to care.  Is there really a clear winner among these two?  Is honda engineering that good that it will outlast simplicities heavy duty machine?  Is the track system worth the loss of some manuverability?  Hopefully there is no bad decision between these two, I'm hoping someone can make some more educated points on either machine to help me decide.  I hate to by one and then wish for the other.  Thanks for any insight!

Thought I would add one last thing.  My drive way is course gravel on a gravel road.  For this reason I also thought that the height adjustability of the Honda track might be better.  My Ariens always throws the rocks until there is a good base of ice/snow.  Sometimes it digs the lawn going down the side of the house as well.

This message was modified Dec 29, 2008 by pgill
Replies: 1 - 10 of 16NextNext page of topicsAllView as Outline
Jonathan


I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house. -Zsa Zsa

Location: Near Albany NY
Joined: Sep 12, 2004
Points: 320

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #1   Dec 29, 2008 3:26 pm
Sorry to hear about your Ariens. With two stripped worms gears I would wonder about a basic assembly defect that might have been covered by the warranty. I don't think you would go wrong with the Simplicity. My impression from reading the posts in this group is that if money isn't an issue, the Honda is the way to go. It may also be better for the gravel drive.

2004 Ariens 11528LE, Troybilt Horse "Big Red" Tiller (original), Troybilt Tuffy Tiller (original), Sears LT1000 mower, Lawn Boy 7073 21" mower, Stihl FS55 RC trimmer, Poulan Countervibe 3400 chainsaw
mfduffy


Location: Wisconsin
Joined: Jan 8, 2008
Points: 50

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #2   Dec 29, 2008 4:41 pm
Regarding the electric chute control on the Simplicity -- I posted the section below in another thread where someone was asking about a 'backup' to the electric.  I've run the machine in at least a half-dozen bouts of sub-zero temps with fine, blowing snow and have never had any issues with the chute control.  I store it in an attached garage, so there was ample opportunity for melting and refreezing.

----

I have a Simplicity Pro series blower. There is no "backup" to the electric rotator... just like there is no backup to the linkages on the manual. In either case, you could disassemble and rotate the chute, but what's going to hold it there? I understand that folks fear gadgets, but it is a relatively standard windshield wiper motor -- very reliable and designed for the elements. It's readily accessible and connected via a wiring harnesses -- so, it seems simple enough to swap out parts should you need to. I keep the switch on the handle lubricated with WD-40 to prevent sticking and the motor's gear-head lubed annually, same as a manual linkage. My dealer is small and local, they've been selling solely Simplicity for decades.

Now, having said that -- I wouldn't spend extra money just to get the electric rotator. But neither would I for a second rebuff all the upgrades on the Pro series, because of it. If you think the other features are worth it -- go for it!

Oh, and you forgot the heated handles -- they provide no added driveway clearing function, but they sure are nice :)

pvrp


Joined: Nov 14, 2008
Points: 151

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #3   Dec 29, 2008 4:55 pm

pgill wrote:

I like the Honda with tracks to get through the tougher stuff.  Not sure if the Simplicity will tend to ride up on it.  The downside of the Honda is the manuverablility (lack there of) and the inability to move the machine at all when not running.  A plus for the track system might also be to climb the steps to my back deck.  It would be neat to be able to snowblow the deck, but not sure if it is realistic to expect even the track dirve to climb the 25 steps up. 



25 steps !  Two or three might be possible but do you really want to be underneath a 300 lb machine
somewhere around the 12th step ?  I don't think it would be easy to be above the machine.


pgill wrote:

Thought I would add one last thing.  My drive way is course gravel on a gravel road.  For this reason I also thought that the height adjustability of the Honda track might be better.  My Ariens always throws the rocks until there is a good base of ice/snow.  Sometimes it digs the lawn going down the side of the house as well.


Ariens are adjustable for the height off the ground, just extend the skids on each side of the auger.
Honda has these odd skids on the back of the auger which aren't much good if your ground is uneven,
but they do have optional skids that you can install on the sides of the auger just like every other
machine out there.

A big strike against Honda in my opinion is the price of their parts.  Way more that what they're worth
materially.  Take the little auger gearbox, I read on another forum that it cost something like 650$
just for the part,  labour not included.

Paul
This message was modified Dec 29, 2008 by pvrp
borat


Joined: Nov 10, 2007
Points: 2692

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #4   Dec 29, 2008 5:22 pm
If money is not a concern, buy one of each.  You'll have the best of both worlds and for sure, you'll never be buying another machine.  Between the two of them you'd be set for life.  Use the Honda for the roof snow and the Simplicity for the more tricky areas.  With both machines, you can give us a true to life side by side comparison.  

I truly respect Honda however, I do not consider them to be a good value.  Being almost twice the price of a comparable Simplicity, I cannot, for the life of me, see why.  I can see paying a premium for the Honda but not that much.  Every time I get behind my Simplicity, I'm thoroughly impressed with it.   I just finished doing my yard (dimensionally very similar to yours by the way) and it was windy as hell.  I put the snow cab on and went to work.  It's truly a pleasure to work with a machine that functions as well as the Simplicity does.  My neighbour has a three year old, ten horse power Yard Works (MTD) and he was out doing his drive at the same time I was doing mine.  His was basically p!ssing out the snow maybe fifteen feet (if that).   We had about three inches of fine heavy powder snow.  I shoveled as much as I could then pulled out the snow thrower.  It was blasting snow a good thirty to forty feet.  My neighbour stopped what he was doing and stood there smiling watching the Simplicity in action.   For the money, it's a tough act to follow. 

This message was modified Dec 29, 2008 by borat
pgill


Joined: Dec 29, 2008
Points: 23

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #5   Dec 29, 2008 5:26 pm
Yeah, I was debating if climbing that many steps with a machine was a great idea.  More curious if others tride climbing steps or if it was feasible at all.  The major strike might be that parts replacement issue with honda.  I keep leaning toward it, but things like that small gear box do look more substantial on the simplicity, and wow $650.00 to replace it!  Was that the housing, or internal gears.  The ruined one on my Ariens has striped the gears, but the housing is fine.  Has anyone heard I thought the honda gearbox is more prone to breakage than the simplicity.  It sometimes is hard to tell by looking.  Engineering can make parts look like less, but still be better sometimes.
aa335


Joined: Nov 29, 2008
Points: 2394

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #6   Dec 29, 2008 5:59 pm
pgill wrote:

I like the Honda with tracks to get through the tougher stuff.  Not sure if the Simplicity will tend to ride up on it.  The downside of the Honda is the manuverablility (lack there of) and the inability to move the machine at all when not running.  A plus for the track system might also be to climb the steps to my back deck.  It would be neat to be able to snowblow the deck, but not sure if it is realistic to expect even the track dirve to climb the 25 steps up. 

Thought I would add one last thing.  My drive way is course gravel on a gravel road.  For this reason I also thought that the height adjustability of the Honda track might be better.  My Ariens always throws the rocks until there is a good base of ice/snow.  Sometimes it digs the lawn going down the side of the house as well.

I have the Honda tracked model and I have to wrestle it to turn on a 2 car wide driveway.  I have the brushed texture on the concrete and it is very hard to turn.  I did my research and this was the trade off I was prepare to accept.  My driveway is sloped upward and I didn't want to try to push 200 lbs of snow removal machinery uphill.  Last week, I had packed snow and ice and I struggled to just walk myself up the slope without slipping.  The tracked snowblower gripped securely and helped pull me up.  I was practically skating behind it like a dog sled.  The tracks have at least 4 times the contact area of a wheel.  It was nice. 

I'm not sure I would attempt to climb 25 steps with the snowblower.  That is a lot of mass coming down at me if something was to go wrong.  Just make sure you have an escape route and get out of its way when gravity takes over.

The height adjustability of the bucket is nice when trying to take chunks off a big snow drift.  Although I don't use this feature often, only in transport mode when I need to cover ground quickly.  For attacking tall drifts, I normally set a very slow ground speed and just let the machine chew at it.  Faster ground speed would only make the bucket climb over the snow sooner and faster.  And boy does it like to chew snow drifts and toss it!  Many times I am so tempted to throw the snow onto the neighbor's end of driveway.  Hehe.  He has an Hummer H3 and I'm curious if he would actually shovel his driveway once in a while, if need be. 

When the bucket is up, there is about 2 to 3 inches of snow left behind.  The bucket is bobbing up and down a lot due to all weight balanced over the tracks like a teeter totter.  With the bucket down, there is a lot of downforce so it is very stable.  I don't have experience snowblowing on gravel driveways but I would probably adjust the skid shoes to bring the auger up higher until a base of snow and ice has formed, then I'll lower the bucket.  I assume this is the technique most people would use whether or not they have the tracked or wheel snowblowers.  Using longer skids with more generous kick up at front and back also help prevent digging into the gravel.

I've used my father's single stage Honda snowblower many years and this is my first time using a two-stage machine.  With the Honda tracked model and locked axles,  I stragetically plan my turns to not unnecessarily wrestle it.  The biggest challenge is doing a U turn on the sidewalk in a foot of snow.  At times, it feels like man-handling a 500-pound sumo wrestler.  It is a nice machinery when the big and heavy snow comes down.  It will track in straight line nicely but the side plates of the bucket tends to grab when it contact grass.  Because of more downforce on the bucket, the side plates dig in like a rudder in the water.  It takes considerable effort to steer it away from the grass.  I usually just back up and move it away from the grass rather than trying to steer it.  I attribute this to it's rear mounted skids.  I'm ordering a pair of side mounted skids to see if this problem is alleviated.

There was a lot of frustration initially when operating the tracked snowblower.  I thought I bought a wrong snowblower.  It felt like flying a helicopter.  Move this lever, that lever, steer here, not there.  Watch out for frozen newspapers and hidden flower beds in the snow.  Move chute left, right, up down.  Oops, moved crank the wrong direction.  Turn right to rotate left.  Engage auger.  The snow just blew right back in my face.  Darn it, I should pay somebody to do this.   Now, I've gotten used to it and looking forward to big snow storms.  Last week, I even try to snowblow the paver walkway with a few chicanes.  A little Toro two cycle would have been nice for this application.  However, I was satisfied when completed that I did not tear up the paver bricks and chew up the flower beds.  Hehehe.

This message was modified Dec 30, 2008 by aa335
pgill


Joined: Dec 29, 2008
Points: 23

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #7   Dec 29, 2008 11:28 pm
borat wrote:
If money is not a concern, buy one of each.  You'll have the best of both worlds and for sure, you'll never be buying another machine.  Between the two of them you'd be set for life.  Use the Honda for the roof snow and the Simplicity for the more tricky areas.  With both machines, you can give us a true to life side by side comparison.  

I truly respect Honda however, I do not consider them to be a good value.  Being almost twice the price of a comparable Simplicity, I cannot, for the life of me, see why.  I can see paying a premium for the Honda but not that much.  Every time I get behind my Simplicity, I'm thoroughly impressed with it.   I just finished doing my yard (dimensionally very similar to yours by the way) and it was windy as hell.  I put the snow cab on and went to work.  It's truly a pleasure to work with a machine that functions as well as the Simplicity does.  My neighbour has a three year old, ten horse power Yard Works (MTD) and he was out doing his drive at the same time I was doing mine.  His was basically p!ssing out the snow maybe fifteen feet (if that).   We had about three inches of fine heavy powder snow.  I shoveled as much as I could then pulled out the snow thrower.  It was blasting snow a good thirty to forty feet.  My neighbour stopped what he was doing and stood there smiling watching the Simplicity in action.   For the money, it's a tough act to follow. 



I wish I could get both machines, that would be nice.  I'm prepared to bight the bullet on one anyway, but my wife would have something to say about two.  Yes the Honda is more, but not as much as I thought.  My local dealer has a pro series Simplicity 28" for $2000, and 32" for $2200.  At the local honda dealer they had a 1032" tracked for $2800, I forget what they wanted for the 28" honda, but it would ofcourse be a little less.  So in comparison the difference between the Honda and Simplicity is roughly $600.  If the honda is of better quality then I would be happy to spend the extra $600, I'm really only concerned if the auger gear box on the honda is as good or better than the simplicity, will the track drive hold up and somewhat concerned about manuevering the tracked version? 

If I could settle this issues in my mind I would happly by the Honda.  On the other hand, the only concern that I have with the simplicity is will I really wish I had the track dive when the white stuff gets hard and packed around here, and will I wish for the adjustable height of the Honda when dealing with the gravel?

Snowmann


Joined: Dec 3, 2003
Points: 494

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #8   Dec 30, 2008 12:16 am
Wouldn't the natural compromise be the Ariens track drive? Better auger gear box than either of those units, plus the track drive...?
aa335


Joined: Nov 29, 2008
Points: 2394

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #9   Dec 30, 2008 12:53 am
Snowmann wrote:
Wouldn't the natural compromise be the Ariens track drive? Better auger gear box than either of those units, plus the track drive...?

The Ariens track drive (1332 DLET) is in the same price range as the Honda HS1132.  It is a very nice machine with all the bells and whistles, including onboard 12V battery for starting.  It had traction control and hand grip warmers.  I was considering the Ariens and Honda models for a while.  It was a tough choice though.  The Ariens has a taller bucket, auger diameter, and impeller.  The auger and gear case is very heavy duty.  Everything on this machine just exudes raw power.

In the end, I chose the Honda because there was more information available about it on youtube and the internet.  While there is a lot of information on the Ariens in general, very few people seem to own the Ariens tracked snowblower.  I also prefer the controls layout, lower stance, engine and hydrostatic transmission of the Honda.

If I had to do it over again, it would still be a tough choice.  If Simplicity had made a tracked model with electric chute rotation and some sort of traction differential, I would be all over it.  I just love the steel channel handles instead of the tubes and the overall solid feel of the whole machine.

This message was modified Dec 30, 2008 by aa335
aa335


Joined: Nov 29, 2008
Points: 2394

Re: Best snowblower for the long haul
Reply #10   Dec 30, 2008 10:05 am
pgill wrote:
I wish I could get both machines, that would be nice.  I'm prepared to bight the bullet on one anyway, but my wife would have something to say about two.  Yes the Honda is more, but not as much as I thought.  My local dealer has a pro series Simplicity 28" for $2000, and 32" for $2200.  At the local honda dealer they had a 1032" tracked for $2800, I forget what they wanted for the 28" honda, but it would ofcourse be a little less.  So in comparison the difference between the Honda and Simplicity is roughly $600.  If the honda is of better quality then I would be happy to spend the extra $600, I'm really only concerned if the auger gear box on the honda is as good or better than the simplicity, will the track drive hold up and somewhat concerned about manuevering the tracked version? 

If I could settle this issues in my mind I would happly by the Honda.  On the other hand, the only concern that I have with the simplicity is will I really wish I had the track dive when the white stuff gets hard and packed around here, and will I wish for the adjustable height of the Honda when dealing with the gravel?

I don' t think the auger gear box would be a concern or deciding factor among these great machines.  They all have shear pins for the purpose of protecting these gears.  If you want tough gearbox, consider the new Toro's.  Toro decided to eliminate shear pins because they are confident their gear box is tough enough.   Although there is some breakable link to disconnect the crank shaft to protect the engine.

I'm surprised that you have stripped auger worm gear twice within a year.  Did the snowblower pick up gravel stones but the shear pins not break?  Was the auger or bearings bind and not spinning freely?  Was there impact to the bucket side plates to cause bearing misalignment?  I find that the same failure within a short period of time means that the actual root cause (man, machine, operating condition) was not identified and corrected.  Whether these gears made to Ariens, Simplicity, or Troy-Bilt specs, it is unlikely that anyone would design and manufacture a component with a mean time between failure (MTBF) of 6 months.  That is just not acceptable at any price point.

It may be a good idea to determine the root cause of the stripped auger worm gears on you machine before dropping $2000 to $3000 on a new machine.  But if you have to, a Honda HS928TAS and a Toro Power Clear 421Q makes a nice combination to take care of your sloped gravel driveway and the deck. 

I'm a true believer in getting the right tools for the job.  I don' t know how big your deck is, but crawling tracked snowblower up 25 steps and putting yourself in danger is brave and impressive feat, but foolish.  I would have a lightweight single stage always ready on the deck rather than trekking a 300 lb 2-stage up and down those steps. 

This message was modified Dec 30, 2008 by aa335
Replies: 1 - 10 of 16NextNext page of topicsAllView as Outline
Outdoor Power Equipment (Lawn Mowers, Snow Blowers, Chain Saws and more) Guide   •   Discussions  Reviews  
AbbysGuide.com   About Us   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Contact Us
Copyright 1998-2014 AbbysGuide.com. All rights reserved.
Site by Take 42