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  1. #1
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    Default OT Qestions about tracked snowblower

    Since its the hottest part of summer, I thought it would be cool to discuss snow blowers. Seriously, I need to have better snow removal equipment in place before the snow flies.

    I've been running an old Ariens for years; and it's been dependable, but with the solid axle it's a bear to steer, the wife can't do it. Plus, with the single axle it's tippy. This has become a problem for me, I recently started walking with a cane, and since I broke my ankle last winter (while running the snow blower) I need to use a rolling walker. With the single axle, if the snow blower starts to climb the frozen plow bank by the road, the handles go down and I pitch forward. Likewise, if I slip, the handles won't support me, but rather tip the machine up.

    I see ads for snow blowers with tracks and that would seem to be a much more stable base, but is it really? I also see they have "power steering" but reading the reviews it appears all that does is unlock a differential, not steering at all in the sense that a tracked vehicle steers.

    Anyone who has experience with one of these care to comment?

    Dennis

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  3. #2
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    Hire it out.

    And quit reminding me S-N-O-W is just 8 weeks away.

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    Only had experience with a small Honda, basically slow as molasses over the ground. Make sure you keep the running gear oiled and rust free as any bearing or belt repair means a complete tear down of tracks. If a tracked Honda was my only option I'd go with hiring out.

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    I had a tracked hydrostatic drive Honda for a short time.
    I hated it.
    Reverse was painfully slow.
    The tracks were terrible in wet snow, my old John Deere 826 without chains would drag me around the yard, the tracked machine in the same snow, the same day I could just hold it back and the tracks would just polish the snow into ice.

    I traded it for an Ariens 1336 with tires and friction drive and haven't regretted it one bit.

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    I tried one once.
    Since the tracks contact a lot of area they don't dig in. (weight per unit area). Same problem with big ole tires on your plow truck.
    Yet in places with a lot of snow you don't go down to the ground letting the snow and ice build a base so you only want to skim the top and you want that flotation.
    I thought it a good idea, for my area no.
    Snow in only 8 weeks from now, yea ha.

    Chained wheels the best but they chew up some driveways, so plain ole wheels from many and wider is not better.
    There is a point where you just hire kids to do it or run your equipment.
    When I was grade school I cleared a lot of drives and sidewalks and was very happy to have the work.
    Even better when dad bought a snowblower that he would let me use if I bought gas... I went knocking on doors.
    Bob

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    I think digger has a point - if you have to use a cane, and you already busted your ankle with the previous machine, it would make sense to arrange with a service to clear your snow.

    If you really want to (or have to) continue doing it yourself, look to adding some outriggers to the handles that will minimize tipping risks if you lose your balance. And perhaps you can look into physical therapy to try to rebuild some strength and balance, that would help in all aspects of your life.

    Getting old sucks. But at my (late) father told me, the alternative is worse...

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    Do you have enough ground to blow to justify a tractor? I have a JD X730 tractor with a 44"(?) blower. It takes me a hour to clear our drive.

    Keep in mind that snow removal is one of the biggest causes of heart attack or broken bones.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by TDegenhart View Post
    Do you have enough ground to blow to justify a tractor? I have a JD X730 tractor with a 44"(?) blower. It takes me a hour to clear our drive.

    Keep in mind that snow removal is one of the biggest causes of heart attack or broken bones.

    Tom
    As said above, you could hire it out, move to florida with the rest of um, or have a heart attack and die...Sounds like a plan to me, lol.

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  14. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    I think digger has a point - if you have to use a cane, and you already busted your ankle with the previous machine, it would make sense to arrange with a service to clear your snow.

    If you really want to (or have to) continue doing it yourself, look to adding some outriggers to the handles that will minimize tipping risks if you lose your balance. And perhaps you can look into physical therapy to try to rebuild some strength and balance, that would help in all aspects of your life.

    Getting old sucks. But at my (late) father told me, the alternative is worse...
    I read more, and found "Rolling walker".

    Anything goes wrong, you trip and fall, run it in reverse over your foot, etc.
    Your done, game over.

    The ONLY thing I would suggest outside of hiring it done, as mentioned above in #7, a tractor mounted unit.

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    I have an Ariens tracked blower like this one.

    Ariens 926056 Hydro Pro Track 28" 420cc Two-Stage Snow Blower

    It's much better as far as traction is concerned than our Ariens 824, and is not tippy when encountering snow drifts or piles. It can clear snow at a much faster rate, and throw it over 60 feet. However it isn't for the faint of heart, or someone with health issues. It weighs about 400 lbs., and takes a larger area to make a turn than the 824. It's far better at clearing the snow pile left at the end of the drive by the plow than the wheeled model. The "auto turn" feature unlocks the differential on one side for turning, but it takes a bit of sharp sideways force on the handles to activate it.

    The discharge chute only goes 200* while the one on our 824 goes 270*. This isn't a big deal in most places, but there are times I have to blow the snow slightly behind the direction of travel and off to one side. It's a bit more difficult to do with this model.

    I transferred the "snow cab" from the 824 to this one to keep the snow from covering the operator. It works fine and most of the time I can blow snow wearing only a heavy sweat shirt. I also like the light, hand warmers, and convenient controls.

    I use the machine to clear a drive 12' wide and 140'long, as well as a 4' wide 80' long sidewalk. I do like the machine, but I would not recommend it to someone who uses a cane, has balance problems, or isn't physically strong enough to muscle it through drifts, or frozen snow piles. It's more suited to the young healthy professional, than the retired geezer with health and balance problems.

    Since it weighs nearly 400 lbs. it has to be started whenever you want to move it. Even with the tracks disengaged it takes a fair amount of strength to move it without starting it. The nice thing is that it does start easily with either the recoil, or the electric start. In your case I would consider a different machine.

    ON EDIT:
    Sorry I linked the wrong blower on my original post. I have changed it to the correct one. This blower also has 5 different auger height adjustments for clearing hard packed snow or ice chinks. The hydrostatic transmission allows infinite speed adjustments from 0 mph to 2.5 mph. That doesn't seem very fast, but if you're trying to clear 20+ inches of snow it seems close to light speed
    Last edited by projectnut; 08-18-2019 at 05:19 PM.

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    My Take: Either hire it out or modify your existing blower to be more like a tractor. I'm not familiar with your Ariens but if it's anything like my older one the drive housing is of a fairly heavy gauge steel.

    While the access plate for the drive system would prevent attaching at the center there is enough room at the sides to attach a frame for a hitch of the type that can only swivel side-to-side, as used on portable trap machines.

    These hitches use a vertical pin (usually a bolt) that allow for tighter turns just like a trailer.

    What I'm proposing is that you build a sit-upon "trailer" with foot rests that would allow you to operate it without having your legs in harm's way. I don't see any other option except a tractor mounted blower or hiring it out. If you need a cane to walk it is ABSOLUTELY unsafe for you to operate a 2-wheel snowblower.

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    Quote Originally Posted by projectnut View Post
    I have an Ariens tracked blower like this one.

    Ariens 926060 Professional RapidTrak 28" 420cc Two-Stage Snow Blower

    It's much better as far as traction is concerned than our Ariens 824, and is not tippy when encountering snow drifts or piles. It can clear snow at a much faster rate, and throw it over 60 feet. However it isn't for the faint of heart, or someone with health issues. It weighs about 400 lbs., and takes a larger area to make a turn than the 824. It's far better at clearing the snow pile left at the end of the drive by the plow than the wheeled model. The "auto turn" feature unlocks the differential on one side for turning, but it takes a bit of sharp sideways force on the handles to activate it.

    The discharge chute only goes 200* while the one on our 824 goes 270*. This isn't a big deal in most places, but there are times I have to blow the snow slightly behind the direction of travel and off to one side. It's a bit more difficult to do with this model.

    I transferred the "snow cab" from the 824 to this one to keep the snow from covering the operator. It works fine and most of the time I can blow snow wearing only a heavy sweat shirt. I also like the light, hand warmers, and convenient controls.

    I use the machine to clear a drive 12' wide and 140'long, as well as a 4' wide 80' long sidewalk. I do like the machine, but I would not recommend it to someone who uses a cane, has balance problems, or isn't physically strong enough to muscle it through drifts, or frozen snow piles. It's more suited to the young healthy professional, than the retired geezer with health and balance problems.

    Since it weighs nearly 400 lbs. it has to be started whenever you want to move it. Even with the tracks disengaged it takes a fair amount of strength to move it without starting it. The nice thing is that it does start easily with either the recoil, or the electric start. In your case I would consider a different machine
    My drive is shorter than yours so I still have my 824. What I did was weld up an extended chute by grafting a used late model tall chute onto the gear ring from the old model. I can now throw snow over tall banks that the old chute couldn't handle.
    I was forced to do this as a "temporary" measure several years ago when we had massive snowfalls and a new snowblower of any brand was unavailable as they had all sold out.

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    We moved our residence to central, East coast Florida three years ago, and are pleased that we made the move. We had little snow in SC near Charlotte, NC, where we had rural property, but ice was a problem. We have put up storm shutters two of the thee years we have been here, but have not found this a problem. At 88, and requiring a cane, I hired out weed eating and driveway edging, but still enjoy cutting the lawn of our one acre lot with the big zero turn mower left over from the several acres of lawn cutting in SC. I recommend somewhere with no snow, or that you hire the snow clearing out.

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    The wheeled honda blowers are great. Tires have ultra sticky compound and I can literally skitch behind it when running on ice.
    There's no differential (solid axle) but I have no trouble turining it. Tires are 12 psi max, do NOT overinflate. I know this from
    experience....

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    I have a pretty big tracked hydrostatic Honda. Our driveway climbs 70 feet and is 600 feet long, and turns too much to plow. So it's a lifesaver. It is much more stable, so much so that if the driveway is too icy to walk up or down, one can use the snowblower as a tow boat. But it's an absolute bear to turn. I have a second blower just to do the turnaround flat area at the top because I hate horsing it around doing flat areas.

    I'd hire a service if you can, or get a UTV plow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Comatose View Post
    I have a pretty big tracked hydrostatic Honda. Our driveway climbs 70 feet and is 600 feet long, and turns too much to plow. So it's a lifesaver. It is much more stable, so much so that if the driveway is too icy to walk up or down, one can use the snowblower as a tow boat. But it's an absolute bear to turn. I have a second blower just to do the turnaround flat area at the top because I hate horsing it around doing flat areas.

    I'd hire a service if you can, or get a UTV plow.
    I wonder why they didn't incorporate something like skid steer. I believe a valve could be added to a hydrostatic drive and controlled from the handle bars. I know it would be more money but a lot of people would pay it for easier turning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottl View Post
    My Take: Either hire it out or modify your existing blower to be more like a tractor. I'm not familiar with your Ariens but if it's anything like my older one the drive housing is of a fairly heavy gauge steel.

    While the access plate for the drive system would prevent attaching at the center there is enough room at the sides to attach a frame for a hitch of the type that can only swivel side-to-side, as used on portable trap machines.

    These hitches use a vertical pin (usually a bolt) that allow for tighter turns just like a trailer.

    What I'm proposing is that you build a sit-upon "trailer" with foot rests that would allow you to operate it without having your legs in harm's way. I don't see any other option except a tractor mounted blower or hiring it out. If you need a cane to walk it is ABSOLUTELY unsafe for you to operate a 2-wheel snowblower.
    Lawn care people sell a "sulky" which is just as you describe

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Lawn care people sell a "sulky" which is just as you describe
    I think most of them might not put the operator in the right position with a snowblower and a simple one would be easy to make. Could even start with a cheap trailer dolly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottl View Post
    I think most of them might not put the operator in the right position with a snowblower and a simple one would be easy to make. Could even start with a cheap trailer dolly.
    I doubt most snowblowers would have enough traction to pull a dolly.

    MOdelman, you need to find a home close to a person like me that will blow your drive for you. I do that for several of my neighbors. No charge of course.

    Tom

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    Most 2 stage Ariens wheeled blowers have 2 holes on the top of the auger housing near the end plates. They are for attaching a counter weight to minimize tipping. I made a counter weight for our 824 from a piece of 1 1/2" x 4" 1018 steel. If you order a snow cab it comes with a similar size weight with the corresponding holes and hardware to fasten it in place.

    Our 824 has a wheel lock on the left wheel. For normal operation it is unlocked, essentially powering the machine with the right wheel only. In heavy or wet snow you can lock the left wheel in for a "positraction" drive. The only downside is that it takes a wider radius circle to turn it around.


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