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I want a riding snowblower!!
Posted by George on February 09, 2005 at 23:12:34 from (220.127.116.11):
I'm looking for some sort of small tractor to be used primarily for blowing snow! I really don't have steep hills to deal with (at least, where I live right now) - just a LOT of snow! (A couple feet can build up pretty quickly, and over the holidays we got about EIGHT feet total!) Amazingly, my little Honda 928 snowblower (rated 8.9 HP) does a pretty good job of clearing the snow! This is in part because the hydrostatic drive allows you to move it forward very slowly - literally "inch" it along. The biggest problem is that there is no provision for steering. In order to turn it, you have to plant your feet and "hump" with your back and shoulders. This wouldn't be so bad, except that the handles and controls for the darn thing were built for - well, let's say, a much shorter person than myself! (I'm 6' 8") And along with all that height, at this age my low back and shoulders are in pretty bad shape (i.e height is a MIXED blessing at best!). I even looked into trying to extend the handles, but quickly found that all the control cables would have to be lengthened, etc. So I abandoned that idea. My wife even tried doing the snowblowing herself (she's 5'4"), but she has some problems with her wrists, and the vibrations were too much for her.
So as I'm pondering this problem, I'm thinking: "ya know, for something I paid almost $2400 for, I oughta be able to RIDE on the **** thing myself!! It's got lots of power; most of the time, it's dragging me along with it anyway. True, it wouldn't go very FAST; but who cares? They make riding lawnmowers with about the same horsepower, don't they?" And so on. Well, nobody I found makes a "riding snowblower." (Note to Honda: big market opportunity here!!) So I started thinking: "hmmmm.... vehicle with small engine and four-wheel drive... ATV!"
Well, the ATV didn't work out so well. Even though it was Arctic Cat's "utility" version (650 V-2 4x4 Automatic LE), it did NOT have a useful "low" gear! By the time I nudged the throttle just enough to get it to move, I was already going at jogging pace. This quickly overloaded the snowblower attachment (which was not well engineered anyway...) Bottom line is that I sent it back to the dealer. I realized later that a set of Cat Tracks (those tank-tread type things that bolt on in place of the wheels) would probably have done the trick, as the right version of Cat Track reduces forward speed by 50% (through the gearing, so you get it back in power.) BUT, a set of those runs another $2000 or so, and I've been thinking that there's probably a machine better suited to my needs. (The Arctic Cat plus Kimpex snowblower came to almost $12,000, so there's a bit to play with!)
I've considered things like the "trackless MT" (a "municipal tractor), and I've also seen some cute Kubota tractors that have snowblowers attached and seem very maneuverable. However, I don't really know anything about that sort of equipment, and it still feels like it might be overkill. The "Trackless" vehicles seem to run up in the $12,000 and up range, even used; and that's WITHOUT the blower!
It seems to me that a "garden tractor" type rig might be better suited to this use, and might be all I need. I'm pretty sure I would need 4WD, if nothing else than for maneuverability and to avoid getting stuck! I have just recently learned that there are some snowblower rigs available for this type of tractor. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who uses one of these small "riding-lawnmower" type tractors as a snow-blowing rig, what models offer snowblowers, etc. Also, information on the small Kubota and New Holland "skid-steer" looking things would be appreciated (I don't know if they're technically skid-steers, but they appear to operate that way.)
Thanks, and sorry for the long post,