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Old 12-31-2019, 02:49 PM   #1
SailinAway
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Default What should I expect from snow plowing?

I (homeowner) don't understand how a driveway is supposed to be plowed. When the plow truck drives back and forth over my driveway several times, it leaves a hard crust of ice that I then have to chip and scrape away, one painful square inch at a time. Is this normal? After the storm a couple of weeks ago it took me 3 hours with the ice breaker to remove the ice caused by the plow. It would have taken me ONE hour to shovel the whole driveway myself because it was 4" of light snow.

My fear is that if I just leave the ice caused by the plow, it will get worse with each storm and build up over the winter. Of course the other issue is damage to the lawn.

QUESTION: What exactly should I expect from plowing?

In my experience snowblowing is a lot neater but I can't find anyone with a snowblower. Not strong enough/young enough to handle a snowblower myself.
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Old 12-31-2019, 03:20 PM   #2
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I deal with the same. I place a bit of salt and sand down before it snows. Assists with its removal


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Old 12-31-2019, 03:45 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SailinAway View Post
I (homeowner) don't understand how a driveway is supposed to be plowed. When the plow truck drives back and forth over my driveway several times, it leaves a hard crust of ice that I then have to chip and scrape away, one painful square inch at a time. Is this normal? After the storm a couple of weeks ago it took me 3 hours with the ice breaker to remove the ice caused by the plow. It would have taken me ONE hour to shovel the whole driveway myself because it was 4" of light snow.

My fear is that if I just leave the ice caused by the plow, it will get worse with each storm and build up over the winter. Of course the other issue is damage to the lawn.

QUESTION: What exactly should I expect from plowing?

In my experience snowblowing is a lot neater but I can't find anyone with a snowblower. Not strong enough/young enough to handle a snowblower myself.
The plow doesn't cause the ice. I plow my own driveway in Ma and even though I can stay on top of it ice will still build up if you have snow/then rain/then freezing temps.
You are going to get a much cleaner scrap with a shovel of even a snow blower but if you're blaming the snow plow driver then he will probably drop you like a hot potato.
My guy up in NH plows my driveway and when there is ice build up he sands and salts.
It does seems that there is more of an Ice problem in NH. I think it's because the temps drop more quickly up there.
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Old 12-31-2019, 04:33 PM   #4
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Default Snow plowing

We keep a bucket of sand by the garage so we can spread it around the walkway and up to the door of the house where we walk. We have a very long driveway and when it gets really bad the plow puts down sand or whatever he uses. Of course this is an extra charge.
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Old 12-31-2019, 04:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by SailinAway View Post
I (homeowner) don't understand how a driveway is supposed to be plowed. When the plow truck drives back and forth over my driveway several times, it leaves a hard crust of ice that I then have to chip and scrape away, one painful square inch at a time. Is this normal? After the storm a couple of weeks ago it took me 3 hours with the ice breaker to remove the ice caused by the plow. It would have taken me ONE hour to shovel the whole driveway myself because it was 4" of light snow.

My fear is that if I just leave the ice caused by the plow, it will get worse with each storm and build up over the winter. Of course the other issue is damage to the lawn.

QUESTION: What exactly should I expect from plowing?

In my experience snowblowing is a lot neater but I can't find anyone with a snowblower. Not strong enough/young enough to handle a snowblower myself.
I used to plow residential commercially and no, that is not “normal” so to speak.
Some factors that would contribute to a layer of snow being left behind are:
1. Your driveway being driven on before the plow comes.
This packs the snow and a plow will ride up over the packed down areas.
2. The plow guy has his plow “shoes” (if he uses them) too low, causing a layer that doesn’t get scraped.
3. The plow’s cutting edge is worn making it harder for him to scrape down to pavement. (If your drive is paved) if it’s gravel, he may not want to push your gravel off the driveway.
4. Late plowing (after snow/slush/rain) etc has rendered the snow to be like concrete. (Difficult to plow in any case)
5. Ill fitting or attached plow. (Sometimes a plow will not make full contact when at full angle)
Plowing commercially is a difficult job to say the least as Mother Nature throws conditions at us that are beyond our control. In a perfect situation, the driveway should be fully scraped...that's what I would strive for but in some cases, could not achieve.

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Old 12-31-2019, 05:29 PM   #6
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I have a gravel driveway here in southern NH so it is desirable to get a little ice freeze up so that for second and subsequent storms, there is a hard surface and the plow doesn't dig up the gravel. This is better for both of us. We did the original layout so there would be room to stack snow, and minimal exposure to lawn. When it rains and freezes, or melts and refreezes, we sand, at least enough to walk to the mailbox. The town puts a supply of sand/salt mix, same as they use on the roads, outside the town barn for citizens to use as needed. When it has been really bad, I pay my plow driver to do sanding. Only a few times in 42 years. I did the calculations for 10-12 storms a year and plowing is about the same $$ as blowing. Rolling over in bed while I hear my neighbors blowing? Priceless. I've never owned a snowblower. I hand shovel steps and walk. I know guys who plow and also provide shoveling services. Last I heard, they were paying shovelers $20/hour.
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Old 12-31-2019, 05:40 PM   #7
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I have done commercial snow removals at shopping centers and LaGuardia and JFK Airports.

Hillcountry’s advice is spot on!!

If your contractor does leave a thin coat on your driveway then use sand/salt on the driveway this will provide traction and when it warms up or you continue to drive over it the snow and ice will melt.


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Old 12-31-2019, 06:05 PM   #8
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You got to remember these small time plow drivers that plow individual driveways are making rounds. If they have 30 driveways, by the time that get back for a second or third pass it's already frozen. It's not the same as plowing an airport or a shopping mall. That equipment is there non stop until the storm stops, plowing, sanding, and salting continuously.
That's why sanding and salting in NH is a must.
My town road is not paved. It is already a solid 4" block of ice. The town puts down sand almost daily. They don't use any salt as I'm too close to Lake Waukewan and it's the town water supply.
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:30 PM   #9
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The plow doesn't cause the ice.
I should have expressed myself more clearly. The plow truck tires pack down the snow so hard that it turns to something akin to ice that can't be removed with a shovel. Eventually it does turn to ice. The hard/snow ice is only where the tires pass. I think we've all experienced this even with driving our own vehicles over snow in our driveways. Pressure and weight harden snow. Best example: snow shoveled from a roof turns to something close to concrete. I've had to take an AX to that snow many a time. Another example: snow falling on a glacier turns to ice as it compacts.

There is ice in my driveway right now from where the mailman drove his truck on it yesterday. So yes, the plow truck does cause the ice. Of course, this only causes a problem if the snow isn't plowed down to the asphalt.

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Old 12-31-2019, 08:40 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Hillcountry View Post
I used to plow commercially and no, that is not “normal” so to speak.
Some factors that would contribute to a layer of snow being left behind are:
1. Your driveway being driven on before the plow comes.
This packs the snow and a plow will ride up over the packed down areas.
2. The plow guy has his plow “shoes” (if he uses them) too low, causing a layer that doesn’t get scraped.
3. The plow’s cutting edge is worn making it harder for him to scrape down to pavement. (If your drive is paved) if it’s gravel, he may not want to push your gravel off the driveway.
4. Late plowing (after snow/slush/rain) etc has rendered the snow to be like concrete. (Difficult to plow in any case)
5. Ill fitting or attached plow. (Sometimes a plow will not make full contact when at full angle)
Plowing commercially is a difficult job to say the least as Mother Nature throws conditions at us that are beyond our control. In a perfect situation, the driveway should be fully scraped...that's what I would strive for but in some cases, could not achieve.
Very helpful answer! Thank you! I didn't know any of this. No one had driven on my driveway before this incident and late plowing wasn't a factor. I don't have control over the other items on your list, so it sounds like I shouldn't hire this person again?
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:49 PM   #11
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As Hillcountry mentioned skid shoes too low will keep the plow blade up off the surface. If the plow person does many driveways some are probably gravel. In those cases skid shoes are almost mandatory early on when the ground is not hard frozen. Otherwise gravel as well as snow will get plowed. Putting the skid shoes back up for each paved driveway would mean getting out and manually adjusting the shoes. Not likely to happen.

When I had a gravel driveway and plowed it myself, the first several times each year an inch of so of snow was left which packed down to a hard icy surface. Once that happened I would raise the skid shoes unless a thaw came. If I had plowed many driveways I would have left the shoes down a bit all winter so that the plow was up a bit. That would also help avoiding plowing up lawns as snow is pushed to the side.
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Old 01-01-2020, 04:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by SailinAway View Post
I (homeowner) don't understand how a driveway is supposed to be plowed. When the plow truck drives back and forth over my driveway several times, it leaves a hard crust of ice that I then have to chip and scrape away, one painful square inch at a time. Is this normal? After the storm a couple of weeks ago it took me 3 hours with the ice breaker to remove the ice caused by the plow. It would have taken me ONE hour to shovel the whole driveway myself because it was 4" of light snow.

My fear is that if I just leave the ice caused by the plow, it will get worse with each storm and build up over the winter. Of course the other issue is damage to the lawn.

QUESTION: What exactly should I expect from plowing?

In my experience snowblowing is a lot neater but I can't find anyone with a snowblower. Not strong enough/young enough to handle a snowblower myself.
A lot of this issue depends on the driveway itself. If you have a circular driveway where the plow can go ONLY in a forward position (without any backing up) then the "pack down" will be at a minimum.

This issue really becomes a big problem when the plow approaches the garage doors, has to lift the plow blade up, drop it at the garage door and then pull the snow backwards in order to clear it away from that location.

Doing this multiple times during every storm does cause a big problem during December, January, and February as the sun is low in the sky, and the daylight is somewhat limited. Come March and April the days are a bit warmer, and the sun is higher in the sky (which allows more "natural" melting). The problem is most severe in driveways which are shaded by buildings or trees and do not get that much needed sunlight.
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Old 01-01-2020, 05:18 PM   #13
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Last I heard, they were paying shovelers $20/hour.
Obviously a misquote... minimum wage is only $7.25 hour! We all know that no one gets paid more than that!
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Old 01-01-2020, 07:00 PM   #14
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I should have expressed myself more clearly. The plow truck tires pack down the snow so hard that it turns to something akin to ice that can't be removed with a shovel. Eventually it does turn to ice. The hard/snow ice is only where the tires pass. I think we've all experienced this even with driving our own vehicles over snow in our driveways. Pressure and weight harden snow. Best example: snow shoveled from a roof turns to something close to concrete. I've had to take an AX to that snow many a time. Another example: snow falling on a glacier turns to ice as it compacts.

There is ice in my driveway right now from where the mailman drive his truck on it yesterday. So yes, the plow truck does cause the ice.
Does the plow have to pull the snow backwards in any spots? If so, that's your issue.
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Old 01-01-2020, 08:10 PM   #15
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All I ever got out of a plowed driveway was a bunch of excavated gravel and a day or more of work in the spring to put it all back. We've had a 450 foot long gravel driveway for 23 years and had it plowed for the first few years we lived here. We got so frustrated with the end result that we gave up on the plow and started shoveling it. Yes, my wife and I shoveled a 450 foot long driveway for nearly ten years. Understand that we winter on the CT shoreline where we don't get nearly the snow that NH does. Still, the few storms that dropped 8 or more inches would take us a full day to shovel. I don't recommend it.

A few too many sore backs, ten years of aging and laughing neighbors made me think again.

Never thought a snowblower would work for a gravel driveway but I did some research. Ended up buying a Honda track mounted snowblower and that turned out to be the perfect solution. The tracks easily keep the auger off the ground (no muscle needed) such that almost no gravel is thrown and it takes me about 30 minutes to whip away that 8 inches of snow. Love, love, love, love, love my snowblower and, no, I don't sell them for a living. Did I mention that I love my snowblower?
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Old 01-01-2020, 09:40 PM   #16
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All I ever got out of a plowed driveway was a bunch of excavated gravel and a day or more of work in the spring to put it all back. We've had a 450 foot long gravel driveway for 23 years and had it plowed for the first few years we lived here. We got so frustrated with the end result that we gave up on the plow and started shoveling it. Yes, my wife and I shoveled a 450 foot long driveway for nearly ten years. Understand that we winter on the CT shoreline where we don't get nearly the snow that NH does. Still, the few storms that dropped 8 or more inches would take us a full day to shovel. I don't recommend it.

A few too many sore backs, ten years of aging and laughing neighbors made me think again.

Never thought a snowblower would work for a gravel driveway but I did some research. Ended up buying a Honda track mounted snowblower and that turned out to be the perfect solution. The tracks easily keep the auger off the ground (no muscle needed) such that almost no gravel is thrown and it takes me about 30 minutes to whip away that 8 inches of snow. Love, love, love, love, love my snowblower and, no, I don't sell them for a living. Did I mention that I love my snowblower?
When we bought our house in the lakes region (with a 500’ dirt driveway) I wouldn’t even call it gravel because it’s just packed sand and stones...anyway, the first thing I did was buy a Honda 929 tracked snow blower! That thing has saved my butt many times in the last 6 years! We get A LOT of snow here in central NH And I use the Honda when my Kubota with plow won’t easily move the sometimes “concrete” snow or when it’s more than a foot and a half deep.
More often than not the tractor handles the storm but that Honda is my back up when things get tough. Love it!
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Old 01-01-2020, 11:27 PM   #17
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Obviously a misquote... minimum wage is only $7.25 hour! We all know that no one gets paid more than that!
I stand by my quote of $20.00/ hour for shovelers. In a different vein, a friend operates several Dunkins. He says nobody gets minimum wage.
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Old 01-01-2020, 11:38 PM   #18
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Note the OP mentioned he was too old to play with a snowblower. I'm looking forward a few years to when all you snow blower guys start posting here looking for somebody to plow. Or, "where can I rent near Tampa?" and "Who will watch my house while I'm gone?"
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Old 01-02-2020, 08:43 AM   #19
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A lot of this issue depends on the driveway itself. If you have a circular driveway where the plow can go ONLY in a forward position (without any backing up) then the "pack down" will be at a minimum.

This issue really becomes a big problem when the plow approaches the garage doors, has to lift the plow blade up, drop it at the garage door and then pull the snow backwards in order to clear it away from that location.

Doing this multiple times during every storm does cause a big problem during December, January, and February as the sun is low in the sky, and the daylight is somewhat limited. Come March and April the days are a bit warmer, and the sun is higher in the sky (which allows more "natural" melting). The problem is most severe in driveways which are shaded by buildings or trees and do not get that much needed sunlight.
This! I've been plowing driveways for 40 years and every storm and every driveway is different. If you want the perfect clean every time get a snow blower or a shovel and do it yourself.
If you expect a perfect clean every time from a plow driver be prepared to pay an enormous amount of money.
I drove by an big house in Weston Ma. a few weeks ago during a storm. There were 10 workers there, 8 with shovels and 2 with snow blowers. I'll bet that clean up at least was $1000!
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Old 01-02-2020, 09:09 AM   #20
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I had the driveway plowed by someone else yesterday. This was after the very difficult last storm with several hours of sleet and freezing rain. This guy did a 100% better job than the previous guy. He plowed down to the pavement and there was almost no work left for me to do with the shovel. He got within 5 feet of the garage and pulled that snow back---even in that area he got it clean down to the asphalt!

So the comments above by Hillcountry are correct, and it is possible to do a good job even in adverse conditions and even when the snow has to be pulled back. ***Thanks for educating me about the art of snowplowing!

As an aside I'd like to say that there are a lot of low-income senior citizens living alone who can't afford anything near what most charge for plowing. There is a need in the Lakes Region for home and property maintenance services for this population. I've been shoveling by hand for years. I'm well past the age for doing that.
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Old 01-02-2020, 09:29 AM   #21
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I had the driveway plowed by someone else yesterday. This was after the very difficult last storm with several hours of sleet and freezing rain. This guy did a 100% better job than the previous guy. He plowed down to the pavement and there was almost no work left for me to do with the shovel. He got within 5 feet of the garage and pulled that snow back---even in that area he got it clean down to the asphalt!

So the comments above by Hillcountry are correct, and it is possible to do a good job even in adverse conditions and even when the snow has to be pulled back. ***Thanks for educating me about the art of snowplowing!

As an aside I'd like to say that there are a lot of low-income senior citizens living alone who can't afford anything near what most charge for plowing. There is a need in the Lakes Region for home and property maintenance services for this population. I've been shoveling by hand for years. I'm well past the age for doing that.
That's great! I hope he keeps up the good work.
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:02 AM   #22
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As an aside I'd like to say that there are a lot of low-income senior citizens living alone who can't afford anything near what most charge for plowing. There is a need in the Lakes Region for home and property maintenance services for this population. I've been shoveling by hand for years. I'm well past the age for doing that.
Any chance you can talk to your plow guy about your driveway not being a priority on the route for a somewhat reduced rate? If you do not “need” to get out at a certain time that may save you a little $.

Regarding plowing, my buddy plows our driveway in MA for free, so I can’t complain about the job he does, he’d tell me to get lost if I did.

I always fire up the snowblower after he is done to tidy up. Even the best plow guy usually leaves a little bit of cleanup to be done, unless they have shovelers with them.

I actually enjoy snowblowing so the clean up is fun, and I feel like the beer after tastes just a little better.


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Old 01-02-2020, 10:30 AM   #23
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I had the driveway plowed by someone else yesterday. This was after the very difficult last storm with several hours of sleet and freezing rain. This guy did a 100% better job than the previous guy. He plowed down to the pavement and there was almost no work left for me to do with the shovel. He got within 5 feet of the garage and pulled that snow back---even in that area he got it clean down to the asphalt!

So the comments above by Hillcountry are correct, and it is possible to do a good job even in adverse conditions and even when the snow has to be pulled back. ***Thanks for educating me about the art of snowplowing!

As an aside I'd like to say that there are a lot of low-income senior citizens living alone who can't afford anything near what most charge for plowing. There is a need in the Lakes Region for home and property maintenance services for this population. I've been shoveling by hand for years. I'm well past the age for doing that.
Back when I used to do residential plowing, I limited my accounts to what a one man operation could handle and still do a proper job. I also equipped my truck with a SnoWay plow that had a “down pressure” capability for “back dragging” from the garage doors, if the house had one. The back dragging feature was priceless and used a lot. My clients were very sad to see my retirement letter to them. I strived for perfection in all my work and the business motto on my truck sign was: “Good old fashioned service” as that was what I would expect.
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Old 01-02-2020, 11:28 AM   #24
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Note the OP mentioned he was too old to play with a snowblower. I'm looking forward a few years to when all you snow blower guys start posting here looking for somebody to plow. Or, "where can I rent near Tampa?" and "Who will watch my house while I'm gone?"
So true. 'Cept for the plowing of our lake cottage now, I use a 'plow' guy that subs my driveway out to guy that uses a snowblower. I'm sure we're paying more for it but I don't mind since our gravel isn't all piled up in the spring. By the way, if I ever do have to get a good plow guy, I'm going to ask Hillcountry to come out of retirement.

As for our winters in CT, six months in Tampa sure sounds good to me though I think us guys in New England are supposed to stick to the east coast of Florida. Mid-Westerners to the west coast or so I'm told.
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Old 01-02-2020, 11:54 AM   #25
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As for our winters in CT, six months in Tampa sure sounds good to me though I think us guys in New England are supposed to stick to the east coast of Florida. Mid-Westerners to the west coast or so I'm told.
Not true. I live south of Tampa. There are many people from New Hampshire and Maine here.
It’s unusually warm today, 82°, and I’ll be swimming in my pool later on. I love reading about everybody plowing their driveways.
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Old 01-02-2020, 01:28 PM   #26
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Back when I used to do residential plowing, I limited my accounts to what a one man operation could handle and still do a proper job. I also equipped my truck with a SnoWay plow that had a “down pressure” capability for “back dragging” from the garage doors, if the house had one. The back dragging feature was priceless and used a lot. My clients were very sad to see my retirement letter to them. I strived for perfection in all my work and the business motto on my truck sign was: “Good old fashioned service” as that was what I would expect.
Fisher has a new plow with "down pressure" now for light duty trucks. It's much lighter than their regular commercial unit so the light duty truck won't sag as much in the front when it's lifted. But being much lighter means it absolutely needs down pressure.
I've heard mixed reviews on them.
Probably great for the home owner but I don't think I would buy one if I had a lot of drive ways to do.
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Old 01-02-2020, 03:44 PM   #27
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Not true. I live south of Tampa. There are many people from New Hampshire and Maine here.
It’s unusually warm today, 82°, and I’ll be swimming in my pool later on. I love reading about everybody plowing their driveways.
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Old 01-02-2020, 04:15 PM   #28
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Fisher has a new plow with "down pressure" now for light duty trucks. It's much lighter than their regular commercial unit so the light duty truck won't sag as much in the front when it's lifted. But being much lighter means it absolutely needs down pressure.
I've heard mixed reviews on them.
Probably great for the home owner but I don't think I would buy one if I had a lot of drive ways to do.
SnoWay was the original plow with down pressure and they also were the lightest commercial plows out there. Their line has changed a lot since I bought mine but it was a great plow, even with the clear moldboard.
I had a hose blow once and brought it to my mechanic ( who was a Fisher dealer) after he saw my SnoWay he became a dealer for them shortly after. I guess he was impressed with the SnoWay. Good to hear other manufacturers are adding down pressure to their lines
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:59 PM   #29
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Default Plowing Contractor referral ?

On a side discussion....

I'm looking for Plowing Contractor referrals ?

I usually snow blow my own driveway, but recently had to hire an private plowing contractor, while I was out of State last week, to clear the last large dump of snow we received recently.

Only reason I hired a plowing contractor was because someone was house-sitting for me, and 'she' needed to get in and out of driveway each day. If she wasn't staying at the house, I would have just waited until I returned to State, and took care of it myself.

Anyway, the plow contractor I hired did a horrendous job plowing, and I would NEVER hire again. Contractor was a referral from a friend, go figure !

So looking for a few 'good' referrals from Forum and average pricing they charge. I do realize that plow contractors have to take care of their regular customers first, no worries there......

Thanks for your responses, much appreciated !
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Old 01-02-2020, 07:38 PM   #30
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On a side discussion....

I'm looking for Plowing Contractor referrals ?

I usually snow blow my own driveway, but recently had to hire an private plowing contractor, while I was out of State last week, to clear the last large dump of snow we received recently.

Only reason I hired a plowing contractor was because someone was house-sitting for me, and 'she' needed to get in and out of driveway each day. If she wasn't staying at the house, I would have just waited until I returned to State, and took care of it myself.

Anyway, the plow contractor I hired did a horrendous job plowing, and I would NEVER hire again. Contractor was a referral from a friend, go figure !

So looking for a few 'good' referrals from Forum and average pricing they charge. I do realize that plow contractors have to take care of their regular customers first, no worries there......

Thanks for your responses, much appreciated !
Here’s a couple that do work for me that I have been very satisfied with. If your looking for perfection however, please read the above posts for reality...

Shane’s landscape and Excavation... (603) 528-4000

Gilford Lawn and Landscape.... (603) 293-5867

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Old 01-02-2020, 08:34 PM   #31
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Default Snow or hurricane?

I will suffer with snow and complaining about plowing snow any day vs experiencing hurricane destruction and paying for damages high insurance rates won't cover.

We have a snow blower for each our driveway AND for our wrap around deck.
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Old 01-03-2020, 01:36 AM   #32
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Default Snow or hurricane

In the five years I’ve lived in Florida now, we have had only one real scare of a hurricane and that was in 2017 with Hurricane Irma. It looked like we were going to get hit really hard and everybody had to put their hurricane shutters up in preparation. I will admit it was pretty scary not knowing what would happen.
But the hurricane changed course and we escaped without any damage. Insurance is not expensive, my regular homeowners as well as additional flood insurance( which is necessary because of a lot of hurricane damage is caused from water) combined is around $1300 a year.
Plus, the building codes in Florida have really improved over the last 25years or so. They learned a lot from hurricane Andrew in 1992. Any new home built since 2005 is required to come with hurricane shutters as well for extra protection.

This same hurricane hit the Caribbean really hard. My sister, who is a full-time resident in Moultonborough, had devastating destruction to her home on the island of Anguilla. She had no insurance because the cost there is so prohibitive - $20,000 a year approximately. There is also a huge deductible as well. She took the chance and went for about 10 years before her house was hit with about $300,000 in damage which she had to pay herself.
Things in Florida are pretty good. 😎
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Old 01-03-2020, 03:09 AM   #33
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Default Plan B

I spent some time today researching snowblowers. I didn't realize that some Toro single-stage machines can handle quite a bit of snow. I'm looking at the Toro Power Clear 518 ZR: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Pow...8472/205380014

You'll probably say it's too small for a 20' x 60' driveway and New Hampshire snow, but I here's what I'm thinking:
  1. It has very good reviews.
  2. It weighs 54 lbs, which I can handle in the driveway, compared to a 2-stage machine.
  3. If it snows more than 7" I can clear the driveway more than once during a storm. A 15" storm could be done in two passes.

The next size up, the Toro Power Clear 721, is a more effective machine but it weighs 84 lbs. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Pow...8472/205380014

My concern about a two-stage machine is not just the weight while using it, but the impossibility of getting it home and taking it anywhere for service since I have a compact hatchback.

Your thoughts?

And a question: I need some paths around my house (like to the electric meter and oil fill pipe). Would this machine tear up the lawn?
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Old 01-03-2020, 06:21 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by SailinAway View Post
I spent some time today researching snowblowers. I didn't realize that some Toro single-stage machines can handle quite a bit of snow. I'm looking at the Toro Power Clear 518 ZR: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Pow...8472/205380014

You'll probably say it's too small for a 20' x 60' driveway and New Hampshire snow, but I here's what I'm thinking:
  1. It has very good reviews.
  2. It weighs 54 lbs, which I can handle in the driveway, compared to a 2-stage machine.
  3. If it snows more than 7" I can clear the driveway more than once during a storm. A 15" storm could be done in two passes.

The next size up, the Toro Power Clear 721, is a more effective machine but it weighs 84 lbs. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Pow...8472/205380014

My concern about a two-stage machine is not just the weight while using it, but the impossibility of getting it home and taking it anywhere for service since I have a compact hatchback.

Your thoughts?

And a question: I need some paths around my house (like to the electric meter and oil fill pipe). Would this machine tear up the lawn?
Design can matter more than weight--go feel the machines.

The first snow on grass can be delicate, but once it's frozen/packed a bit it's fine.

Light snow is easy to throw, it's the wet, heavy stuff that makes a machine worth its salt--it may be worth the size/design for those times.

Transportation isn't a huge issue--wherever you buy probably offers delivery and many small engine shops will pick up/deliver machines. If not, I'm sure you've got a friend who can help out. In 35 years of working with snowblowers (20 at home with Dad, 15 on my own), we've only had to have service that required transport three or four times.

Treat every ounce of gas you buy and cycle leftover gas through your vehicle every few months, and you'll get years of service.

Good luck.

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Old 01-03-2020, 08:03 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by SailinAway View Post
I spent some time today researching snowblowers. I didn't realize that some Toro single-stage machines can handle quite a bit of snow. I'm looking at the Toro Power Clear 518 ZR: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Pow...8472/205380014

You'll probably say it's too small for a 20' x 60' driveway and New Hampshire snow, but I here's what I'm thinking:
  1. It has very good reviews.
  2. It weighs 54 lbs, which I can handle in the driveway, compared to a 2-stage machine.
  3. If it snows more than 7" I can clear the driveway more than once during a storm. A 15" storm could be done in two passes.

The next size up, the Toro Power Clear 721, is a more effective machine but it weighs 84 lbs. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Pow...8472/205380014

My concern about a two-stage machine is not just the weight while using it, but the impossibility of getting it home and taking it anywhere for service since I have a compact hatchback.

Your thoughts?

And a question: I need some paths around my house (like to the electric meter and oil fill pipe). Would this machine tear up the lawn?
This is my third season with a Toro PowerClear 721e. It’s easy to maintain and maneuver on pavement and is perfect for clearing decks. I don’t use it on soft surfaces as it uses its paddles interaction with the surface to propel it forward. Running it over any sort of dirt, gravel or grass where other debris such as sticks, acorns or small rocks exist isn’t a good use case for it.
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Old 01-03-2020, 09:01 AM   #36
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I stand by my quote of $20.00/ hour for shovelers. In a different vein, a friend operates several Dunkins. He says nobody gets minimum wage.
I agree, but you for some reason still hear this foolishness from some.
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Old 01-03-2020, 11:21 AM   #37
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This is my third season with a Toro PowerClear 721e. It’s easy to maintain and maneuver on pavement and is perfect for clearing decks. I don’t use it on soft surfaces as it uses its paddles interaction with the surface to propel it forward. Running it over any sort of dirt, gravel or grass where other debris such as sticks, acorns or small rocks exist isn’t a good use case for it.
Lou, what's the most and worst snow that your 721 can handle? Can it do the dense snow left by the plow at the end of your driveway? Has it been reliable for you?
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Old 01-03-2020, 12:04 PM   #38
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Default Plan C

Before you laugh at this option, know that it won an award from Time Magazine in 2006 for best new invention.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IW1Bq7qvBI
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Old 01-03-2020, 03:15 PM   #39
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Lou, what's the most and worst snow that your 721 can handle? Can it do the dense snow left by the plow at the end of your driveway? Has it been reliable for you?
It’s definitely not a replacement for a two-stage snowblower, but the intake is around 13” high, but best used for, say, 10” or less of snow at a time. Handles dense snow and wet snow left at the end of the driveway by a plow, but you need to get to it before it freezes. A nice thing about it, is that it never clogs. If you have a higher pile of snow, you’ll probably need to knock it down a bit with a shovel in order to get through it.

Depending on the weight of the snow, it will throw it as little as around 10-15 feet, but for dryer stuff, up to maybe 30 feet. The wheels on the unit are like those of a smaller lawnmower but are super sturdy - no issues with them to date. There’s no throttle to manage (single rpm) and it cleans down to the surface (deck or pavement).

It takes only about a half quart of oil, so you need to be diligent about replacing the oil at the end of each season, and you’ll need to swap the snow throwing paddles each season...all of the maintenance takes maybe an hour and a half. My version has the electric start (about a $50 premium), though I’ve never used it as it always starts on the first or second try using the pull cord.
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Old 01-03-2020, 07:47 PM   #40
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Single stage snowblowers with the paddle style auger work best on a smooth asphalt driveway as opposed to an unpaved dirt/gravel driveway. On an unpaved driveway the two slides on both sides of the auger will catch and get stopped on a dirt driveway.

For a higher powered, self-propelled single stage machine that's still relatively light at 125-lbs, check out the Toro Snowmaster 724 or 824.

For a very good smaller two stage that's good on a dirt driveway, check out the Troy Bilt 824 two stage, weighs 185-lbs, and costs about $600. If you buy it at Heath's Hardware, they can deliver it for no extra charge.

I've had one for about eight years and the Troy Bilt 824 at 185-lbs is relatively light for a two stage plus it has the power to move the heavy stuff close to the road.

After eight years it still runs good on the original two belts and friction plate. All I've had to change are some snapped off shear pins from hitting a rock.
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Old 01-03-2020, 10:44 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by SailinAway View Post
I spent some time today researching snowblowers. I didn't realize that some Toro single-stage machines can handle quite a bit of snow. I'm looking at the Toro Power Clear 518 ZR: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Pow...8472/205380014

You'll probably say it's too small for a 20' x 60' driveway and New Hampshire snow, but I here's what I'm thinking:
  1. It has very good reviews.
  2. It weighs 54 lbs, which I can handle in the driveway, compared to a 2-stage machine.
  3. If it snows more than 7" I can clear the driveway more than once during a storm. A 15" storm could be done in two passes.

The next size up, the Toro Power Clear 721, is a more effective machine but it weighs 84 lbs. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-Pow...8472/205380014

My concern about a two-stage machine is not just the weight while using it, but the impossibility of getting it home and taking it anywhere for service since I have a compact hatchback.

Your thoughts?

And a question: I need some paths around my house (like to the electric meter and oil fill pipe). Would this machine tear up the lawn?



I suggest you buy your snow blower from a reputable local company who services what they sell (including pickup and delivery).

Granted, you will pay more than at Home Depot or Lowe's, but if it is service which is important to you then give your business to a well proven shop which services what they sell.

Best of luck!





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Old 01-04-2020, 08:12 AM   #42
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Default Sno Jo 21' for nine bucks!

Sno-Jo 21' super secret sale ....... now going on .....for just NINE DOLLARS, a 21' aluminum roof rake with a large plastic puller scoop, at my favorite store in Plymouth ...... seems like it should sell for $35 ..... is very good quality .....with about eight left unsold ...... and selling for just nine dollars ....

...... a super secret sale ...... so super secret that me-thinks it may just be a pricing error ...... or something?

Having recently broke the old roof rake into two pieces by using it like a hammer to pound on some roof ice, I was pleasantly surprised to luck onto this super, secret sale at said un-named store!
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Old 01-04-2020, 09:57 AM   #43
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Default Lowes delivery.

3 years ago or so, I bought a Troy-built 3 stage snowblower. If I was to go home and come back to the store to bring it home from the Gilford Lowes, I would have to shovel out my utility trailer from about 2 ft of snow and ice. Not wanting to work that hard, I asked about delivery.

Next day I had my new snowblower. As it was unloaded from the truck via the hydraulic lift, they asked where I would like it. I opened my garage door and they wheeled it right into place in the garage. I can't remember the cost, but I do remember my wife saying "just do it, it's worth it ".

If you're worried about getting a heavier unit home, think delivery. If you're a veteran, think Lowes, 10% off (does not apply to delivery charges and protection plans).

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Old 01-05-2020, 08:58 AM   #44
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Lowe's-Gilford charges seventy five dollars for local delivery of a snowblower that costs less than one thousand dollars.

To avoid the $75-delivery ..... just go big and buy a super powerful Ariens 28" efi for about $1500 ..... weighing something like 275-lbs ..... and become the local KING of SNOW! ...

Seems that a lot of snowblower buyers are not impressed with the all black plastic discharge chute on low end machines like the $600 Troy Bilt 24". But, by rubbing about one dollars worth of Vaseline on the insides of the black plastic, it makes it extra slippery and keeps it from clogging with wet, heavy snow ..... and makes it a very happy machine.

These super-duper snowblowers with their fancy-dancy discharge chutes controlled by an ergonomic pistol grip handle have too much technology .... the very simple black plastic chutes work very good because they are very simple.
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Old 01-05-2020, 11:30 AM   #45
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Default Thank you!

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Originally Posted by Loub52 View Post
It’s definitely not a replacement for a two-stage snowblower, but the intake is around 13” high, but best used for, say, 10” or less of snow at a time. Handles dense snow and wet snow left at the end of the driveway by a plow, but you need to get to it before it freezes. A nice thing about it, is that it never clogs. If you have a higher pile of snow, you’ll probably need to knock it down a bit with a shovel in order to get through it.

Depending on the weight of the snow, it will throw it as little as around 10-15 feet, but for dryer stuff, up to maybe 30 feet. The wheels on the unit are like those of a smaller lawnmower but are super sturdy - no issues with them to date. There’s no throttle to manage (single rpm) and it cleans down to the surface (deck or pavement).

It takes only about a half quart of oil, so you need to be diligent about replacing the oil at the end of each season, and you’ll need to swap the snow throwing paddles each season...all of the maintenance takes maybe an hour and a half. My version has the electric start (about a $50 premium), though I’ve never used it as it always starts on the first or second try using the pull cord.
Lou, thanks very much for pointing me to the Toro 721. I was balking at the $600 price (seems like a lot for what it is), but I found a used one, near new, for $350. I regret having to give up the warranty on a new machine, but saving $250 was hard to pass up. I "think" (hope) the 721 will fit in my hatchback. Hope I can make some kind of ramp to get it out of the car (?).

Really looking forward to testing it! Thank you!
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Old 01-05-2020, 11:32 AM   #46
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Lou, thanks very much for pointing me to the Toro 721. I was balking at the $600 price (seems like a lot for what it is), but I found a used one, near new, for $350. Really looking forward to testing it! Thank you!
It may be worth spraying the snow contact areas/chutes with silicone to help keep wetter snow from collecting. Good luck!

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Old 01-05-2020, 05:43 PM   #47
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Lou, thanks very much for pointing me to the Toro 721. I was balking at the $600 price (seems like a lot for what it is), but I found a used one, near new, for $350. I regret having to give up the warranty on a new machine, but saving $250 was hard to pass up. I "think" (hope) the 721 will fit in my hatchback. Hope I can make some kind of ramp to get it out of the car (?).

Really looking forward to testing it! Thank you!
You’re welcome! It will probably be a tight squeeze in a hatchback, but the handle folds down for more compact storage. Best of luck with your purchase!
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Old 01-05-2020, 07:27 PM   #48
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That's what I do I buy a can of spray silicone every year, works great for many uses around the house also.
WD 40 does the trick, too! I use it before and after each use.
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Old 01-05-2020, 07:30 PM   #49
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Default Cool manual snowblower

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v45PJW7o9_I

https://www.amazon.com/Einhell-MSF-M...ct_top?ie=UTF8
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:08 PM   #50
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Default Change

Do you know how to turn a dishwasher into a snow remover?

Give her a shovel.

Seriously, the older I get, you, the OP, mentioned age, the happier I am to have a good plow driver, and to not have a snowblower.
My oil fill was moved many years ago to be close to the walk. I don't think Eversource sends a meter reader out; it's done remotely.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:16 AM   #51
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As already mentioned in an above post, the Plymouth Walmart has a few SnowJoe 21' roof rakes selling for 75% off at $9.00, and it is a good quality aluminum handle with a plastic scoop. Not as sturdy as the all aluminum scoops but should last a long time with reasonable care.

Another use for a 21' long roof rake is to use it for trimming tree branches while standing on the ground.

Check out the Corona razor tooth 21" hand pruning saw for $42.29. It cuts on the pull stroke which works pretty good screwed/attached to a 21' long handle.

Trimming pine tree branches is very easy fast work, while trimming oak trees take a lot more effort.

Is not a bad idea to wear a helmet and safety goggles. You can actually trim through a 6" diameter oak limb with this set-up in about 30-minutes ...... and you will believe it when you actually do it!
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Old 01-17-2020, 05:10 PM   #52
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Used my new Toro Power Clear 721E for the first time yesterday in about 8" of heavy, weight snow.

Positives: It handled the mess at the bottom of the driveway left by the town plow pretty well, as long as I moved slowly and only did about 10" wide at a time (still better than shoveling). Throws heavy snow about 20 feet. Wasn't too hard to push up my 15-degree driveway.

Negatives: There are quite a few. Really loud! Temperamental engine: not happy if gas is left in it for a week. It took several minutes to get it running smoothly. I've ordered some Sea Foam; maybe that will help. Leaves about 1/4" of packed snow behind---I think this was due to the density of the snow. I had to go over everything twice. Exhaust smell is pretty strong. A full tank of gas only lasted about 30 minutes. Wherever I let the machine rest in the driveway there were gas spots.

A real design flaw of this machine is the number of steps required to get to the spark plug---you have to dismantle the chute, top shroud, and back. Yearly maintenance seems pretty complicated, compared to a lawnmower.

I'll see how this machine does in fluffier snow next time.

Thanks again to Loub52 for recommending this.
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Old 01-17-2020, 05:20 PM   #53
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Default thank you.

After an extended conversation, it's great to get good, detailed feedback.
Thanks.
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