We have a 400-foot long, unpaved driveway, on a hill. But the Snapper 10 HP, 30" Snow Thrower handles the job!
A few years ago we moved to the top of our hill. The previous 50-foot driveway is now a 400-foot drifting nightmare during storms. So we had to pay to have the driveway plowed because it was too long to shovel, and dealers said there wasn’t a snow-blower made that would handle the job. Hubby could almost always get out of the driveway going downhill (because he’s brave and crazy), but it had to be clear in order to be able to get back in. The people who plowed came when they came rather than on our schedule, and that hardly ever coincided with when hubby was going to be arriving home from work. Since the driveway has always been my job, I got to shovel. The few times that I actually did the “new” driveway it took about five hours. Enough of that!
I saved my pennies and went searching for a machine that could handle the job. A local dealer who knew where we lived convinced me that the Snapper Two Stage, Large Frame, 10 HP machine could do the job. So... just before Christmas in 2000, I bought it. It has lived up to expectations, and even exceeded them.
First of all, the features:
-Tecumseh 10 HP engine, horizontal crank shaft, air cooled, 4-cycle engine
- 30 inch wide auger which means that two passes (down-up, down-up) opens the driveway wide enough for any vehicle that could actually make our hill
- Blower clutch so that once the blower lever is depressed and engages you can let go of that handle and it will keep throwing snow. Usually the reason to do this is to rotate the chute direction. If you want it to stop throwing snow, just let up on the throttle clutch.
- Cutting bars on the sides of the auger housing. If the snow is not too heavy, you can slice through drifts deeper than the auger casing.
- Headlight- this gets used a lot since I often have to clear the driveway in the dark because of the odd hours we keep
- Discharge deflector cap which gives some control over the angle at which the snow is thrown
- Electric start- a real requirement for this machine, although it does have a pull start as well
- Very knobby tires which have excellent traction in the deep snow
- All the usual- throttle speeds, gear clutch, ignition key, muffler
How well it operates:
The person running the machine in the picture is one of my sons, who it 5'10" tall. The person who usually runs the machine is me. I am 5'2" tall. I am quite strong for my size, and I can handle this machine by brute force, but if you are small and not strong this is not the machine for you. It will cause you to discover muscles you never knew you had. You can get through deep and even quite heavy snow with it, but you have to wrestle with it to make it cut where you want it to when the snow is deep.
It requires high-grade gasoline. Don’t try to cheat on this, or it just won’t start. Buy the good stuff. I’m not sure of the exact gas tank capacity (about 1 gallon) but I can do the driveway, clear the mailbox, and the parking spaces twice on one tank.
It cuts through new snow like butter, and keeps on doing so after seven Michigan winters. If the snow is heavy, and especially where it’s packed by the county snowplow going by at the bottom of the driveway you won’t experience butter-cutting, but you can make it eat through it. If you have ice... well, snow-blowers don’t do ice.
It has been in for one repair for a broken belt. I change the oil every year, and grease the gear that turns the chute.
The headlight is strong enough that you really can operate it in the dark and see what you are doing.
The electric start has to be plugged in to an electric outlet, and this has never failed me even in sub-zero weather. The pull start seems to work fine for people who are taller than I am. The angle that the cord comes off the flywheel means that I just can’t get enough power on the pull for enough distance to turn the engine over when it’s cold. However, if it is warmed up, if I end up having to stop it at the bottom of the driveway, I can pull start it while it’s still warm.
You definitely don’t want to scoop up foreign objects into the auger. Stuff gets thrown on the side of the road (we live on a highway). Pieces of rubber can get caught and require a lot of effort to remove. Fortunately, nothing has yet broken the shear bolts. Here’s where you should skip to the next paragraph if you are squeamish. The very worst was the day that I scooped up a dead cat hidden under the snow. It got so jammed into the auger that it took me two hours, and a lot of chopping with screwdrivers, kitchen knife, and a crowbar to remove its pieces from the blades. Yuk. And yet, the machine was not damaged!
The negatives- there aren’t many:
- Changing the oil can be really messy. The cap for the oil change is not located in a good place and I usually end up getting oil all over, and very little in an oil drain pan.
- If you can’t store it in an above-freezing location (which we can’t), and if the snow is wet it can freeze behind the wheel that transfers the snow from the auger to the chute (I don’t know the name of this part). This is a genuine pain in the butt. I’ve tried to be careful to disconnect the spark plug each time I put it away and reach in and clear the snow from behind the auger. But sometimes it freezes anyway. The only way I’ve found to deal with this is to check every time I go out to use it that the “wheel” I’m talking about will move freely in a complete circle before starting the engine. If not, I fill milk jugs with hot water and pour them through the chute until the ice is melted.
- The muffler is on the top and you can’t put a plastic tarp over the machine until this has cooled down. Well, you can, but you will melt a lot of holes in those tarps!
- It’s too big to move around to other locations (say if you wanted to take it to another property) without a trailer or truck.
I LOVE my snowblower, and even when I’m feeling slightly put out that I have to slip on my Carhartt’s and go out to clear the driveway at 2 o’clock in the morning, I still feel a sense of power and joy that we are no longer at the mercy of someone with a plow on their truck, and gratitude that I’m not going to spend the next five hours shoveling. I can clear the driveway and the mailbox in 45 minutes. Add another 15 minutes if I’m going to clear the parking area as well.
Got a tough driveway? I’m not sure if this exact model is made now, but I’m sure you can find a comparable machine. Get one!