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Bought a Snowthrower - Any Tips?

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  • Bought a Snowthrower - Any Tips?

    I'm pretty sure that we won't see any snow now that I've sunk a bunch of money into a snowthrower, but on the off chance that I actually have the good fortune to use it to make some money, what "snowthrowing" advice do you have to offer someone (a) new to "the business", and (b) new to snowthrowers period.



    No laughing, but I bought a Craftsman. A "pro-grade" thrower is not in the cards at the moment, and rather than risk buying a used thrower and having it crap out on me on the first job, I decided to buy "new". Apparently it's made by MTD and is the same as the Troy-Bilt in most ways. When comparing them at different places, I couldn't locate anything with the same features for less than $1,000.00 - this one is reg priced at $1,070.00 and was on sale for $740.00 As it turns out, they were an additional 10% off today, bringing the price to $666.00.
    Not a bad price at all considering what it offers vs other throwers of similar price/quality.



    208cc
    26"
    Power Steering
    Joystick-controlled 4-way chute adjustment
    Nylon/Poly Skid Shoes (won't scratch/damage driveways)
    More here



    I'll be picking it up on Wednesday. Guess I'd better start clearing out a spot in the garage.

  • #2
    I sub out 95% of our snow clearing, yes I have the gear but up here it's not worth it, seems everyone with a four wheel drive has a plow.

    Now last year a few of the staff saved up some money and bought the JD snow blowers, most of them live in the city and they simply go door to door during storms, they tell me they make serious money and I suspect they do.

    I do loader work for the city, bus stops and fire hydrants as we have 48" and 60" blowers on the back of the tractors and buckets on the front so no matter how much snow you simply can't stop them.

    We get a lot of calls where we have a serious storm and the pick up's are having issues clearing, it is nothing for us to get 12 to 20 inches of snow and being on the ocean has the final couple of hours of the storm turn to freezing rain/rain, snow blowers and light trucks are useless in this so we luck out here and I will put all 7 tractors out working and they will work 24 hours a day, if I can get the staff that work for me in the summer that are trained on the gear, but at this point all staff can run anything I own except excavators, only 7 are trained up for them.

    We make a lot of money oulling vehicles from the ditch, I have a waver signed before we hook on.

    Anyhow good luck, there is a snow blowing post card on my website.
    Andy
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

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    • #3
      Anyone know roughly how much time it takes to clear a driveway (of a specific size) with a snowthrower?

      I've never used one - I've been shoveling my driveway for 16 years.
      It's 80' long and the first half is one car width with the remaining portion being about 3 car widths wide.

      I have no clue what people pay to have a driveway cleared, but if I have some idea of how long it takes, maybe I can figure some pricing out ahead of time.


      Any things I should be aware of, be it equipment related, or usage related?

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      • #4
        Anyone know roughly how much time it takes to clear a driveway (of a specific size) with a snowthrower?

        I've never used one - I've been shoveling my driveway for 16 years.
        It's 80' long and the first half is one car width with the remaining portion being about 3 car widths wide.

        I have no clue what people pay to have a driveway cleared, but if I have some idea of how long it takes, maybe I can figure some pricing out ahead of time.


        Any things I should be aware of, be it equipment related, or usage related?
        Stay away from gravel

        80' one and a half cars, depending on the snow....40 to 60
        Andy
        Halifax, Nova Scotia

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        • #5
          Stay away from gravel

          80' one and a half cars, depending on the snow....40 to 60

          40-60... minutes? dollars? Canadian nickels*???
          I don't follow what you're saying.







          *

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          • #6
            40-60... minutes? dollars? Canadian nickels*???
            I don't follow what you're saying.







            *
            Sorry dollars
            Andy
            Halifax, Nova Scotia

            Comment


            • #7
              40-60... minutes? dollars? Canadian nickels*???
              I don't follow what you're saying.







              *
              You and me both. This is the way that I would look at how to charge - How much snow did you get in the months of Oct., Nov. and Dec. last year? I would take the total storms from last year and divide them up per push, and short yourself by a push or two and find the payment. Example Oct: five pushes, Nov: 10 pushes, Dec: 15 pushes = 30 pushes from last year 700/30= $ 23 per push. I chose to divide seven hundred to get a return of the $700 you paid for the snowblower. I would add a couple of extra bucks for whatever, income. I would feel comfortable charging $30 bucks per push.

              You could change your rates (probably up) if you live in a large metropolitan area, I charge closer to these rates because I'm in a very rural area. Good luck with it, you'll do fine!

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              • #8
                Anyone know roughly how much time it takes to clear a driveway (of a specific size) with a snowthrower?
                You know, I bet you could use the online mow time calculator http://lawnchat.com/?page_id=341

                If you know how wide the snow thrower is and how fast it moves, you can figure out what total time it would take to clear a driveway.

                Experiment with the calculator and see what you come up with.
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                • #9
                  Heh. Thanks for the suggestion, but I tried the mow time calculator. I took a tape measure out and measured my yard... it said it should take 12 minutes to mow/trim my back yard. In reality, it takes 30.

                  That said, much of the numbers that are plugged in are total guesswork. MPH walked? How the heck do I know?

                  I wouldn't have a clue as to how fast a/this snowthrower moves.




                  I'm going to need to get an accurate figure decide on before too long - the snow is coming and I'd like to be able to advertise in my neighborhood before it gets here, so if anyone reading uses a snowthrower and can throw out some info on how they charge for such services, it would be truly appreciated.

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                  • #10
                    you could charge by the minute..but some customers may have a problem with that.. time a few times it would take to do it and average it all and put a price on it.
                    Just Kut Lawn and Landscape
                    "Where Service is Always in Season"
                    Reach for the stars so if you fall you land on a cloud.

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                    • #11
                      I should just run it up and down my driveway this weekend to time it - run it at the slowest setting as a worst case scenario...


                      We just had new people move in across the street - they'll think I'm a friggin' nutcase! LOL!

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                      • #12
                        Well that might be a good way to get started and then when winter hits, compare your guesstimate time with the time it really took you. Write all this down, along with the sq ft of the area you were snow blowing. That will then help you correct your estimating.
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                        • #13
                          how long it takes will depend on how much snow,the temperature ,and how wet the snow is .Your yard will probably take an hour max to do ,unless you really get swamped with wet snow .Most craftsman power equipment,is made by electrolux ,your blower most likely is as well .Always carry some extra shear pins with you,newspapers,cats,dogs,and children tend to eat them .I run a hockey arena ,and have to clear my fire exits with a blower ,the path I make,is about 8 feet wide,about 500 feet in length,and I can do it with our 12 h.p. 36 inch cut garbage blower [mtd pro] in about an hour if the snow is under a foot deep .

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the info. Every little bit helps.

                            This machine is made by MTD. It's identical in nearly every way to the MTD Pro that was sitting next to it in the store with the exception of the engine and the handle to operate the chute. (And it's red as opposed to black) I'm sure Sears uses different manufacturers every year, or as they get better bids to build their machines. Unfortunately, most everything built these days is crap from the start, so if I get more than 3 or 4 years out of it I'll be shocked.

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                            • #15
                              For the last several years or so, I've come to expect the worst from each and every item I purchase. No surprises that way. Today was no exception.

                              I finally picked up the snowthrower last night. (good thing I bought that trailer)
                              The box was massive and it was very heavy/awkward to get unloaded, but I managed. Today I opened the box and checked out the manual to see what needed to be assembled... "flip up the handle, tighten, remove some pins, attach the chute, blah, blah, blah..." seems simple enough.

                              Well, 2 hours later and more obscene words than I've used in a long time, and I'm left with a cut open cardboard box, and a snowthrower that can not be "assembled".





                              See that red "post" in the photo above? The "head" of the chute is supposed to mount to that. However, when I placed the chute into it, the holes for the pin would not line up. (see below)



                              I tried removing it, repositioning it, pushing, twisting, swearing, beating it, talking kindly to it, removing it, repositioning it, removing it, repositioning it, removing it, repositioning it, swearing some more, throwing things, and then I finally grabbed the phone and called Sears.


                              If I could have found another unit elsewhere for close to the same price, I would have returned it on principal alone, but it was a great deal, so I would need to resolve this with Sears somehow. In my head, I had it all planned out that I'd request that THEY come pick this up, and DELIVER a new one to me. Keep in mind, I did not pay to have this one delivered, so I expected them to require me to return it for an exchange.

                              I politely explained to the manager that it wasn't as simple as returning a pair of shoes, that the item is very heavy, and that there was the hassle of using the trailer again for returning it. I exaggerated that part a bit, but honestly, I didn't want to deal with hooking up/loading the trailer to return something that was defective right from the factory.

                              He was very nice and long story short, he's having a new unit delivered, and they will take this one away with no delivery charge. And I didn't even have to argue with them.

                              Let's see... aside from my rambling on about nothing here, what can we learn from this?

                              Well, for one thing, don't wait until the last minute to purchase equipment you need for a job. Had it been winter and I needed this "now", I would have been screwed.

                              Lesson #2. Obscenities will not make improperly manufactured holes line up, no matter HOW many of them you utter, scream, or shout.






                              ETA:
                              The instructions included were HORRIBLY written, which contributed greatly to the "swear factor".

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