Auto-Turn Revisited - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
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post #1 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Auto-Turn Revisited

I have been hearing Snow Blower owners frustrated with their Auto-Turn
machines pulling them away from driving in a straight line.
I own an Auto-Turn machine.
So far, (knock on wood), I never had the slightest problem with the Auto –Turn feature
pulling left or right when I wanted it to go straight.

After checking with the display at the dealer, and watching the Auto-Turn
video over and over, it is clear that a properly working Auto-Turn unit cannot
drive just one wheel, and consequently forcing a blower to unwilling turn. The
unit engages both the wheels, or it doesn’t engage any wheels at all. If it
does engage just one wheel, it is defective. This isn’t a big deal, just get
the small unit replaced. The dealer could replace it faster than I can type
this post. At this time all Auto-Turn units should be under warranty.

Now let’s revisit snow blowers in general.

Most machines contact the surface at four points. Two of these points are not
wheels at all, but really just a couple of legs holding up half of the
machine. In theory these two points “should not move at all”, just like your
kitchen table shouldn’t move. If you push your kitchen table out on your
driveway, does it slide perfectly straight? Now enter a fifth intermittent
point of contact, known as the Scraper Bar. This bar is very similar to wide
24”-36” scraping type hand shovel. My wide hand shovels certainly do pull left
and right for me when I’m scraping unevenly packed snow or ice. I would not
expect my Scraper Bar to be any different. My older strait axle “wheeled“
machine’s scraper bar pulled left and right when hitting solid ice and other
fixed obstacles, just like all “wheeled” snow blowers do. If they didn’t pull
unevenly sometimes, we could send them down the driveway by themselves.
How far can your car go down the highway with your hands off the wheel?
It’s called, being an “operator”.

Blowers were designed to blow snow not "excavate" our driveways or even scrape ice.

I watched a city grader type plow go down the street the other day with his
blade at angle. His front wheels turned full to the right. To his frustration,
his machine was veering to the left. His million dollar machine wasn’t
tracking in a straight line. Defective??? I think not. It just needed an
experienced operator to understand what was going on at the ground level.

The bottom line here is this. “Wheeled” Snow Blowers are asked to Scrap,
Slide, Scratch, Plow, Pry up ice, Chip ice, Hit ice walls, hit edges of
concrete, Dig into dirt, grass, gravel, and some more, that I am forgetting.
These are called “snow blowers” for a reason. All these extra tasks that we
assume should happen without an operator input isn’t under its job
description.

The thought to remember here is that the front end of a blower usually
doesn’t have wheels and really isn’t suppose move at all, much less guaranteed
to travel perfectly straight on all surfaces.

Now my observation is that, Auto-Turn itself has not caused my machines to
track less straight than any other blower with its bucket scrapping on the
surface. It’s the bucket grabbing and pulling that will occasionally cause the
operator to input and not the driving wheels. In fact this Auto-Turn machine
is the easiest handling snow blower I have ever used.

Most machines need an operator. I accept that responsibility.

These are just my personal thoughts. I don’t expect everyone to agree with or
understand them.

**************** New Edit on 1/20/14 **************

Quote from MovingSnow.com

In summary, there are no problems with the new differential. The problems are “normal” issues that you will have with all snow blowers. Ariens has not seen any actual malfunctioning differentials.

************************************************


Disagreement is many times a good thing. (:
That’s how we improve on life in general. (:
It also keeps things from getting to boring. (:

Thanks for reading my rant. (:
Ken

Last edited by ken53; 01-20-2014 at 07:50 AM.
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post #2 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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My post above has put in some external links that can be seen by some browsers. I didn't have anything to do with these external links. I'm sorry about that.
The formatting also went haywire for some reason after I hit the submit button.
Now it also won't let me edit it. ):

(Later)
Finally"... I am able edit some of the post to get some of the formatting back. (:



Ken

Last edited by ken53; 01-16-2014 at 11:17 PM.
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post #3 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 11:58 AM
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ken53, I agree with the majority of your post. I think the problem is determining which machines have defective auto-turn as Ariens stated to my dealer there are no known issues with auto-turn. I'm not sure the dealers, or at least my dealer, fully understand how it works. The way they determined mine was fine was to say it appears to function like the others in our showroom. I am coming to the conclusion that it is the unevenness of my driveway that is the problem and not the auto-turn technology. But whichever way the auto-turn drives the wheels, my blower is difficult to keep straight and that was never a problem with my previous blower.
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post #4 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jth1959 View Post
ken53, I agree with the majority of your post. I think the problem is determining which machines have defective auto-turn as Ariens stated to my dealer there are no known issues with auto-turn. I'm not sure the dealers, or at least my dealer, fully understand how it works. The way they determined mine was fine was to say it appears to function like the others in our showroom. I am coming to the conclusion that it is the unevenness of my driveway that is the problem and not the auto-turn technology. But whichever way the auto-turn drives the wheels, my blower is difficult to keep straight and that was never a problem with my previous blower.
I feel your pain. You are caught between a rock and a hard spot. It would not be the first time a dealer drops the ball and loses a customer forever. I happen to have done business with a locale Honda dealer that is a disgrace to the Honda name also. It is unfortunate these dealers aren't more closely watched by the manufacturer. I wish you the best of luck in your decision going forward.

Ken
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post #5 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 12:46 PM
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Unhappy

At the risk of being redundant I will just say this... On the street, with it's very good condition blacktop my pro 28 tracks perfect. That is to say it does not wander noticeably. The skids slide without incident. On my drive however the story is different. It seems one skid or the other encounters a resistance which causes the auto to feature to disengage drive. On my downhill driveway the sheer weight of the machine causes a freewheeling pivoting action left or right. This happens several times in a matter of a few feet and is quite irksome.

So on a positive note Ariens is having the dealer place Ariens plastic skids on the machine. The dealer says they slide easier and should alleviate the problem.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the dealer has the scrapper adjusted
flush to the garage floor, so when the skids are flush down on the floor so is the scrapper. Which suggests to me that the scrapper might be the cause of the problem in my case. The dealer will call me when they want to come make the changes. Then we will see.
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post #6 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docfletcher View Post
At the risk of being redundant I will just say this... On the street, with it's very good condition blacktop my pro 28 tracks perfect. That is to say it does not wander noticeably. The skids slide without incident. On my drive however the story is different. It seems one skid or the other encounters a resistance which causes the auto to feature to disengage drive. On my downhill driveway the sheer weight of the machine causes a freewheeling pivoting action left or right. This happens several times in a matter of a few feet and is quite irksome.

So on a positive note Ariens is having the dealer place Ariens plastic skids on the machine. The dealer says they slide easier and should alleviate the problem.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the dealer has the scrapper adjusted
flush to the garage floor, so when the skids are flush down on the floor so is the scrapper. Which suggests to me that the scrapper might be the cause of the problem in my case. The dealer will call me when they want to come make the changes. Then we will see.
I think the scraper actually scraping the surface is a bad idea. This could work in only a few perfect locations. Certainly no surface that I ever had the luxury of having.

Maybe I am wrong, but when I want a perfectly clean driveway, I need to go over my driveway with a good scraping hand shovel after the machine is done. I find it hard to find the perfect hand shovel to scrape clean.

I think one of the reasons for adjustable skids is that some surfaces that need the scraper bar to be higher than the standard 1/8". In spring when I clear my back lawn to get a jump on the growing season, I need to raise my blower front end as high as I can. It just stands to reason that some surfaces need to have more clearance than 1/8 of an inch. It is not reasonable to have the scraper bar excavate my driveway or my back yard.

My last home had a rough driveway and needed my scraper off the surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch to not catch on any high spots.

Maybe your driveway needs to have the scraper bar raised just enough to clear its roughest area.

You could just throw in the towel and go for a non auto-turn machine but you might be missing out on a good thing if it's only problem is, that the small Auto-Turn unit is defective.

Keep us up to date. (:

Ken

Last edited by ken53; 01-17-2014 at 09:44 AM.
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post #7 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jth1959 View Post
ken53, I agree with the majority of your post. I think the problem is determining which machines have defective auto-turn as Ariens stated to my dealer there are no known issues with auto-turn. I'm not sure the dealers, or at least my dealer, fully understand how it works. The way they determined mine was fine was to say it appears to function like the others in our showroom. I am coming to the conclusion that it is the unevenness of my driveway that is the problem and not the auto-turn technology. But whichever way the auto-turn drives the wheels, my blower is difficult to keep straight and that was never a problem with my previous blower.
One more thing. Be a little skeptical. Some dealers claim to be in contact with Ariens a little more often than they really are. Use your best judgment. Spend some time playing with that Auto-Turn sample display at your dealer. All of a sudden it will be perfectly clear how it works. Also watch that video over and over on You Tube. When it pops in to your head, you will be amazed how simple and straight forward the concept is.

You might miss out on a good machine. It would be a shame if all you needed was that unit replaced.

This type of stuff is never fun. I have been in your situation with other things. I kind of sucks. ):

Ken
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post #8 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 02:32 PM
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Thanks Ken, I appreciate your chiming in with your thoughts on the matter as many times as you have. There's no way I could live with a 1/2" high scrapper, though 1/8th would certainly be acceptable. I'm starting to think what I really need is true self powered single stage paddle blower. One that does not depend on the paddles. Now that's a fine idea!
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post #9 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docfletcher View Post
Thanks Ken, I appreciate your chiming in with your thoughts on the matter as many times as you have. There's no way I could live with a 1/2" high scrapper, though 1/8th would certainly be acceptable. I'm starting to think what I really need is true self powered single stage paddle blower. One that does not depend on the paddles. Now that's a fine idea!
If I had the space, a sweeper with the nice big brushes would work real well to follow up behind the blower. A single stage would be a great idea for many including me.

If I could do over I would get a track driven blower. With tracks, the scraper would just level off or go over most of what ever is in its way. (:

Ken
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post #10 of 38 Old 01-16-2014, 07:39 PM
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All I can say is up till this past October I was running an Ariens deluxe 27 (with the extra lever to engage or dis engage the 2 wheel drive if you will) I had my scraper bar gapped to a thickness of .063" and never had any issues with that rig wondering on the driveway.

Now, I have the deluxe 30 with auto turn, scraper bar on the first snow blow was gapped to .125" and run and the same driveway. i had to keep tight in the saddle to help keep it from wondering at will.

Once the weather warms up, I will go out and re gap and realign the frame to the bucket as per the Ariens video, and see what happens.

Just saying is all, not trying to stir the pot. I'm to new here to do that, haha.
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