Need advice: Buying a new Ariens after 25 years with a Honda - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
 
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-17-2019, 01:47 AM Thread Starter
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Need advice: Buying a new Ariens after 25 years with a Honda

Been reading lots of the Ariens info here, but this is my first post...

My current machine is a 25 year old Honda HS828 with hydrostatic transmission/track drive. It's the only snow blower I've ever owned and used other than the quirky and rare 1970s GE Elec-Trak tractor with snow blower attachment. I'm the kind of person who likes to buy quality and then use & maintain that equipment for many years. The paved area that needs clearing is about 2,500 sq ft. The driveway has a slope of about 8 ft elevation over the first 70 ft. I also clear a secondary gravel space which is about 200 sq ft. Sometimes I'll clear a path around the house to the back porch and then to the wood pile (about 300 ft).

The HS828 doesn't have any turning assist tech so it can sometimes be a hard to handle which is one thing I'd like a new machine to do better. It also seems like we are getting wetter snowfalls in recent years and the HS828 has had a tendency to clog easily and I have checked that nothing is slipping (although use of Fluid Film can help that problem some). Some wet snowfalls are so hard to clear it turns a normally 1 hr job into 3 hrs with constant clearing of the chute/auger/bucket. I'm so accustomed to hydrostatic I believe I'd be disappointed with a disk transmission machine at this point. The one thing my Honda does which makes my variety of surfaces easy is the 2 positions of tension you can put on the front. I use the un-sprung position for the gravel and to glide across the grass and the first tension position for the pavement.

I've also looked at the new Honda machines which I'm sure are excellent, and as with most products there are pros and cons. The desire for hydrostatic puts me in the Ariens 28" Pro line. The Ariens Pro just looks so well built and has a considerably more powerful engine (420cc vs 270cc). I'm not thrilled that Honda uses a motor driven chute and deflector, lacks heated grips and appears not to have a 120V start (which has been handy for the first start of the season). I've also read posts about problems with wet snow clogging on the new Hondas. However they do have a control for auger height which nicely addresses my multiple surfaces and I think I'd prefer their triggers for turning rather than the auto mechanism of the Ariens.

So the choice is between RapidTrak or wheels. It's really unclear to me which one would be best. Will the RapidTrak work like my Honda over the gravel/grass in the "wheel" position? I saw another post here (https://www.snowblowerforum.com/foru...rapidtrak.html) where the owner did a modification to the blower track bar to accomplish this kind of thing. Any advice on tracks vs wheels for multiples surfaces given my snow clearing tasks would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-17-2019, 12:17 PM
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Any chance you still have the 1970s GE Elec-Trak tractor ??

I can't really speak with any experience to your question of what's going to work best. Due to the different surfaces you have and will be using the machine on it sounds like something tracked with different heights is going to be necessary or at lest it's what's going to make you happy.
Due to the cost of that Rapid Track over the wheeled equivalent I would be inclined to go with the wheeled version and try to make a DIY modification to the Skids so they'd be adjustable.
Something like this person did to his new Cub using an adjustable height lawnmower wheel. I think I'd cut a little off the wheels width though as it might be a little wide causing it to ride up. Would be trial and error


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post #3 of 7 Old 03-17-2019, 12:40 PM
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-17-2019, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Sadly the Elec-Trak is long gone. It was my dad's whose metal fabrication business did a bunch of sub-contracting with GE. I think we may have gotten it as a test site or as a favor as I believe we had it in the later 1960s before it was generally available. Had the lawn mower deck plus snow blower & cab. There was a non yellow unpainted weight kit on the back which must have been a mod my dad made to improve winter traction. Lots of lead acid batteries and I remember they lost capacity in a relatively short number of years & at the time would have cost a fortune to replace. It was the main piece of equipment for my childhood neighborhood lawn mowing business. The battery issues kept me from doing a similar snow clearing business. It was fun.

The variable height mod you show looks interesting. Wonder how that would affect turning as regular skids don't care which direction they are scraping against whereas a rubber wheel has a preference. That said, looking for ways to quickly change the height of the skids would be a good approach.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-18-2019, 10:19 AM
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I'm also looking at the Ariens 28 Pro, hydro Can't comment on Honda blowers since I have always had Ariens. What I'm seeing now, and maybe wrong is the 28 hydro pro is now only available with the EFI. I'm sure the EFI is great, but never had any issues with non EFI, and don't know if I want to mess with a battery. I wish you luck with your decision, and please keep us posted on your new machine.
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post #6 of 7 Old 03-18-2019, 10:58 AM
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I've never had a Honda, but did a lot of DD on this subject last year...between Honda and Ariens. Some of the reasons you state were on my pros/cons list too. I decided on the 28 hydro pro track machine and am quite happy with the decision. The wheeled position is quite able. The 2 track positions work well. The dig position can scrape up car tracks if moving very slowly. If you have multiple surfaces, the stock Honda has that covered. You might want to PM the guy who added a position on the Ariens and see it worked this winter. I remember seeing it in here. If it's a 28" cut you want, I just don't feel a 8.5 HP engine with tracks is enough for the snow country we live in.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-18-2019, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Even though I've read tons of posts here on the Ariens and have seen some previous discussions on RapidTrak vs Wheels vs Wheels w/chains, a couple details are still unclear in my mind.

First you hear a general concern about the Ariens Auto-Turn sometimes having a mind of it's own and needing to manhandle the machine at times to keep it going straight. From my reading, that seems to be connected with proper setup and following the instructions pinned at the top of this sub-forum. Do folks generally believe this is the solution and no further concern is necessary?

The second question is about turning itself. Without question it seems a wheeled unit will always turn easier than tracked. I've read that going into the wheeled position of the RapidTrak gives you about the same ease of turning. What I'm not understanding is how easy is it to turn a RapidTrak while remaining in the track position. Seems like it would be a real PITA to have to switch to wheeled mode for every turn. I think I'd like the tracks, but only if turning isn't hard.
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