Rapidtrak hydro speed drops off - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
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post #1 of 34 Old 02-19-2020, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Rapidtrak hydro speed drops off

I've noticed that the maximum speed drops off after I've been blowing for an hour or so. Has anyone else noticed this? When I first get going in the morning I need to almost trot to keep up, but when I'm almost finished with 700 feet of 16 foot wide hilly asphalt driveways, the max speed is noticeably lower.


Other than that, I'm pleased as punch, as my third season of use is winding down.



My machine is an Ariens model 926060 Pro 28 Rapid Trak Hydro.
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Last edited by crstrode; 02-19-2020 at 02:56 PM.
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post #2 of 34 Old 02-20-2020, 08:11 AM
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I have the model 926078 and have not noticed any drive speed changes at all, my max speed is very fast, are your rpm's dropping too? I wouldn't be too concerned with it, the engine is warmed up at the end of use and the govenor is doing its job would be my guess, have you checked the drive cable adj., maybe stretched a bit after 3 seasons?

Last edited by kimber; 02-20-2020 at 08:38 AM.
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post #3 of 34 Old 02-20-2020, 12:50 PM
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That does sound weird. I agree with kimber that the first thing to check would be the drive belt cable tension. It would be easy to play with that by tightening that cable once you get it working in the manner where it's slower and see if that "fixes" it.

I've got a 926060 as well that has been a fantastic machine. The only drive related issue I've had was that when going uphill in reverse while climbing over rough packed ice steps, I was able stop the machine even though it was in "full speed" reverse. It was a case of the drive belt slipping and I addressed it by simply tightening the drive clutch cable. I adjusted the drive clutch cable to a happy medium of both not slipping, while also not having too much belt drag while not engaged.

The complete set of variables for your case are:
-Engine speed
-Drive belt slip (or not)
-Hydrostatic drive ratio (input : output) as a function of lever position

If playing with the drive belt cable tension doesn't change it, assuming that the hydrostatic drive is OK, you could check the engine RPM, but that might require buying something like this tachometer:



Last edited by ericr; 02-20-2020 at 01:04 PM.
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post #4 of 34 Old 02-20-2020, 02:24 PM
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Sounds like your Hydro trans is going bad. If it is made by Hydro-Gear, it is common, they do not last long at all.
The pistons and the cylinder blocks wear out very quickly due to poor steel they are made from.
They slow down when they get warm then hot because of excessive clearance between the pistons and cylinders of the drive pumps and motors.
We replace them all the time on tractors that get more usage out of them, and a snowblower is no different.
Some of the older units could be rebuilt, which I have done too many to count. A lot of the newer ones, you just replace the whole unit, sometimes it is cheaper that way.
It is very common for a Hydro-Gear trans to fail, they do not last too long.
The older units made by Honda, Eaton, Vickers, Sundstrand and others were built so much better and lasted for decades.

Last edited by ST1100A; 02-21-2020 at 03:54 AM.
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post #5 of 34 Old 02-20-2020, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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The engine speed does not drop, or surge at all. However the comment about stopping or slowing while in reverse on difficult terrain is interesting. I just noticed that this year for the first time while trying to back up a slippery and ice-encrusted slope.

The speed drop-off happens after everything is fully warm, and the machine has been working hard for quite some time. Indeed it may be as simple as a belt slipping - even though I've not noticed any other belt slipping-type symptoms.

This is my very first snowblower and I could not be more pleased - the symptom I describe is minor. Everything still works - just a bit slower.

I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be no more blowable snow this season so I will check the drive belt adjustment as part of my end-of season maintenance.

If anyone has more info, tips, or comments I hope to see them.


Thank you my friends.


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post #6 of 34 Old 02-20-2020, 03:16 PM
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If its not your belt, its your transmission.
Belt slippage is not a common problem on a Hydro trans, they are rarely effected by a belt slip like a mechanical/friction drive is.
The Hydro trans doesn't give the belt a shock load when engaging like a mechanical/friction drive does, causing that sudden jerk/slip when it is engaged, the Hydro acts as a small "Cushion" when it first engages till it loads up with the resistance of the drive and hydraulic pressure.
The sudden "Jerk/Slip" is what causes the sides of the belt to wear and then the belt has to drop down in the pulleys further to regain its grip. Your drive belts have most of their "Traction/Grip" on the sides, not the bottom or top of the belt.
The "Sides" are the "V" part of the belt.
When a belt wears, most is on the sides of it. Belts rarely ever "Stretch", although most people think they actually stretch. They would usually break apart if they stretched because of the Cord inside of them.
When a Hydro trans starts going bad, you have the "Slowing" problem when they get hot.
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post #7 of 34 Old 02-20-2020, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by crstrode View Post
I've noticed that the maximum speed drops off after I've been blowing for an hour or so. Has anyone else noticed this? When I first get going in the morning I need to almost trot to keep up, but when I'm almost finished with 700 feet of 16 foot wide hilly asphalt driveways, the max speed is noticeably lower.

Other than that, I'm pleased as punch, as my third season of use is winding down.

My machine is an Ariens model 926060 Pro 28 Rapid Trak Hydro.
Could your machine still be under warranty after 3 years approx. It would be worth discussing your issue with your Ariens dealer to see if this is a known problem and there may be a fix.

I read in the Honda forum a very similar issue where the machine would slow down. I think the problem was air in the system due to a problem plate that was fixed under warranty with an additional reservoir to keep the hydraulic unit full of oil. The factory fix was to correct the plate.

2015 Ariens Platinum 30 SHO - model 921040
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post #8 of 34 Old 02-20-2020, 04:55 PM
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What ST1100A is saying about hydro trannies makes complete sense to me and is plausible. However, I would hope that they would typically last much longer than 3 seasons on a commercial level machine that’s only getting residential use.

I haven’t heard about issues from others with the Ariens hydro tranny yet so far. In some other discussions about the Ariens hydro tranny, people were saying they were not really failing in the field. My dealer says they haven’t had issues and we get a lot of snow here (Steamboat Springs, CO). So keeping my fingers crossed.

I agree with Town that it might make sense to jump on it with the dealer, in case it is the hydro tranny and you might be close to the warranty expiring.

I got the 2 year warranty extension (5 years total). I just checked and I do NOT see any warranty exclusion for the hydro tranny in the 2 year extension.

Last edited by ericr; 02-20-2020 at 05:11 PM.
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post #9 of 34 Old 02-20-2020, 05:47 PM
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I was just going to post the same as ericr, I have not heard of any issues with the rapidtrak hydro's having issues but I would also have the dealer look at it before your warranty expires, ST100A makes complete sense so better safe than sorry and Town makes an excellent suggestion with air in system or low oil, hopefully it's something simple!
i'm curious to hear what they find, please keep us posted and best of luck!
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post #10 of 34 Old 02-21-2020, 12:10 AM
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Town,
That was a Hydro-Gear unit that Honda started using on their new HSS models.
The Hydro-Gear unit does not use a reservoir, so you wouldn't know if it was low in oil, so they added one to keep more oil in the unit and to be able to tell if it was getting low in oil.
One of the problems with running any Hydrostatic transmission low in oil is the immediate damage caused to the pump mechanism.
The damage will occur in less than 1 minute if they are ever run low in oil, if the oil would get to the point that it became air bound in the pump because of the way the pumps are made and how fast they spin.
The oil is critical for the pump to operate and for it to become lubricated.
As of this time the Hydro-gear units that are used in various manufacturers snowblowers have only been being used for only a couple of years. They are still too new yet and have not been given enough time to be really tested in the field.
A Hydro on a snowblower is normally used in cold weather, helping to keep the operating temperatures down, so it would take a longer running time to get them hot enough to really see them having a problem, unlike a riding mower that is used in warmer weather and for longer periods of time when in use, they will get much hotter, and the problems will show up much quicker.
When the metal in the pumps and cylinders gets hot and expands the metal, there is oil leakage, hydraulic pressure leakage between the piston and rotating cylinder block walls of the pumps and motors inside the Hydro unit, and that is where you will get the "Slowing Down" problem when hot.
After they cool down they will work better until they get hot again, then the problem repeats itself until eventually they will not move at all, then it is time for an expensive overhaul/rebuild if the parts are available.
Most newer units the parts are not yet available, so replacement of the whole unit is necessary, and for the price of a rebuild with the labor, you are better off just replacing the entire unit, that way everything is new.
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