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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

Hoping to tap into your knowledge of Ariens products to help me decide which model to go with. As a bit of context, here's my property's survey so you can get the gist of what I'm dealing with.



https://imgur.com/a/UjbLtwK

My property is in SW Michigan for reference, near the lake, where I get a fair amount of lake effect snow.

The west side is on higher grade than the east side, thus the need for a track driven model. I have an electric snow blower which is adequate to handle the path to my front door. In the past I paid a guy to plow my driveway whenever I got more than a couple of inches of snow, but last winter I spent $400 and figured it's time I just buy a great blower and do it myself instead.

So the options I'm looking at are:
- Compact Track 24
- Platinum SHO Track 28
- Platinum SHO 28 RapidTrak

The things that I think would matter to me the most would be:
- How easy it is to maneuver / turn
- Heated handles
- Reliability
- Amount of maintenance required before / during / after winter
- Resale value (I might move out of Michigan in 2-3 years time and would like to try to get at least some of my money back)
- Cost (trying to stay around $1,500 if possible)

I don't know much about snow blowers (grew up in the south) so I'm a bit scared of buy a used blower, as I wouldn't be able to tell if a unit is good or not aside from rust.

Any insights on the three models above and how they compare would be greatly appreciated. I used Ariens' model comparison tool but it was focused technical characteristics and it didn't really help me make a decision.

Thank you!
 

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Without knowing exactly how sloped your driveway is, nor its composition, i.e. blacktop, I would guess that you probably don't need a track machine. I would tend to go with a 9-10 HP Ariens, Honda or Toro. Any of those will be reliable. Selling it in 3 years will face you with a fairly steep depreciation, similar to a car. Probably lose about 10-20% per year - but still cheaper than your plow service.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Without knowing exactly how sloped your driveway is, nor its composition, i.e. blacktop, I would guess that you probably don't need a track machine. I would tend to go with a 9-10 HP Ariens, Honda or Toro. Any of those will be reliable. Selling it in 3 years will face you with a fairly steep depreciation, similar to a car. Probably lose about 10-20% per year - but still cheaper than your plow service.
RIT333,

I hear you on depreciation and to your point, even if the blower depreciates 20% per year and I buy a $1500 unit, I'd still be ahead of paying for plow service.

Regarding wheel vs track, just to give you a sense of how steep my driveway is, the height difference between the road and the portion of the driveway just in front of my house is about 6-7 feet, meaning when I'm down on the road looking at my home I can't see my driveway's pavement up above.

I'm concerned about not going the track route and then struggling with the slope. I also get a lot of black ice on the driveway which also doesn't help.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Kiss4aFrog, that's what I'm inclined to do. Aside from the rapidtrak gimmick, would I be missing anything else from my list if I went with the 28 track?
 

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From your site map it appears that you have a large area to clear, so you may want to consider how long you want to spend snow blowing. While I have never used a track machine, my dealer says the disc drive track Ariens are very slow and put me off buying one. The Rapidtrack came out since that time and may be faster even with the disc drive. The hydro track models bring the speed up to wheeled machines but add to the price. So you may want to get an appreciation of how fast your selected machines are. For your budget you may want to consider a wheeled model with chains for your grade.

The snow throughput is important so you want the biggest engine and impeller that you can afford to allow walking pace rather than "shuffling of feet" pace which is no fun on a cold day; especially if lake effects snow will require a few clearings. Your driveway looks like it has 2 EOD (End Of Driveway) areas where the city snow plow will stack snow that is more difficult to move so throughput is more important.

I think an Ariens model will cover off your pricing and reliability and maintenance concerns, and hand warmers are often standard or a dealer installed option. The Ariens has Auto-Turn that makes manoeuvring very easy and plastic skid shoes rather than steel also help.

Good luck with your choice.
 

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go with a used Honda HS928 tracked machine.
for around $1000-1500 right now but when you narrow down a good blower have it checked out by someone who knows Honda's.

In 3 years , you'll be able to sell it for what you paid for ( or maybe more ) if you sell it in winter. around here they don't lose their value.
 

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As a point of reference, my driveway climbs about 4 feet, over a distance of about 40 feet. I have an Ariens with a differential, wheels, and chains. It's worked well. I have added some weight to my bucket, to help hold the nose down while climbing.



I have not had the chance to use a tracked machine, unfortunately. I've wondered (but have no experience) how they do with black ice, or similar conditions. Chains give you metal "teeth" to bite into the ice. But with tracks, it's just rubber (albeit a lot of rubber), so I wonder if they have trouble with smooth ice. Hopefully people with tracked machines can comment.



It was mentioned that Ariens has Auto-Turn, to make turning easier. This is true, but not on the Compact 24 tracked model. That one has a solid, locked axle. The Platinum 28 tracked model *does* have Auto-Turn, as well as a much bigger engine, plus a wider bucket. All of those would be very helpful, especially if you need to clear both driveway areas. The Platinum goes past your $1,500 target, though, unless you go used.
 

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I have a 26" yardman with tracks I have had it for almost 23 years My driveway slopes pretty good .At 75 YO it is getting a little tough steering that track machine around.So i decided to get an Ariens Platinum 24 I put about 20# of weight on the front.It should work on the hill.But i still have the Yardman for a backup Just in case. It still Runs like new .If I were you and you are concerned about the slope of your driveway.Get a track Machine if it is the only blower you will have.Me I could always send my wife out on the Track Machine.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
go with a used Honda HS928 tracked machine.
for around $1000-1500 right now but when you narrow down a good blower have it checked out by someone who knows Honda's.

In 3 years , you'll be able to sell it for what you paid for ( or maybe more ) if you sell it in winter. around here they don't lose their value.
Intriguing suggestion, orangputeh. I checked craigslist but there were no hondas listed. Any idea where I could find one for sale?
 

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Intriguing suggestion, orangputeh. I checked craigslist but there were no hondas listed. Any idea where I could find one for sale?
not sure where you are at but we check not only craigslist but the facebook marketplace , nextdoor.com , and letitgo.com. there may be other venues in your area.

also check allofcraigslist.com if you are willing to travel for a good deal.

also check craigslist for moving sales , garage sales , estate sales. This time of year people are moving away from the snow and selling snowblowers cheaper than in the middle of winter.
 

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And one of the new ones, offerup. Easier to use on a bigger screen (laptop, desktop) than the phone app.

https://offerup.com/

You mentioned lake effect snow and my understanding of the stuff is it's wetter and heavy. For that reason I was sticking with your three tracked blowers as to which I'd choose. As for ice you know best how often you have to deal with it and the idea that wheels with chains (or studs) would be a better choice might be correct. You could also stud the tracks for ice. I hate the bouncing that chains transmit through the handlebars and I'm lucky that most of my area is flat so I don't use them. If I needed more than tracks could give me I'd go with the studs in the tires or tracks before chains but that's just me.

 

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Yowsa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I pick the number 1 screw in stud for tracked snow blowers provided the tread grousers are thick enough (deep enough) to accept the screw in depth.

With heavy wet snow you need as much torque as you can afford. The other issue is that the entire snow pack is going to melt and compact as long as the sun is out and the weather is warm after the snow storm.

I do not think Geno will part with his frankenblower as it has a V twin honda.

What ever you decide on purchase the unit with the largest engine to provide you a wider power band and more torque as the engine will not be overtaxed and have reserve power for the END OF DRIVEWAY MONSTER which will be even more dense from plowing and packing the snow and the use of rock salt.
 
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