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Discussion Starter #1
I'm in the process of refurbishing my 1976 Wedgefield with plans to give it to my son, and treat myself to a new unit for next winter. It's been a great old girl. Built by Outdoor Products Ltd in Brampton ON, Canada. 26" with 10 hp Tecumseh. Almost nothing seems to be manufactured here anymore or in the USA for that matter, but that's a discussion for another thread.
I've been doing a lot of research and I've decided that Honda and Ariens are both generally considered to be among the best rated blowers available. I'm looking at at 28" or 30" unit. I know Honda makes great products and you can't go wrong with one, but the pricing on the Honda HSS928WC makes it a little too much. ($3099 CN) MSRP in Winnipeg. That leaves the Ariens Pro 28" (926038) on the top of my list. Last year at Home Depot it listed at $2162 which is still a lot, but I'm prepared to pay for quality. Now after doing a lot of reading user reviews, and browsing this forum, there appears to be two areas with the Ariens which are causing most of the reported complaints:

1). Auto-Turn. This seems to be a contentious issue. Most people seem to love it, but some absolutely hate it. There's a 27 page thread on this forum on this issue, and it appears that the problems people are having seem to be related to the type of surface on which it is used. Rough driveways seem to cause the blower to wander. My driveway is quite new concrete with no rough sections. It's a very smooth surface so I'm not sure how it would behave here.

2). Chute control. Many complaints on this feature. Freezing up, poorly designed, weak parts, not holding a setting etc. I would say this appears to be a major problem with the machine I'm thinking of buying. Chute control is a very important feature, since you are constantly turning the chute back and forth 180 degrees with every pass of the driveway, and it absolutely HAS to work easily and consistently and not be prone to breakdown.

I'm asking for feedback from any owners of the Pro 28, or similar Ariens units particularly in regard to these two apparent problem areas. Have you had issues with either of these features? What is your opinion on each of these features on your Ariens?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Hi pwm
This isn't the machine you are talking about but here goes. I bought my first snowblower last year which is an Ariens Platinum 24 with auto-turn. I had never used a snowblower before. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan so it is cold with lots of snow. I am 5'4" and weigh 130 pounds. Perhaps my experience will help with your decision.

My driveway is concrete. I used the snowblower at the second slowest speed. For me this worked out great. I did try going faster and may not have had the strength or height to control the snowblower--but it did seem to wander. However, once I figured this out, slower worked fine for me.

The Auto-Turn worked great if I wanted to go off in a different direction. It didn't work as slick as the advertising if I wanted to turn the machine 180 degrees and go the same direction I came from. Again, I felt that if I were taller and weighed more, I would have been able to do a better job. However, I did get it turned 180 degrees and cleared my driveway.

I did have a problem with my deflector getting stuck. I could wiggle it to make it move. However, since it was under warranty, the cable was replaced as it was deemed defective.

I am very happy with my purchase. I was amazed that I was able to start it and that it did the job of keeping my driveway clear all winter. I bought my Ariens from an independent dealer and not Home Depot.
 

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I think the Auto Turn feature is a bit sensitive. I used a machine without the feature for years and can't say it's a feature that I'd seek, but the newer machines have it fitted as standard equipment. It does tend to "jump" around a bit on uneven surfaces, including areas where cars have driven before the snow could be cleared, but I don't find it to be much of a problem.

People have fitted different skids and say that helps quite a lot. I purchased the skids but have yet to fit them to the machine. I wanted to get a feeling of what the machine was like without the longer skids.

Maybe the chute control mechanism on the Pro machines is different than my machine, but I find the crank chute control mechanism to be nothing short of outstanding. I've thought it was one of the best design features of the machine.
 

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I have the Platinum 24 that I bought new last fall. I had nothing but grief with the chute control. It would freeze up. The dealer came out the first time and played with it and got it working..so he thought. It actually had thawed out by the time he came. The next storm it was frozen again. The dealer picked it up and again by the time he got it back to his dealership it had thawed so he said nothing was wrong. I was furious and he decided to placate me so he replaced the whole chute control mechanism. It has worked fine ever since. I am still leery but after that it worked great. You won't know about the chute until it gets really cold. The chute control was one of the primary reason I picked this model and until next winter I am still in doubt about my purchase. However, when it is working it is a great machine.
 

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Auto Turn?

But what's the verdict on Auto Turn? Last winter I cancelled an order for a Deluxe 28 after reading some horror stories about it.
 

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Treat yourself !! Buy the Ariens deluxe 28 .
Now I have to say my deluxe 28 does not have auto-turn as it was made a yr or two before auto-turn but it has the trigger (lever) so I control the turn. It has two led's for night time use and the 28 has the power to handle
deep snow and what the plow leaves at the bottom of the driveway. Hope you choose Ariens.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Pulled the trigger

I decided to go with the Ariens pro 28 model 926038. It was a lot of money, but I think it will prove to be worth it to have the top line Ariens. Bought it from Home Depot and it was delivered yesterday. The assembly process was straight forward although it took longer than I thought it would. Even so, I have to say that the illustrated instructions in the manual were very good. The price went up at the Home Depot Web site by $480 since I order it, so I got a good deal. Probably a result of the declining Canadian dollar versus the $US. The only issue I had was the large oil stain on the cardboard under the unit. After assembly I placed the blower over clean cardboard, and after an hour or so I could see that a drip was forming at the drain tube nut. They didn't tightened it enough. The motor oil was down about 1/4 from the top hole in the dip stick. After about 3/4 of a turn, the leak has now stopped, and no big problem.

I'll give an update on the auto-turn and chute control after I use it for a while. I expect it will get lots of use this winter. I'm almost looking forward to the first big snow dump. (Not really, just kidding).
 

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Congrats on your purchase.

Keep us updated. I have a deluxe 30 with auto turn. Took me a while to get use to it. I hated it at first, but time in the saddle will help ya figure it out. As indicated above, tire tracks in a fresh snow fall will pull the blower to one side or the other. Knowing this is coming and being close in to the bars will help you keep the blower in the right direction. Try it out, and keep the phrase Armor Skids in the back of your mind. I got a pair and that helped.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
First start-up. Teflon tape on oil drain threads?

After I used up my remaining fuel in my tractor I got some 91 octane for the winter. I put some in the snow blower and started it for the first time earlier this week. Started right away and runs great. The 420cc B&S is much quieter than my old girl. Hardly needed my ear protection with it. I walked it up and down the driveway testing how the auto-turn works and I'm very impressed. The wife thought I was nuts, but that's normal. I'm eager to see how it actually works for me when we have our first big snow, but it sure is easy to turn the unit.

After sitting for a day I noticed another drop of oil forming under the drain tube nut. I gave it another 1/8 turn but I don't want to tighten it too much. When I do the first oil change after 5 hours I was thinking of using some Teflon tape on the threads when I put the nut back on. Anyone else do this? Any other advice for the oil drain nut?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Teflon is the way to go for this application, as you probably already know just make sure you don't leave any extra dangling before tightening as it might harm the engine if any loose tape travels in the oil.
 

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I seal the plugs on my blower, lawn tractor, and harleys with teflon paste/thread sealant. Brush a little on the threads and tighten 'er up. I used tape years back but found it to be cumbersome in comparison to the paste.
 

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After sitting overnight I found a puddle of oil under it. The oil was coming from around the base of the motor. I can't believe a new motor could have an oil leak so I think it must be the oil drain tube. I can tighten it very easily with a crescent wrench as it has a flat spot built into it. I don't want to over tighten it but I also don't think it should be so easy to tighten which makes me think that is the problem.

I paid almost twice as much to buy an Ariens over an MTD made unit, and now I have a new snow blower leaking oil. I'm not very happy right now. My "old girl" which was almost 40 years old did not leak oil.

I guess I'll keep tightening the drain tube and see if that stops it. Or else maybe drain the oil, and replace the tube and nut with teflon tape.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I tightened the drain pipe and nut some more and started it up with the front end raised to see where the oil was coming from. It's coming from under the motor. Guess I'll have to open an issue with Ariens. I'm disappointed with Ariens quality control at this point.
 

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Sorry to hear this. I remember last year someone had an Ariens with a Subaru engine and that engine ended up having a hairline crack in the block and it leaked. I believe they replaced the engine under warranty for him.

As for the teflon tape on the pipe, you should be able to try that without draining the oil if you tip the blower up on the front end.

Also make sure the 2 side plugs are tight.
 

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I took it back to HD

I decided I didn't want anything more to do with the unit, so I took it back to Home Depot for a full refund this morning. They handled it very well, with no questions asked, so kudos to them. I had to rent a cargo van from them to get it there, but that's life without a pickup truck. They did throw in the ramps for no extra charge which I appreciated. The ramps are a separate rental item.

I stopped at Sears and looked at the craftsman units on the way home. There are some obvious differences between them and the Ariens, where you can see they've done things in a cheaper way, but they are also almost $800 less. I think I'll order a Craftsman Pro 30" with the B&S 420cc motor. I'm hopeful this one won't leave a puddle of oil on my garage floor.

I don't usually buy the "top of the line" model of anything, but I made an exception with the Ariens Pro. What a disappointment. Although I suppose it's more of a B&S quality control issue than an Ariens problem.
 
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