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Hi folks, I feel like I was on this forum 25 to 30 years ago when researching, and ended up with an Ariens ST724 with a B&S in Northern Virginia.

Sometimes the winter would be zippedly-nada for snow, then the next year we'd be innundated. Never had to do much maintenance, more tricking it into working each year in absence of proper living care,call my fault. Without having a truck, getting it serviced in this area was much tougher than getting my old John Deere lawnmower seviced every few years (again... ignored, faithful, tricky every year, 30 years plus life). But I always coaxed them into service each year. :)

The Ariens served me well until four years ago when my ex to-be and I were amicably splitting up, giving away or claiming assets, and since I was moving to a condo, we gave the ST724 away to a good neighbor.

Fast forward now... bought a house in Kittery Point ME, having it renovated for retirement next year. Still in Virginia, but in Maine, we have a long, uneven crummy asphalt driveway that a family member and whatever garbage snowblower (or operator issues, not sure, lol) he is using is making it difficult to keep that driveway clear. Breaking shear pins, who knows. Either way, looking for a new toy.

So I'm looking for another Ariens. I'm ok with $3k or so for a new one. I appreciate tech and I appreciate simplicity and reliability. I don't have a problem paying for a track drive Ariens Pro if it will be dead-on reliable (or, with new tech getting pushed out there for real-world experience, inching there), and I am thinking track drive.

The driveway width is probably have a typical driveway width, just long. Storage of unit may mean a 28" instead or a 30" or 32" but I'm interested in real-world, anecdotal view on trouble-free, ease of maintenance and actual use of the Rapidtrak 32" 925969 vs 28" 926078. Is the only difference the clearing width? How's it been theubacseason? I keep thinking of how car mfrs do it with the next level up also adds other do-dads. Hmm, I forget if these are EFI now, would really be nice.

Is the auto-turn pretty much perfect now? How about the moving the chute back and forth? I remember always having to crank that chute around to get the snow on a wind day from burying me, lol.

I appreciate your inputs. Hard getting good advice here in Northern Virginia still!

~Z
 

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How long a drive are we talking? and how uneven, is it raised cracks? Is is straight or circular in parts? Is there a grade or grades to the driveway? Kittery seems to be the extreme south of Maine and near ocean, It doesn't get as much avg accumulation as the northern interior does it?
How long can you live with operating a SB to remove a foot of snow? What ground speed are you comfortable with? A 32" might let a car through in 3 passes, the problem being 3 passes are useless unless you park your machine by the street, so plan on 4 passes and probably six for clean sweep or heavy snow. 32" might be a PITA in a succession of light snows. I personally wouldn't go for any wider than my 26" pro (which is NLA now) mostly because I don't have enough drive, and only about 40 feet on each end is straight plowing, the bulk is a constant arc, but even If I did the thing still weighs 300lbs. It's a beast. If you have the bucks and you're drive is flat, perhaps consider a wheeled EFI deluxe 30 and one of these https://www.ariens.com/en-us/power-equipment/snow-products/snow-blowers/crossover/crossover-20 for up around the parking area. In light accumulations these are speedy.
For a single $3K machine perhaps the 926068 would be what you need. 28" hydro pro
 

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Nice of you to reply so quickly!

Looking at dimensions, I'm sure it'll bring a chuckle as I see it's only about 100 feet long.

There is a grade, it has raised cracks from tree roots and maybe heaves from winter.

You are probably right about it being more mild due to its location, but I haven't been there while during winter snow conditions.

Also probably already decided 28" was fine, looking at where I would store it, but was trying to figure out if there was any advantage To a "higher up" model other width.

YouTube of Ariens vs Husky be track-drive convinced me the Husky was slower and Ariens seemed a reasonable speed.

Much obliged for your time!
 

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Look at it this way, if your driveway is 12 ft wide by 100 that's 1200 square feet or the size of half the average family home. a car needs at least 8ft min of clearance width to pass a straight driveway and access the street. A truck, or car on a curvy driveway probably needs 10ft min width of clearing(that would mean 30 inches wide for four perfect passes)., How much time do you want to spend clearing the driveway? an hour, or half an hour? If you are retired it may be fine to spend an hour, but I certainly don't want to. Especially not if there are pounding storms every day. The faster time can be achieved 2 ways, by heavy, wide and expensive tank like brute force, or light and nimble ground speed and precision (Single stage etc), Do you wish to till your driveway like you are turning your backyard garden under? Or have the experience be more like mowing the front lawn? If you are retired you're probably not going to let it pile much over 8 inches because you are at home more. Therefore the only time it could get over 8 inches before you put on your galoshes, is probably when you'd go to sleep and it snowed steadily throughout the night. That's why I'm going to say a tracked full frame machine is probably a bit overkill for your 100 ft drive (at least until you become better aware of your micro climate situation).... And don't buy anything until you can actually feel and touch one on a showroom floor, and imagine how it may handle.
You could always buy an entry level machine and use it for one season to see how it does, then sell it for a $200-$300 loss if it's not up to snuff...If you make a mistake on a big one and feel it's not for you, then you'll end up taking a bath on it.
 

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I would warn against assuming that a new Ariens with AutoTurn, Rapidtrak or the new style discharge chute will be as stone cold reliable as your old machine was. It will need much more attention/maintenance than a ST728 did. Simple fact is they don't build them like they used to.
 
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I would warn against assuming that a new Ariens with AutoTurn, Rapidtrak or the new style discharge chute will be as stone cold reliable as your old machine was. It will need much more attention/maintenance than a ST728 did. Simple fact is they don't build them like they used to.
How so?...be specific.
Does Ariens hydro break down more than Toro or any other Hydro even though they are all made by the same company "Hydrogear", do their engines break more often? Even though every big manufacturer except Honda and Yamaha is using Honda gx style clone engines that come from various east Asian factories? Are the pro level models made with with thinner gauge metal parts than the old ones? Do the tires wear out faster?
Just asking because my experience with newer Ariens (which admittedly is limited) is they outperform the older models in nearly every way.
 

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I would warn against assuming that a new Ariens with AutoTurn, Rapidtrak or the new style discharge chute will be as stone cold reliable as your old machine was. It will need much more attention/maintenance than a ST728 did. Simple fact is they don't build them like they used to.
But, but, he's gonna spend 3 grand! It's gotta be better!;)
 

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How so?...be specific.
Does Ariens hydro break down more than Toro or any other Hydro even though they are all made by the same company "Hyrdogear", do their engines break more often? Even though every big manufacturer except Honda and Yamaha is using Honda gx style clone engines that come from various east Asian factories? Are the pro level models made with with thinner gauge metal parts than the old ones? Do the tires wear out faster?
Just asking because my experience with newer Ariens (which admittedly is limited) is they outperform the older models in nearly every way.
'How so? Be specific'....
Did you use to post on Darcy's cartoon at Cleveland.com when they had a comments section?
The biggest difference is the widespread use of plastic components in the newer machines.
Now call me ol' fashion, but given my choice, I'll take metal components over plastic ones anyday.
Like the rabbit and the hare, who cares about out-performance if it doesn't make it to the end of the season?
Specifically, I suppose you could reply that plastic parts are less expensive to replace, but that is little comfort in the dead of winter.
 

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'How so? Be specific'....
Did you use to post on Darcy's cartoon at Cleveland.com when they had a comments section?
The biggest difference is the widespread use of plastic components in the newer machines.
Now call me ol' fashion, but given my choice, I'll take metal components over plastic ones anyday.
Like the rabbit and the hare, who cares about out-performance if it doesn't make it to the end of the season?
Specifically, I suppose you could reply that plastic parts are less expensive to replace, but that is little comfort in the dead of winter.
Ariens has used plastic belt covers and fuel tanks since the 10000 series, and didn't the 10m's have plastic mount on the remote throttle? How are the new ones worse than the old? Sorry but it ain't plastics. (the amount of 10000 series undamaged plastic parts available on the used market it a testimony to longevity, not the other way around)
In fact, when Ariens made the move from the 924 series to taller tires and buckets on the full sized 926 and 921 series. The dash mount gear/disk shift (on the oval headlight STEEL dash) experienced so much resonant vibrations that it was the steel quadrant on the dash itself that it created stress fracturing and failed...They had to redesign it within first few years,
Even with a fractured dash, the 926/921, in it's lowest base form, will still out-throw, out-clear, and outperform, any ST724
 

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welcome to SBF Zombeezy

One thing to remember besides storage space is your age and strength. I'm over 60, in average shape and I have JD, Toro & Ariens 32's. They are all pretty heavy and at times a real work out. They do make a nice wide cut and get me back inside a bit sooner which is much appreciated when it's below zero and windy !! Even so there are times I roll out the 24" as it's just more nimble and easier on the arms and back.

If you haven't used a 32" to know how it feels and you're only going to have one machine I would suggest you'd be happier with the 28".
What makes any machine reliable is attention to maintenance. They are all going to need it. But starting with a good strong machine to begin with gives you better odds of it holding up and being able to find parts down the road. IMHO

I have a newer Ariens 28" with autoturn but I bought it with a blown engine and as yet havent got aroung to repowering it. Have the new briggs in the basement but .... It sure feels nearly as solid as my 70's 32's

.
 

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How so?...be specific.
Does Ariens hydro break down more than Toro or any other Hydro even though they are all made by the same company "Hydrogear", do their engines break more often? Even though every big manufacturer except Honda and Yamaha is using Honda gx style clone engines that come from various east Asian factories? Are the pro level models made with with thinner gauge metal parts than the old ones? Do the tires wear out faster?
Just asking because my experience with newer Ariens (which admittedly is limited) is they outperform the older models in nearly every way.
I honestly do not think that any of the hydro units will be serviceable in 20-30 years. The parts will be unavailable. Tires? Modern [read Asian imported] rubber dry checks, leaks and needs replacement in a couple of years if the blower isn't stored away from sunlight. Production powder coats fail far quicker than paint ever did if damaged. While plastic chutes are less prone to clogging from friction, all plastic gets brittle over time.The current chute tilt and turn mechanism is more at home on a children's toy. To say that it will stand the test of time with a straight face would be a quite disingenuous. I'll respectfully stand by my prediction.
 
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2 stage all have steel chutes, If you want the old style crank turn remote, I'm sure one could be retrofitted without too much trouble, I'm with you on the powdercoat but this is NOT Ariens fault, blame the EPA and Nordson. Ariens has been using production powdercoat for almost 40 years so how old are we talking? I'm unsure if Carlisle is even making domestic tires, and if they are it's probably only the larger sizes like for ZTR's and the like. Again not Ariens fault. Hydrogear is not going out of biz anytime soon and If they discontinue the SST it will only because they develop a less costly replacement. The one thing I would really worry about with new Power Equipment is the circuit boards for the EFI. Buy a carb model for as long as you can (unless you live in elevation)
 

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Even with a fractured dash, the 926/921, in it's lowest base form, will still out-throw, out-clear, and outperform, any ST724
That may well be true. But my Ol' Betsy is a early 70's Ariens 724. I would posit the big difference is corporate mindset: 'Planned Obsolescence' was a new,crazy idea that had not been entirely 'bought into' as it is today. In the early 70's, pride in workmanship and longevity were considered the finest expressions of a company's product. Now, it is a race to the bottom to improve 'stakeholder profits'. Ah, the good ol' days!!
 
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