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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I noticed that on the ends of the auger shafts are what appear to be copper washers that rest loosely against the rubber seals on the gearbox. I can move them pretty easily with my fingernails. What is the purpose of these washers? Are they supposed to be loose and just floating on the shaft?

Second question: How prone to leaking are these cast iron gearboxes? I ran my fingers under where the auger shaft enters the gearbox and found a minute trace of fluid. Not really a leak as I didn't see any on the ground. This is a new machine that I bought a few months ago. Probably has about 10-12 hours total run time. Thanks in advance.
 

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The washers on the auger shaft are on my machine too. I think they protect the rubber seals from damage by the auger rubbing against the seal. The shaft can move side to side a little.

Where the impeller shaft enters the gearbox is a rubber seal. That was replaced by my dealer after 2 years when it leaked. After another 2 years it leaked again. So I replaced the seal and used Motorcraft 75W-140 differential oil. So now after a year the seal is still good and there is no oil at the seal. Gearbox oil is at level. The L3 gearbox oil spec'd for out machines is very thin.
 

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The washers on my 2018 28 Pro Hydro look just like those pictured.
The washer on the right, on my machine, has nowhere near the gap that the washer on the left does.


I was actually thinking about doing what ColdInMontana has done, ask about it here in the forums.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The washers on the auger shaft are on my machine too. I think they protect the rubber seals from damage by the auger rubbing against the seal. The shaft can move side to side a little.

Where the impeller shaft enters the gearbox is a rubber seal. That was replaced by my dealer after 2 years when it leaked. After another 2 years it leaked again. So I replaced the seal and used Motorcraft 75W-140 differential oil. So now after a year the seal is still good and there is no oil at the seal. Gearbox oil is at level. The L3 gearbox oil spec'd for out machines is very thin.
Thanks, I figured they are to protect the rubber seals. I was worried they were supposed to be pressed into the gearbox or something. That’s a bummer on the oil leaks. I had hoped not to have to deal with that for a long time. I’ll be keeping a close eye on it, that’s for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The washers on my 2018 28 Pro Hydro look just like those pictured.
The washer on the right, on my machine, has nowhere near the gap that the washer on the left does.


I was actually thinking about doing what ColdInMontana has done, ask about it here in the forums.
Mine is exactly the same...different gaps left vs right.

Any oil seepage on yours?
 

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They're there to prevent the rake from hitting the seal if a shear pin breaks.

The cast iron gear boxes were a massive improvement from the split aluminum ones in terms of leakage. Generally speaking the side seals don't fail prematurely. They either wear out over years of service or get damaged by sucking up something like wire, string, or an abundance of tall grass which spools around then gets drawn into the lip of the seal. The only seal that was prone to leak was the rear one for the impeller but I think the fill level has been reduced so it shouldn't be an issue unless you overfill the gear box or if you constantly go up a very steep grade.
 

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They're there to prevent the rake from hitting the seal if a shear pin breaks.

The cast iron gear boxes were a massive improvement from the split aluminum ones in terms of leakage. Generally speaking the side seals don't fail prematurely. They either wear out over years of service or get damaged by sucking up something like wire, string, or an abundance of tall grass which spools around then gets drawn into the lip of the seal. The only seal that was prone to leak was the rear one for the impeller but I think the fill level has been reduced so it shouldn't be an issue unless you overfill the gear box or if you constantly go up a very steep grade.
My gearbox impeller seal leaked because the seal failed twice. The oil level was always maintained at the correct level.

Ariens spec for the oil level is between 2.38" and 2.63" which Ariens say requires a dipstick to measure from the top of gearbox oil fill hole without the gasket. Attached are pics of my dipstick and the measurements of the high and low spec levels. The oil level of the L3 lubricant was, from new, maintained between those two levels. The impeller shaft bearings were replaced with the new seals but were not worn, just a precaution.

In my opinion the L3 lubricant is just too thin for the seals. So the 75W-140 synthetic differential oil replaced the L3. What I notice with the thicker oil is that there is no weeping at the seal after a very long hard winter; and the new oil is staying cleaner, looks just like new compared to the L3 which looked a dirty red after first 2 years and the second 2 years with the clear L3 was just dirty looking. The gearbox on my machine stays cold and does not even melt the snow that accumulates on top and around it, so I am not worried about the GL5 oil causing oxidation.

I don't know what the oil level spec is for later machines.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I too made my own dipstick with full and low marks (made mine from wood dowel). I checked mine before it was used the first time and it was at the low mark from the factory. I topped it off to the "full" mark with L3 fluid. Just checked it this morning after about 12 hours of use and it is still at the full mark. My only concern with differential fluid is that depending on the specs it can be bad for yellow metals. Do these gearboxes have any soft or "yellow" metals in them?
 

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I too made my own dipstick with full and low marks (made mine from wood dowel). I checked mine before it was used the first time and it was at the low mark from the factory. I topped it off to the "full" mark with L3 fluid. Just checked it this morning after about 12 hours of use and it is still at the full mark. My only concern with differential fluid is that depending on the specs it can be bad for yellow metals. Do these gearboxes have any soft or "yellow" metals in them?
I found the gearbox oil spec for the Pro models for 2017 and 2019, they are both 2.4" to 2.6" so just a tiny bit more oil than my Platinum.

I don't know what the metals are, but I think I saw something from Ariens saying the gears are extra strong, the worm is steel and the gear is steel (rather than soft metal). The sulfur used in GL5 differential oil to fortify against very high pressures can oxidise soft (yellow) metals at high temperatures. No problem at low temperatures. My gearbox is only cold to the touch even after extensive running and the snow does not melt on it. That is a long way from the hundreds of degrees necessary for oxidation.
 
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