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Husqvarna vs. Ariens tracked snow blowers

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by heat seeker, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    I've had it with my Simplicity blower, so am looking at Husqy and Ariens tracked machines. The Husqy dealer has them in stock, and I have looked the 30 hydro model over, and like it. The Ariens dealer doesn't stock track models because they don't sell, but can order one for me. I'd still much rather see one in person before buying, but no Ariens dealers around here have a demo.

    I'd like to see if any of you here have any thoughts or opinions on either brand/model of these machines. I need a tracked model, and want something that will handle our often heavy snow loads.

    I'm leaning towards the Husqvarna 1830EXLT, $2599.00 on sale.

    The few reviews I've found are mostly very favorable, one or two bad comments.

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  2. Utilitrack

    Utilitrack Feeling the Heat

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    No opinion on either but why tracked? You certainly get less snow than us Mainiacs, wheeled works for us.
    Adios Pantalones likes this.
  3. greg13

    greg13 Feeling the Heat

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    My personal opinion is that Ariens have made quality snow blowers since the 60's that few if any manufacturers can beat. Husqvarna products in general have in my opinion steadily gone downhill. Honda makes a tracked unit also.

    Why do you "need" a tracked unit? A good wheel machine will do anything that needs to be done.Plus if the machine is working right you will be down to solid ground so tracks actually work against you since the ground pressure is less (as well as traction) than a wheel machine.
  4. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    I have an older Ariens wheeled blower, and it is a great machine. However, I have to clear a path to the barn for access to feed the critters. The lane is very uneven, but the worst part is that it's pretty steep uphill. My wheeled machine, even with chains, has a hard time. The chains just dig down until the machine bottoms out, and then I'm stuck trying to muscle it up the hill. I'm hoping that the tracks will get the machine up the hill. My driveway is also pretty steep, but the wheeled Ariens can handle that, except it has trouble where the plows compact the snow.

    My Simplicity tractor, even with weights and chains, has difficulty with the driveway, and is useless on the barn path.

    I'm literally betting a large piece of change that the tracks will work for me.

    i'd like an Ariens, but will not buy something sight unseen. The Husqvarna I looked at seems to be of moderate, at least, quality, which should be adequate for my use. I'm probably only good for another 5 years or so of snow clearing, then will have to leave it to others. I take very good care of my machines, and don't abuse them, so feel pretty confident that I'll get the 5 years out of any machine.
  5. festerw

    festerw Member

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    I can say that a Honda track drive will do what you're looking to do. The Ariens or Husqvarna I don't have any experience with but I have a 25ish year old Honda, they are very nice machines my only problem is the tracks are getting dry rotted and the parts are obsolete.
  6. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    At the job, we have commercial grade Ariens that are wheeled and work great (school system, going on 12 years). I have a homeowner grade 30 inch wheeled....the traction lock works great, but I find the front to be on the light side, and it tends to not dig in.....at times, I need to keep a little "up" pressure on the handles to give the front more "down" force......contemplating putting a big heavy steel bar across the top for more weight up front......my feeling if it had wheel chains, it would be unstoppable
  7. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    Large diameter wheels on my JD 1128 work well for me. I just need to go slow and pause a bit when I blow the 3' icy crud that snowplows puts at the end of the driveway.

    edit: Amazon has the track version for $2488. Eligible for two day shipping for Prime members
  8. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    She-it! !!! I spent less than that on my 64" Woods in 2012.

    0411560719full.jpg
    (garden gnome, dear? what garden gnome? never saw it...)
    (oh... the dog is missing too?)

    You've got a barn full of animals, so I'm guessing you probably have a tractor...

    My previous 42" snow-blower cost me $150 in 2011... tractor included:

    7d57_1.JPG
    MasterMech likes this.
  9. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    I do have a Simplicity, but have given up on replacing $60 belts at a rapid rate. Something is wrong, I just can't figure out what, and it won't do the hill anyway. I've tried in the past. But, the Simp blower is a beast. 42" wide, and it blows the snow halfway back to where it came from. The belt thing is poorly designed, IMO, and I'm tired of dealing with it.
  10. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I don't have tracked- but I have had an Ariens 724 for 11 years of NH winters- a 250' driveway uphill, facing North, through woods that drop lots of sticks to suck up. Until I sucked up a big flat rock with both augers (very strange circumstance)- it had been nothing but great. I had to replace the auger gear box last winter, now it's a boss once again.
  11. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Watch the front ends on those Husqvarna units. They often do not have a solid cross-shaft in the gearbox and auger flights. Absolutely unacceptable in a $2700 unit if that turns out to be the case. (I can't dbl check at the moment).

    Tracks vs wheels.... Tracks offer the best traction and drift busting power. Period. But they are a bear to repair when packed full of ice/snow. There are some really good wheel units out there too.

    Toro doesn't do tracks but they are my preference for walk behind blowers. If you absolutely have to have tracks, I'd go Honda.
  12. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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  13. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Ditto, but my Ariens is the 824. It's a mean-ass little machine, but I'm not sure how well it compares to the Ariens they make today. Only issue with mine has been slippage of the drive disc on the drive plate in recent years... probably time for a new drive disc, as the rubber is probably too old / hard.
  14. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I had to swap mine out too. Not a fault of the company for a consumable part like that- 10+ years is a good life after the abuse that I put it through (including doing extensive paths in my yard after every snow for my little fake dogs)
    Joful likes this.
  15. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    You too? The black one has zero ground clearance at full-squat. She is barely taller than the riser on one step.

    201001311157-8009-8010.jpg
    Adios Pantalones likes this.
  16. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    [​IMG]

    Sorry but that's exactly the inferior design I had in mind. The shaft extends 3-4" from either side of the gearbox inside of the hollow tube in the center of the auger flights. It's pinned to the flight via shear pin and then the tube is hollow until you get a few inches from the edges of the housing where it is pinned again to the stub axles that are bolted to the housings. Those stub axle assemblies are page "N".

    [​IMG]

    Think about what happens to this design in a less than perfect world. I asked Murphy what he had planned and he said it's likely that if you were to "discover" something buried in the snow in your driveway, the shear pins would break, as they are designed to do. This would allow the housing ends to spread, possibly far enough to "drop" the stub shaft of the gear box out of the auger flights. Remember that you would only have to spread the housings a couple inches to accomplish this, not too far-fetched considering they are pretty thin sheet metal. Now that the gear box is no longer anchored on one or both sides, what is preventing the gearbox from flailing around on the end of a 2' shaft? This almost surely is going to result in additional damage to the impeller, bend the input shaft, and/or damage the back of the impeller housing.

    This is the kind of cost cutting design I'd expect to see in a sub-$1000 entry-level unit like you'd see at Sears/Lowes/Depot. But not in a $2000+ machine. I love the idea of tracks and a hydro transmission but the business end of this unit is garbage as far as I'm concerned.

    If you absolutely need/want tracks and a hydro, Honda is probably your best bet.

    Or... since you mentioned that you were gettin' on in the years, there are some great solutions that don't involve walking. Do you own a tractor of any kind? Lawn, garden, or compact utility? Doesn't have to be a big machine to clear a residential driveway in record time. Here's my setup:

    Joful likes this.
  17. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    The Honda gearbox is the same style. Short output shafts, as seen on a YouTube video by Donyboy73. It does have a support bracket, though, that should hold it in place.

    I do have a garden tractor (see post #9), and it was great when it worked right. It still wouldn't handle the lane down to the barn, though. But, it did a large turnaround driveway and parking areas in 20 minutes or so, all while I was seated comfortably. 42" width meant 3 passes more than did the driveway's width.

    I looked at some Hondas today, and am pretty well sold on their HS928, or the HS1332 tracks. The 928 costs almost the same as the Simplicity. I like the 1332 because of its larger engine, but it's around $3200, which is a lot for a walk behind machine! They seem to be very well made, and run rather quietly, too. The hydro is nice, also, and the light is in a usable place. No hand warmers, though. And, the dealer actually acted like he wanted to make a sale, unlike the other places I've been to. I've owned many Honda motorcycles, and the quality was always there.

    Decision time is fast approaching, self-imposed deadline.
  18. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    I live in Quebec so I think it is fair to say I know about snow: we have an average of 400-500cm per winter where I live.

    Ariens make great machines. You can't get a better bang for your $. The best snowblowers are Honda and Yamaha. However, you won't get one for under $3400 in Canada. It will start every time, throw the snow like a farm tractor and rarely, if ever, break.

    With that being said, I have an Ariens wheeled. I like the idea of tracks. BUt they are more expensive. And a friend of mine had a tracked snowblower which broke one time. Have you ever tried pushing a tracked snowblower 5 feet? It is near impossible.

    All Ariens have cast-iron gear boxes with 5 year warranties. The machine itself is 3 year bumper to bumper. This is a very fine machine for the price. The 414cc engine can TOSS that snow quite far. I have had it for 3 years without issues. Here is a the 2014 model... http://www.snowblowersdirect.com/Ariens-921029-Snow-Thrower/p11240.html

    Here is the model I have http://www.snowblowersdirect.com/Ariens-921018-Snow-Thrower/p3243.html


    Personally I would stay away from Husky...I love their saws but not the blowers. A friend of mine had one and it didn't seem to toss the snow near as far. The last I heard Husqvarna, Sears, Poulan, etc snowblowers are all AYP-made products. Different trim levels but basically the same machine

    GOod luck!

    Andrew

    PS. Here is a picture of some of the snow we can get...

    Attached Files:

    Joful likes this.
  19. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, that's some pretty serious snow!
    I did look at the Ariens, since I like my old one a lot. But, around here, the price difference for comparable Ariens/Honda is about $80. So I'm thinking of going with the Honda; plus they have one that I can see and play with.
    Swedishchef likes this.
  20. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Woa.. That is a small price difference! Enjoy the honda!
  21. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    That exploded view seems to show a stamped steel gearbox. I discounted that and went with a blower with a cast iron box.
  22. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    On most of the machines I've seen, that gearbox is aluminum castings. Not sayin' that there aren't steel ones, I just haven't seen any. Ariens is the only one I know of that uses cast iron. It's sturdy, but I question the benefits. If the gearbox doesn't give, something else will.
    Those aluminum castings are not too pricey - $90 for the Honda 928 (not too bad, really), and $28.00 per side for the Husqy. Labor is another matter. The entire Husqy gearbox is about $220. I couldn't find a price on the Honda assembly, but did notice that all the shafts ride on bearings, not bushings.
    Let's hope none of us catch anything damaging in our machines!
  23. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    I put a solid wood handled shovel through mine. It ate it! LOL. My sheer pins didn't break. Nothing.

    I have a co-worker that owns an Ariens and his ate a brick...it jammed the machine and it stalled but nothing broke.

    My gearbox is aluminum and I haven'r had any issues. But a 5 year warranty is nice on it just in case...

    Andrew
  24. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    We work together?

    I ate a brick with my Ariens 824, helping a neighbor, who apparently liked to leave loose bricks laying in his driveway on snow day. Mine sheared one of the shear pins... I'd be taking a close look at those pins, if they didn't shear before stalling the machine. My Woods 64" blower uses grade 5 bolts for shear pins, but those little Ariens use a softer bolt that's necked down in the shear area.
    Swedishchef likes this.
  25. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    Good point! Yeah, I'd pull the shear pins and see if the auger spins freely. They do tend to rust to the shafts.

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