Friday, November 29, 2019

Hmmmmm....Ariens -or- Honda?

Well now that the "SnowJoe" snow blower has thawed and dried out, I put the batteries in it to see if I could get a handle on the thumping noise, and the "Coffee Can Full Of Gravel" noise it was making.

It powered right up, and rattly-buzzy-bad-bearings noise was gone, and the thumping noise was extremely subdued.

I'm putting the gravel-in-a-can sound down to it having a bunch of gravel/stones/frozen mulch stuck in it's craw, but I haven't fully diagnosed the thumping noise yet.

The auger assembly consists of two sets of augers on a common shaft driven by a right-angle gearbox. The augers kind of "float" on the driveshaft, and have two "shear pins" each, consisting of a soft 1/4-20 (or a Metric bolt that size) bolt that shears if the auger gets jammed. Pretty standard stuff, and I wonder if the bolts have started to shear from the workout it got two days running.

ANYWAY....since this thing handles wet snow so poorly, and was taxed to the max dealing with 20" of snow, I'm throwing in the towel on it, and getting a gas-powered snow blower to replace it.

I'll either dump it on craigslist, or more likely strip the motors, electronics, and other useful stuff from it and scrap the rest. I'm thinking go-kart for the kids, or maybe buy a used Power Wheels riding toy and "upgrade" it a bit.

So what do we get for a replacement snow blower? I've got two thumbs up from Reverend Paul on an Ariens model, and they get great reviews on-line. Talking with the menfolk of the clan at our Thanksgiving gathering, I found that they don't have much experience with "little" snow blowers, but they agreed Ariens is a very good brand. They also liked Honda, and Toro. Anything Honda with an internal combustion engine in it rates very high on my list, but YIKES! A 24" Honda goes for $2,200, while the Ariens goes for about $1,100.

The other night, Well Seasoned Fool suggested I look on craigslist, which I did.

What did I find? A one-year old Honda 24" for $900!

And the ad was well written by what appears to be an intelligent person, sometimes a rarity on craigslist.

To wit:

Looking for a heavy duty snowblower with lots of options and quality construction? Then it’s time to introduce yourself to the Honda HS724.
This snow blower is just the type of machine that will handle the type of snow fort collins just found itself in!

Don't compare these to the machines you see parked outside the big box stores. These are expensive high end machines new! Check out Honda's website and see for yourself! This was over 2000 new!

I Don't need to sell, not in hurry to sell! PRICE IS FIRM.

It has a 24 inch clearing path and a 7hp Genuine Honda OHV engine.
This has more power than residential machines rated at almost twice as much! Full commercial grade!
This features Honda GX series engine that is the workhorse of a ton of different honda products!

The Hydrostatic drive system is similar to that of a lawn tractor. The reason these are so superior is that the hydrostatic offers the user infinite speed adjustment for the self propel. There are no set speeds that limit your options. The build quality is top notch!

Comes with a working headlight so you can see the path in front of you no matter the hour.

It fires up and runs GREAT!

Tires are like new. Ariens for $1,100, or a slightly-used Honda for $900?

I'm leaning towards the Honda.

What say you?


  1. I Don't need to sell, not in hurry to sell! PRICE IS FIRM

    Take cash, offer approx 2/3rds (around $550). Never believe a "firm price".

    If his price is "firm" and you want it, decision time.

    A seller sees a sure sale standing in front of him, with the means to do the deal "right now" and the mind starts working.

    Trust me, I'm a (ex) car salesman.

  2. P.S. When you make an offer, shut up!!!!! You are selling your "offer". The first one to speak, loses. Once sat at a table in total silence for 20 minutes per the clock on the wall. He spoke first - sale was made.

    1. Oh, I hear what you're saying. In this case, after researching this particular model, I think it's a fair price.

      It has 7HP, the new ones have 5.5HP.

      It has cable and crank operated chute controls, and the new ones have an all-electric system with a joystick that's known to freeze-up in use.

      The used ones of this model hold their value better than the new ones, and it looks to be in very good condition.

      So while I 100% understand "Never Pay The Asking Price", I'm hesitant to dicker much.

      In any event, I have to go look at it to do any further decision-making.

      I'm waiting for his reply.

    2. "Fair price?" Too many years of working for my "fair advantage".

      On the other hand, if the value is there I suck it up and lay out the cash.

    3. "If the value is there".....excellent way to put it!

  3. I live in N Idaho, I have a 900 foot winding kinda gravel driveway that is about 10 feet wide. I get about 4-6 feet of snow per winter.

    I bought an Ariens 2 stage 28 incher three seasons back. Could not be happier. Electric start, gas shutoff, several different speeds, throws snow 50 feet. With these things, you cannot just burrow in at speed, you gotta take 3/4 slices of 2 feet of snow depth.

    It goes for at least an hour on a tank of gas (I have strategically placeed water bottles of gas along the tree line so I only have to walk 50 feet for enough to get me back to the gas can.)

    I love Honda's. I have their 2000i gennies but I wouldn't buy someone else's problems to save a few hundred bucks. I bought a used Honda trac machine a few years back for roughly the same price but the shear bolts had worn through the blade axle and to replace that was the same price I paid for the damn thing. It's hardened steel so redrilling is not an option. If you lived in Idaho, I'd sell you the whole thing for $300 and let you drill the damn thing. lol

    He says slightly used but why take the chance. The Ariens comes with a warranty and if it is going to shat, it will do it most ricky tick, imho.

    Buy the 28incher and not the 24 incher, less work for you, less work for the machine, better quality results and longer life. Always go with the upgraded mode. I should have gotten the 30 or 36 incher but got cheap and now I'm regretting it by spending another 40 minutes plowing when I could be doing other things.

    I'm at the age where I don't need the little irritations of life. With what you have shown in your pictures, you could have this cleaned up and neighbors asking to borrow in 20-30 minutes. DO NOT loan it to them unless there is copious cash involved.

    Sometimes in life, you gotta spend the extra dough to get the quality results without the hassel. Buy it from Home Depot and you have a return spot in case it takes a fart. If it's gonna fail, it's gonna do it fairly soon..

    Just my opinion but you will pay for your own decision.

    1. 28" is just too big for here. I have enough trouble getting the 24" one maneuvered around, and while another 4" of swath could be nice, it's a trade-off I just don't want to make.

      This was also an unusually large snowfall. We normally get 8"~9" in November and to get clipped with 20+" in one storm 'aint normal. And taking two slices over the same path was what I had to do. The auger housing isn't very tall, and about 10" of snow is absolute max input with having to take two passes.

      And my neighbor was joking (I thought) about "contracting it out" the other day when it was working so well.

  4. Buying a used snowblower is akin to buying a used chainsaw.

    Not the smartest thing you can do. I;d spend the money and get a new ariens or a new toro (or a honda if you have the cash). Stay away from the big box store versions or anything made by MTD.

    As they say about once, cry once. Same same snowblowers


    1. I can't make new/used decisions until I go check out the used option. I think I can tell by looking at it and operating it if it's been abused. If it's been thrashed, I'll scoot out of there to an Ariens dealer.

  5. Check out the used one. You have enough machine knowledge to spot any issues.

    If it's clean and it starts easy, and there's no wear on the blades, then that sounds like a great option.

    Honda motors are nigh darned unkillable with minimal maintenance, and will work for what seems like forever with decent maintenance.

    Ariens motors depend on which one you buy. They don't make their own motors, sourcing out Briggs&Stratton and other motors depending on size of machine and price point. Know what motor you're gonna get with the blower and check out the reliability and quality issues of just the motor.

    Either way, sounds like you're gonna get a bigger toy. Looking forward to the continued adventures of 'In Search Of Snowblower.'

    1. He posted like TEN pictures of it on craigslist, and the area shown on the "map" in the listing is a pretty nice area of town, so I don't think it's a scam. I'll know more when he replies.

      Well, 95% of Fort Collins is "nice", but some areas ( $$ ) are "nicer" than others.

      I downloaded the Ariens service manuals for the new option, but I'll have to see what engine is used on the "in stock" ones around here. Very few Ariens' on craigslist for this area, and I was surprised to see that Honda.

  6. A common mistake made in snow removal is to wait until it stops snowing before getting started. If the forecast is a couple inches, no big deal. However, waiting 'til it is beyond the capacity of your unit is NOT GOOD! You have a number of variables to juggle to guide you in deciding what your window is, and most of them are related to the machine in use.
    If an HOA or city noise reg won't let you operate late at night, it might make sense to run it right up to the quit time to remove a few inches, if the forecast expects 20" by morning. Temps, slope, winds, moisture content, and more can be factors to consider.

    1. Most people hate doing the same job twice, so I understand about waiting until it stops.

      This was an unusual storm because it dumped so much. We got close to triple the normal snow for the entire month, in one storm.

      But it was dry powdery snow, and the electric blower did quite well, except for only having a 30~40 minute run time.

      And sounding like it was coming apart at the seams towards the end of the second day....

  7. Naw, none of these comments are worth considering. Buy a John Deere or a Cub Cadet from a dealer, lay out the cash and take it home. Use it, abuse it like a rented mule, they still perform great after 10 years. And then when they start acting up, take it back to the dealer for a tune up, run them another 5. Then buy a new one.

    Any questions?

    1. I'm afraid that I have to agree with Fredd on this one.

    2. I can just imagine the look on my wife's face when she finds out I spent $12k on a "snow blower".....

    3. Yes, top brand name snow blowers can be a tad spendy. But you spend it once and forget about it for a decade. If you do the math, I am certain you are money ahead in the long run.

      Those Hondas and Ariens are completely unreliable after three years, tops.

  8. We bought a Husqvarna ST224 from Lowes three years ago.
    It was a tough call between it, and the comparable Ariens.

    But it has only gotten a couple of hours of total use since then, and my report will say only that it handles OK.
    Whatever make and model you chose, after the break-in running, change the oil to a synthetic oil.
    We keep our blower in an unheated shed, and it has been much easier to crank over with synthetic oil.

    The hand warmers aren't effective.
    The skid shoes are honeycombed on the back, they wear out almost instantly, and I replace them with a pair of .5 inch thick Lexan shoes that I made from railcar window.
    I had put a vinyl cab on the old blower, but I did not transfer it to the new machine.
    More details upon request.

    1. I always run synthetic oil in my engines. My Honda generator had synthetic put in it at the first oil change, and every year since.

    2. Instead of Lexan, try chunks or sheets of UHMW plastic. It's what the people up north make their sleds out of. Good stuff. Your local plastic supplier may have smaller chunks of it.

    3. Beans. When I worked for Philly's heavy rail system, they would give you any thing they threw into the trash if you asked.
      When the Lexan windows were replaced, the old and scratched windows were thrown away.
      I will file away your thoughts on UHMW, for when the free Lexan supply runs out.
      I also considered making them out of steel scrap, and then hardfacing the wear area.

  9. I can't speak poorly of MTDs.
    Not a "professional class" machine, but well designed and if maintained, lasts for years.
    And a little more affordable.

    1. I've read good and bad about MTD blowers. The reviews range for "Does well and well built" to "Complete POS garbage".

      One thing I do is read the lowest reviews. Many of the "one star" reviews are bogus because the owner rips the unit apart for being a color they don't like, or having buttons that are "too small", or other BS reasons.

      Doesn't matter if it's a Ham Radio or a toaster. I've found you have to disregard about half the "one star" reviews because the person writing the review is an idiot/moron/know-nothing or just has an axe to grind.

    2. I'm on year 20 for my MTD 18 hp lawn tractor which I use to plow snow and mow grass.
      I blew the motor a number of years ago because gas leaked from the tank into the crankcase through the carb which is common with a number of makes. I since installed a shutoff valve as others have done.
      But we had a blizzard while I was waiting for the motor.
      I usually plow all the neighbors for fun.
      When I got home everyone was cleared out. Then I saw my neighbor pushing his new $750 MTD 2 stage. Then he asked if he could keep it in my garage since he didn't have a place to keep it. When he moved to South Carolina he left it to me. I gave it to my son. No problems. Works great.

    3. huh....Blogger ate my reply!

      I also plow the sidewalks for the neighbors on each side. One is an elderly widow, and the other has a 20" Honda single stage unit. He does mine when it's 2"~3", and I do his when it's more.

      MTD was a brand I'd never heard of until a couple of days ago. They seem to be solid, but nobody here carries them.

    4. They build for many other brands also.
      Home Depot? I guess not.
      Found this:
      When you're shopping for a snow blower, it's important to know that there are only a few manufacturers. A company called MTD makes Craftsman, Cub Cadet, and Troy-Bilt models. The Husqvarna company makes units under the Husqvarna, Jonsered, and Poulan Pro brands. Ariens makes Ariens and Sno-Tek models.

  10. Hopefully, you've already jumped on it!

    1. Going to see it on Sunday!

      I'm taking some tools along so if I buy it I can pull the handles off so it will fit in the Jeep. He only lives about two miles from here, so I think I can do it.

    2. Actually I'm going Monday afternoon.

  11. And I forgot to mention that I bought a plastic pan intended for under a large animal cage, and cut notches in some old plastic deck boards to clear the lip.
    This way I can back the thrower onto the boardwalk, and the melting snow and ice drip into the pan instead of onto the shed floor.

    1. Excellent idea. I'll look around here for one. With the all the "Feed and Seed" places we have out here it should be easy to find one!

  12. I think, all things considered, I'd stick with the Ariens. "Brand new 7 under warrranty" is better than "slightly used", in any case. I neglected to mention that the Ariens (mine's a 30" wide, two-stager) has a feature where the differential cuts power to the inside tire when you're turning. Makes turns MUCH easier, and since the machine weighs 275 lbs, that's a big deal.

    1. The steering is a big deal to me. The electric unit has a solid axle, no differential, so turning it can be a real fight in tight quarters. And it doesn't go straight, even after adjusting the skid shoes and tire pressure.

      The Ariens and the Honda both have "power steering" via the differential in them, and I'm sure that would really help me maneuver it around.

      I'm going to look at the Honda on Monday, and since I have to run out to Home Depot before then, I'll give the Ariens a good looking at.

      I really can't decide until I see the Honda. Everything I've read about them is very good, and I know how well their generators are built.

    2. Add a negative to the Husqvarna.
      It is also a solid axle and has to be wrestled through a turn.

  13. I'm no expert but... Honda? Anyway, be safe in the storm.

    1. Honda engines are legendary for durability, reliability, and power. I know several people with Honda lawnmowers, and they love them. My Honda generator is going on 14 years, and has never missed a beat.

      In talking to the people out here, Honda snow blowers are considered a superfluous extravagance because of their retail price.

      Yes, they work very well, but they cost twice as much as a similar sized unit that works just as well.

      Conspicuous consumption to buy one new, and that doesn't sit well with some.

      I wouldn't buy a new one, but in my experience, a well cared for Honda anything is worth considering.

  14. The battery powered stuff is a cool idea, and someday it'll probably work. Unless David Drake's mini-fusion bottles come into being first. Dad bought Mom a Poulan electric mower that could do her tiny 30x60 yard in only two charges. $400 mower. The charger quit and rather than replace it poulan (actually Huskvarna) refunded the entire purchase price (after a couple of months of hard chasing). Mom loves her new $100 chinesium gas mower. And the $300 she got back to spend on grandkids. So a win-win there.

    1. After spending hours getting the skid shoes adjusted, and setting the scraper blade as high as it would slide, it actually works OK, as long as the snow is dry.

      Wet snow plugs the discharge chute easily, and sends my blood pressure through the roof.

      I was surprised how well it handled the snow we got last week, but by the time I doubled plowed the sidewalk (took about half the snow depth on each pass) and part of the driveway, the batteries were depleted.

      And with shorter daylight hours, a 4-hour recharge time meant I was done for the day.

      A second set of batteries to keep going is out of the question, as the batteries are $122 each, and I'm not spending almost $250 on a pair of batteries.

      We need to get one of Doc Brown's "Mr Fusion" reactors bolted on it for really deep snow!

  15. Replies
    1. Nothing yet.

      Been down with a cold the past few days and haven't gone out.....


Keep it civil, please....

Kludge or Clever?.....<i><b>You Decide!</i></b>

 SOOO....after I unsoldered the leads connected to the photocells, as directed to in the manual, I was able to get the photoresistors for th...