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Ariens, Good?

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#1 motor3593 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 23, 2014 - 12:46 PM

Well, perhaps I missed something about the Ariens.  If they are so good why aren't there more of them around? 

Yes, I was impressed by the thickness of the frame and sturdiness of the components, however the electrical system is anything but superior.  I am not sure if Ariens is concerned with the support of older models, especially those that had an "interesting" electrical system.  I am not impressed with the Ariens dealers in Eau Claire, WI, They did build Ariens in Wisconsin, you know, albeit I'm across the state from where they made these tractors, but they were too busy to even look at my old Ariens GT18 for at least three weeks.  I did ask them if they would tell me the same thing when I called back three weeks later.  What happened three weeks later, yup you guessed it, they again told me they were too busy to even look at it for another three weeks.  I know, one bad dealer doesn't make the product bad.  

The dealer in Durand that I was able to have look at it also took two weeks before they worked on it, and yes I understand they were making more money doing something else but they are an Ariens dealer which to me means they should jump on it or there will be no reason a guy would want to buy another Ariens.  Well anyway, after they had fixed it, it still had the same problem.  It had some new parts a new ignition switch and a new safety switch.  But the PTO still didn't run, which turns it into a golf cart at best.  Now, I know that you're thinking, what a moron can't even fix a PTO.  Well, I did what I could, I know the PTO was working when it got power and it's just an electro-magnet, what can go wrong?  Well, the power wouldn't stay on.  Even after replacing the safety switches which are weird little things that limit the flow and direction of power sort of like foot valve does with water.  My problem is I can't see the electricity like I can a broken bolt or a cracked frame.  So I returned the Ariens to the dealer, again, after another two week delay they had their Bobcat mechanic look at it.  Their Ariens mechanic quit to work for the Eau Claire Ariens dealer leaving the Durand Ariens dealer without an Ariens mechanic, go figure.  Well, a mechanic is a mechanic, right?  It would be nice if he knew some specifics about the machine but hey, what am I to do?  This time they replaced the time delay module, mostly because I told them I suspected that it had to be part of the problem since it was the only thing not touched already.  They also found a short in a wire which they fixed.  Well, it now runs, but the battery continually dies.  The system has all new safety switches two of which were reconnected, new time delay module, new ignition switch, and at least one wire had a short that was fixed.  I am not bringing it back again.  I will use it until I can figure it out what is really wrong with it.  Probably another short circuit somewhere.

And even though the starter motor was an easy fix, unbolt/re-bolt, my Ariens GT18 only has power steering, it isn't mechanically connected at all, there is absolutley no steering if it's not running.  This coupled with it weighing 940 pounds makes it very difficult to push around when the starter goes out, luckily this doesn't happen too often.  I also learned about the unusual starting method of turning the engine without power going to the spark plugs, the spark plugs are powered only when the key is released, it works, but why do it that way?

My Craftsman always starts and the battery never dies, it's not built near as sturdy but it works well and gets the job done and all I do is change belts, oil, and grease it.  It has cut two acres of grass and snow blown 600 feet driveways for over three years now but the snow blower especially is wearing out.  Which is why I got the Ariens in the first place, thinking it would do the same job for many more years as the metal in the components is so much thicker, now I just wish I could hook up the Ariens snow blower and lawn mower to the Craftsman.  

I like the heft of the Ariens, but not the engine or the electrical system, I don't have enough experience to judge the effectiveness of any of the implements yet but, I was impressed that the second stage of the snow blower had six paddles, my craftsman only has four.

In my opinion what would make the Ariens a "GOOD" garden tractor?  I'd start with a liquid cooled engine with a starter that could be changed with pulling the engine.  Replace the entire electrical system to one without four safety switches and a time delay module.  Move the filler neck of the gas tank to the side where it can be accessed without problems.  Shorten the hood so a cab can be mounted and the hood can be opened without removing the cab.  It snows a bit here and snow-blowing without a cab is just silly especially when you have a really long driveway.  Change the gearshift to a floor mounted pedal, the hands should be free to do other things, like redirect the chute, turn on or reposition lights while still steering with the other hand.

Hey, I think I just talked my self into buying one of those yellow and green tractors. 

 

 

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#2 HANKG ONLINE  

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Posted December 23, 2014 - 01:44 PM

Daniel Ariens president and ceo of Ariens Brillon wi. drop him a line with your complaints and suggestions I would !

#3 glgrumpy OFFLINE  

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Posted December 23, 2014 - 02:13 PM

This sounds like my newer PK/Snapper tractor. Lots of fancy wiring. A little control box that connects all the switch functions and has to hve them in correct order to work anything. I had a wire short wearing bare, then it burnt out that box. After some fixes, still didn't work till new box went in.  Safety regulations from Gov are making everything harder to build, tractors, cars, planes, whatever and get too complicated to make easy. We may have also gotten some of first systems, always problems with new ideas it seems. I used to live in WI and had ARiens dealer by me and looked and wished at many of their tractors in 70's and 80's.  They Did look well made then. Does seem they are not popular tho, not sure of issues. One was the KT17 twins that all manufacturers were going to that blew up. Made for bad rep for many and Ariens had many models with that engine. Problem is remaining company's are still going to have to put in the new systems and it won't be any simpler. Guess mechanics will need to be better trained, something I bet many small guys can't afford to do, unless the company's pay for that time and classes.



#4 shorty ONLINE  

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Posted December 24, 2014 - 04:44 AM

I got to know a guy who has an Ariens dealership a few months ago. Through visiting with him, I came to understand that the surviving dealerships are geared towards the lawn mowers. He said that it is rare to get a GT series machine in to work on. Kind of like an antique. I am guessing that it could be something like that at your dealership. I find that it is sometimes easier to deal with an independant mower shop that works mostly with the older machines.



#5 warren OFFLINE  

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Posted December 25, 2014 - 10:28 AM

Well, perhaps I missed something about the Ariens.  If they are so good why aren't there more of them around? 

Yes, I was impressed by the thickness of the frame and sturdiness of the components, however the electrical system is anything but superior.  I am not sure if Ariens is concerned with the support of older models, especially those that had an "interesting" electrical system.  I am not impressed with the Ariens dealers in Eau Claire, WI, They did build Ariens in Wisconsin, you know, albeit I'm across the state from where they made these tractors, but they were too busy to even look at my old Ariens GT18 for at least three weeks.  I did ask them if they would tell me the same thing when I called back three weeks later.  What happened three weeks later, yup you guessed it, they again told me they were too busy to even look at it for another three weeks.  I know, one bad dealer doesn't make the product bad.  

The dealer in Durand that I was able to have look at it also took two weeks before they worked on it, and yes I understand they were making more money doing something else but they are an Ariens dealer which to me means they should jump on it or there will be no reason a guy would want to buy another Ariens.  Well anyway, after they had fixed it, it still had the same problem.  It had some new parts a new ignition switch and a new safety switch.  But the PTO still didn't run, which turns it into a golf cart at best.  Now, I know that you're thinking, what a moron can't even fix a PTO.  Well, I did what I could, I know the PTO was working when it got power and it's just an electro-magnet, what can go wrong?  Well, the power wouldn't stay on.  Even after replacing the safety switches which are weird little things that limit the flow and direction of power sort of like foot valve does with water.  My problem is I can't see the electricity like I can a broken bolt or a cracked frame.  So I returned the Ariens to the dealer, again, after another two week delay they had their Bobcat mechanic look at it.  Their Ariens mechanic quit to work for the Eau Claire Ariens dealer leaving the Durand Ariens dealer without an Ariens mechanic, go figure.  Well, a mechanic is a mechanic, right?  It would be nice if he knew some specifics about the machine but hey, what am I to do?  This time they replaced the time delay module, mostly because I told them I suspected that it had to be part of the problem since it was the only thing not touched already.  They also found a short in a wire which they fixed.  Well, it now runs, but the battery continually dies.  The system has all new safety switches two of which were reconnected, new time delay module, new ignition switch, and at least one wire had a short that was fixed.  I am not bringing it back again.  I will use it until I can figure it out what is really wrong with it.  Probably another short circuit somewhere.

And even though the starter motor was an easy fix, unbolt/re-bolt, my Ariens GT18 only has power steering, it isn't mechanically connected at all, there is absolutley no steering if it's not running.  This coupled with it weighing 940 pounds makes it very difficult to push around when the starter goes out, luckily this doesn't happen too often.  I also learned about the unusual starting method of turning the engine without power going to the spark plugs, the spark plugs are powered only when the key is released, it works, but why do it that way?

My Craftsman always starts and the battery never dies, it's not built near as sturdy but it works well and gets the job done and all I do is change belts, oil, and grease it.  It has cut two acres of grass and snow blown 600 feet driveways for over three years now but the snow blower especially is wearing out.  Which is why I got the Ariens in the first place, thinking it would do the same job for many more years as the metal in the components is so much thicker, now I just wish I could hook up the Ariens snow blower and lawn mower to the Craftsman.  

I like the heft of the Ariens, but not the engine or the electrical system, I don't have enough experience to judge the effectiveness of any of the implements yet but, I was impressed that the second stage of the snow blower had six paddles, my craftsman only has four.

In my opinion what would make the Ariens a "GOOD" garden tractor?  I'd start with a liquid cooled engine with a starter that could be changed with pulling the engine.  Replace the entire electrical system to one without four safety switches and a time delay module.  Move the filler neck of the gas tank to the side where it can be accessed without problems.  Shorten the hood so a cab can be mounted and the hood can be opened without removing the cab.  It snows a bit here and snow-blowing without a cab is just silly especially when you have a really long driveway.  Change the gearshift to a floor mounted pedal, the hands should be free to do other things, like redirect the chute, turn on or reposition lights while still steering with the other hand.

Hey, I think I just talked my self into buying one of those yellow and green tractors. 

 

I totally understand your frustrations.  I think that Shorty hit the nail on the head.  See if you can find an independent repair shop and even better, find one that been around for a while.  Most of these dealers now get to work on the mass produced "lawn tractors" that are a far cry from what the 931 Ariens is.  That said, I love these machines!  I currently own five of them and that's only because I'm getting older!  Two of mine I've converted to foot control since I had a front end loader on them.  Three have been completely rewired so as to get rid of the time delay module and safety switches.  BUT that's my choice and the fact that I'm the only one that operates them.  Try and sell one like that today and watch all the legal troubles!!  Most of the ones today you can't even up with the mower running.  My GT19 which has the snowblower on it has a soft sided Ariens cab on it and I only have to unzip the front cover and push back on the cab a bit to open the hood.  Yes it's a pain to change the starter on the Kohler twins but it's something that has to be done very infrequently.  Overall these things are a beast and had ariens continued to produce them maybe we'd had liquid cooling and even 4wd!!  Curious, does your seat switch still operate correctly?  Lot's of them go bad, especially when exposed to the weather constantly, and people simply connect the wires together which will drain the battery.  Good luck!!


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#6 motor3593 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 26, 2014 - 08:01 AM

Member 48223,

Yes, I understand that the disconnecting of the seat safety switch will drain the battery.  My 931 came with a manual and it even tells you in the manual that if you by-pass the safety switches you will drain the battery.  I did give the manual to the mechanics when they were working on my machine, anything to help them get it right.  And yes the seat switch was disconnected when I first brought it into be fixed.  The previous owner had installed a mickey mouse arrangement on the battery with a single pole throw switch that he used to disconnect the battery after each use so that the battery wouldn't drain.  I had asked for them to remove that goofy arrangement and when I got it back the first time they told me they didn't have the time to mess with it, so it was still there.  I, of course, had to return the tractor to get the electrical issues fixed.  Before I brought it back the second time I discovered that the single pole switch which had a brass base had actually broken and was making intermediate contact.  I thought that I had solved the mystery, nope the PTO still didn't work.  I removed that switch before I returned the machine and the second time just before it was to be returned the owner told the mechanic that the seat safety switch would have to be replaced for liability issues.  So they put in a micro switch and a spring so that it would work again.  My GT18 is as close to the original electrical schematic as is possible.

Small engine repair at least around here is practically gone, I did know of a guy that did fix Ariens, MTD, Bolens, practically every kind of tractor, but he retired.  The newer generation of mechanics don't seem to have the same knowledge of older machines, I was joking with the mechanic at the Farm & Fleet as they used to be an Ariens dealer about the power steering not working when the tractor wasn't running, it's purely hydraulic no mechanical connection you know, and said they would have to analyze it to see what was wrong.  Even when I told him that the problem was that without the motor going the hydraulic pump wouldn't run, he just looked a me with that thousand yard stare in his eyes, you know, the lights are on but the no ones home thing.  He was pretty young though, mid twenties I'd guess, so it may just be natural. 

I also bought an old Bolens QT17 with a bad motor that had a cab with soft sides but a hard top and glass windshield that will be modified to fit the Ariens.  It too is a very sturdily built tractor, I thought about re-powering it but it doesn't have the power steering or a two stage snow blower or a grass catcher like the Ariens does. 


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#7 sideswiper OFFLINE  

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Posted December 27, 2014 - 08:59 AM

The 931 series are the Best Garden Tractors i have ever owned, i have Three S16H's and would not part with any of them, The only issue i had with mine is the drive shaft broke at the charge pump & ripped off the Hydro hoses & the vibration caused the Charge pump gear to shatter.I found the 2 gears & housing on ebay for $50 shipping included. I have a Hard Cab on the one with the Blower & a Hard Top Soft Sided Cab on the one with the plow. The reason why i think that not many of them are around is the price of them when New they cost around $7000 then you had to buy implements separate. They sure are not made like the Throw away Tractors that are made Today.Once you get all your issues resolved you are going to have a Great Garden Tractor.  Good Luck


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#8 artbuc OFFLINE  

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Posted December 28, 2014 - 04:29 AM

The 931 series are the Best Garden Tractors i have ever owned, i have Three S16H's and would not part with any of them, The only issue i had with mine is the drive shaft broke at the charge pump & ripped off the Hydro hoses & the vibration caused the Charge pump gear to shatter.I found the 2 gears & housing on ebay for $50 shipping included. I have a Hard Cab on the one with the Blower & a Hard Top Soft Sided Cab on the one with the plow. The reason why i think that not many of them are around is the price of them when New they cost around $7000 then you had to buy implements separate. They sure are not made like the Throw away Tractors that are made Today.Once you get all your issues resolved you are going to have a Great Garden Tractor.  Good Luck


I agree! I have a Gravely 18-H (Ariens GT 18 with Gravely badging) which I bought new in 1991, after Ariens bought Gravely. I keep it in perfect condition. It is a helluva machine. I bought a brand new Ariens 48" mower a few years ago and have a 48" Ariens snow thrower. Do you know what caused your drive shaft failure?

#9 alleyyooper OFFLINE  

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Posted January 03, 2015 - 08:50 AM

Yes they are one heck of a machine, not many made in the Sperry Rand New Holland

Ariens era were in the same league so they were priced higher. Just two belts to contend with to run equipment stick way out front blowing show to the one way out the rear to till the soil. I own a old Simplicity a 1972 and it is a nice machine but you need a wall of peg board to keep all the belts when not in use. Drive into the snow blower flip a couple dogs, slid the lift to the correct front position  slide the drive shaft on and after a long 4 minutes you were blowing snow. Remove the drive shaft, flip a couple dogs back away turn, drive on the mower deck attach a lift arms flip the mount dogs slide the drive shaft on and your mowing grass a 15 minute operation from blowing snow to mowing grass.

 

Who needs a dealer to fix the things. A manual with a wiring diagram  a digital vom meter and you can fix all the wiring issues your self. Places like NAPA sells the belts and most all engine parts several places on line sell every thing else.

 

:D   Al


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#10 artbuc OFFLINE  

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Posted January 04, 2015 - 05:17 AM

Who needs a dealer to fix the things. A manual with a wiring diagram a digital vom meter and you can fix all the wiring issues your self. Places like NAPA sells the belts and most all engine parts several places on line sell every thing else.l


So true plus Ariens has a great support website where you can download the Service Manual. You can also save money using regular aftermarket parts. Eg, when I rebuilt my front PTO, I bought bearings and lock collars from an on-line supplier at a fraction of the Ariens cost. I even installed a new bearing in the electric clutch which no dealer or shop would do. Heck, I even built a new Time Delay Module thanks to the info I found here provided by Wm McNett. Saved $100 bucks plus I was able to adjust the delay to where I wanted it simply by adjusting the capacitance.

Edited by artbuc, January 04, 2015 - 05:28 AM.


#11 alleyyooper OFFLINE  

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Posted January 04, 2015 - 05:33 AM

Crappy dealers isn't just at Ariens dealers either.

My eXmark z turn had a recall last spring right in the start of a busy mowing season. I called the dealer where I bought it to make an appointment to get it in and fixed.

Over the phone the dealer said they didn't make appointments for repairs then went off on a nut.

I called eXmark customer service and asked about the next closest dealer and got the phone number. Called them up and was told to bring it in ASAP don't even unload it from the trailer. I got there and 15 minutes later I was on my way to mow some more. 

 

Guess where I buy my next eXmark mower?

 

Repair story behind my Simplicity tractor.

Dealer where I bought the tractor in 1988 sold out and retired. The new owners didn't keep the simplicity line.

First experience with a new dealer closest to me was for a starter solenoid. Mind you most dealers have a sign posted some place NO RETURNS ON ELECTRAL PARTS. so they took my serial number list and found the starter solenoid for my tractor. Cost $37.00 and change, It was MFG in China and did not work. When I called the dealer they quoted the no returns policy.

I found the same solenoid USA made on line in Texas for the whooping price of 14.95 and free shipping. I worked fine.

Second experience was a different dealer farther from home but a older one.
I needed a starter for my Kohler MV16. I didn't take the serial number list or the series number with me. they refused to even try to look up a starter for it. The guesstmate cost in the $125. area.

I returned home to the computer and found the starter I needed for $96.00 including shipping to my home in Tenn. and I did not need to know a serial number or sereres number.

Today If I plan on going to a dealer for the part and it is electrical they have to prove to me it works before they get my money.

Not a Simplicity but my brother in law needed a shaft for a Burton commercial lawn mower. The dealer where he bought is told him it was over 10 years old and they would not carry parts for any thing over 8 year old he should buy a new machine.

He went to a outlet for heavy machinery parts and found a shaft a perfect fit from some combine.

 

:D   Al

 



#12 Utah Smitty OFFLINE  

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Posted February 01, 2015 - 09:37 PM

I totally understand your frustrations.  I think that Shorty hit the nail on the head.  See if you can find an independent repair shop and even better, find one that been around for a while.  Most of these dealers now get to work on the mass produced "lawn tractors" that are a far cry from what the 931 Ariens is.  That said, I love these machines!  I currently own five of them and that's only because I'm getting older!  Two of mine I've converted to foot control since I had a front end loader on them.  Three have been completely rewired so as to get rid of the time delay module and safety switches.  BUT that's my choice and the fact that I'm the only one that operates them.  Try and sell one like that today and watch all the legal troubles!!  Most of the ones today you can't even up with the mower running.  My GT19 which has the snowblower on it has a soft sided Ariens cab on it and I only have to unzip the front cover and push back on the cab a bit to open the hood.  Yes it's a pain to change the starter on the Kohler twins but it's something that has to be done very infrequently.  Overall these things are a beast and had ariens continued to produce them maybe we'd had liquid cooling and even 4wd!!  Curious, does your seat switch still operate correctly?  Lot's of them go bad, especially when exposed to the weather constantly, and people simply connect the wires together which will drain the battery.  Good luck!!

Warren

 

I just got a GT19 with a blown engine... going to repower it... I'd love to set up a foot control on it at the same time.  Would you be willing to do a build post on how you converted yours?

 

Thanks,

 

Smitty



#13 shorty ONLINE  

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Posted February 02, 2015 - 04:53 AM

Warren

 

I just got a GT19 with a blown engine... going to repower it... I'd love to set up a foot control on it at the same time.  Would you be willing to do a build post on how you converted yours?

 

Thanks,

 

Smitty

He talked about it some here. http://gardentractor...ntrol-upgrades/


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#14 dodge trucker ONLINE  

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Posted February 02, 2015 - 08:01 PM

what is the big deal about so many people talking about wanting to convert to foot control ??

I have run a couple of newer style machines with it and I didn't like them. (these newer machines being a Crapsman and a Husqavarna owned by 2 of my neighbors)


 



#15 Billy M ONLINE  

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Posted February 02, 2015 - 11:41 PM

what is the big deal about so many people talking about wanting to convert to foot control ??
I have run a couple of newer style machines with it and I didn't like them. (these newer machines being a Crapsman and a Husqavarna owned by 2 of my neighbors)


 


I don't mind the fender lever drive control, but the foot control is mighty handy when using a FEL. When you have one hand on the steering wheel and one on your loader controls, it's nice to control the drive with your foot. That's really the only situation where I would prefer the foot control.





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