This review covers the new Dealer ONLY Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO Model 921044.
I am going to write this review a little differently than others. This review is all pictures with an explanation under each one. Let me know in the comments at the end how you like this format!
Who is this snow blower for? Anyone with a 2 to 3 car wide driveway up to 300 feet long. This snow blower will handle gravel and turf. It will clear wet snow, hard packed snow, end of driveway snow and the snow you got last year in Boston. I only NEED a 24 inch snow blower but if I went out to buy a snow blower tomorrow this would be a great choice. The snow blower will handle 95% of the snows we get in the U. S. and I don’t have a problem recommend it for anyone who gets up to 180 inches of snow a year. It’s not quite as fast at clearing deep snow as the Ariens Platinum 30 SHO but it has plenty of power to still get the job done no matter where you live.
At around $1200 U.S. this Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO is an affordable heavy-duty snow blower.
Ariens lets me borrow one or two models every year for MovingSnow to review. Last year it was the Platinum 30 SHO and a Power Brush. This year I asked them to send only one and they sent the new Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO Model 921044, 28 inch, 306 cc snow blower. My local dealer Barstow Street Auto Service set up and delivered this snow blower.
One of the best selling points of the Ariens is they just look good. Large metal chute, big tires, rolled front lip on the blower housing. The Ariens orange is a heavy duty powder coat that is baked on for long life. Just the high visibility color makes me want one when I’m cleaning near the end of my driveway.
Right Front View. The 28 inch front housing (bucket) is 21 inches high. This allows you to clear deeper drifts than your old snow blower.
The traction and blower levers appear to be just a little longer this year. When you push them down they now come all the way to the end of the handles. I like this feature because I tend to hold on to the handles by the very end. Can you guess what the other snow blower is in the picture?
Right Rear View. Everything about this snow blower screams heavy duty. Even the control cables and rods are thicker than any other brand’s.
View from the operator’s “seat.” This Ariens has a nice clear view of what’s going on up front. The large discharge chute doesn’t get in the way of your view. Ok, let’s get started on the features.
The Ariens AX 306 cc is a premium engine designed to give you longer life than the engine on your old snow blower. In the picture you can see the easy to use Fuel Shutoff and Key Switch. Other brands use an on-off switch and a separate safety key but the Ariens simplifies this by using a removable ignition key. This key is the on-off switch and you can remove it for safety when you are not using the snow blower. There is a separate button for the electric start.
Snow Blower engine power ratings have been confusing. Some brands only label cc’s. Ariens uses this conservative measurement so you always get the power you expect. This rating is now consistent but lower than labeling used before 2012. The engine still produces the same amount of power.
The Ariens AX engines are designed to run on unleaded fuel up to E10 (10%) ethanol blends. NEVER USE E15 or E85 fuels in a small gas engine like this one. E15 is only used in new autos. E15 fuel will ruin your snow blower engine and that failure is not covered by any warranty. Many areas of the country now offer all three fuels at the same pump so double-check to make sure you are getting the E10 blend.
Ariens uses the quick cap on their version of the LCT engine. I like it better than the ratchet cap but you may find you will have to take your glove off to loosen it.
Easy To Use Rear Oil Drain. No need to spill oil all over a tire when changing oil!
Speaking of oil. Another brand has eliminated the oil dipstick. (To save costs?) On that model you have to use the secondary fill cap to check the oil. The Ariens AX engines use the easy to read dipstick.
The gray lever under the choke is the idle control. Manufacturers want you to run the engine at full RPM when blowing snow. This keeps the engine at optimal power and helps the snow blower from clogging in wet snow. Ariens includes a lever where you can idle the engine if you have to walk away for a moment to take that “important” phone call 🙂
The Low Tone muffler is quieter than the ones put on snow blowers 10 years ago. I still suggest you use hearing protection (or earmuffs) to protect your hearing.
Moving on to the dash or console. Ariens redesigned the dash this year to make it easier to read and consistent across all the models. The diagrams are easy to understand and large enough so I can see them without my reading glasses. The freehand control is on the left on Ariens snow blowers. What that means is if you are out blowing snow you can take your right hand off the blower lever and use it to change the chute and deflector position.
Front view of the new dash showing the Halogen headlight. The light is offset so the chute does not get in the way. I know – HID LED lights are all the rage but the Halogen still gives you the whitest and brightest light. The control in the lower right corner of the picture is the chute control. You reach over the dash with your right hand to turn the chute. Some people complain about this but it is a reliable and simple way to move the chute. It just works……
I really like the new gear selector! The specs state this is a 6 forward – 2 reverse but take a close look at the picture. There are 2 reverse speed, 5 forward speed and the 6th “transport” speed. If you have to go over to the neighbors to clear their drive just put it in the 6th gear and “RUN” over there!
Just one more thing about the Ariens transmission. Do you know why you never hear of anyone repairing the transmission or friction drive on the newer Ariens? The reason is when you release the drive control on the left handlebar the transmission completely disengages. The friction disk inside the transmission is released from the drive plate which keeps it from getting flat spot on the rubber face of the disk. This is also why you can freely move the transmission lever on the dash when the snow blower is not running.
A look inside the Ariens Transmission. Strength and Simplicity!
One last item about the new dash. The controls are now all nice and big. Very easy to hold with gloved hands!
On to the chute! The chute is all metal and the discharge area of the impeller is also metal. Ariens uses a thicker steel here so rocks and gravel don’t wear holes over the years.
There is only one poly piece in the Ariens chute. This “bearing” keeps everything turning smoothly. You don’t need to grease your chute anymore!
The chute is wider than the discharge. This is one of the features that keeps the chute from clogging when blowing wet snow. That black strip you see is a rubber piece that keeps snow from blowing back through the hinge when the deflector is all the way down. I’ve owned snow blowers that didn’t have that strip and is was very aggravating when snow blew back on the hot muffler/engine everything started to freeze up.
Even though I have never broke a shear pin on an Ariens snow blower the new models like this one have a set conveniently located on the chute control gearbox.
Almost done – Only 15 more pictures to go 🙂 The Ariens Deluxe models use large 16 inch deep lug tires. They are narrow which lets them cut into the snow and hard packed ice easily. You don’t need chains for these superior tires but Ariens does have optional chains available if you really need them. Buy the way if your snow blower wants to wander to one side all the time – check the tire inflation. One will need some air.
It’s the little things that make the Ariens one of the best snow blowers on the market. Solid rust resistant springs, heavy cables and cast eyelets make the cables much stronger than the ones on other brands. The little touches like cable tie “safety wire” to make sure things never fall off. Keepers on the cable pulley so if the cable does stretch it won’t fall off the pulley.
Yes, The Ariens comes with the required safety chute cleaning tool. If you ever do clog up your Ariens remember it’s there and PLEASE use it to clean inside the chute and the auger housing! In the U.S. alone we have dozens of people lose fingers because they didn’t use the clean out tool and the impeller cut their fingers off. Remember even with the engine shut off there may be enough tension on the impeller for it to turn and snap a finger.
Ok, we are almost to the front of the snow blower! The standard skid shoes are heavy-duty long life steel. I expect them to last 3 to 4 times longer than the steel shoes on your old Murray. Plus they are reversible.
Ariens Optional Poly Skid Shoes. Look at the size of these shoes! One inch wide and made of a long wearing poly. My front cement driveway is very rough and these poly shoes really help me to turn the snow blowers easily. I’ve gotten to the point where I change out the metal shoes for these right away. They are wider than the steel version so they also work well on gravel.
There are four grease zerks on the Ariens Deluxe. Two on the transmission and two up front on the auger. Follow the lube schedule in your owner’s manual. If you don’t have one you can order it and a tube of non-hardening grease here: Lumax Pistol Grease Gun with 18″ Flex Hose
Finally, we made it to the front. working part of the snow blower. Another of the little things that makes the Ariens special. The top lip of the auger housing is rolled. The primary reason is for strength but it also makes it very nice to lift the front end of the snow blower to inspect it or change a shear pin.
Most brands use two bolts to hold the auger bearings. Ariens uses three.
The replaceable scraper bar is not only bolted across the bottom but has two additional side bolts to keep it from bending or warping over time.
The legendary Ariens cast iron gearbox. This gear case is so heavy duty it was originally used in a roto-tiller!
I’ve used many snow blowers over the years that did not use a center brace. Over time the front auger would sag or bend from hitting “stuff” and the auger would bounce up and down as it rotated. This quickly tore out the side bearing and even the center gearbox. The Ariens gear box is not only the strongest but is additionally reinforced with these brackets so the front auger will never start to wobble.
Smooth metal undercarriage. This creates a better and more slippery airflow which increases fuel economy and decreases wind resistance – Just Kidding! At least it won’t crack and fall off over time like the plastic ones do.
Last but not least! The specially designed SHO impeller paddles are made to efficiently and effectively move snow. In addition the cupped design allows you to throw snow farther than most other snow blowers on the market. Someday I would like to take the four high-end snow blowers into the same field of snow and see which one actually throws snow the farthest. I’ll bet you a tube of lithium grease for your grease gun that this impeller will finish first or second.
That’s it for this review! Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below.
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About Paul Sikkema
Paul Sikkema has been writing about snow blowers, riding mowers and other lawn and garden equipment for over 10 years. Paul does most his writing out in his workshop where he feeds the wildlife and birds in the yard. His goal is to have a red squirrel eating out of his hand.
He spends as much time with his granddaughter as he can.
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