I have owned the Ariens 1028 snowblower for six years now, and don't know how I could get along without it. Our house is situated so that when you back out of the garage, you turn the car and go straight uphill for about 120 feet before you get to a flat section. The slope is about 10° for most of the way and, since it is Maine it is often icy and snow is very frequent most winters. Since this blower has a 10 HP (well, 9.6 actually), engine, it is equipped with electric start. All that is required for reliable starting is to set the choke, prime the engine and set the accelerator and plug it in. Push the starter button and it goes straight off. Since I never know how much the next storm will bring, I like to put the snow well off into the woods. Light, fluffy stuff can be easily blown fifty feet from the driveway, while heavier, wet spring snow can be put back twenty-five feet. That gives plenty of room for the next batch! Maintenance is simple, but necessary. Oil changes every twenty-five operating hours, adjustment of the chute controls, and occasionally the shift mechanism, and the normal lubrication has resulted in trouble free operation for all the time I have had the machine. It is a bit fussy about tire pressures as it uses Sno-Hog tires and no chains. If the pressures drop significantly, tire slip is common. A simple inflation usually cures the problem, except on very slick ice. I have had other blowers, and had a variety of problems with them, but the two Ariens machines I have had have been champs. In the situation I have now, I can't imagine a blower that could do a better job. They are a bit more expensive than some other brands, but well worth it in reduced service and stress. Nothing is more frustrating than a snowblower that lets you down with a foot of snow to plow. Get an Ariens and you will be glad you did! Supplement to my original review on 2/5/2011: You may know that we are having a real snowy winter here in Maine this year. I still have my Ariens 1028 I reviewed earlier, and it is still performing like a champ! Weekend before last, my next door neighbor asked if I could help him move his pile from the plowing back as he had no place to let the plow guy push snow anymore. Although the snow was very hard packed from plowing, in a couple of hours we had put most of what was impeding the plowing back into the woods about thirty feet. It could not have been done by hand as it wouldn't be possible to throw the snow far enough to get it out of the way. It has done all my plowing with no complaining, starting well and throwing snow well back from my driveway into the woods. The only way it works is, "Get 'er done!"
Cape Neddick, ME