2000 Posts and climbing!!!
Join Date: Apr 2016
Re: Ariens 3-N-1 Mower - any good?
I used machines like that (that style Kaw engine with the integrated gas tank, then the later models with the tank bolted to the back of the engine).
They work really well, cables fail regularly for me (but I use it commercially), as well as the idler used for the drive setup (flip the mower on the side [oil fill cap down, gas cap side up], reach inside the center housing on the bottom of the mower, move the idler away from the belt and give it a spin, you'll find it probably needs replacing...).
The throttle cable in particular can cause problems over time, as it will stretch, and not pull the lever on the motor quite far enough, and the kill switch on that lever doesn't disengage, and then you'll have problems starting the motor and it won't be obvious that's the problem. I've fabbed up adjustable mounts for the handlebar end of that cable, so I can take up that slack and put off buying a new cable (as otherwise the cable is fine).
I'd like for the machine to be able to go higher sometimes, but most of the time I use the 5th slot (so it's in the 2nd highest position, little more than 2.5"), and for some people that fertilize and water their lawns a lot, I'll use the 4th slot (about 2").
The filter setup isn't perfect, so using it a lot under dusty conditions (again, using it commercially), some does get by the filter and that eventually causes problems with the engine, but typically the only time they die on me is when someone hits something solid (like, say, the metal base for a Christmas Tree) with the blade, and the crankshaft gets bent.
Also, don't screw down the gas cap really tight. The plastic they used isn't that great and not that thick, so you wind up breaking the top of the cap off. And if you do break it and get a replacement, don't forget to transfer the rubber insert in the cap to the new one (as it's sold separately).
Changing oil is messy, as the drain port is on the bottom of the engine, so you need to remove the blade, remove the plastic housing (3 screws), then remove the drain plug and quickly tilt the mower on top of a bucket/pan for the oil to drain into.
I see your bag is worn on the corners, you may want to replace it. If you do, keep this bag, you can cut patches out of this old bag and glue them on the new bag as you wear the new one out (the 2 upper corners, and 2 holes in the sides from the pivot bolts).
If the speed creeps down on you while you mow, there's a nut under the orange cover (where that semi-circle speed indicator is) that you tighten a little more to make it stay at the speed. Don't really reef on it, as then you won't be able to change the speed and it can also pinch the drive cable.