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A lot of general questions

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by DavidJ01, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. DavidJ01

    DavidJ01 Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    As I've been reading these and other forums for the past couple of weeks I'm trying to envision the various activities and the associated equipment. As I'm absorbing all this information I'm now looking for answers to questions, and confirmations on what I think I am learning in order to help tie this alltogether. Keep in mind these questions are coming from a person that has no plowing experience, but is very interested (in) and has the time needed to dedicate to plowing.

    As I see it, snow control could involve all or some of the following activities;

    1st there's a pre-storm treatment which is not a necessity but is beneficial. The treatment could include the spraying of a liquid magnesium or calcium chloride, or a salt brine. Other products are available but these seem to be the most effective.

    Magnesium seems to be the best because it works at lower temperatures and retains its effectiveness longer even as it's being diluted with new snow, freezing rain, cold rain, slush, etc... The primary purpose of a pre treatment is not so much that it will melt snow, but that it helps keep the snow from sticking & freezing to the surface, or melting and the freezing again creating a black ice. Pre-treatments makes it easier to plow and safer for the customer.

    Next is the actual plowing. The blade on the front of the truck is the primary tool, and this is where I start asking questions.

    I understand in principal, the benefits of a V-Blade (thanks to the detailed description at the Boss Plows web site) but if anyone can add to their descriptions I'd appreciate it. This would be helpful in a buying decision, I'd hate to buy a straight blade then find out I'd be better off with a V-blade. The downside to a V-blade... more moving parts? Not as sturdy? etc...??

    Also, I'm looking for some additional comments on a back plow. I can see how it could be a benefit in driveways, but I'm not seeing the other uses... I'm also not finding the details I'm looking for in regards to how a blade reacts to hidden obstacles. If someone could touch on trip springs and how they work, how quickly they work, and how effectively they work, I'd appreciate it.

    The 3rd activity (following the plowing) could be treating the surface with salt, or with what seems to be extremely popular, the "magic" salt. Unless I'm missing something, a back plow cannot be used in conjunction with a salt spreader. So whichever of these two products a person has (backplow or spreader) will kind of determine what sort of projects are bid. Correct? So because I'm not seeing (right now) the benefits of the back plow, if I was to add a second piece of equipment, I think the salt spreader would be the best choice. On the other hand, it seems like it would be possible to have a back plow hooked up *and* utilize a liquid sprayer to lay down some magnesium chloride after the plowing and still obtain (to a certain extent) the preventive maintenance that is achieved with the magic salt....

    Obviously I'm looking at more than I need to for a 1st year endeavor, but there's all these questions that are rolling around in my head.

    A final question regarding trucks... For a 3/4 or 1 ton PU, how far can a spreader safely hang over the tailgate? I prefer shortbox trucks, but if there can't be any overhang, and the salt supply is farther away than what's desirable, that will be a factor to consider and a long box may be necessary. Does the extra 2' of a long box greatly impact manuverability when plowing? It doesn't seem like it would be that big of an issue.

    Anyway, it's late, I'm tired, and my thoughts are beginning to slosh around... I better stop while I'm (hopefully) ahead.

    I appreciate your time & comments....

  2. ratlover

    ratlover PlowSite.com Addict
    from IL
    Messages: 1,325

    Some also pre apply with regular rock salt and post apply with regular rock salt. You can actually melt snow with it and not have to plow small storms.

    Another option is a blizzard. I have a fisher V and really like it. The biggest downside I see is that they are much heavier than a regular blade. I also have used a boss V and I absolutly hate its tripping mechanism. Its tripping or lack there of at times is the reason I went with fisher. I had never even seen a fisher up close in personal but a trip edge in a V blade is a must IMO. Also some times a V dosnt roll snow as good as a straight blade. I would still go V over a straight though. Some conditions dont warant the extra expense being worht the productivity you will pick up though. Any other specifics I can help answer?

    You can get a short bed in a reg cab with a 3/4 ton/1 ton. A reg cab can cary more weight than a ext cab or a crew cab and sometimes a manufacuter wont allow a "plow prep" on certian cab configs. do a search on plow prep because plow prep and what it means warantee wise is a big disscsioun. BTW chevys 2500HD is a 1 ton thier regular 2500 is a 3/4 ton. Ford makes sense with thier 250 350 and all that meaning what it should. JMO but get at least 2500HD or maybe a 3500SRW if you by a chevy(unless you want dual rears) I would personally stay away from the new ford powerstrokes but thats just me.

    At work gotta go........
  3. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    David - check your Private Messages.
  4. DavidJ01

    DavidJ01 Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    Mick, got your pm and responded earlier, thanks...


    I'll probably go with Ford F350 Diesel only because 1, I've never had a Ford truck (Chevy & Dodge, yes) and 2, based on what I read, and what my country friends tell me, Ford is a little tougher.... However, bottom line is that I think most trucks will be fairly comparable with each other.

    BTW... Your 2nd paragraph... You have a fisher but also say you never saw one up close? I assume you never saw a blizzard...

    Thanks for the input on the tripping springs. The conditions you're speaking of in regards to a V-Blade, would that be extremely deep snow or breaking through a high bank or drift??

    Also, I read somewhere that wings on a straight blade are *almost* as good as an inverted V for "capturing" snow, would you agree?

    In regards to the truck, I guess the question I was trying to get answered is (and realizing that there are factors to consider) will a SB hold enough salt in a V-Box or does the extra 2' of a LB (33% additional capacity) make a huge difference? I'm obviously still in the research stage and I have no idea how long it takes to go though a box. The little research I've done has been on the Trynex Vee Pro 8000 which doesn't seem to get rave reviews.

    Obviously a blade is a must for anyone that is plowing, but for a newcomer to the game, how important is salting? Is it even a "concern" for a first season? It seems that salting (or whatever product is used) is almost an integral part of plowing.


    Last edited: Jul 2, 2004
  5. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    David, the tripping of a moldboard (plow blade) occurs when you actually hit an immovable object. A curb, boulder anything that wont move. Western and fisher have trip edge, bottom of plow trips. Boss's whole wing trips. Except in the v- forward position. The pro's of straight verses v have been discussed here many times, do a search. Also in regards to the 6' verses 8' bed for a v-box yes the amount in an 8' box will make a difference in how long your actually de-iceing and not driving to reload. One thing to look at though is an 8' v-box in a 2500hd fully loaded with plow is definately way over-weight. Its a fine line to look at, profit versus possible tickets etc. A one ton dually may be better if your not plowing tight spots.
  6. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    In my first season i would not worry too much about salting. I would start out with all residential just to get the hang of plowing which is not hard at all. Very rarely does some one want their driveway de iced. In my opinion salting is not and important part of residential plowing. How many guys do you see driving around 1/2 or 3/4 ton pu's with spreaders in them? I don't see to many. If you have never plowed before then don't kill yourself thinking of all the equipment you could buy for your first year in the business. You can always trade up to a bigger better truck if you want to add more stuff as your business grows and you do heavier plowing. Iam only 17, ive plowed since i was 15 but my first full season (doing other places besides my own driveway) was last year. I know if i had to worry about running a v-plow in the front, a spreader and a back plow and try to drive at the same time i would be completely lost. I now do 37 driveways and have never found myself needing a larger truck, a better plow or more snow/ice equipment. Thats just me you may want to upgrade to commercial and then you can worry about more toys.
    Good Luck getting started!!!
  7. ratlover

    ratlover PlowSite.com Addict
    from IL
    Messages: 1,325

    I ment i had never seen a fisher V up close untill i bought mine and started assembling it. Thats how much i disliked the fact that the full trip V blade tends to not trip based on were your wings are. The boss can sometimes not trip and that can be bad. Ever been in a F550 loaded down and come to a imediat stop because the 10' boss didnt trip? It sucks. My Fisher always trips as designed.

    The whole trip edge vrs full trip is a deccent sized debate but with a V plow IMO there just isnt a debate, the full trip V's are pain.

    Chris touches on a good point about not buy all this equipment and jumping in with both feet. I always recomend starting small and subing for an experience contractor for the first year or so so you can get your feet wet so to speak and only have to worry about plowing and not about anything else biz related.

    The 7.3's were prtty good reliable motors. The new 6.0's scare me but an older Ford would work fine.

    A pro winged staright blade does ok and will cary a bit of snow. Not as much as a V but still a good amount. Turkey wings will cary more but they turn your blade into a box blade so if you want to switch between box or stright(to windrow) you gota hop out, or you run with one side box and the other open and a bit of an angle.

    The only time you are really using the Scoop position is for clean up. Stacking also is aided by being in the scoop though...

    There is no perfect blade or perfect truck set up. What does well in one situation wont do well in others. You need to get a peice of equipment thats matched to the type of plowing you will do.
  8. Snowboy9999

    Snowboy9999 Junior Member
    Messages: 11


    I disagree about the salting side, unless you know for sure the market won't demad this.

    Which side of Washington are you working? Spokane or Seattle (or somewhere else)?

    totally differnent set of expectations (and financial conditions) between those marketplaces. You should be thoughtful about what your clientle would want. Ask some prospective customers.

    You should also consider the idea of working as a subcontractor for another outfit your first year, unless you have a bunch of built in customers in place. I have spoken to many who make more as a sub than they did when they tried to do it themselves. It will give you time to "learn the ropes" so to speak.

    If you are on the snowier side of the state, you DEFINATELY want to get some kind of a containment plow, Blizzard, V or Straight with wings. The big thing with the V's are the weight. I think a regular blade with pro-wings is a great compromise between price and function.
  9. ratlover

    ratlover PlowSite.com Addict
    from IL
    Messages: 1,325

    Salting is very nice because it make your job sooooooo much easier! Even if the market dosnt like it I would try to sell it. They just may not know they want it LOL. You get paid extra to make your job easier and to leave a better finished lot. Mmmmm......I love salt

    Bu5t like has been said. Doing some sub work and getting your feet wet and then looking at doing it yourself next year and getting a way to apply the product of your choice is a good idea IMO
  10. DavidJ01

    DavidJ01 Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    Sorry for the late response... and thanks for the replies. I finally was able to get on a PC here...

    Snowboy9999, I don't plan on doing any plowing in Wa State. I'm currently living there but am strongly considering a move back to the Kansas City area, which is where I'm at right now. I spent several years here before getting transfered to the greater Seattle area and have pretty much came to the conclusion I prefer the mid-west :) So right now I'm looking around to see what sort of employment is available, and to hook up with old friends and contacts.

    cja1987... Thanks for the good advice ! I really didn't have any intention of buying all of the equipment, but I always tend to look as far into the future as I can so I know what to look for along the way. And because I don't know what I'll be doing (residential or business) understanding the benefits of the various "ancilliary" products might help in a decision. In addition, deciding on whether or not I'll do salting will have an impact on my truck decision purchase.

    But as many have indicated, hooking up with a contractor as a sub is the route I intend to go, at least as far as commercial contracts. I may go it myself in regards to residential.

    ratlover, thanks again for your responses.. although I'm a little concerned about your love for salt :) I've also considered spraying magnesium as a preventitive measure as opposed to salt. I think I discussed that here in a different thread so I won't add that to this thread...

    One of the comments that I seem to see a lot of in these forums is that the type of plowing will help determine what kind of plow to get. I guess for mountainous roads, or for areas that may get a lot of deep and or wet snow, a V-blade is probably a wise choice. So it seems to me that a straight blade is probably the best choice for the Kansas City area, and perhaps the addition of wings would also be a good choice. From what I've seen of the Blizzard 810, I think I'm leaning in that direction.

    I get back home tomorrow so I'll have more time to catch up later this week.

    Thanks again to all,

  11. ratlover

    ratlover PlowSite.com Addict
    from IL
    Messages: 1,325

    I use the hell outa the scoop position or a dog leg type angle. Blizzards are nifty though. Short of transport my blade is never in the V position.

    You get paid extra to make your job easier! Oh yes it rules....except what it does to sheet metal :(
  12. DJC

    DJC Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    check out http://blizzardplows.com that's what we are getting the 8' to 10'. get a free CD and watch it !!! Just a thought.
  13. Bchlawns

    Bchlawns Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 147

    Chevy Trucks Only!!!!!!! You will be satisfied completely. 2500HD series. I was looking at the Ford and the ride of the Chevy is a whole lot better.
  14. DavidJ01

    DavidJ01 Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    Allright Bchlawns, for you I'll go test drive a Chevy... but I didn't like them before and I won't like them now :cool:

    DJC, I actually ordered the CD from them, it's a great presentation. It may not be the best blade for driveways, but for large lots it appears to be a fantastic tool.

    ratlover, I just learned a few days a go while I was in KC, that some people actually get paid a bit more if they have the 810. That, combined with something like the SnowEx Vee Pro seems to be the right combination.

  15. ratlover

    ratlover PlowSite.com Addict
    from IL
    Messages: 1,325

    if your subbing you should get paid based on equipment! the more snow your truck can move the more $ you should make. I would say someone with a large V should bring the same $ as a blizzard. either in hourly rate or as bonuses, like they may have a flat hourly rate but you get bonuses based on production so you would get more for being more productive(having better equipment)
  16. DJC

    DJC Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    nice CD isn't it !!! Nice work