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Aluminum for a snow plow or loader bucket?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by DouglasCo, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. DouglasCo

    DouglasCo Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    I would like to build a very lightweight but durable plow and front end loader bucket, that have the same strength as commercial ones, just light as possible. Don't ask why, just pretend its a good idea. I guess the composite ones are why we don't see aluminum plows, but i can't weld that, and they aren't strong. I haven't lived in the cold for very long and am wondering if aluminum is just too brittle when it gets cold. Of course I would use a hardened cutting edge which would take the brunt of most the impacts. Am wondering the same thing about a bucket for the loader. I know aluminum gouges easily(if hauling rocks), but pretend thats not an issue too. I'm just worried about fractures and cracking. Its said 6061 is about the same strength as mild steel or should I go with some equally expensive super high strength steel? Would like to hear some stories about aluminum things breaking because its cold.
     
  2. hammerstein

    hammerstein Senior Member
    Messages: 318

    Every thing else aside why are you trying to reinvent the wheel? I do not know what you intend on plowing but I think aluminum would be to weak and end up breaking, bending or cracking when you hit an obstruction. I run 3/4 ton and up trucks and have hit stuff that has stopped the truck instantly. All of the stress starts at the plow which will be your weakest point. I guess if its on your lawn tractor and you are doing a side walk or small drive you might be OK but anything bigger like on a truck I would go for a steel or poly plow.
     
  3. oldmankent

    oldmankent PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,318

    I think to make the aluminum strong enough you would have to oversize the thickness and overbuild it to get what you wanted. Still, aluminum does not stand up to stresses as well as steel. It weakens alot quicker than steel does. I wouldn't bother with it. the cost would be very high, and you wouldn't even know if the thing was going to hold up.
     
  4. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,552

    I remember using aluminum shovels (you dont see them any more) the snow ALWASE stuck to them!! Also Aluminum fateegs very quickly.
     
  5. DouglasCo

    DouglasCo Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    Yes but that was before the invent of the magical Eureka Fluid Film. Maybe its not a good idea. I was just looking at the weights for the sheets. 1/2" aluminum(7.2lbs/sqft) weighs a little less then 3/16" steel(7.66lbs/sqft) or 3/8"aluminum(5.4lbs/sqft) is about half the weight of 1/4" steel(10.2lbs sqft) That allows for quite a bit of beefing for the same amount of weight. Maybe the problem is I just like welding aluminum.
     
  6. Oshkosh

    Oshkosh PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,655

    I would have to say..

    I would have to say with all the companies building aluminum bodies and boxes etc... That if it Alum would hold up to the abuse of plowing they would have done it already.
    Take Alum wheels, they tend to crack around the studs over time ,fatigue.
    I think to build an alum plow the frame work would have to be three(?) times thicker than the steel counterpart ,you may save some weight but then again youd have to overbuild to keep the same strength making it weigh as much if not more in the process.
    I know alum dump bodies wear out faster,Alum boat hulls corrode faster in salt water compared to steel.
    I also think you hit a good point with cold weather being an issue also,making the alum brittle?
    I'm by no ways a metallurgist maybe we have one on the site somewhere????
     
  7. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,915

    Not a metallurgist, but it won't work. Aluminum is not strong enough as stated, if it was, somebody would have done it.

    There is no substitute for weight\bulk when it comes to building plows. IMO
     
  8. nickv13412

    nickv13412 Senior Member
    Messages: 621

    if you really want to get aluminum strong, it has to be heat treated, welds and all for over 8 hours at a temperature around 900 F, then maybe even aged for about 4 hours at 400 F. And if a weld ever broke and had to be re-welded, it would ruin the heat treat on the metal. Even after all of this, it still would not be as strong as steel. Also, having any steel such as a cutting edge or hardware touching aluminum is never good because the metals like to corrode and somewhat fuse themselves together, which makes them a real PITA to get apart. I love aluminum. Aluminum, bronze and magnesium sandcastings are my family business, but as far as plows go, theres no logical substite for steel and poly IMO - Nick
     
  9. DouglasCo

    DouglasCo Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    Okay, So now that you set me straight on aluminum. Which steel is best? Do any of the companies use anything other then ASTM A-36? And is a higher yield strenth or tensile strength important? I guess we get into the same issue with aluminum, if its too hard it cracks instead of just gives. I like the description of this manganese plate(11% manganese): "nonmagnetic steel that work hardens to a 650 Brinnel!. It is a 21-Mn austenitic steel with an exceptionally high level of wear-resistance when subjected to work-hardening by shocks or high pressures in service. The initially low hardness(about 200 BHN) leads to a service hardness of at least 500BHN. This work-hardening maintains itself through in-service life. The underlayers not work-hardened maintain a very high resistance to shock" Sounds like it might deform to much before it gets hard, probably more useful for the cutting edge, and i haven't got the price on it yet.

    My other choices are C1020, 1008/1010, ASTM A-516 Gr70, ASTM A-572 Gr50, ASTM A514, C1119, C1144
     
  10. hammerstein

    hammerstein Senior Member
    Messages: 318

    What are you planing on plowing? What are you planing on plow with? Start with these to decide which plow is right for the application.
     
  11. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,046

    We have built many plows over the years. My dad built plows back in the early 70's because there really weren't any well made plows over 10ft being made with trip or moulboard cutting edges. But now a days there are so many well built blades to choose from that are proven. We like to find used blades and rebuild them to as good as new. It's not hard to find used blades cheap that need TLC. I'm not saying you can't build a great blade just giving you my .02. My Dad would still rather build a blade even if it costs more just to get the satisfaction out of doing it.