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Back-woods plowing with new truck questions?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by Dennis Baunach, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. Dennis Baunach

    Dennis Baunach Junior Member
    Messages: 6

    I have found this forum to be a fantastic site to answer many of my questions throughout the years but this is the first time I have posted.
    I'm not really a professional but I have plowed plenty of snow! We live in snow country in WA state in the backwoods. We get 3+ feet of snow ea year and I need to plow out about a mile of dirt/gravel logging roads (some my drive and some neighbors). I plow when I get around 4-6" of snow. For the past 17 years I have used various rigs including a tractor with back plow and my back-hoe loader for plowing.

    Twelve years ago I finally settled on a late '60s Ford 6cyl gas 3yd. dump truck (Big Blue) with an old county plow on it. I need to put a lot of weight in the bed for balast and chain up the duals to make it up and down the hills. I have never liscenced it and it never goes further than a few miles from my home. This truck really moves the snow, nothing slows it down but it is a bear to maneuver in tight spots and it 's on it's last leg (pretty well worn when I got it) I am now also looking to replace my farm truck (94 Dodge Ram 1500 gas- 300k miles and worn out) with a Heavy duty 1997 Dodge Ram 2500 4X4 Club Cab. Auto trans. Long bed. Heavy duty transfer case, factory no spin differentials, dana 60 front 70 rear. 4.10 ratio gears.Very good condition, 90k miles on it and asking $4000. I can really use the club cab for the family.

    My questions: Does this seem to you to be a good replacement truck for my plowing requirements? Is this truck going to really move/side-cast the snow? Or am I expecting too much from a pick-up?

    What size/kind of plow should I be looking for?

    Do I still need to chain up when using this 4x4 Dodge considering the loging roads and mild hills?
    Thanks so much!

    Dump trk 1.jpg

    Dump trk 2.jpg

    Dodge ram 97.jpg
  2. fullahead

    fullahead Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 51

    I honestly have no good input for you but I just wanted to say that Big Blue is absolutely badass! What a fun restoration project that would make.
  3. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,528


    Love the Blue dump truck..... I agree that it's really a cool ride

    If you're looking to get a new plow, buy a V-plow. Google / youtube V-plows on the net and you'll understand why. They are just really good at placing / displacing snow, and if you get a footer overnight, it's easier to push through a deep snow with a V, than to push it off to one side with a straight blade. It's just a much more versatile unit....IMO

    My next blade is a boss VXT
  4. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    The ECLB solid front axle Dodge isn't goingt be much more manuverable than the dump (very cool btw). The more weight you run, the easier plowing will be. I would at least have a set of chains available for the rear. Like the ballast, chains will make plowing easier. I would also recommend a Vee plow. Ballast, chains, and a Vee plow = you can always get out.
  5. mercer_me

    mercer_me PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,358

    The 1997 Dodge 2500 should make a decent plow truck. If you have plenty of weight in the back you will probably be okay with out chains but, I would keep a set on hand just encase you need them. A V plow would be the way to go but, if can't afford or don't want a V plow you could get by with an 8' strait blade but, an 8.5' or 9' blade would be better.
  6. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    Big blue is a really cool truck. If you do a rebuild on that one, it certainly has a lot more life left in it than the dodge does.

    Now, "Big Blue" is a 2wd I'm guessing? Simple old trucks like that are easy and cheap 4wd conversions. I say buy a wreck for parts to rebuild the Ford and a minivan for the family.
  7. DieselSlug

    DieselSlug PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,050

    x2, that is a very unique rig, from the looks of it my truck is in way worse shape, and its my daily driver!
  8. Dennis Baunach

    Dennis Baunach Junior Member
    Messages: 6

    Just brought home my new plow truck, a 97 Dodge 3/4 ton w/ the V10. The 98 Dodge I was trying to buy got sold to someone else. I drove my new truck hauling a heavy trailer from Seattle to Spokane WA doing 70 and getting 11 mpg (expected worse), and I love it! It will be dedicated plow truck with an occasional dump & construction materials run.
    I plan on getting a V plow (used) as soon as I can find a good one for the right price. Might need to figure out how to reinforce the front suspension before the heavy plow is added.

    Big blue will be kept for a reserve plow and an on-site dirt/rock mover. I would love to rebuild the old dump truck but it has to get in-line behind finishing many other big projects like finishing the house and barn and garage and rebuild my old Case tractor and, and, and...
    Thanks everyone for the info.
  9. SullivanSeptic

    SullivanSeptic PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,419

    No need to beef up front end. Just keep some weight in bed. Throw 600-1000 lbs in it. You will push more snow with more weight.
  10. Dennis Baunach

    Dennis Baunach Junior Member
    Messages: 6

    Thanks for the reply.
    Any suggestions on the easiest/best way to add weight to the back bed?
    I currently use my backhoe to drop in weight in my dump truck. I will be keeping a canopy on the Dodge PU.
    Anyone try using some kind of ballast that you could back up to and hook on the trailer hitch?
    I suppose sand bags would work in the bed but it sure would be nice to have the bed empty for those town runs for supplies and dump run during the winter.
  11. BUFF

    BUFF PlowSite Fanatic
    from FR NoCo
    Messages: 6,746

    If you had a set of forks for the loader you could load the ballast in and out with a topper on the pick up.
  12. seville009

    seville009 Senior Member
    from CNY
    Messages: 694

    I put about ten of the 80lb tubes of sand in my truck bed for ballast. They don't take up too much room, so doing that should leave you plenty of space to still haul gsrbage and stuff in there.
  13. DieselSlug

    DieselSlug PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,050

    I made a wooden box for the back of my truck and put in about 600lbs worth of sand, or gravel. Whatever i can get for free or cheaper!
  14. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    One thing you want to be very careful about with loading ballast into a pickup: the back of the cab and front of the box are NOT THAT SOLID. If you load a lot of weight and drive around town and some dipsh*t does something stupid and crashes you, you have not only the front impact to worry about, but also whatever ballast you have flying through and hitting you in the back.

    What I would suggest as a safe and convenient solution is this;
    Fill the bottom of the truck bed with a LAYER of sand bags, throw a 4x8 ply over them, and a couple of straps over the ply to keep everything steady. Use the ply as a new "truck bed".
  15. theholycow

    theholycow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,180

    ^He has a good point. I hadn't given it much thought and was using gallon jugs of ice, old car batteries, brake rotors, etc as ballast, but someone pointed out to me that they become projectiles in a crash and could end up coming through the glass and taking off my head. I now pack my bed full of snow, that's pretty decent ballast for general driving (and will go away on its own if I wait/I can dump it anywhere/it's free) but it wouldn't be enough for this purpose. If you can pack it tight enough you can embed ballast objects in it, I suppose...still better to use safer ballast and secure it well.
  16. LEVE

    LEVE Member
    Messages: 79

    If I had a vote...it would be to rebuild Ol' Blue. Why switch from something that's worked for years?

    Think back to Snowmageddon a few years ago. It dumped 10' of snow here on the Palouse, likely more where you are. Would that Dodge power through it? Somehow I doubt it. That Dodge can quickly become a millstone around your neck with one slide-off. Ol' Blue, on the other hand... likely would drive out.

    Will the Dodge be a personal vehicle or only a plow truck? It's a lot nicer to take the Dodge to town that that dump truck. IMHO, if you don't need that Dodge, stick with the Ol' Blue.
  17. Dennis Baunach

    Dennis Baunach Junior Member
    Messages: 6

    I hear you!
    The Old Blue had plowed tons of snow over the years and has been a pretty dependable friend.
    However, as I'm into my retirement years now that Dodge truck looks very appealing to get into during those cold snowy mornings compared to muscling that dump truck around.
    I plan on keeping the dump truck for summer work around the farm but it does require a lot of my time to keep it operating. (Some of the maintenance is necessary because of the summer work she does like hauling rock, soil, brush, logs, etc.) I do plan on keeping Old Blue on standby for emergency snow plowing. I plow the adjacent neighbor's long drives also.

    Old blue good things:
    already own it
    plenty of power
    generally starts right up
    Ballast is easy to add with my excavator or backhoe (I found just the right flat big boulder) I just dump it in the spring.
    I do not license or insure her and never go off the property except neighbor’s drives.

    Old Blue not so good things:
    Manual blade angle and it's really hard to adjust it because of packed snow build up on the plow frame. The plow is put together kind of hoakey.
    The plow face needs ground down and painted. Many times the snow sticks to the plow and just piles up in front. I often need to scrape the snow off.
    wears me out just maneuvering (no power steering)
    Doesn’t back-drag very well
    Needs a lot of attention each year to keep it operating. A list of fairly recent or outstanding repairs: starter, fuel pump, broke transmission shaft a few years back, fuel tank leaks, hydraulic leaks, dump bed pto bearing going out. Makeshift hydraulic pump heats up and overflows,
    bad rust on floorboard and frame near front. heater control cables rusted up. wiper motor stopped.

    I sold my previous 1994 Dodge 1500 which had way to many miles on it and just bought the 1997 Dodge 2500 V10 to replace her. Low miles 125K. Runs very strong. She will be used as a go to town truck and snow truck and firewood truck. I like the looks of the V plow because of its versatility. Being able to get the snow where I want it is a really big plus. We have narrow hill side tree lined logging roads and snow placement is critical.

    Anyway, I have the new truck and will be hanging a (used) V plow on it as soon as I can get the $4-$6k together to do it. It may be next season before I can afford it.
    If it is the opinion that either the V plow or the truck are not up to the job I will definitely listen and possibly reconsider. I have plowed a lot of snow over the years but always ready to listen and learn from other’s mistakes.

    snow trucks.jpg
  18. wideout

    wideout Senior Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 727

    Love old blue looks cool! Nice new truck. I have a 97 ext cab but a diesel and it plows snow really well should work well for you.
  19. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,561

    Love the ballast boulder! And Big Blue is definitely cool!