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Eight Miles of Forest Service Road

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by gbvol54, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. gbvol54

    gbvol54 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    A snow plow newbie here looking at property in NE Washington that's 8 miles in on Forest Service non maintained grave/dirt road. I've read Jedons post about his 2.5 mile access problem in the Sierra Nevadas with interest and done a few searches but can't find anything that quite matches this. The road is in reasonable shape for a dead end FS road with a few ups and downs but for the most part stays around 4000 ft. Snow fall totals around 50+ inches a year, generally light powderish stuff due to the cold temps. In theory the Forest Service will issue a permit to land owners to maintain access, and it's a beautiful large chuck of land at a very reasonable price, but am I getting in over my head (pun intended)? The real estate agent says the previous owner (now deceased) kept it open with a pickup mounted plow. Is this a realistic expectation or real estate agent bull? I'll be retired by the time I move in so I'll have time work the road, but I'm not sure I want another full time job plowing snow. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,541

    A 3/4 ton pickup would be fine, heck even a 1/2 ton could probably handle it just fine. Plowing roads goes faster than you'd think, if the road is not too rutted up, you could easily do 10-15mph, maybe even a little more, one pass down, one pass back, you'd be done before you know it. If there's a chance you're not going to get to it right away before the snow piles up, a vee plow would be a good idea.
  3. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,737

    If you only get 50" a year I don't think you will have a problem with a pickup plow. A nice V-blade on a decent 3/4 ton truck and enjoy.
  4. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,737

    dam wiz you beat me to it!
  5. mercer_me

    mercer_me PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,358

    Like IMAGE said 50" of snow a year isn't that much. I think a 1/2 ton with a 7.'5' blade would be to small. A 3/4 ton with an 8', 8.5' or eaven a 9' strait blade would be all you need.
  6. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    snow etc.

    UH HUH;

    You have forgotten one thing when a real estate
    agents lips move thier lying, been there done that
    with the house I am stuck with.

    You better do a couple of things first before
    the agent gets his commision.

    As it is United States Forest Service Property,
    you had better find out where the nearest fire tower
    or weather monitoring station is so you know exactly what
    the annual snow depths are as the entire area
    will have a weather history and you need to examine
    the entire weather record for the area.

    My other question is how far is it from Stevens Pass
    and if it is close you had better think about it again and
    then file it in the paper shredder.

    Short of a Snow Cat in Washingtons Cascade Concrete
    there is no reasonable option.

    We can all arm chair quarterback but the weather
    service records for the Cascades are gospel.
  7. gbvol54

    gbvol54 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Thanks to all for the input. The property is in Northeast Washington, between Republic and Sherman Pass. I fully understand about Cascade Concrete having skied in it in my younger years, but this is area is much further east (roughly 300 miles east of Stevens Pass) and drier (and colder). Snow conditions are closer to those of Idaho than those of the Western Washington Cascades. Still, the warning regarding real estate agents is well taken as is the advice to check all available weather service records.
  8. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,541

    Don't worry about leon, if it were up to him, he'd have you spending over 100k on a tractor and blower setup you don't need. :eek:

    What's new... :waving:
  9. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    snow etc.

    I did not mention any need for a snow caster and a one hundred thousand dollar tractor

    in my posting to this gentleman.

    I simply stated the obvious question due of the typical real estate

    commission of 6 percent paid by the buyer of the property.

    I simply based my statement with regard to the location of the property that is

    for sale in relation to the Stevens Pass area and its nearly record snow falls

    heavy wet snow falls and the areas history with avalanches and nothing more.

    If I offended you in some way I apologise.
  10. RLM

    RLM PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,270

    If the 50 inches is true, a pick up is fine, the worst part is gravel is tough to plow until it freezes, put shoes on the plow & a rubber or urathane edge will help. Take your time. I have a friend that his driver plowed a gravel lot, "on the sides", he didn't know about untill he cracked the frame on the truck.
  11. jomofo

    jomofo Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    Hi gbvol54,

    I'm in a similar situation as you - I have about 6 miles of fairly gnarly FS trail to maintain. I'm at about 10K' in north central CO. We get about 220" a year here. I keep it open with a 2500 and a 9' Boss VXT. Runs pretty good.

    A word of caution:

    If you don't already have the Special Use permit to maintain the FS trails, apply for it now. Depending on the area you're in, the FS can make you collaborate with others in the area to all fall under a single permit. That's how it is on our hill - there are about 30 homes accessed via the main trail and USFS said they would only deal with us collectively - had to form an HOA/LLC, get liability insurance, and a bunch of other crap. And it's expensive - we pay about $1500 a year for the insurance and another $1500 a year for the permit. Every year we got to pass the hat and it's a biatch.
  12. gbvol54

    gbvol54 Junior Member
    Messages: 13


    Thanks much for the input everyone. In my case a joint agreement won't be necessary at this time. I'm the only resident and at the dead end of the 8 mile forest service road. I've been in contact with the Forest Service folks. So far they appear very willing to work with me on the paperwork. I'm going ahead with the purchase of the property. Guess I'll learn as I go. I've got two years before I retire and dive in so I'll likely be back here multiple times looking for advice.

    Thanks again to all who gave advice,
  13. gbvol54

    gbvol54 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    It's been a year and a half since I got some good planning information from some of you guys on what to expect in plowing the 8 mile forest service road access to my retirement home. Now it's getting to be time to act (I retire in September) and I'm hoping I can get a bit more specific advice. I've got a 2001 Chevy 2500 HD (4X4, xcab, short bed, 6 liter gas) and I'm struggling with whether to use it for plowing and if so what plow to choose. Some questions:

    1. I've read the posts regarding the IFS and gussets. Mine came from the factory with one (each side). Is that enough or do I need to install more.

    2. I'd like to go with up to a 9.5 V (brand YTD) but most run around 1000 lbs. Is that just too much for this truck? Will timbrens get me into to that weight range?

    3. If I did go with a plow in that weight range what amount of ballast would be appropriate?

    4. The truck has a LSD rear end, open front. Do lockers make a significant difference for plowing?

    Thanks in advance
  14. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    cascade concrete

    I would be much more comfortable seeing you with a 4 wheel drive tractor
    with an automatic transmission or a geared unit with creeper gearing and
    a rear mounted snow blower as I stated before.

    The larger tractors have swivel seats in them so stiff necks are not an issue anymore

    I dont want to spend your money but the issue of heavy silver dollars snowflakes
    and one foot per hour snow falls is an issue as well as the chinook winds.

    A plow is only going to shove the snow so far and once it gets a lot of water in it
    and you have snow banks-they will not move.

    What ever you decide I hope it works for you.
    Last edited: May 25, 2013
  15. mud

    mud Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Each manufacturer will have a snow plow selector feature on there web site. I ran your truck though snow dogg's with the lowest front axle ratings that were available and it still lists you are being able to run a nine and a half foot flared v. Gives a spec of just under a thousand pounds of ballast as well for that plow. Timbrens won't technically increase how much weight you can carry but will change the way the truck carries it. I personally do not use them in my trucks (I prefer airbags myself) but there is a reason they are popular.

    Lockers would help in the most extreme situations. However with a thousand pounds in the bed and a rear lsd that thing is gonna be a tank with the plow down. Instead of worrying about dropping big cash on a locker or two if you're really worried about traction get a set of chains to use with the conditions are at their worst.

    I see a tractor has been mentioned. While they do work and its what I've used in the past for my snow I would never want to do eight miles of road with one on a regular basis. If you do not have a year round use for one either I would for sure recommend against it. Lots of coin to put down for limited use in snow removal. A thought though would be to find a local guy with some sort of heavy equipment (grader, loader, etc) with a wing on it. If the banks get to far in pay them to come knock them back. You could do that a bunch of times before you come close to the cost of a tractor and blower setup.
  16. gbvol54

    gbvol54 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Thanks for the input guys. I'm afraid a tractor/snow blower is out of my price range.

    Another question. For the gravel/dirt road I'll be dealing with would I be better off with a edge trip or full trip? Does one type trip do a better job of protecting the equipment? In my situation I'd rather trade time for less damage to the truck or plow.
  17. REAPER

    REAPER 2000 Club Member
    from 60050
    Messages: 2,228

    If you are only going to be doing the dirt/gravel drive I suggest either buying or making a "Yard Guard" pipe. Not only will you save abuse on the truck but it will save you from moving yards of dirt or stone into the pile as well.

  18. Clint S

    Clint S Senior Member
    Messages: 280

  19. mud

    mud Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    Either trip style will work ok for you. Most of your plowing will be with the blade angled anyway so you get away from the issues of a full trip blade not wanting to trip in the V or scoop modes.

    The gravel guard is one idea and if you get frequent thaws would be the way I would go.

    Conversely the common method around here is to let a base build up by either driving on the first snowfall or if its too deep to just drive on raising your plow up a couple inches and leaving a bit on the first plowing. Once what is left packs and freezes down you can drop the blade and go without worrying about pushing all your gravel off in the snow banks.
  20. jomofo

    jomofo Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    Howdy gbvol54 - funny to see this thread bumped when I haven't logged in in over a year! Good luck with your move.

    After maintaining my road for 5 years now, I think some summer road maintenance and a light touch on the controller (and gas pedal!) are all that's really needed. Letting road freeze with a good layer of snow on it helps a lot too, and I'm lucky to be mostly north facing, so I don't have the road thawing out on me all winter.

    I really like having the v-plow. There are lots of places in my route where I need to collect snow from an area and deposit it somewhere else. The mouth of my driveway for instance. It took me a while to figure out how to use the v-plow effectively without breaking it, and there were a couple of expensive lessons along the way, but now that I have a good sense of what the plows limitations are, it's super effective.

    I hope you enjoy your new life in the woods! Have fun!