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plowing tips for a newb

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by terrapro, Oct 21, 2006.

  1. terrapro

    terrapro PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,873

    i never wanted to start plowing but just kinda fell into it this year so i was wondering if anyone could give me tips on the how to's of plowing. i am also looking into walk behind salt spreaders so any suggestions on good brands/models would be appreciated. just to be clear i have never ran a plow before, thanks :)
     
  2. crazymike

    crazymike Senior Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 639

    unfortunately it's much harder than it looks.

    It's not rocket surgery, anyone can do it, but to be efficient it takes practice and watching others.

    The biggest thing is knowing how to get the snow where you want it, in the least amount of passes.

    There are some books out there you can read, but I reccomend going out with someone in a storm and watching them. Even for a few hours.

    Also, go over all your sites first. Draw maps of the site, where the snow goes and think of how you to get it there. When I have someone new drive my truck, I draw arrows on the maps of how to get the snow to where it goes. Usually they have no problem doing the lots properly and on time with those maps. Get an experienced person to help.

    And when you drive your sites, it doesn't hurt to have the plow on. Even drive around with the plow on for a couple weeks before hand. Especially if you are running a long blade. With a long blade in tight spots you need to sometimes change the angle to get around cars, etc.. even in transport.
     
  3. Mick

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

    Good advice from crazymike. Also:

    Practice using your plow before the snow flies - putting it on and taking it off, operations and backdragging (run up to your garage or something and drop the blade to get the idea)

    Start small - grow slow: Just get a few driveways the first year, a few more and maybe a few small stand-alone businesses the second and so on.

    Take pictures of the areas you're doing. This allows you to study them before you plow the first time and refer to them throughout the winter. You'll be surprised at the things you didn't notice or forgot.

    Plan where you're going to put the snow. Not at the end of driveways or near the road so as to block the view of oncoming traffic. Pile the snow to avoid runoff of melting snow across streets, driveways and into buildings. Avoid pushing snow into the sides of buildings (especially houses and garages).

    Push well back with the first pushes to allow room for future pushes.

    Mark the edges of all roadways, obstacles, hazards, bushes and other things you want to avoid using 36" or 48" markers, depending on how much snow your area gets.

    Bump up your plow to avoid the "bulldozer" effect on gravel before the ground freezes. Practice so you can do the same as you're plowing to avoid damage to lawns/sides of roads etc.

    Above all - plan, plan and plan some more.

    What other types of things do you want to know?
     
  4. crazymike

    crazymike Senior Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 639

    It also helps if you tell us what type of plowing you plan on doing.

    Commercial/Industral/Residential

    if you are doing commercial/industrial you will use different techniques than residential.

    If you are doing commercial you have more traffic, they tend to be more specific on where snow goes, etc...

    Industrial is usually more open, snow has to go in certain places and away from equipment and shipping doors, etc... there is little traffic, but often 24 hour and often hidden obstacles under the snow such as skids, etc...

    Residential is usually backdrag, push and stack and go. Back them off and on to the next. But you have to worry about traffic, kids toys/bicycles under the snow, etc...
     
  5. terrapro

    terrapro PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,873

    very informative guys thanks. i already have plans to go out with a buddy a few times and plan on paying him to do my customers while i watch. i think im going to stick to residentials accounts in subs and the like. just a few more dumb questions if you guys dont mind......can i salt any surface or does salt ruin asphalt or pavers. also im a soleproprietor so i would be completely liable for any damage so i am assuming i should be fully fully fully insured with business and auto insurance to cover my butt plus make customers sign a waiver/contract. i dont want to be a low baller either so what is the minimum amount you guys will drop the blade for...is $30+$5 for salt+$5 for shoveling walks enough for a minimum??? or is $25+5+5 alittle more realistic
     
  6. Mick

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

    I'll pass on the salt question to someone more experienced with salt. Yes, you'll want to be insured for Commercial Vehicle and General Liability. BUT, pricing is actually regional although you need to take inurance costs into account. Since you're having a friend help you, he might also help with pricing. One word on the shoveling - you need to decide how you are going to handle this because your truck is sitting and not working while you are shoveling. This leads to a dilemna - If you shovel, you need to make the same for that amount of time that you would make if you didn't shovel and got more driveways. But, if you don't shovel, will you wind up not getting some jobs you need? Me, I don't shovel at all, but I'm in a different market. Besides being an old man and shoveling is bad for me, my reasoning is that whenever I get out of the truck, I increase the chance of injury from slipping and falling. Then I may not be able to plow at all. That actually happened on a couple of occasions - once on a street I got out to talk to a customer, not knowing the street was covered with a thin sheet of ice. As soon as my foot hit the pavement, I went down. Lucky, I wasn't hurt bad, but could have been as the other leg was still in the truck and twisted as I fell.
     
  7. DJ Contracting

    DJ Contracting PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,392

    Driveway

    Your $30.00 price is ok for a driveway in Mid Michigan say 18' x 60' as far as salting I will assume that you will be using a push spreader (Earthway spreader) your salt price is to low as is your shoveling price If you could get a helper with the shoveling while you plow that takes up the concern of stopping your truck to shovel.
     
  8. DBL

    DBL PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,310

    we always started our guys watching someone then when they were in the truck by them selves they were always with another expirienced driver in another truck to help out and so they could watch mroe
     
  9. Caveman

    Caveman Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Plowing with Unimogs

    Looking for good plow on a 1400 unimog in Canada. Hard to get some plows up here. Guess we don't get enough snow. Also looking at what type of snow blower works good on 1400.
    Have been plowing Logging roads with 4-5 ft of snow hard on chains. and blades
     
  10. Mick

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

    Try posting this in "Used Plowing and Truck Equipment Forum". You'll get a better response.
     
  11. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    Like other's have said, make a map and visualize where and how you will plow it. Get familiar with the plow, taking it on and off. Get a owner's manual for that plow in case of an "in the field repair" such as hoses, adding fluid etc. Stake all of your lots with plow stakes, especially corner's and curbs- don't want to run into those at 2am when their covered with snow. Best advise, COMMON SENSE!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  12. Brian's Lawn

    Brian's Lawn Senior Member
    Messages: 120

    salt question

    i was also wondering about the salt and if it will harm pavement or cement or whatever the customer might have down????? i was just about to make a whole new thread. glad i looked here first. lol. also if it does harm it what wont harm the driveway that a push salt spreader can handle?
     
  13. terrapro

    terrapro PlowSite Veteran
    from MI
    Messages: 3,873

    the plow, salt, and shovel prices i gave were all minimums. i am just trying to figure out how to not be the lowballer in this business. if $30 to just drop the blade is the going minimum in mid-mich than that sounds good to me.

    what county are you in DJcontracting?(ill check out the earthway) also i am going to start advertising do you guys think its to early

    anyone on the salt question?!?!
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2006
  14. Brian's Lawn

    Brian's Lawn Senior Member
    Messages: 120

  15. EnviroTeam

    EnviroTeam Member
    Messages: 71

    Also

    Some great posts for you from the guys, I would agree with walking the site before the snow flies preferably with the owner so that you can get a feel from him as to any problems he/she has had in the past with other plowers, (I usually hear about something or other that the previous plow guy did that they didn't like) Also you can pick up tips of how the last guy got around potential problems. The one thing I would add that I have never seen anyone mention is to make note of where the drainage is...i.e. sewer grate or low spot. Avoid putting huge piles of snow directly on top of it. If you do you could end up with quite a flood as the snow melts but can't go anywhere. Even worse if it freezes again. (I am speaking from experience here guys)

    Pay attention to the advice given by the guys and gals on here it is invaluable, and strive to be the best you can. You will do great!

    Good luck
    ET

    The hurrier I go the behinder I get
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2006
  16. mr.mow

    mr.mow Junior Member
    Messages: 26

    Your salting brick paver and the such question, dont salt or "icemelt" on brick it detriorates the mortar and brick and be careful not to spread either to wide as to get it on the grass it will kill it if you get too much on it. also be very,very careful when plowing pavers...if your blade drops too fast or you hit an uneven brick it'll crack or worse come out. unless you have a rubber blade, i would stay away with your inexperience.
     
  17. Brian's Lawn

    Brian's Lawn Senior Member
    Messages: 120

    would you guys recomend using salt on residential driveways or no?? if no what should i use instead? also no pavers for me
     
  18. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,202

    I am not sure about your area but most residential driveways will not require salting. People don't want to pay for it and it is really not needed. If it is a long driveway with hills or turns that might be different. In the beginning you will need to take your time. When it is snowing and you are plowing the windows tend to fog up and your mirrors get covered in snow. It is also really dark especially if there is no moon or it is overcast. It is like backing up a trailer, in the day time it is a piece of cake but when it is really dark you can't see behind you.
    One thing about doing sidewalks. When it is snowing and you keep getting in and out of your truck, you keep getting wetter every time to the point that it isn't much fun. Some guys won't shovel if they know they are coming back. If you chose this method just be prepared for a lot of snow when you do shovel. One customer once told me they were to old to shovel the front walk and I replied I was to old to shovel 40 front walks. Mick is right about falling, I have wiped out a few times and it's not fun especially if you have a few hours work left.
     
  19. Brian's Lawn

    Brian's Lawn Senior Member
    Messages: 120

    yeah thats true about the residentials not needing it. what if when i handed them the paper that had the price on it i woud add on there that salt was optional for another $10?? or should i just not even mention it?
     
  20. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,202

    I would tend to leave it out. One example would be, you plow and salt today and tonight it snows so you plow again tomorrow. You pull off the extra salt with the snow and then push everything on the lawn. Over time the salt will damage the lawn.