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Which is Best for a 1,500 Ft. Steep Driveway: JD Diesel Tractor or Bobcat S150?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by MountainBill, Oct 18, 2007.

  1. MountainBill

    MountainBill Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    I live on a small mountain in the Northeast Pennsylvania with a steep, curved 1,500 asphalt driveway about 12 to 14 feet wide. The bottom 150 feet is the steepest part with about a 35% to 40% grade. The entire driveway has a southern exposure. At the top of the driveway we have an asphalt parking area for about 15 cars. We currently have a Honda H6522 4WD 22 HP compact diesel tractor with a 60" snow blade and a 56" snow blower. The Honda weighs about 1,700 lbs. We're looking to upgrade from the Honda because we need something larger and that's easier to switch implements. When I'm dealing with ice, I use the snow blade, drive slowly, and if I start to slide I lower the blade and raise up the 2 front tires. That'll dig me in and stop the slide.

    We are considering purchasing either a John Deere 4WD #3120 compact diesel tractor or a Bobcat S150 skid loader. Both machines would have a cab and come with a 60" 2-stage snow blower and a 72" snow blade. The 4WD JD weighs in at about 2,900 lbs. with a 30 HP diesel. The Bobcat's 5,900 lbs. with a 46 HP diesel. Both machines would be used almost exclusively for snow removal. And yes, I know that both machines are probably overkill. But my wife and I need to be prepared for the worst case scenario -- otherwise, we're trapped in our house until the snow/ice melts. We typically get about 1 to 2 feet of snow, but occasionally we can get a lot more with up to 7 foot drifts.

    In your opinion, which would be the better machine for our driveway? And why?

    Also, for the Bobcat which tires would be best? A Bobcat "standard duty 8 PR" or "severe duty 10 PR" tire? Or a Michelin XSNOPLUS M&S radial which Michelin claims is made for ice & snow?

    Many thanks, in advance, for your advice!


    Mountain Bill
  2. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,030

    I suppose you will be running the blower on the rear of the JD, if so you will be backing up alot. The bobcat you will be driving forward. The plus with the JD is you can have the bucket and blower on it at the same time. The tractor is a little nicer to drive IMO and it's alot easier to get in and out of. I can't decide either but I'm leaning towards the JD. Do you have any use for them in the summer, that could help your decision. Personally I do not like driving skid steers JMO. We have a JD 320 and I do not like driving it but the guy that works for us loves it. Sorry I probably confused you more. Did I tell you how much I like green paint. LOL Not that age matters but my dad is 65 and in good shape and he really has trouble getting in and out of the skid steer in the winter.
  3. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    not sure why this post is in two places, but....
    We run a lot of tractors. (summer and winter)
    A SS works better than anything out there for materials handling.
    a regular tractor gives you a lot of options, you can put something on teh front, on the back, run it off the PTO, etc.

    1. That 30hp tractor is too small, much too small. You want to be in at least the 35/40hp range. (5ft tractor to 6ft tractor). A subcompact is useless IMHO, too small to do anythinng.
    2. Having the plow and the snowblower gives you huge options. You can get a snowblower for a SS, but then you have to switch it out.
    3. A SS is scary on a slope. I'ts going to take some time to get used to it.

    BTW, that green paint costs A LOT, look around at other good dealers around you, I'm sure you'll find something similar. (No, I don't run green, fine tractors, too much money IMHO). See www.tractorbynet.com it's a forum for compact tractor owners.

    I'd go compact tractor.
    Oh, get a cab, moving snow without a cab SUCKS after 5 to 8 hours. :rolleyes:
  4. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,030

    What kind would you suggest? Just wondering and how much is he really going to save in the long run?
  5. jabbahop

    jabbahop Junior Member
    from vermont
    Messages: 13

    have you considered a toolcat?

    I have one primarily for snow removal on our 1300 foot and steep driveway (not 35% grade though). With chains on it goes places. I have a plow but would love the blower. It is expensive but very easy to attach implements and drive.
  6. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    Any of the big 3+ are good
    Kubota (although the operators platforms are sized small, if you are a big guy, you'll notice, otherwise outstanding tractors.)

    New Holland (Case is the same thing, same company)

    Massey Fergeson (one of the best values going I think, significantly cheaper than the big 3 (orange, blue, green). Agco is the same thing.

    I think any of those are top notch and I think you'll see they are all significantly cheaper than green even when similarly equipped. At least out here it is, but it's worth doing research. We're talking 5000+ dollars sometimes for equivilent tractors. JD is very proud of their tractors. I'm not saying green is bad, I'm saying take a look at other makes before you decide. (and dealer support matters a lot, the green dealer here locally is terrible)

    BTW, top 3 things any good tractor should have that no one will tell you.
    1. quick attach bucket (universal system, not some propriatary system), fits any attachments.
    2. extendable link arms, makes hooking up 3 point items SO much easier.
    3. loaded tires.

    bonus item: at least 12 gears (if not a hydrostatic drive). 8 gears isn't enough, you'll always be looking for another one
  7. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    2 more examples
    My neighbor bought a 22hp JD sub-compact (don't ask me the numbers, JD numbers confuse me). FEL, He paid 20,000 dollars
    a year later I bought a 33hp Massey Fergeson compact tractor (significantly bigger, significantly more power. FEL I paid 18,500

    Last year my neighbor bought a 55hp JD compact (big compact, hydrostatic drive, open platform, FEL). he paid 35,000.
    This year I bought a New Holland 45hp compact tractor with FEL. Slightly smaller, but mine has a cab, hydrostatic drive, etc (factory cabs add about 5000 to 6000 dollars whatever tractor you put it on) I paid 35,000 dollars.
    Oh and his doesn't even have extensible link arms (which is just ridiculous in that size of tractor), just found that out the other day helping him hook up a roadboss.

    Options abound, look at them all.
  8. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,030

    I agree good post. Dealer support is very important when buying. The JD is worth a little more when buying because of resale but not 5k. JMO
  9. MountainBill

    MountainBill Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for all of the responses. In hindsight, I probably should've been (much) clearer. I also posted these questions on both the commercial and residential forums (since I'm new to PlowSite) and because my questions are about commercial equipment for residential use.

    Can an entry level Bobcat make it up and down a steeply sloped driveway as easily as the JD 4WD tractor? Also, can the Bobcat maneuver as easily as the JD tractor when it's on a steep icey slope?

    The Bobcat is appealing for a few reasons: 1). it can turn 360 degrees on a dime; 2); the implements can be attached/detached in minutes, while the JD takes longer (I'm in my 60's and I generally take a little longer to do almost anything); 3). the Bobcat's snowblower has more in-the-cab hydraulic adjustments when plowing or blowing snow; 4). service (oil changes, etc.) are easily handled, or at least mush easier than the JD; 5). there's no shear pin on the snowblower -- so if it gets jammed by a rock or something, the hydraulics go into overflow until it's unjammed; 6) it'll probably be more fun to drive for a weekend warrior; and 7) the Bobcat can fit into our attached garage and a taller tractor (with a cab) would need to go into the barn which is about 200 feet from our house. That's not a deal-breaker, but it's nice to have the convenience when there's a few feet of snow down.

    I'd rather not put chains on the Bobcat since I'm concerned that it would chop up our asphalt driveway. But I am considering the Michelin XSNOPLUS M&S skid steer snow tires that are used in Montreal, Canada -- but I'm uncertain as to how well they perform. Has anyone ever used them?

    But if the Bobcat isn't maneuverable, stable, and safe on a steep (and sometimes icey) slope, then non of the above would matter much. One of you mentioned that the Bocat can be a little scary on slopped ice -- and that's my main concern. Will that become less of an issue with several hours of drive time under my belt.

    Both machines will be used almost exclusively for snow/ice removal, so any other uses for them would become secondary. I have another smaller tractor for lawn care, etc.

    Both the blade and blower for whatever I wind up with will be front-mounted. I would really hate driving backwards down a 1,500 foot steep icey driveway.

    I had also looked at a 4WD Kubota B3030 with a cab -- 30 HP. Very nice tractor and a good, reliable dealer. But their quick-hitch for swapping the front-mounted blade and blower require a lot of muscle and really isn't that quick. On the other hand, the JD has a new "A-Frame" quick hitch which really does appear to be fairly quick and easy (without much muscle required).

    The Bobcat Toolcat would be ideal for our needs -- but at $47,000 for everything we would need (or want) it's way out of our budget. Can't be a consideration even in my dreams.

    Well, what do you think? Which would work best on a long, steep, curvey driveway -- the 4WD tractor or Bobcat? Or can they both handle it about equally (with a little bit of experience driving them)?


    Mountain Bill
  10. johnstra

    johnstra Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    You'll need the chains on the bobcat. I just bought a Cat 226 skid steer w/ a 72" blower. I used it for the first time this past weekend. I ran without the chains just to see how it would do and it slipped a lot. My place is hilly too. I have a neighbor with a JD skid and he says he can't do anything without his chains.
  11. RipT

    RipT Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    Bill, I have a much longer but equally steep dirt/gravel private road and a NH TC-30 tractor in addition to the items listed below. My vote would be the Skid Steer with both a blade and blower. Go for the Michlin snow tires, but have at least one set of chains for the rear.

    Yes, I know you do not want to "chop up" the asphalt, but if it is in good condition and seasoned, you will most likely only scratch it some as long as you avoid those turn-on-a-dime pivot turns when running chains. I would mount the chains under any ice conditions.

    Consider other brands beside Bobcat in the same size catagory as well. Stick with tires, not tracks for your needs. Consider late model/low hour demo or used (but probably not ex-rental) as well for the basic machine. You should never get snowed in, and so long as you can get in/out of the cab easily, expend very little physical effort in the process. There will be a learning curve in driving it, but if you take your time initially, should get comfortable after 5 to 10 hours of seat time.

    Good Luck.....
  12. MountainBill

    MountainBill Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Thanks everyone for your replies! After a lot of thought and advice from this forum, other forums, and a few home builders that I'm friends with -- I think we're now leaning more towards a track loader rather than one with wheels. There's more ground contact for snow, we can also use it across our lawn for other projects without too much damage, and, of course, it's going to be a lot more $$$.

    We're currently evaluating a Bobcat T140, ASV model 50, and a Cat 247B. Both the ASV and Cat use similar tracks and may offer a little more traction than the Bobcat -- but the Bobcat may be the least expensive.


    Mountain Bill
  13. RipT

    RipT Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    Any rubber tracked units will be MUCH worse on ice or hard packed snow on any slope than chained-up tires.

    There is a world of difference between a tired SS and a compact track loader in dirt & mud versus snow & ice. And the tracks are better for the former, and chained-up tires better for the latter.

    We have a CAT 287B tracked machine up in Canada, and it is absolutely HORIBLE on icy sloped surfaces. Came within inches of rolling it off the edge last year more than once. It was not bought for snow removal, and we will never use it again for that purpose. On the other hand, I did buy a Toolcat primarily for snow and with narrow truck snow tires and chains, it will go anywere with complete control.

    Just my $0.02....... (based on experience)
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2007
  14. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    I've seen this Kubota setup and it was really pretty trick. front mounted blower, pretty quick on and off, cab to run the heater and small enough to manuever. This is one I'd vote for. put a rear blade on it with the front blower and leave it alone all winter.
    Besides JD who has propritery quick attach, most tractors can be had with a regular universal quick attach on the front end loader, meaning anything that fits a bobcat will fit a tractor.
    Hydralic powered equipment (like the bobcat blower) takes a ton of power and flow to run and they don't make nearly the power as a direct drive PTO.
    A toolcat would be a nice setup for you.
  15. mud

    mud Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    As a small farmer, and a snow sub in the winter I would say that if I was in your shoes and could only have one machine it would be a cabed compact tractor hands down. This is even coming from the point of view that all of my tractors are older and have geared transmissions not hydro.

    Granted in smaller areas or places where you have to make lots of directional changes the skid might be a bit more convenient, however the tractor will be much more versatile not only for snow removal but for year round use. You also get the benefit of being up a bit higher which gives much better visibility. The biggest benefit that I see however is visibility when in reverse. The tractor will be much better, skids are notoriously terrible for rearward visibility and have huge blind spots towards the rear.

    Personally for your needs I would be looking at a front mounted blower and possibly a snow blade but I would definitely be picking up a rear mounted blade for the three point as well. Leave the 3 pt blade attached at all times and the blower on. In a light snow the three point will be faster for clearing the snow than the blower, just angle it and drive up and down the drive. Use the blower for clean ups at the end of the drive and maybe make a pass up and down to blow your windrows off the drive.

    As a bonus as well the three point blade is great for any light grading chores in the summer should the need arise. For summer use as well at least in my area it is much easier to find three point attachments for a tractor for those occasional jobs that come up around the house than for a skid.

    No matter which way you go (skid or tractor) if you are going to use it for snow removal on a steep grade do NOT go with a tracked machine. Low ground pressure is great for working soft soils but it will get you into trouble on ice.
  16. powerjoke

    powerjoke PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,341

    good post MUD

    i am a dirt worker so i would feel more comfortable in the ssloader but would recomend the litle tractor

    and somethin we can all agree on is rubber tracks prob. would'nt be the best choice on ice etc. but if he is going to use it in the yard in summer the minor ground compaction is a plus and besides you can always drive nails in the tracks from the back side for ice :nod: or maybe sheetrock screws so you can remove them eaiser LOL
  17. MountainBill

    MountainBill Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    I Went with the Bobcat S150

    Thanks much for everyone's advice. After much consideration, my wife and I finally decided that our best option for our particular needs would be the Bobcat S150. Too many people advice us against any tracked skid loaders for use on a long, steep, icey driveway -- they'll go into a slide too easily.

    Tire-wise we went with the STA Super Traxion light truck tire in a 10 x 16.5 8-ply size (#LB4D5). It has a tread pattern almost identical to the Snow Wolf "Wolf Paw" skid loader tire -- but it's a 10" tire, not 7" wide. For the ice we'll probably be putting on chains -- since we only get iced just a few times a year.

    If anyone is looking for an almost new 4WD compact diesel tractor with a blade & blower -- I just posted an ad for one on this forum. It's a beaut! with just 126 hours.


    Mountain Bill
  18. RipT

    RipT Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    Bill, I think you have made a wise choice.

    Most of the time the snow tires may be all you need, and the other times one set of "two link" V bar on the rear should keep you going in the right direction. I would get a second set "just in case", and it can also serve as a backup set.

    Try to get some good "seat time" in the machine before you are faced with a nasty situation.....It will take a while to get comfortable with a SSL and there is no sense in having your first hours be in blizzard condtions.

    Good Luck
  19. MountainBill

    MountainBill Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    What would be the best chains to use on a skid steer on a steep driveway -- which would still give you some traction on ice and also result in minimum damage to an asphalt driveway? Would that be the 2-link V chain that you referred to -- or another type?


    Mountain Bill
  20. RipT

    RipT Senior Member
    Messages: 184


    For minimum damage, I would go with the 2 link (there is a cross link every second link of the side chain versus every 4th link) in a standard twist-link style. This type should give very good traction and reasonable wear while minimizing pavement damage. If you minimize wheel spinning and avoid spin-turns, you should not have more than some surface scratches that should not cause any harm.

    Alloy Square Straight link would be next step up in traction and provide excellent wear with probably no increase in surface marks. V-Bar will be even better traction-wise, but definately more marks and some chance of damage.

    Remember, if you have 150 ft of 35% to 40% grade on this driveway, that is pretty steep and you do not want any machine to even start sliding on you. Have that second set of chains available, and if you have any doubt at all, put them on BEFORE you end upside-down in the ditch, or pond, or traffic, or even sideways.

    By the way, I know a new Toolcat would be more $$ than a S150, but if you could find a nice 1 or 2 year old used one I think it would be well worth considering. I just bought a very clean '06 model C with Turbo & high-flo with only 120 hrs for $27K to run a blower and blade and sander at our place up in BC Canada. You would find it very easy to operate, get in/out of, and probably have more year-around use for as well. With studded truck snow tires and 500 lbs in the bed it would be ideal for your situation. With the second seat, you can even bring a buddy along the share the experience!

    Good Luck in any case!

    Last edited: Nov 12, 2007