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2000 ft of gravel Plow or Blow

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by vahaus, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. vahaus

    vahaus Junior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 7

    Situation is 2000ft 10ft wide gravel lane in West central Ohio runs North-south so drifting an issue. In past had a guy plow the lane ok as long as he didn't push to west side which he did last year and ended up with 3-4 ft of snow across entire length spent the next 10 hours on a rented Bobcat to get back to the house. Have a 29inch MTD snowblower, which if snow is around 6 inches or so I can run 4 passes and be done in just over and hour. Looking for something quicker.

    Have tried a snowblower mounted to my zero turn mower tore up the blower after 3 uses. Gone back to dealer. Thinking a small 4wd tractor with a 3 pt hitch blower as option 1 or 4wd truck with blade option 2, not really thrilled with blade for the same reason as the problem I had last year. I have a 2WD F-150 not sure it has enough for plowing. Lke the blower option most, dealer is trying o sell me on a 38 inch walk behind Snapper, I'm getting to a point I don't want to walk and manhandle a snow thrower.

    Looking for ideas from people who live in the country and understand trying to do this as enconmical as possible.

    Not too worried about throwing gravel as nearest neighbor is a 1/4 mile away.

    Thoughts and ideas appreciated.
  2. moserjj

    moserjj Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    I'd go with the compact 4x4 tractor and blower. I'd get a front mounted one but a rear 3pt one would be ok too. A 2wd drive truck won't plow worth a darn so you'd at least need a 4x4 truck to plow with. I've got a 700' driveway and have both and if I could have only one, it would be the tractor.
  3. woodsman

    woodsman Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    My driveway is 1500 ft long and i use a 96 F150 with a western plow and i can have it all done in 5-10 minutes and be warm as toast doing it. I have a tractor but F that when it's cold it ain't worth it. I simply plow drive back up and plow down again (always plow down hill) stack the snow then go about my day. Tractor.. clear it off, allow to warm a bit, dress to the hills, get on tractor (hopefully there is no wind) begin blowing and 1-2 hrs later i am done and frozen 1/2 to death. take tractor back knock off snow peel frozen butt from seat, break off frozen mustache ice go in house and strip off 7 layers of clothing, mop up snow that has infiltrated 6 layers, go in front of fire and thaw out
  4. cotter

    cotter Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 182

    Howdy neighbor! Glad to hear I wasn't the only one 'converted' by our last February snow. Where are you located? Outside of London here.

    All in all I would have to say the blower is the best option for getting rid of snow because it does just that, gets rid of it. You are exactly correct on setting yourself up for a ton more work plowing to the windward (west) side. It will continue to drift over deeper each time you proceed to plow it. You might consider some snow fence. You can see what it has done for me here: http://www.plowsite.com/showthread.php?t=111929 Be sure to look at the link in the post with the pics of the same spot last Feb. Which reminds me I have a green picture of that same place to post up.
    The problem you will find with the tractor and blower is the $$$$$. It is very easy to have some big money wrapped up in the equipment. You might be able to do OK with a tractor and a blade where you can push the snow further off the edge of the driveway without having to make a picture post in the 'worst stuck' thread. You will either need some size/weight or the 4wd for the tractor Trigreen (local used tractor place) had a nice ~50 hp Deutz 4wd with a front 3 point last week when I was in there, wanted a little too much $ for it but it would have been real nice with a snow blower on it.

    Good luck and keep us updated on what you get.
  5. Dakota Dave

    Dakota Dave Member
    Messages: 44

    I usan old farm tractor with a PUll V type blower works great I blow everthing to the east Anything on the west becomes a ridge and it drifts that much deeper next time. If I get more than 24" at a time I get stuck then have to pull it out. The V blowers are dirt cheap and nice for long strechs of road. they are useless for cleaning out the yard, as you must be moving fwr for it to work.
  6. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    snow issues

    Since I dont have any interest in reaching for your wallet;

    The least expensive heavy duty option for you is a BCS 2 wheel gas or diesel tractor and a single stage snowthrower with a sulky that you can ride along on and not have to walk..
    and you will have a machine that you can use the year round if you desire to do so.

    from the www.earthtoolsBCS.com web page

    BCS 853 2 wheel tractor is gear drive throughout and useable the year round.

    1. 13 horsepower Honda engine recoil start equiped $3,600.00 plus tax and shipping

    2. 10 horse power Yanmar engine; electric start equiped as standard $4,800.00 plus tax and

    3. 11 horse power Kohler Lombardini diesel; electric start equiped as standard $4,950 plus
    tax and shipping.

    4. 33" inch 2 stage gear driven snow blower sale price $1849.00 plus tax and shipping

    5. mowing sulky $350.00 plus tax and frieght

    The BCS branded Berta made snow blowers were designed by berta to be used in the alpine country with thier heavy snows so they will work very well every where.

    The sulky will allow you to ride behind the tractor as the tractor will handle the blower and sulky easily and the 853 has the factory braking system as standard equipment and allows easy turning.

    The folks at earth tools are a family run outfit and farm operation as well and every machine is uncrated run and prepared by the owner before it is picked up by the buyer.

    The BCS has a full gear drive system with no belts and was designed to work in steep vineyards and farms with steep slopes. ussmileyflag:waving:

    The diesel engine option gives you greater economy in fuel and provides power much faster to implements at a lower horsepower.

    I believe they only come with the Kohler Lombardini diesel as standard equipment and the Yanmar power is an option.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2011
  7. Mabepossibly

    Mabepossibly Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    I have a similar 1/4 mi paved driveway and faced similar problems when my garden tractor and 2 walk behind blowers died in 1 storm. To be fair the storm was 3' 7". It would take me a little over an hour to clear a 4-8" storm. Not good when I need to be on the road at 6am for work.

    This year I bought a plow and never looked back. I already had a 4x4 truck and the $4k investment is the best $4k I ever spent. I will never not own a plow for as long as I have a driveway this size.
  8. woodsman

    woodsman Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    X2 well done, warm, cozy and did i say warm..
  9. Kramer

    Kramer Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    Couldn't agree more. Snow blowing with a walk behind is slow. you're soaked, really suc*s in the ice/rain and dark. You're cold and subject to the direction of the wind.

    Buy a jeep with a small plow, learn to plow it to one side and you're best off.

    If you don't have room to allow for more snow later then I'd suggest the blower. If you have a known "good" side to push it to then do an extra pass or so with the jeep.

    I've got a property like yours but about 600ft long. I always push it to one side and have never had an issue. Takes a few extra minutes that's all.
  10. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    snow removal equipment

    He has a bad driveway and a section subject to heavy drifting
    when a plow is used and limited resources.

    A BCS or Grillo with a snow blower will remove everything in front
    of it and the chute and spout can easily positoned to avoid blowback.

    The 2 BCS single and 2 stage snow blowers are all gear drive with gear driven
    snow blower gear boxes with huge power delivery and throwing capacity.

    The largest BCS gas engined two wheel tractor(13 Horsepower ?)
    and the BCS Berta 32 inch snow blower and mowing sulky would
    cost less money to own and operate.

    I am sure that a wind screen cabin is available allow the operator a wind break
    and in addition use the mowing sulky to be attached closely to the tractors
    hitch by repositioning the sulky hitch and shortening it as the sulky swivels
    slightly opposite the turning direction ( this could be improved by using the
    cyclone rake heavy dual pneumatic caster sets to allow faster turns and
    effortless backing in the seat of the sulky.

    The pictures of the BCS Berta single and two stage blowers are located in the school snowblowing bid thread I uploaded a while ago.

    The handles reverse and are positioned over the engines to allow snow blowers, sweepers and mowers to be used among other attachments


    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  11. cotter

    cotter Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 182

    Seeing how he has not been back in 6 days I would say moot point :D

  12. woodsman

    woodsman Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    I was watching a neighbor this morning he has a tractor with a blower oon the back and all i seen was this poor man being beaten by a snow shield he was blowing. He was bundled up in a heavy carheart and it was brown but i did not know this until he jumped off and the snow fell off him. I then plowed th rest for him with my 900 dollar F150 (with plow) and he was a happy man. I told him all he needs to do now is move some of the higher side banks with the blower and then go have a beer.... he agreed

    PS it was -29 F this morning and i was WARM inside the truck....
  13. Aveerainc

    Aveerainc Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 129

    Plow all the way for a driveway that size. A nice Jeep Wrangler would be perfect.
  14. MtnCowboy

    MtnCowboy Member
    Messages: 96

    "Looking for ideas from people who live in the country and understand trying to do this as enconmical as possible."

    You asked for economy, not ease, so here's how I've done it for years on a mile of 10' gravel road located across a mountainside with nowhere to push snow: primary unit is an ATV with 5' plow, secondary is an old garden tractor with 46" blower. I roll snow to the down slope side, traveling at speed to throw snow over the edge with the plow. Berm buildup is inevitable so I clamp a wooden wing (2x6/plywood) to the plow and use it to keep the berm shaved to 2' high. I just started doing that and it works great. For very heavy snow, or if the berm becomes unmanageable, I go with the blower. A good walk-behind like an 11 hp Honda with 32" cut is rated at 70 tons/hr. But my tractor/blower (bought it used years ago for $1200) throws closer to 170 tons/hr.

    If all I had to do was maintain my 700' gravel driveway I'd probably use only the little tractor/blower. The only real problem is sucking up rock and breaking shear pins. My driveway is 5/8ths minus which the blower handles just fine. The majority of the main road is 1-1/4 rock which is large enough to get caught between the sawtooth augers and the housing. I avoid that by adjusting the skis for maximum blower height but it leaves 2"-3" of snow that must be plowed.

    I think you are on the right track with the blower idea and what type is your choice. I got lucky with my blower because most of the garden tractor blowers don't perform like this one does, although one exception is the Bercomac line. I also dramatically increased throwing distance with the installation of a rubber impeller kit. Check for Clarence impeller kit or fab one yourself with mending plates and a heavy mudflap. Just be aware that the blower might throw hard enough to blast rock through a plastic chute. Been there.

    My 18 hp garden tractor is 2WD and only 600 lbs. But when weighted down with the blower, weights, filled tires and operator it's 1500 lbs. My drive and the road is up to a 9% grade and the unit handles that perfectly well. Steering is a bit tricky w/o 4WD but I make it work. Chains are a must. The Craftsman tractor is 15 years old and the Agri-Fab blower (16" augers and fan) might be too. They've taken a lot of abuse and are still going strong on original parts.

    I'd switch to an ATV blower but I'm not convinced throwing performance would be that much better than with my current setup. Plus the tractor came with a mower deck and bagger, the weights, chains, ... it was a good deal. I also have a 27" 10.5 hp Husky walk-behind but there's absolutely no comparison between it and the tractor blower.
  15. Aveerainc

    Aveerainc Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 129

    ATV is a good choice if you can keep up with the storm...but when you get a big storm and it's the heavy wet snow an ATV will not be up for the task. I had several other problems using an ATV when I first moved into my house:

    1. You get soaked and freeze if you are keeping up with the storm. Fun at first but 1/2 way through a tough winter and it gets old

    2. You run out of places to put the snow and that becomes a real issue. If you have a place to put it and you are diligent from the very first storm you can mitigate this problem but if you don't you are out of luck

    I switched to a plow 4 years ago and will never ever look back. And my snowblower works great on the walkways but it's a pita trying to do the entire driveway.
  16. vahaus

    vahaus Junior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 7

    Appreciate all the ideas

    Really appreciate all the ideas, gotta say I've been pricing out tractors and other options ATV, truck, etc. My land is as flat as a pancake so not worried about going up down or around anything lane is flat and straight. Anyone who has a blower learns real fast not to blow snow back on themselves otherwise you end up like some of you suggest cold wet and looking like a big snowman.

    Having said all that, my budget this year is such that tractor new or used not in the cards. ATV with blade same thing, don't really want to buy a truck as I already have a truck just wish I had 4WD, so probably going with a bigger walk behind blower made by Snapper XL1738e, used with low hours, about half the money I spent on the blower for my zero turn and has heated handles.

    Maybe some day I can get a nicer toy to play in the snow.
  17. brimfield

    brimfield Member
    Messages: 68

    I have a 1/4 mile drive that was gravel for 7 years. I had a Cub Cadet 45" 13 hp 2 stage blower. It was great for blowing the snow way out of the way. My problem was getting rocks jamming it up, I could change the shear pin in under 3 min flat. then came mud season and the blower would sink in so I made some skis for the front. I went to start it this winter and something cut loose like a valve or rod. My point is blowers are great but stay away from 2 stage on gravel. I now plow with a Silverado 2500 4wd and a 8' Fisher. Now I am running out of places to push snow and had to get a snow foil to push all the snow off to one side. I have a paved drive now but it is a mess to plow, narrow steep incline and a sharp bend. 2 guys have quit in years past due to all the "fun" plowing it. One guy refers to my drive as the spare boxer short drive.
  18. cotter

    cotter Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 182

    Like I mentioned, try the snow fence. Very economical and saves a ton of work by putting the snow where you want it.
    Heated handles, eeeewh. :D
  19. leolkfrm

    leolkfrm PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,979

    I have a 71/2 ft lucknow and plow stone, however i had shoes made for it so it would not dig into the drive....it leaves a couple of inches that i clean with a loader. i only use it on the heavier snows(over 6") but it save a lot of work. used to do a neighbors that would see a 3' drift, found that by making a couple of passes off the driveway on the windside reduced the size of drift in the driveway and kept the main driveway cleaner longer!
  20. woodsman

    woodsman Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    it does not matter how much experience one has using a blower if the wind is blowing from every direction your getting covered with snow period.. Get a plow truck and push all snow to the downward wind side and be done with it and stay warm.