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2WD for plowing residentials?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by John P., Oct 27, 2001.

  1. John P.

    John P. Junior Member
    Messages: 1

    I own a small but expanding lawn & landscape business. Last winter I did snow removal for about 15 people using a snow blower. All I can say about that is.... Hell No! Picking the ice out of my eyebrows got old real fast! This year I want to get a plow and do about 30 - 50 customers - all residential. The problem is...
    both of my trucks are 2wd. One is an '88 Chevy Cheyenne 3500 w/ 350, the other is an '89 Chevy Scottsdale w/ a 305 engine. It's not really in my budget this year to buy a 4wd vehicle and I don't want to sell either of my current trucks because they are so reliable. I was wondering if it is possible to put a plow on the Cheyenne and load the bed with weight for traction. If this is possible, what modifications do I need to make to the truck? Do I need a tranny cooler or new alternator? What type of plow would be best and would this setup be reliable for 40 ro 50 residential driveways in a heavy snow. Also, will I be able to backdrag? Is power angle necessary? Comments please.
  2. 75

    75 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    2wd CAN work, but I don't think it's the best in your situation.......

    Don't know how this post got missed the first time 'round - unless it was during the server changeover/downtime spell we had a while back.

    While it IS possible to plow with a 2wd truck (my '75 GMC C-35 works fine) they are best suited for fairly flat, open lots. The C3500 is the truck you'd want to put the plow on, it can handle plenty of ballast weight as you mention.

    A big YES on the transmission cooler and a charging system upgrade will depend on what's in your truck now. (On my old "dinosaur" I have two 850 CCA batteries and a 100 amp alternator - the older "big case" style)

    Reliability won't be a problem provided you keep the maintenance up to date and don't abuse the truck. (I've seen many drivers who thought their pickup/plow was a 988 or equivalent! And had the joy of repairing them when they broke - my full time job is in the welding trade)

    Power angle for sure.

    Having said all this, since you mention 40 - 50 driveways and heavy snow as being your situation, I would advise against trying it with a 2wd truck. As I mentioned already, those trucks are at their best in larger, open lots where momentum works to your advantage. The stop/start/backdrag/turn around etc typical of many driveways is something they aren't as good at.

    I should also mention that I have a beefy winch on the back of my dually (Warn M12000) in case I get "hung up", which I've done a few times when I got carried away stacking a pile.

    If you don't want to get a 4x4 right now but would still like to offer the snow services, you could see about subcontracting the driveways out to someone else. Basically, you get the contract, they work for you. Just make sure they are properly insured/licensed etc as required in your area.
  3. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    You could think about adding a locker or limited slip in the rear end for added traction. This could help get you through with a good set of tires and a fair amount of weight in the back.
  4. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,224

    Most of the driveways around here are up hills ,down hills or very curvy.There is know way that I would be able to do them with a 2 wd drive If they where very big and wide ore one long pass you could do it with a wheighted down truck.But 4x4 is still the better choice for driveways.
  5. peewee

    peewee Member
    Messages: 44

    Last year in an average snowfall I was out plowing residentials with my chevy 1500. The electronic 4 wheel drive control stopped working, I could not finish any driveways. It got stuck every time I turned, stopped or blinked. Do not try this at home! 4X4 is the only way to go unless you are in big flat open areas like 75 said. Thats my 2 cents.
  6. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom Member
    Messages: 82

    4 wheel drive went out of the truck i was using. Could still plow large open spaces where I could get a running start at things but in tight areas it was no go. Would get stuck stacking snow and since I had to use momentum to plow it was hard on the plow and truck.
  7. 75

    75 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    My 2wd works OK for me (in the right application of course!) because it's heavy.

    Same lot with my friend's 1/2 ton in 2wd, no go - but I outweigh him by a couple thousand pounds!

    Why did I go with a 2wd in the first place? Simply because I already had the truck, and only had a couple "flatland" lots to worry about. Future plans DO include a 4x4 of some sort - but that's a little ways ahead yet!
  8. Armor

    Armor Member
    Messages: 36

    Just from experience, though its tempting, stick w/ a 4x4. Every time I tried plowing in 2 wheel I slipped or got stuck. You can get stuck on the customers driveway curve if their is enough snow or ice.
  9. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    We have 2 men crews doing 80 residentials with only blowers. With the proper snowblowers & a compact route, your production should be better with blowers on small residentials.
  10. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    I feel the same way. In fact, Russia used to send people to Siberia to blow snow as punishment.

    I doubt that. After an hour out in the cold, your crews production IS lower than when they first started. Don't kid yourself. In a nice warm truck, my production doesn't drop till after about 24hrs straight, and I run out of donuts and cafeine. And unless you have an 8 foot wide blower that moves at 5 -15 mph there is no possible way you could out perform a plow. And hey, no load and unload time with a plow. Unless your 80 customers live right in line, you do have load/unload time.

    That's my 2¢

    P.S. Why isn't there a ¢ key on computers?:confused:
  11. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    John,if you are doing residentials,then you have to rethink this.You could do it with the 3500.I plowed quite a bit in 2wd with my 89 GMC 2500 4x4 last year,but i have a powertrax locker in the rear,new tires,and a 500 lb V-box with a yard of salt in it.So I had a bout 3000 lbs in the back,and I could do pretty good with that,but if i wanted I just had to grab the lever and i had 4wd in an instant.Also ,as i emptied the spreader,i needed 4wd more,and more.If you have downhill drives that you have to back up,you will get stuck,if you go a little to far off the driveway,and drop the front tires a few inches off the blacktop,you'll get stuck.if you stack a pile to high and snow comes over the blade,you'll get stuck.Basically to me a 2wd truck is a good backup,or in a big flat lot,plowing side by side with a 4wd,so he can do the steep stuff,and pull you out if you stick it.Just buy a 4wd now,lay out the bucks,get it over with,and you'll never buy a 2wd again.It will more than pay for itself in one winter if your working it right.
  12. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    I don't have girls working for me. The guys are properly dressed for the elements. They do 80 small residentials with 2 Toro 3650 blowers & a Toro 1232 PS for heavy snow on larger drives. This includes front walks & steps. They are paid per snowfall, not by the hour so their production does not drop off. This method has proven much more efficient than running a plow truck for these props.
  13. slplow

    slplow PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 594

    For the price of a new plow for your 3500. You could get a used 4x4 with a plow. I see plenty good used plow trucks around here for under $3000.
  14. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Are you saying that girls couldn't walk behind a snow blower?

    Again, don't kid yourself. It doesn't matter how you pay them. It is a proven fact that people work slower when cold (or hot) than when in the ideal temperature range. It is also a fact that prodution rates drop over time. The more physical the labor, the faster the drop in production. How many people here agree that you work slower when cold and tired than when warm and fresh?

    Have you actually proven that? Did you every do these properties with a plow?:rolleyes:
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2001
  15. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    Yes. By the time you plow, finish the edges, clear around cars, front walks & steps a blower crew could have 2 drives completed.
  16. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    It is a proven fact that people will work much slower in extreme weather than in ideal temps.
    If one has a ton of obstacles to move around, including cars and curbs and walks than perhaps the blower is faster, or at least as fast. However, wouldnt the crew like it better if all they had to do was the touch up with the blower and let the plow get the majority of the work done. Also if you are giving that level of service(which is great IMO) then make sure you are getting alot more money than the guy with just the plow truck.
  17. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    Make the people moce their cars and get the whole thing done with a plow. This is somethingI maje very clear to people. They are responsible for movable objects (cars, garbage cans, etc.) Offering the best service is great but it can get time consuming.
  18. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    People may work slower in colder temps if they are on the clock but with a set route to complete these guys want to get finised quicker if it is cold.

    I have found that by charging less than a plow truck we are able to set up multiples on every street. By setting our prices low we have been able to virtually dominate the streets we work on. Doing 10 small drives side by each, walks & steps, with blowers, in less than 1 hour is not an impossibility. I hope to run this crew at over 100 small res drives this year.
  19. Mick

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

    Casey, if you don't mind - Where are you from? While I've been an advocate of using a snowblower in past threads, I don't understand your principle at all. There is so much wrong there I don't know where to begin. I would think that for a straight drive, a blower would take much longer than a plow. So basically, to get all that work, you're charging much less for doing the same job. Using my drive as a guide (over 4,000 sq ft) it would take over an hour with a blower. About 10 minutes with a 7.5' plow. Now the last I paid someone, about 2 years ago it was $35. So you would charge $20-25? My neighbor has a small drive and does it with an 8hp MTD self-propelled. No way he could even come close to my time - I'd have his done within three minutes. Plus he had to take breaks to warm up. If you're clearing between cars and around obstacles, how can you not charge more. Don't the guys get paid more for doing more?
  20. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    People work slower no matter how you pay them, period. They may continue to try to work as fast, but they don't. If your idea that paying by the job is so brilliant, why doesn't every company everywhere pay that way??
    Of course they do. And wouldn't quality become second to getting done sooner? If they can shave 2 minutes off each drive and still be paid the same amount.............