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73 Chev plow truck, how long will it last?

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by logfarmer, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. logfarmer

    logfarmer Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Hi Yall,
    I have 180 acres in NE washngton state with 3 home sites on the property. The property is about 1 mile long along a creek bed running between two county roads one paved the other gravel about 3/4 Mile apart. The two county roads are more or less at the same elevation I will be plowing from one county road almost to the other. This will consist of an elevation drop of about 40 ft at a 3to 4 % grade maybe 1/8 mile long. I will plow to one of the other sites which is about another 5/8 mile away about 70 ft elevation drop to the bridge across the creek and then back up 20 ft or so with 90 degree turns on 6% grades and etc. This is about a mile or more due to being at a diagonal between county roads. I plowed this for 4 years in the 90's when we lived there with the 73 Chev. After allowing the 1st and only renter to use the plow the transmission went out which has since been rebuilt for about $1,000. I have about a 100 ft x 200 ft oval between garage and shops at my house and another narrow circle at the other house. There is a place to push the snow in both places but at the one it is about 100ft x 40 ft wide and the other is100 x 200 which is a lot of back and forths. Sometines there is not much snow maybe 3 ft for the year other times it might be 5 ft or more.
    The Chevy did work well enough for the 4 years even with having to pile snow some years in the tunnel areas.
    The Chevy is a dedicated farm truck it does not leave the property so will not have a lot of miles put on it.
    I wil be plowing about 1 mile or more plus the two ovals each snowfall
    Now here are my Questions:
    With proper use and care how long can I expect the transmission to last.
    Is the th350 trans going to be a continual problem needing to be rebuilt every 4 or 5 years, or is it a decent trans for plowing?
    Should I think about swaping it for a 400 chev trans?
    I was told always to plow in low range is that true?
    How bad is it for the transmission and the truck to plow uphill on those grades from 3 to 6% about 1/8 mile long? Since I am there and can get to it in a timely manner it can allways be plowed down hill but it is obvioulsy twice the trips to plow down hill only so more time and more gas.
    Thanks in advance,
  2. Beater_K20

    Beater_K20 Member
    Messages: 65

    my 77 K20 has had a plow on it all of its 31 years, and is still on the original TH350. its all in how you take care of it.
  3. sechracer

    sechracer Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    I doubt it would hurt it to plow uphill, as long as you dont let too much snow build up in front of it. Angleing it to the side should keep that from happening. The Th350 tranny should hold up just fine, provided you are rolling BEFORE you drop the blade.
  4. TJS

    TJS PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,440

    I had a 79 Blazer that I plowed with for years and the TH350 trans blew. After the rebuild I put the biggest trans. cooler I could fit in the front grille. I plowed for years after that until the body rotted off of it. IMHO, put the largest external trans cooler you can in it.
  5. Beater_K20

    Beater_K20 Member
    Messages: 65

    which is good advice for any auto trans.
  6. logfarmer

    logfarmer Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Hey yall,
    This is all good news to me: people have been telling me the th350 is no good, cant plow with it, wont last , dont plow uphill, etc, etc,
    It is my favorite truck even though it is all rusted up, beat up, rolled on its top, it is old.
    I plowed this topography for 4 years and never had to use chains to plow just had Les Schwab wildcat tires on it. I did run it off the road a few times but that was not lack of traction just poor technique and bad terain.
    As a aside I had an Alis Chalmers HD5 bulldozer which I tried to plow with but it was actually a poor plow. If you get on a road with a slant sideways and it has snow and ice built up on it the tracks are just like a lot of ice skates all paralell to each other so the dozer will slide off the road sideways , makes for a wild ride. The truck works a lot better.
  7. dmax08

    dmax08 Senior Member
    Messages: 183

    My 76 has had a plow on it since new... still going strong.. but yes put a monster tranny cooler on it you will be all set.
  8. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,066

    Logfarmer, the TH350's are very strong tranny's just like the TH400's, so it will handle the abuse you give it, my old chevy's each have TH350's and have never failed me.
  9. WetChicken

    WetChicken Senior Member
    Messages: 132

    It will last (almost) forever if you don't use it. :drinkup:
  10. logfarmer

    logfarmer Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    Its not going to last forever since I will be using it but it sounds like if I put a big tansmission cooler on it it will be fine so that is what I am going to do. Thanks for all the help this makes it much easier for me to figure out which way to go on plowing vs snowblower. Keep the Chevy plow and get a snowblower if I can afford one later since if I take care of the truck the trans will last a long time.
  11. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    I did a lot of plowing with a 79 th350 and a 81 th400. I always put an auxiliary cooler on my trucks with a gauge and a cheap electric fan. For about a hundred bucks you can monitor the fluid temp and turn the fan on when needed, if you don't overheat the fluid you'll never kill it.
    Low range is definitely better for plowing as far fluid temps go, however it takes more patience to go that much slower. The gear multiplication gives you more usable torque to the ground, braking is easier, but for back and forth it's harsher on the driveline. Definitely doesn't work the tranny as hard. I learned that from an old-timer who used to run a trans shop. It's true, you can do the same job in 4low or 4high and watch the difference in temps. If you have a gauge, which you really should. Cheaper than a tranny swap. The killer with the temps is the lack of airflow while plowing.
    I also do a lot of my work in 2wd. Only hit 4wd when I need it. Ballast will allow you to use a lot more 2wd.
    Hardest thing about an old truck like that will be to keep brakelines in it. They rot off from sitting. But darn sure worth replacing and keeping after it. Oil it down so the frame doesn't rot away and break, the floors and rockers are probably already gone anyway. Best part is the parts for that truck are cheap and you can get them anywhere.
  12. logfarmer

    logfarmer Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    OK so Im going to put a trans cooler on my 73 and a temp gauge and add an electric fan if it does get to hot. Probably be a good idea to change the trans fluid and fiters and all also. When the trans was rebuilt it needed some gears and some other items that were broken or ruined somehow. Does exess heat cause internal parts to acctually break in other words its only heat that causes problems with a tansmission. As long as I come to a full stop before shifting into reverse or forward it should be ok?
    With my terain going faster is not really much of an option since these are dirt roads and kind of bumpy so using low range is not really a problem allthough I do remember going 15 to 20 in low range at times perhaps that would be hard on the trans.
    As far as two wheel drive plowing there was one time when I got a load of gravel for my neigibor and when that was in the back of the rig there was no need for 4x4 there was so much traction with all that wieght.
    I will check the brake lines and see how they are, it allready needs some brake work at the wheel cylenders. The floor and rocker panels are rotten but the frame seems to be good. It hasnt been on a sanded or salted road since 1992 we just keep it on the property and unlicensed.
  13. Mark Witcher

    Mark Witcher Senior Member
    Messages: 605

    Your 7.5 ft plow is not going to overload the trans by any means. I have a 1976 with a Blizzard 810 and 2800 lbs of liquid de icer on board and I plow large commercial lots.Never had a trans fail in 10 years.