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Anyone here plow only gravel/rock roads?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by thinairflyer, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. thinairflyer

    thinairflyer Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    I plow two subdivisions in Colorado. Each has 3 miles of gravel/rock roads, with the occasional granite rock sticking up 3 to 5 inches to get the blade over. They EAT shoes. They are usually graded only once per year. Snowfall generally ranges from 6-8" to 18"+ per storm, sometimes much more and a lot of drifting to 3 to 4 feet. The roads are steep, the county will not accept them for maintenance due to the steep grades. I ALWAYS plow with all four wheels chained. It is definitely fun at times! Just curious if anyone else plows this type of road?
  2. MickiRig1

    MickiRig1 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,617

    Have you tried a poly edge with shoes?
    That lenght of gravel would drive me nuts!
    I do drives with gravel, I back drag it,but that's way to long for you to do that.
  3. lorentzlawnsnow

    lorentzlawnsnow Senior Member
    Messages: 143

    i heard of a guy in michigan one time that somehow mounted a piece of pvc pipe to the cutting edge of his plow, the pipe just glides over the gravel. anyone on here do that? i would be interested to see pics of how its done.
  4. Big Dog D

    Big Dog D PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,134

    I would imagine it would be pretty easy. Take a cutting edge that extends below the base of the plow and bolt it on take a piece of thickwall pipe 2-3'' in dia. using torches cut a slot down the lenght of the pipe and weld it to the extended portion of the edge. Since it is only on thecutting edge it would be removable.
  5. Big Dog D

    Big Dog D PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,134

    I would bet the PVC would last about 8-10 decent jolts before it shatters into pieces. Th pvc is brittle and would be worse in the cold.
  6. thinairflyer

    thinairflyer Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    For two years I used (yes, I really did) a SnowBear. I had replaced the original cutting edge with a piece of road grader cutting edge and replaced the original shoes with Meyers style shoes. It worked fine, but these roads EAT shoes, so most of the time I did not use the shoes. I got some longer life from the shoes by welding a piece of the grader blade edge on the bottom of the shoes, but they still go pretty fast. The SnowBear was light enough on the road that I did not scrape off much gravel. I also winched it up just slightly over the roughest sections to take just a little weight off the edge. We try not to leave any snow on the road as it just turns to ice if you do. It doesn't melt off at all in the colder months.

    The only really weak spot on the SnowBear was the channel where the index pin for swinging engaged. That hole wears big pretty fast, but of course the SnowBear was never intended for the work I was putting it to. I added a piece of 1/4" plate there and had no further trouble.

    Worst I ever plowed with it was 24" of wet stuff that had set up overnight. It was all uphill from the entrance. Using a '99 1/2 ton 4x4 Suburban chained all wheels it took full throttle, low range, first gear and the plow about 8" up to get to the top; two miles..... kinda hard on the truck....

    The biggest drawback to the SnowBear was the manual swing. We get a lot of big drifting here and a hydraulic swing is really needed often. So I sold the SnowBear (which was just the right weight with the grader edge for these roads) and have installed an old Western I picked up. It will be harder to pick up just a little as it comes up faster, I may have to put a one way restrictor in the lift line in the up direction as well as the one I have ordered to slow the drop.

    Any suggestions appreciated, I've only been plowing two years so still learning.
  7. Frozen001

    Frozen001 Senior Member
    from Rome NY
    Messages: 908

    I would think a V blade would be better with a lot of drifts. Plowing roads with a snowbear is just crazy to me, but just my opinion. You guys might be better off getting some heavy equipment ment to take the beating that plowing those roads will give...
  8. thinairflyer

    thinairflyer Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    I don't think A V-Blade would work well here. These roads are on the sides of mountains. You have to move the drift away from the uphill side and move it off the downhill side. A V-Blade would try to pack it up the steep mountainside and you would just end up with an ice pack on the road on that side. Pretty soon you would have an awfully narrow road surface.
  9. Big Dog D

    Big Dog D PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,134

    I think you need an entirely different approach. You sound seriously under sized/equipped for the task you have at hand.
  10. alamarc

    alamarc Member
    Messages: 67

    I read somewhere online awhile ago that some highway dpt welded hugh casters onto its plows for that exact problem. The only difference was it plows were on big Macks and the rubber wheels were about ten inches across. Ill try and find the site to see if you can adapt the set up.
  11. thinairflyer

    thinairflyer Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    Thanks alamarc, I had thought of wheels, but would like to see the info you are talking about to see how it looks on their trucks or read some details. The casters would need to be tough, these are rough roads. I wonder if the wheels were solid or pneumatic?
  12. Up North

    Up North Senior Member
    Messages: 921

    I think a v-plow would be the perfect ticket. A V-plow can work as a straight blade just like your current plow does. But you'd still have the functionality of a V to bust thru the drifts and hardpack. From what you have explained I'd invest into a V-plow this afternoon...however the 1/2 ton truck may be an issue, Boss may make one that can go on a 1/2 ton but not sure.

  13. thinairflyer

    thinairflyer Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    Thanks for the suggestions Big Dog and Up North, I'd like to have a new plow, but just can't justify the money right now no more than I plow. As to the 1/2 ton Suburban and the SnowBear, I had zero breakdowns in the two years, just the issue with the angle channel wear which I fixed between storms. I expect the Western being a lot heavier will be harder on the truck and it has a lot more parts to break.....
  14. wagonman76

    wagonman76 Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    PVC would be no good. But Ive seen a lot of guys around here cut an iron pipe lengthwise and weld it to the bottom of the blade. It rides over ruts and gravel and clears quite well too. You could even weld a plate to the pipe so you could bolt/unbolt it from the blade when you dont need it. I did it on my little plow too and the decrease in drag is very noticeable.
  15. Big Dog D

    Big Dog D PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,134

    I'm not talking solely about the plow. The description you gave about trying to "slam" that 1/2 ton up that hill does the same thing to me as running your nails across a chalkboard :cry:

    No 1/2 ton is made for that type of use. Putting the chains on may give you more traction but think of the strain it is putting on the entire driveline and drivetrain of that vehicle. Oh well, I hope the truck doesn't mean much to you.
  16. thinairflyer

    thinairflyer Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    Big Dog, do you mean General Motors builds a truck that won't even take 2 miles of max effort? 'Grinning' :) Yeah, that was an extreme case, I was still in the low part of the learning curve. Probably will call for bigger equipment next time.
  17. 04superduty

    04superduty PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,354

    the only thing gravel i plow is my moms driveway which is about 400' or so. the first couple of storms i just drive up and down it a whole bunch of times to build up a layer of snow/ice. this way my plow will not bite in to the gravel. but when it does grab it sucks. last year i dug a hole about 1 ft deep and then had to back blade all the gravel back in.
  18. 85F150

    85F150 Senior Member
    Messages: 340

    yea i wouldn't use pvc pipe for any length of time as like others stated it will bust quickly. My uncle uses a steel pipe welded to his cutting edge to plow his parking lots as most smaller companys around here have gravel ones. He doesn't use shoes and never grabs anything with the blade. For the big v-plows on our county rigs they just have shoes that are about 4"s thick. nuthin fancy
  19. farmertim

    farmertim Member
    Messages: 95

    I have the roads but not the grades

    I plow 15 miles of roads every storm in much of the same condition you do , not really roads, more like trails.
    The U-edge works the best BUT!!!! it will leave a thin coat everytime you plow which will mean you will have to slush in the spring.
    OR you can build a base over the first 5 times plowing with the U-edge switch back to metal cutting edge and it will lesson your need to slush in spring.
    I also go out now before snow and mark all the roads with markers on the sides where the raised rocks are in the road, or tie a stramer to a tree branch to remind me.
    It helps but the U-Edge is well worth the money when plowing what you are.
    The first time you put it down you will think the blade is riding and not touching the ground.
  20. thinairflyer

    thinairflyer Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    Thanks FarmerTim. What do you build your U edge from? I suspect the roads I have which are decomposed granite and some granite rocks is probably much more abrasive than where you live. (doggone Rocky Mountains!) Correct me if I'm wrong. I'm wondering if the edge will hold up here for long.

    These roads really eat shoes and cutting edges. Another operator here buys his shoes by the case. I welded up a set of shoes with abrasive rated hard surface rod and it made little difference in the shoe life. That's when I pulled the stock cutting edge and installed a grader blade edge. It lasted pretty good with no shoes, but one subdivision now has quite a lot of new road base this summer and I hope not to plow much of it off in the ditches this winter before the roads freeze up.

    These roads are about 20' wide and I normally make four passes, two one way and two the other. Between the two subdivisions at 3 miles each, that's about 24 miles per storm of plow down distance.

    Sure interested in the U edge though, do you have any pics?

    Thanks L D Walker