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Best Practices for Plowing Gravel Roads

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by kayak, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. kayak

    kayak Junior Member
    Messages: 1

    Hello, I am the president of our Home Owners Association. We are in a rural area, and there are limited services available. We have a gentleman remove the snow on our gravel roads. We do not have much snow, about 10 to 30 inches each season. The members of the HOA complain as he removes all the gravel off the road every winter. I have tried to find out what are the best practices for plowing gravel.
    Firstly, Is it reasonable for the members to expect most of the gravel to be kept in tact each winter?
    I have read mixed information about using skid shoes. Some professionals seem to use them and others don't bother.
    What about 2" pipe?
    What steps should our handyman be taking to preserve the gravel?
    Thank You
  2. 04superduty

    04superduty PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,354

    You can use cut a slit in a pipe and side it over the cutting edge like you mentioned, or you could use a rubber/urethane cutting edge and last, you let the snow build up into ice and then plow. either way there is going to be some gravel moved scraped off to the sides.
  3. SnowGuy73

    SnowGuy73 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 24,870

    Let the snow build up the first snow or two.
  4. ddobson

    ddobson Junior Member
    from pa
    Messages: 29

    I use a pipe. It cuts down on the gravel displacement.
  5. downtoearthnh

    downtoearthnh Senior Member
    Messages: 121

    In over 30 years of plowing, there is no easy answer for the gravel question. Grading, the condition of the road, the changes in conditions of the storms, and the rises and drops in the driveway will all affect the amount of material that is displaced by a plow. It seems that there is a significant amount of gravel plowed up, but often the action of settling, erosion and the effects of puddling are as much at fault as the plow operator.
    Key is to hire an experienced plow operator, and put it in the hands of a pro
  6. Plow horse

    Plow horse Senior Member
    Messages: 116

    Be Carefull

    Gravel drives are tough! Especially if there NOT Frozen. Know matter what you will loose gravel. Take there time, shoes and or pipe on cutting edge does help. BUT you will allways loose gravel unless its icy frozen over. Gravel parking lots are real fun to! York rake the gravel back every spring or when ever. I do lots of gravel drives, and there NO Fun. BUT its Work:laughing:
  7. Lugnut

    Lugnut Senior Member
    Messages: 250

    Without a freeze there is no way the gravel won't be displaced, even if the blade never touches the road the gravel will be picked up by the snow rolling off the plow...I use the 1 down, 2 up rule, drop the plow and give it 2 quick clicks up to raise it up an inch or so and run the roads that way. Key is to make sure everyone knows that they shouldn't expect the roads to be scraped all the way down, that's the sacrifice made to limiting damage to the gravel
  8. Plow horse

    Plow horse Senior Member
    Messages: 116

    It works

    Ya I do that too.
    And if these people would buy at least tires with tread on them let alone the thought of snow tires then we could leave an inch or two on the gravel rd instead of having to scrape everything to the Bone.
    I am feeling Less and LESS guilty about snow plowing and after care of properties for clients.
    JUST because SOMEBODIES has to do it.
    why not one of us? Ya it cost to plow! AND yes it cost to clean up stuff in the Spring! We did NOT buy the properties, We just get hired to clear them.
    Why does everybody beat up on plow drivers? They ought to get out there and try it them selves, see how much fun we have clearing the GENERAL Publics drives and lots.
    YES gravel moves with snow!
  9. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    7' wide snowblower on a tractor. Set the shoes so the intake is 1" above the dirt.
  10. Drew2010

    Drew2010 Senior Member
    Messages: 216

    blacktop the roads... done:p
  11. valleyviewlawns

    valleyviewlawns Member
    from Montana
    Messages: 90

    I plow a county road in my area and I use my shoes set at 1/2"-3/4". You could try a pipe if that plow never touches pavement or parking lots.
  12. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,122

    If we only got 10-30 inches per season, I wouldn't even bother plowing it. Now when you start getting up into 10-30 inches PER STORM, then you need plowing.

    The trick to gravel, is not to start plowing too soon. The first storm or two needs to be BEAT DOWN INTO THE ROAD, creating a hard ICE BASE. Once you have your ice base, then you start plowing, and the plow won't reach the gravel.
  13. valleyviewlawns

    valleyviewlawns Member
    from Montana
    Messages: 90

    That is true for the Great White North. ;) I am in Montana and we just had a high of 54 on the 19th. That frozen base is gone, back to dry gravel.
  14. Jakedaawg

    Jakedaawg Senior Member
    from N. Mi
    Messages: 134

    If your are from Great Cacapone W. Va. I dont think its ever going to get cold enough for the frost to set into the road and stay between snow events. In the early spring and fall I use a pipe and the old meyer style skid shoes. These are way better than the newer disc type shoes. You will still lose some gravel but not nearly as much.

    Another thought is dont plow. If the snow is gonna melt in a day or two why bother?
  15. Mike NY

    Mike NY Senior Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 108

    I will sometimes back drag gravel when it is not frozen in or packed in.
  16. M&M

    M&M Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    I'll second the no plowing idea. Just like Jakedaawg said you will never build the ice pack. Heck I'm in NH and the one gravel drive I plow loses it's icepack 3 or 4 times a season. I set a 4 inch trigger with them otherwise it's not worth showing up and all I do is make a total mess. The homeowner will drive his car up and down the driveway a number of times to pack it down. It's been a very cold winter here and they still do not have a sufficient icepack to run the plow right on the gravel.

    Save money! Don't plow!
  17. mercer_me

    mercer_me PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,374

    I have a dirt town road I plow with a wheeler. I just pick the plow up off the surface of the road a little and it works good for me. I also try not to put much sand on it if I don't have to. To much sand and salt will turn it right to mud.
  18. Plow horse

    Plow horse Senior Member
    Messages: 116

    Fun bumpty bump

    Yup sounds like you all have done this once! Ya I try not to put to much salt down for several reasons, mostly cause it seeps down in and then mudd. I do a couple of gravel drives on hillsides that,,, WELL a challange with or with out chains is a understatement. You know hair pin turns on great angles along with the steepness, HELL a fun drive in the rain, just scary in the snow! I got the new cooper discover snow tires and there the best snow tire yet, only had to use chains in the ice storm to get around the idiots, so as not to have an accident, besides that like the last 48 hrs no chains and 80% of the time in 2wd. What sucked is that the ground was not frozen and if you go off any where its mudd, luckly it was powdery and the gravel didnt stick to the snow, to much. Looks like you have all the answers to gravel you'll need, good luck.:laughing:
  19. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH PlowSite.com Addict
    from pa
    Messages: 1,143

    NEVER put salt on a gravel road/driveway, NEVER EVER

    I did 2 farm lanes today. Both gravel. The one had 2ft drifts in a couple places. I knocked them down and then back dragged with the weight of the blade and they both came out smooth with a nice 2in layer. Nothing more is needed other then driving on it.

    And yes, gravel WILL get picked up by the snow being pushed no matter what you do. It's all part of physics. Just like you wouldn't think water would carry a heavy rock the size of a basketball onto the road from a heavy rain, but it can. LOL
  20. diezeldoc

    diezeldoc Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    I do the same thing, during a storm the first hit i back drag then the rest of the hits i do the drop up up method