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Effects of plowing on trucks

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by eggy, Nov 3, 2000.

  1. eggy

    eggy Member
    Messages: 71

    I am new to the plowing biz, I have been in lawn care for several years and it is becoming a one stop shopping market out there, meaning you need to plow and cut, or at least around here. I am wondering if the horror stories about how rough plowing is on trucks is true. We have been looking at adding a f250 as our plow truck, however people have said I will be sorry that the truck will be useless in three years, you guys are the pros whats your thoughts?
  2. CCSwanson

    CCSwanson Member
    Messages: 38

    If you go out and abuse the truck it will not last long, but I know people that have been using the their trucks for 10+ years I used my truck for about 7 years then sold it as far as I know it is still in use and that was bout 3 years ago
  3. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    This is going to be a loooooooong thread!


    Not 100% true. There are many factors involved, that could easily destroy a truck in a single season of plowing. Those same factors, can also have little effect (considering the usage, and profit involved) on a vehicle even after 20 years of plowing.

    The most important place to start is vehicle selection, and plow selection. There are many opinions on this, and "to each his/her own" prevails. Try to be sensible in your selection. Anything I say beyond this point will no doubt be criticized, and possibly taken the wrong way. No offense is intended at anyone.

    First you have to consider what exactly you plan to be plowing, and how often. Since you are already established in lawn care, and have a customer base, I would focus on that. In the future, you might choose to expand, and that is something to consider, but focus on "now" to start.

    The F-250 is a good choice, but if you were to find an F-350 at a good price, I would seriously consider that too. Typically, the general rule is the more heavy duty the better. HD trucks naturally take the workload and strains involved with plowing and de-icing better. A 3/4 ton truck like the F-250 can easily handle the rigors of plowing. You might be limited in the size of a salt spreader you could mount on it though. This may or may not be a consideration in your case.

    If you plan on plowing more residential than commercial accounts, then even a 1/2 ton truck could handle it. There are other threads here that talk about what size of plow to get for what, about the different brands, and types of plows.

    Rather than revisit those issues, I will discuss other issues. No matter what truck you choose, and no matter what type of accounts you have, the person driving is what can kill a truck the fastest (aside from using the wrong truck for the wrong application). The truck should be set up for plowing. This means an auxilliary transmission cooler if the truck has an automatic transmission. A high output alternator rated @70 amps MINIMUM. A 90 amp+ would be much better. Dual batteries are not a necessity, but are also a consideration. These modifications will ensure that the transmission can dissapate the additional heat generated by plowing, and that the vehicle's charging system can handle the demand.

    The driver must always be sure to come to a <B>full stop</B> before shifting from forward to reverse, and from reverse back to forward gears. <B>Not doing this</B> will shorten a transmissions life fast! You don't want the driver slamming into piles at the end of each push. You don't want a driver thinking the snow plow is a dozer that can push back week-old frozen piles. In general, a driver that is non-abusive and knowledgeable is what you want.

    You want to increase the vehicle's service intervals. Change fluids at intervals that the owners manual calls "severe duty use". Grease the front end of the truck after each storm, or every other storm. Change the fluid in the plow hydraulic system, and flush the system at least once per season, or more if you plow often. Keep the tires inflated properly, as th pressure changes with the temperature, and load the truck is carrying.

    This info is "a drop in the bucket", and you will get many more excellent responses and advice from the professionals here I am sure.

    Good luck,

  4. eggy

    eggy Member
    Messages: 71

    Hey Chuck, thanks for spending a little time on that, the helpis apperciated, and it the trucks use will be more for commercial snow removel, We decided to stay away from residential.Just thinking about next year. We also have looked into buying a skid loader or tractor instead, but wasnt sure if we would want to transport it from site to site.
  5. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    If it was me,

    I would go with an F 350, they do stand up better. However the F 250 is a good truck. In my case, i trade trucks about every 5 or 6 years, when i trade them in they have 150K or more, and have worked very long hours. The dealer factors in High millage, but really doesn't take much off for plowing, at most i think i get like 500 bucks less for the plow. So I still end up with a decent trade.

    Like chuck says you can use just about any truck for snow removel with the right plow. However if you want to add a spreader, which is almost a must these days. You best get an F 350, the cost difference between an F 250 and F 350 is about 800 dollars, and worth every penny.

    If you don't want to have to worry about electical power, get the 7.3 power stroke with dual alternators. This puts out 260 amps of power, which will handle an electic plow, electic v-box, and the biggest light bar you can find with ease.

    Again, no matter what brand you get.

    Take good care of your auto trans. With Fords change the fluid like 2 times a year, if you do that your trans will hold up fine. Again full stop before shifting.

    Make sure the truck can handle the weight. If you get an F 350, and add a v-box, it isn't will be fine. However adding load boosters on any truck with a plow and spreader, is only going to improve performance with a load.

    On a new truck, aviod wire tapping, and messing with the factory wiring. If you want to add reverse lights, warning lights ect, put them on their own circit. If you mess with the electical sytem on any new truck, you better know what your doing, these new wiring systems are not as forgiving as the ones in older trucks, that some are acustom to. Sometimes messing with the wiring can result in serious electical problems down the road. These electical problems are very costly to fix. The fact is simple, if you leave your factory wiring alone, and you don't burn it up, or drive into the ocean, your trucks wiring will be fine for many many years.


    [Edited by GeoffDiamond on 11-03-2000 at 05:37 PM]
  6. eggy

    eggy Member
    Messages: 71

    Geoff, thanks I was wondering about what to do today on the mower,it seems we are picking up a lot of commercial buz and well we are missing out on the snow, its snows only two or three times here but thats still$$$ I might look for a good used f 350......Once again thanks...
  7. midview31

    midview31 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    new to plowing

    I picked up a 99 gmc ext. cab 1500 for my roofing business (i beat them up pretty good). instead of laying around all winter, i decided to put a plow on and pick up a little cash plus it will get me out of the house. The dealer sold me a western poly pro 8' plow. He said i will need 500 lbs of ballast in the rear.
    I will not require timrens or possibly even tweeking the torsion bars. He said my nose will drop 1.5" with the plow.
    My question: I can remove the plow assembly in 2 minutes. What can I ballast with that can quickly and easily come out of the back?
  8. lawnkid

    lawnkid Senior Member
    Messages: 234

    Hey Midview,
    I'm gonna have to dissagree with your dealer on that one. Can I ask you who sold you the plow? A 8' plow is in my opinion and I'm sure others will agree too bg for that truck in the first place even with timbrens and cranking the torsion bars. I would have gone with a 7.5' plow because in big snowfalls, the truck is gonna have some trouble pushing an 8 footer. I would definitely recommend timbrens on that truck because your truck won't sag an 1.5", It'll probably sag about 3-4" . I'm asssuming you got a Ultramount Western and yes you can mount the plow in about 1 minute. Same with taking it off. We have a few of them and they come off real quick. For ballast, I would look into putting at least 500-1000 pounds of ballast in the back for better traction. I'm in Cleveland too on the eastisde in Euclid. I odn;t know where you are at but PM me if you have any more questions. Have fun plowing. This storm now sucks, we've been salting all day.
  9. Mick

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

    If a dealer recommended or installed an 8' plow on that truck, he was incredibly irresponsible. I just ran your truck model through Western site and gave it the benefit of the doubt in specs such as an 8' bed and the highest front and rear weight ratings possible. I would recommend returning to the dealer and having a proper plow installed. If you'd like to check it out for yourself, click on this link: http://www.westernplows.com/quickmatch.asp

    (edit) - if it's the "Classic" body style, you're even more limited than the Sierra. It will only take a 7'2" Unimount.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2005
  10. bolensdriver

    bolensdriver Senior Member
    Messages: 603

    Chuck, it says you wrote this thread lol
  11. Mick

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

    How do these four year old threads keep getting revived, anyway?
  12. Frozen001

    Frozen001 Senior Member
    from Rome NY
    Messages: 908

    I have to agree that an 8 foot blade on a 1/2 ton truck is too much weight, and you got the poly blade which is even heavier than the steel... Your dealer really f'ed up on this one.. you will destroy the front end of that truck with all that weight on it...

    Mick.... they get revived because they are not closed....ever.... I have brought up this topic many times, but everyone has there opinion on it, I guess they fear that if it is closed the information will be lost..., but to me if the person did a search and actually found the thread to revive it in the first place then the information is there, and he has read it. I don't want to get into it... so I will leave it at OLD threads should be closed after a certain period of inactivity.
  13. NJ Plowman

    NJ Plowman Senior Member
    Messages: 794


    I run a few late 80's GMC 4x4 2500 series pick-up with conventional mount, cable controlled Western 7.5 and 8 foot plows with Meyers 36000 salt spreaders mounted on custom made tube tailgates. The trucks and plows are 20 years old and they all still work and make me money. I do perform extremely good maintenance and preventive maintenance, and the trucks are set up for heavy duty use, but they are old and still work. With good drivers and a maintenance program a plow truck can last many, many years. My GMC's are rusting out from under my guys, but if you patch and weld the sheetmetal back together, you can't kill em'. payup
  14. Mick

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

    NJ Plowman, Eggy was last on this site more than two years ago.
  15. midview31

    midview31 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    I'm getting the plow in Elyria at Judco. They seemed to be honest enough, but it is year end and time to dump inventory. I am scheduled for Friday for installation. I think I will cancell and go with a 7.5 poly pro. If that is the correct choice. I live in North Olmsted but the funny thing is, I did a major roof restoration on Meyers snow plow facility last year on Euclid ave.. Everyone sort of told me to avoid their plows. Im learning. hopefuly not the hard way. thanks
  16. midview31

    midview31 Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Thanks for the info. I did go on that website and matched my truck to the same plow. I have a 130' blacktop driveway and a 100' gravel maintinence driveway to my barn. A buddy who plows under contract said I could hook up with him this winter and learn the plow trade. I think a 7.5 plow is the way to go. thankfully my installation is scheduled for Friday so I am cancelling. My front axle max is 3925. I think that will handle a 7.5 poly?