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Experiences with used plows?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by phordophile, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. phordophile

    phordophile Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    Sooooooo, I'm looking into buying a plow for my '88 f250.

    I have no plowing experience, but I'm a quick learner behind a wheel, and confident that I'll be able to handle my personal plowing needs. Though we do have kind of an extensive, bumpy, rutted, sloped dirt/gravel "driveway", with a couple of turnaround spots, a side road to my shop and several key spots where back dragging would be a must. Total plowing length is maybe about 300-400 yards, which takes our regular plow guy about an hour to plow at $80 a pop. We live in a heavy snow zone near Sandpoint, Idaho (close to 100" last winter), and have paid right about $1200 a season for the last three winters at this house, on top of $300 to have our berms moved back with a backhoe. My main goal is to save money on plowing (I look at it as investing the money we'd spend on plowing in the future), but also with the idea that once I figure out what the hell I'm doing I may be able to pick up some more winter side work down the road (hello from Idaho, where one job is never enough).

    A Local Dealer (LD) was really pushing a new 8' Western which, according to my research since then, seems like a quality plow that would fit well with my rig and my plowing needs.

    LD was also really talking down the idea of buying any sort of used plow as I could pretty much count on having to replace some sorts of expensive parts and that by the time I paid for that and a mount and mounting for my Ford I was getting pretty close to new plow costs anyway.

    LD was also really down on Meyers as they are unreliable, prone to breaking, and yellow. Also there was something about them discontinuing something or other (I don't remember exactly what that deal was).

    One thing LD said that really did ring true was that good working used plows get sold off to friends and neighbors through word of mouth, without ever having to get listed on Craigslist, or in the Nickels Worth where I've been seeing them. Plus the fact that with the limited amount of used plows available in my area I can't really count on finding one that wont require some initial repairs, and/or new mounts to fit my truck. But its not necessarily true that that puts me up to new plow prices, as I've been seeing plows in the 1-2K range which, after say a new pump for $700ish and a mount and mounting for +/- 1k, still leaves me a ways off from the 5k price he quoted for the mounted Western. Though the new plow would have a 2 yr. warranty which may or may not come into play.

    The guy seemed pretty sincere in his advice. He said he would be happy to answer any questions I had about any used plows I found, and if anything he was probably more worried about having a rookie keep dragging his internet POS into his shop all winter than he was about pushing too much plow on me, but I'm not sure I can trust myself to be objective. Even buying a cheep used plow will be a bit of a strain, but we could probably swing the 5k for the new plow. Thing is I'm not planning on generating income with whatever I get until winter of '10/'11 at the soonest. So do I stay cheap for now and plan on a bigger investment down the road? Or is a used POS going to crumble to bits in my inexperienced hands on my moon crater of a driveway, and I'd better get the brand new (OOooh shiney!) plow with the warranty?

    Thanks in advance, and please ask questions. I think I know just enough to know how much i really don't know.
  2. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    Buying a used plow is like buying a used car. If you are careful, it can be fine. In my area, there are two or three guys that just sell used Fisher plows. Fisher is the popular brand locally. He has stuff anywhere from 3-5 years old, for less than half the cost of new. Installed. Do some looking around, you still have a little time. Probably the biggest problem you are going to have is that you don't know much about plows. So you could look at something that many of us would see as beat, and you'll think it's normal wear and tear. The best thing you could do right now is look at as many plows as you can.
  3. dirtmandan2

    dirtmandan2 Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    a plow is really pretty simple. it goes up down left and right... if you can read a wiring diagram and turn a wrench buy used . if you know nothing about fixing things buy new... Remember whatever you get it will only break down when you need it.
  4. phordophile

    phordophile Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    Thats another issue. Short of seeing active leaks, obvious dents or sparking wires I really don't have any basis for judging the relative value of a used plow.
  5. 91AK250

    91AK250 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,657

    used plows can be a big risk, like many said they are much like a used car. but i think they are alittle worse lol

    i've had to install many used plows that the owner thought was a "great" deal. turns out they kinda got the shaft. they ended up needing new hoses, pump, wiring..ect ect

    i personaly love my boss and i work at the local boss dealer, i run a 7'6" boss on my '91 f-250 which should be the same body style as yours. the truck should push great and be a good truck for any plow you put on the front of it.
  6. phordophile

    phordophile Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    I think the mounts are the same for '80 - '91 fords. Mines a 7.5L Reg cab LB auto, so yeah, great work truck. If it moves snow even half as good as it moves firewood I'll be a happy man.

    Boss and Hiniker are the other brands we have a dealer for locally. Anything else is 50-100 miles south. I haven't been to see them yet but I'd like to hear what they have to say about their direct lift vs. Western's chain.

    Here's another question. Can a shop be an authorized service center without being an authorized dealer as well? The Western dealer mentioned that he has worked on some Sno-Ways too, but I forgot to ask if he was able/allowed to perform warrantee repairs on them. I sure do like the sound of down-pressure.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  7. Megunticook

    Megunticook Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 190

    I think used can be a good route to take if you're careful, willing to spend some money after you buy it on new parts, and have the time and interest to work on it.

    I'll tell you my story. I bought a plow in '02 knowing virtually nothing about plows. All I knew was I wanted a Fisher to fit my '73 Dodge. That limited the field a lot, but since this is Fisher country it didn't take long to find one. Guy wanted a grand for it, I paid 900. Took it to a shop for installation, was surprised when the bill there was another 900 to get it mounted and running properly.

    Has always worked great, but as I took it upon myself to learn how to do my own maintenance, I started to replace/refurbish things each summer that needed it, which added more expense but at this point I have a very reliable, simple plow (Speedcast, belt-drive hydraulics, in my opinion the most dependable setup).

    So don't be afraid to buy used, just be prepared to spend additional money and do some work. And of course realize that any plow, new or used, needs to be maintained...the more effort you put into maintenance, the less chance you'll be dealing with breakdowns and mid-storm repairs.

    Idaho--worked on a ranch near the Middle Salmon years ago, wild country. Never spent a winter up there, but I'm sure the snow stacks up.
  8. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Any manufacturers direct lift is quieter, scrapes better, lifts instantly, stacks better, travels better, has superior backdrag ability and with the snoway means Hyrdaulic down pressure. DP requires the ram push down and it's hard to push a chain;)

    The plow runs even quieter when the dp is on, while they suggest uses for it I run the DP most of the time.
  9. phordophile

    phordophile Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    These are both reassuring posts re: used. I can generally follow repair instructions successfully, but my mechanical experience is still mainly limited to parts that bolt on and off (starters, water pumps, alternators etc). Plows don't seem like they'd be too difficult to work on though. Apart from troubleshooting some electrical difficulty, I'm guessing that rebuilding or servicing a pump is about as technically challenging as they get.

    So I've read. The thing I'm weighing against that is what I've read about Western chains floating better over uneven ground. I'm don't really know how much of a difference that even makes, or how to compare that to how often the direct lift would be an advantage in other ways. I will definitely be plowing a lot of uneven ground, both in my yard, and down the road plowing for other people in this very rural area. Really, unless I end up pursuing commercial accounts, its unlikely I'll ever end up plowing any pavement at all.

    I would LOVE to get a snoway. I think the down pressure alone would outweigh just about all other considerations, but their dealer locator function just laughs at me when I punch in Idaho. Its on my list of things to talk to the Western LD about when I go back, but if he can't do authorized service I don't think I could discount the value of being able to get warrantee repairs on a new plow.

    Thats the other thing. It turns out the local Boss retailer is a car dealership, and their service would be strictly limited to in-shop service, by appointment only, during regular business hours. Also their sales rep couldn't satisfy any of my questions unless the answer was written in crayon on the front of his Boss catalog. I think I'll be much happier dealing with the Western guy.
  10. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Then I would recommend a Boss trip edge. IMO trip edges shine on the gravel. Full trip for the hardtop, trip edge for the dirt/gravel. A Boss trip edge would be the best of both worlds. You could also look into the western HT see if it is available for your truck that is a direct lift plow.
  11. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    Oh, I forgot about the bouncing. It sucks.