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F150 for steep 250' driveway

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by Richard O' Hara, Nov 14, 2005.

  1. Richard O' Hara

    Richard O' Hara Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    I think I might be in trouble. My husband bought me a '97 F150 to pull my horse trailer and plow my driveway. It's bee great for the two-horse trailer, however, I don't think he realizes that the F150 isn't the best choice for a driveway of this size. I have a 250-foot dirt/gravel driveway that is very steep in the middle. For once, I'm hoping I'm wrong and that he is right :) What can I do to optimize the strength of this truck since we're already making payments on it? If I wake up constantly during snowstorms (to save his pride) so that the snow doesn't accumulate too much, can I do it? What plow is ideal for it, and will I need chains? I can weigh down the back with feed bags or wood or something. And, perhaps I can salt it, although someone told me not to do that too often as it will further erode the driveway. Any advice would be appreciated...if it's not viable, I'll have to try and find another truck quickly if the dealer would take this one back...in my opinion, the dealer should have been truthful enough to tell my husband the F150 might not be optimal. I'm hoping I'm wrong...
  2. infineon954

    infineon954 Senior Member
    Messages: 251

    I think the truck can handle it. You may want to go with a 7.5' balde to minimize weight on the front end. Keeping weight in the rear of the truck can't hurt either. Go up the hill in 1st gear which enables maximum power behind the plow blade. Keep the plow angled off to prevent snow from stopping your truck dead in it's tracks and raised up a little,making sure your not digging in to the gravel. Course construction sand helps for traction purposes if you have means of spreading it.
  3. Mick

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

    The key factor is whether it's a 4x4. The truck itself is plenty for that driveway. It doesn't really matter if the road is 10' or 10 miles - you'll be pushing the same amount of snow once the moldboard (blade) gets full. If it's not 4wd and given you have limited experience plowing snow, you will need to be cautious on that hill - you may go down fine, but getting back up while plowing can be tricky.

    If the truck is 4wd, you're all set - having a good set of tires is about all you'll need to worry about.
  4. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    I have to add to Mick's and say 4x4 would be a definate and add some ballast to the rear over the rear axle for added traction. No one ever complains about too much traction. While not an ideal truck, with a 7.5 blade it should be ok.

    Yes get up with the storm and plow it regularly, I would say 3 inches-4 inches MAX at least until you get the hang of the truck, plowing and what it will handle for you. The plow will only fill up to a certain point, but that point depends on the depth of the snow on the drive as well as how well the snow rolls off the blade. If you have banks on the side of the drive already snow will not roll off as easy.

    Also, use the plow shoes since it's gravel and you're newer to plowing- it'll save you the headaches of digging up the gravel or adjusting the blade to avoid digging in.

    Chains should not be necessary, but good snow rated tires are.
  5. infineon954

    infineon954 Senior Member
    Messages: 251

    That is true. However, we have all plowed wet, stickey snow. On a hill with gravel it may present a real problem.
  6. Richard O' Hara

    Richard O' Hara Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Thanks and one more follow-up:

    Thank you guys for your advice; it helps a lot! Two quick follow-up questions: What is ballast? And it is a four-wheel drive truck, but an automatic rather than a stick, so should I just put it in Low 1 or Low 2 when it's slippery? I imagine the wet, sticky snow is the hardest to plow for lack of traction, so does it matter if I use salt, or dirt on the driveway. Unless I can find a reasonably priced spreader for the back of this truck, I'll be shoveling by hand...which, being a horse person, I'm no stranger to shoveling!
  7. infineon954

    infineon954 Senior Member
    Messages: 251

    Ballast is another name for a counter-weight. Used normally on a lighter duty truck. Check the owner's manual, ballasts may be further described in it. If you live on or maintain a farm, I am sure you can find some kind of weight for the rear of the truck. Low 1, always on a hill. I found that out that the hard way. Good rubber helps. Sand is cheaper and less damaging to turf and what not. Or you buy a pallet of good ice melter and keep 10 or so bags of it in the rear of the truck and solve that problem too.
  8. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    Also use 4lo when it's slippery (4 wheel drive, low range) for more traction in addition to 2 up hill (not 1- it's too low in most cases and in 2 it will automatically stay in 1 if you're not moving fast enough for 2nd gear) and low1 for downhills.

    I caution against Ice melter on gravel- it has the potential for making mud, and plowing on mud is worse than plowing on ice. Sand would be a better choice IMO, and I would shovel it, rather than looking for a spreader. the problem with spreader is on a small truck it really overloads the truck so when you start sliding on ice it doesn't stop easy. Most of the trucks around here that slide off the driveways and roads are landscapers with loaded sanders, and when they slid off it's usually a job too.

    There are tailgate spreaders which mount to the rear bumper or a frame inside the tailgate opening, the cheaper alturnative is a 55gal drum grain spreader (northerntool.com) but there is no shutoff valve for the shute so it will constantly drop sand unless you modify it. The problem with these is the weight is put so far rearward is can cause stability concerns on some trucks and in some situations.

    A small vbox sander like they sell for Gator vehicles (1/2 yard) would be a fair compromise giving you weight for ballast, putting it over the rear axle, and allowing you to sand without shoveling. Just make sure to cover the sand in the truck and the stock pile so it doesn't freeze when it gets wet. Salt is often added to sand to prevent it from freezing, but the salt washes out when it gets wet and it still freezes plus you get salt all over the truck so cover it even with salt in it.
  9. Richard O' Hara

    Richard O' Hara Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    You Guys are great!

    Thanks for all your advice; I cut and pasted it into a document and will keep it with me for my first year of plowing this ski-hill-of-a-driveway I have...unfortunately, half the equation is missing, as I have not yet found any used/affordable Fisher or Hinniker plows I can use on my '97 F150. Hopefully, one will descend from the sky before the first major snow storm. If anyone lives in NY, NJ or Pennsylvania and wants to sell a used 7 1/2 ' plow, let me know!

    Thanks again for your help.
  10. Mick

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

    If you could wait till next Spring, there'll be a load of them for sale from guys who decided plowing snow really isn't the way to "qet rich quick".
  11. MBB

    MBB Senior Member
    Messages: 129

    Due to the type of front suspension on that pick up you need to stay with the lighter weight plows. Most of the commercial duty plows will exceed the front axel weight rating ( more so if it is an extra/super cab ). If memory serves me it has a max rating of 4600 lbs. The 2 plows you mentioned before weigh in around 700+ pounds complete. Western, Fisher, Snoway all have units that would be a good match for your truck. I am speaking from some experience as I have a F150 99 supercab and looked into this awhile back as a back up to my f350 rig. Adding a set of timbrens up front would also be a wise investment. Hope this helps. Chris
  12. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    It does not have to be Fisher or Hinker, fine if it is but Western, Snoway, Curtis, Blizzard, Boss and Meyer all make mounts for your truck. You can usually find them all used at times and some may even have the right mounts. If not you can get the plow and buy the mounts from a dealer. Then you get into wiring which may not always match up. I looked for used plows for my Cherokee last year and it turned out to be too much of a hassle. You end up spending almost as much to piece togather what you need. You may get lucky and find exactly what you need but then you at least need to pay someone $400+ to install unless you think you can install an older plow mount and wiring that has alredy been on another truck yourself. I ended up giving up on the used plow idea and got another brand new plow and iam happy I did. Alot of people abuse plows and you wont have the dealer support to help you out if the plow ends up having problems. I am not trying to discourage you in anyway, if you can save some money good for you, iam just saying that I found it hard to get the right set up used and actually end up saving money when all is said and done compared to a new plow.

    Ebay can be a good resource if you have not looked alredy as can your local classifieds. There are other websites that sell things like that but i dont recall what they are now, i will try and find them.

    Good Luck and if you have any more questions, keep them coming.
  13. danno

    danno Senior Member
    Messages: 401

    I wish my wife would want to plow our driveway :confused:
  14. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    I think you are worried over nothing. I wouldnt plow commercially with a half ton, (though many do), but for what you want to do it is more than adequate. I wouldnt be afraid to tackle a 250 foot driveway with an atv, so a fullsize pickup will handle it. The only reason to go up to a 3/4 or 1 ton truck is to carry more weight and push a bigger plow. Stay with a light weight 7 1/2 like a Snoway and you will be fine. I wouldnt wait until its 2 feet deep, but you ought to be able to push it every 4-6 inches, less if its wet. If I remember correctly, them NY snowstorms were usually nice and dry anyway. You could always leave the truck on top of the hill and hike up to it, then you get to make your first pass downhill. remember to start out wide and push it back as far as you can, or in late february you will be wishing you had more room. Dont worry, after you do it a couple times and get the hang of it, you'll have a ball.