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Is a Dakota strong enough?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by woodash, Aug 19, 2004.

  1. woodash

    woodash Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Hi guys,

    I am going to retire to Summit,NY in about 3.5 years. I have a 110 acre tree farm there, and I plan on spending a lot more time working that farm in the future. I need 4WD to get around the trails. My current daily driver is an 01-Dodge Dakota sport 4X4 with 60K miles. It does not have any limited slip differentials. I expect it to have about 110K miles in 3.5 years.

    The problem is the winters. Summit,NY is 2400 ft above sea level and it really gets a lot of snow. Last year back to back noreasters dumped 4ft over the holidays. I need to consider this in retirement. At this time, 9 months of great weather seems like a good tradeoff for 3 months of tough winter.

    I need a plow! The area is rural, and self-sufficiency is valued. Most driveways are well set back from the road, and I would estimate that they are around 600 ft, mostly gravel and unpaved. Too much for an old man in a blizzard with a snowblower.

    Fisher recommends a 7 1/2 ft LD. It weighs 510#'s.

    Western recommends a 7' 2" unimount at 413#'s or a 7"6" standard at 615#'s.

    Meyer doesn't list anything for a Dakota newer than 93.

    These things are heavy!

    Can I go with this truck as a second user/farm vehicle? Are limited slips helpful when plowing? Is an old Jeep Wrangler a better choice? Are the mounting and demounting of a plow assembly really a 1 man operation ? At $2.00/gallon, I would like a 2WD vehicle as a daily driver/primary vehicle. I would like to relegate the 4WD to plowing duties, as well as work in the woods.

    Any advice would be great. I have lots of questions.

  2. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    well I plow with a 2000 durango, same frame as a short bed durango, same axles, exc.

    I enjoy it verry much, these trucks will support around 475# before you have issues mine is right around $380# all together and it is a Meyer TM-6.5 for a meyer plow the 93-96 dakota mount just needs a few minor modifications to work on a 96-02

    you might want to look into the Blizzard plows, they make a blade for dakotas/durangos that is 7'2" wide and 380#

    heres some pics:

  3. woodash

    woodash Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    That's great

    That's great!

    Do you know what the mods for the mount are? Does it require any welding or frame drilling? Is your plow steel or poly?
  4. festerw

    festerw Senior Member
    Messages: 986

    I have the 6.5 Meyer on my Dakota, my only complaint is that it is a little too short. I had the plow installed on mine for around $350. Also make sure that you get a set of Timbrens for the front and a couple sandbags for ballast in the back. I would strongly consider the Blizzard if I were you, just for the fact that it is longer and will need no fab work to install.
  5. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    550 lbs is to heavy for the truck. Blizzard has a 6' 8" at 350 lbs.
    or 7'2" at 380 lbs. Small blade but right for the truck.

    For all round farm work I recommend a larger stronger truck.
  6. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    I will agree with fester that the 6.5 is too short,by around 8" IIRC

    the fab work took about 2 hours of me piddling around with TiG'in everything up
  7. PLOWMAN45

    PLOWMAN45 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,951

    i plow with a dakota i been through 30 inch storms no problem i like my 5.2 its got some great horsepower with some good low end torque
  8. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    what are you going to be using to get logs out to road on your tree farm? if your going to be using a tractor why not use it to plow/snowblow it.
  9. woodash

    woodash Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Big Nate- Thanks. I don't weld, so I would have to pay for a custom installation on a 6.5 Meyer.

    Blizzard wins the distance test. The nearest dealer is 10 miles away. Fisher, Meyer, & Western are over 25 miles away.

    Plowman- I have the 4.7 and it's real nice. I thought my days of driving an American V8 ended in the early 1970's.

    Bolt/PSD. It's a 110 acre mature hardwood tree farm. I don't log it or use any skidders or other heavy equipment. The periodic harvests are put out for bid by a professional forester, and work is done by a professional logger.
    I just try to keep the logging roads open, and to reforest in high value species (mostly black cherry). Once the crown cover is broken after a harvest, this can be done. The seedlings need weeding, water, and mulching for a few years; or until they reach about 4-5 ft. I thin pole size trees, and I would like to use them for firewood when I move up there. My tools are a small 4WD vehicle, a chain saw, water, topsoil, peatmoss, hand shears and lopes. Small vehicles are much better over semi-grown in logging roads.

    But I am learning a lot by listening to you guys, and I appreciate all of your responses. I'm still not 100% sure I am going to move to a house with a long driveway that is isolated. There are many nich village homes that can be handled with a decent blower. There are also local people who would probably be more than glad to earn a few bucks plowing out a neighbor. This may make more sense in the long run.
  10. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    woodash i'm a looger, and many treefarms around here make good use of a small 4x4 tractor with logging winch. for you i think you would be able to do double duty with one. 1 to get small firewood trees and tops out off woods. 2 take care of own driveway, with either the loader or by putting snowblower attatchment on. food for thought.
  11. corkireland

    corkireland Senior Member
    Messages: 129

    My friend has been running a 7'2" LSX by Western on his 01 and 03 dakotas, they have never had a problem, and he plows quite a bit of their commericial property they own and residential. Their own house has a good portion(over 100 yards) of gravel drive to plow. And the dakota does fine. He did add timbrens this past season and the front end did hold the weight a lot better. I think if you wanted to go with the Blizzard or the Western, You would like it alot. He doesn't run any ballast either and he never seems to have a problem.

    Though I'll forwarn you that if you do start plowing, you might just get addicted!
  12. Mick

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

    Woodash, if you haven't already done it, I think it sounds like you're a good candidate for the Sawmill and Woodlot magazine and website. Good luck in retirement.
  13. cja1987

    cja1987 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,407

    Yes the dakota is strong enough, its the only truck in its class with full size capeability. I would put a Fisher LD 7'6" on it if it were my truck, you could probley even get away with an RD 7'6" on the truck, someone in my town has an RD on a Dakota.
  14. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    yea but with the weights in the 500 range you will have more of a chance of snapping torsion bars and or breaking something if the suspention is bottomed out
  15. woodash

    woodash Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    PSD- Thanks for the advice on a 4X4 tractor. I don't know much about small diesels. But if I wind up with a house near my woods, those small tractors make a lot of sense. But to tell the truth, I don't think I would like to be out in the weather "plowing with the storm". If I had a choice, working from a heated cab is my idea of roughing it during a blizzard.

    Mick- Thanks for the referral to Sawmill & Woodlot. I've bookmarked it, and there is a lot of commonality that I share with that group. What I have found over the years is that logging and timber felling are very dangerous processes that is best left to professionals. Cutting smaller diameter trees for timber stand thinning, improvement, and firewood is more suited to my needs. I can do that with a sense of safety and accomplishment.
    To get high quality wood for woodworking is not as easy as it sounds. There is a lot of waste and spoilage in the drying process. Again, I would rather sell the live trees to the logger and buy the finished kiln dried high grade lumber from the specialty lumber yard. I think it's cheaper in the long run.
    But this is coming from an old dog. I'd like to believe that I can still learn a trick or two, so I will continue to keep asking as long as people are willing to talk.
  16. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    hey woodash you can get some of those tractors with heated and a/c cabs. heres another place you might want to check out i think you will find alot of usefull info there. www.forestryforum.com/
  17. woodash

    woodash Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    PSD- Thanks for the link. That's a great site. There is a lot of expertise on those boards. Good stuff!
  18. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    thought you'd like it. lots of really good people there that will help you in your tree farm endevors from forestrers to loggers and sawmillers.
  19. Mick

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

    I agree. I just cruised my woodlot this afternoon with a logger who is going to be doing a thinning cut starting Saturday. He's expecting to take out about 150 cords of hardwood & poplar and a few cords of firewood. Another five years of firewood, then I'm hoping for a good harvest of pine and fur.payup
  20. yooper.mi

    yooper.mi Senior Member
    Messages: 154

    Growing up we kept a 1,000' driveway open with a farm tractor, I guess it was ok when young and it was another chore. When we got our first plow truck and I discovered I could do in 30 minutes(in shirt sleeves) what it took 2 hours plus to do in the freezing cold. Now the tractor is standby, if needed the 7' snowblower is mounted and used. We get 260" of snow and when starts it stays.