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Looking for some advice on tractors

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by omalley, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. omalley

    omalley Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    Hey everyone,

    I have been plowing for the last 6 years as a sub for a few different companies. They have all had trucks and skidsteers as there plowing equipment. I feel that a tractor or similar equipment would be a better way to plow resi's. I started looking at the Toolcat but have now started looking at tractors. I think the best plan is to have a tractor with a inverted blower and a FEL. Here is my problems that I am coming across right now. I do not want a machine that is too big for resi work as this is going to be the main part of my business but not to small for some smaller commercial work that I can pick up also.

    I am open to different suggestions. I have done a lot of reading different tractors and JD and Kubotas just not sure which model is the one that would fill my needs.

    Any advice is welcome.


  2. keitha

    keitha Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    Several members here are running tractors, look around.
    What kind of dealer support do you have? New or used?
    Any "laws" in your area about running tractors on the road?( Commercial vs Ag)
    They have there place if you are set up for it. (not a lot of traveling between jobs)
    Good luck
  3. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    Kubota and JD both have tractors that will suit your needs. If your worried about price Kubota will be cheaper and I'd look at a 95x or a 108x, I'm sure Neige will chime in because he is the residential tractor man. If your looking at JD's anything in the 6000 series will be a good fit also.
  4. omalley

    omalley Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    Thanks guys for answering. I want to make the jump with my own equipment but I want to give good service and at the same point be able to serve as many clients as possible. I started this by looking at the Toolcat 5610 but have expanded my looking into tractors.

    I have been lurking around here for a month or more reading what I can learning as much as I can about tractors and what they can offer. I have never been set that it has to be a new tractor but depends on what is on the used market as well.

    I have just read today about renting from a farmer for the winter? Not sure if that is a viable option but worth checking out. My other problem is summer use I really do not have a use for it in the summertime as I do not do landscaping so I would have to make enough to cover the costs for all year during the winter.

    Well I welcome and other advice people can give.

    Thanks Again

  5. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    snow blowers etc.

    A pronovost PXPL-55 with a smaller kubota will work quickly.

    After seeing one of these PXPL blowers you will not want an inverted blower.
    thier are afew threads describing them and several folks own them too.

    find my threads and you will find them(PXPL blowers):waving:ussmileyflag

    the problem is the number of customers to make it worth it-but saying that the minute people see how quickly and neatly the PXPL blower works and cleans with the scrapper blade you will have a lot of customers and almost zero shoveling.

    they have a neet video for the blowers too.

  6. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    I run a couple tractors and a skid steer (ok, not yet on the SS, we just bought the skidsteer, but that's the plan for next winter) and a truck.

    The truck is BY FAR more efficient than the tractors.
    Not because ti's any better at doing places than the tractor.
    But because I can go 30/40/50mph between jobs.

    The tractors do 13mph.

    I use the tractors because I own them, not because the jobs really call for that.

    There are some spots the tractors are unbeatable, that I simply can't get the truck in and the tractor can. And of course, tractors can stack much better than a truck.

    But it's better on stacking properties if the truck pushes it close and the tractor then stacks it.

    If you only have one piece of equipment, IMHO it should be a truck.

    You can do way more, faster.
    And the name of the game in snow is how many properties you can do in a limited time.
    Except for a toolcat, there's almost no way to move shovels and blowers around, so you still need a guy with another truck to do that too. You also need the truck to refuel the tractor, get parts, etc.

    Also, tractors are expensive to run. On average, I've found it's about $30-$35 an hour in maintenance, depreciation, expenses, tires to run the tractors. The truck runs cheaper than that, and you can do more properties in less time.

    The tractors work for us because we already own them, we have REALLY tight routes for them and we have some clients that we have a competative adventage for because we have the tractor.

    But really another truck would be more efficient.

    I'd buy a used truck and a good blower and move on.

    People care about price, esp. in this economy.
  7. snocrete

    snocrete Banned
    Messages: 2,862

    omalley, I think your on the right track with a tractor or machine of some kind as long as travel isnt 2 far.......tractor/SS/toolcat/etc...is gonna be 10 TIMES more durable/reliable than a truck....20mph(toolcat) top speed isnt that bad if your in town anyway.....I run trucks and SS's.....but if I could have only 1 peice of equip. for snow removal there is NO DOUBT I would have some type of machine/attachment carrier.........I vote for a 50+ hp tractor or a 5610 toolcat.....power plow on front and blower on back:nod:
  8. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,215

    So there you have it my rebuttal. I am only giving my experience, based on a tight route.
    As far as driveways go, there is nothing more efficient on a tight run. A picture is worth a 1000 words so here is mine. That is 1 tractor run with 150 driveways being done in 3 hrs. Orange dots are clients

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  9. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    Nice post Neige. All our tractors do 24-27mph and as far as I'm concerned pickups are for getting coffee when you have tight routes. All our sites are within 5 miles of each other and we have 14 tractors 2skids and 2 salt trucks working within that area. Perfect routes do not happen over night it takes years and years of planning but once you get setup that's when you finally start making good money.
  10. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    had to do some funny quoting there but I"ve got it all.

    Sure, on that route, it would work
    For a new guy?
    never happen.
    Take years to build that route.

    Even using your math it's still $28/hour when I told you it's 30 to $35, that's not even worth quibbling over.
    Close enough, you agree, $30/hour is reasonable

    On any route that is more than a few houses apart, you're spending 20 minutes going 13mph. That's $10 down the drain.

    Takes 5 minutes in a truck to get there, do the property, 5 minutes and back in 5 minutes. The tractor guy still hasn't gotten there.

    For a one man operation, unless it's a built route like the guy above has, it's makes far more sense to get a truck. Then supplement that as you grow with whatever is appropriate for your route. Gives you far more flexibility.
  11. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,215

    I agree it takes time, but if he starts he can do both commercial and residential at first.
    I totally agree if your dive time is 5 minuets between drives, your only going to do 10 per hr.
    Even on commerical accounts a tractor is hard to beat. Take this pic for example, a 100 hp tractor needs 4 hours and its done. How long would it take with a pickup and plow?
    Will see if I can post the acreage.

    centre ville 100a.jpg
  12. snocrete

    snocrete Banned
    Messages: 2,862

    flexibility?...I would think having a machine that can run a gazzilion different attachments throughout the year IS flexibility??........blower on back, blade on front?........the town/city layout would have an impact on what would work also.......where i live, I could easily service accounts from one edge of town to the other in a tractor or toolcat...as long as the travel speed was close to 20mph.

    The figures you quoted were on the high side for "him"....I come up with even less than his figures...sooooo, yes $10+/hr is worth considering. I still say go for the toolcat 5610!!!!!
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  13. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,215

    Toolcat is cool no arguments there. I hear maintenance is very high on the toolcat. No way a tool cat can out push or out blow at 90hp tractor, not even close. I
  14. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,275

    Nice reply Paul.. The only benefit of a truck is travel speed if you have large times between properties.
    It funny how down in the states you just don't see that many tractors.
    My vote is with the guys that run tractors, there is just no substitute.
    While I still have a few trucks with plows, if all works out next year I'll be adding another tractor with plow and/or blower set up and eliminating 2 trucks.
  15. snocrete

    snocrete Banned
    Messages: 2,862

    maybe so....I didnt know we were comparing a 90 hp tractor to one?.....I'm not familiar with pricing on tractors, but a toolcat(decked out) is about $40000 new...and almost 60hp(59 to be exact)......I would bet hp to hp the toolcat would out push a tractor, for snowblowing I cant say, we dont get enough snow here to use snowblowers.................. is a 90 hp tractor w/cab, FEL, etc decked out in the same price range as a toolcat? If so then I would opt for that route, but like i said , dont know about pricing on them.
  16. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    The bottom line is for someone with only one piece of equipment I wouldn't be putting all my faith in a toolcat, they are proven to be unreliable.
  17. snocrete

    snocrete Banned
    Messages: 2,862

    ok.........so what kind of tractor can you get new for around $40k?.....I'm assuming this is around his budget from what was stated in the beginning?....I would also assume the tractor would have to have FEL, cab with temp. control, radio, etc?.......
  18. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    No an inverted blower and a Kubota 95X is around 55k and a toolcat is around 44k here in Canada. I'd also trust a 1000 hour used tractor 10 times more then a brand new tolcat.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  19. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,275

    You could also get a very reliable modern (but used) tractor in the $40K range. As other posts have touched on, the Toolcat is not something I'd trust for my only machine.
    And HP for HP, most tractors will push a toolcat.
  20. omalley

    omalley Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    wow things have taken off since the last time I checked in. Like I said before Toolcat was my first thought but have read about too many issues with them that I just dont want to chance it at this point.

    I know lots of guys doing resi's with trucks some do a good job but during the late season some have to go out and rent skid steers to be able to stack the snow. Most of the resi work in my area the city takes care of doing the public sidewalks so I don't need to get out the shovel.

    Skid Steers are ok but I think for the money I can service more clients better with a tractor. Plus after 12 hours in the SS you start to feel it.

    My budget is in the area of $45,000. My only concern with looking at a tractor is what size is the right size for what I need. I do not want a tractor too big but also not one too small. I feel in the Kubota models the B3030 with 30 Eng Hp, 23 PTO Hp top speed 12 mph a little slow and wont have enough power for what I want. The L4400 45 Eng Hp, 37 PTO Hp top speed 15mph is better. Not sure if M95x with 95 Eng Hp, 80 PTO Hp top speed 21 Mph might be too big.

    Most of the resi's that I would be doing are close and I understand it does take time to build a tight route just like any business it does not happen over night. There is work out there as I know one company that just gave away over $12,000 in resi work for this year as they can not service it.

    I just want to thank you guys for all the discussion on this so far.

    Thanks again