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Newbie here, looking for advice

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by countrydoc, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. countrydoc

    countrydoc Member
    Messages: 40

    I am brand-new to this forum, just registered today. Looks like a very good forum.

    I am tired of spending $400-500 per season on plowing services. I live in rural Maine, and have about 100 feet of sloping gravel driveway to keep clear, and about 300-400 feet of private gravel road to plow. I share the road costs with 2 neighbors.

    Here are the options I am considering.
    1. I just got a 2005 Ram 3500 Cummins dually that I am going to use primarily to tow a travel trailer. Could get a used plow to mount on that. Pro's: TONS of power to deal with the hill and the wet heavy snow and big drifts that we get. Cons: RWD (have chains, but even with chains on it still sometimes wont make it up my driveway), long truck with limited maneuverability, and manual trans that I need to keep healthy for towing the trailer.

    2. My wife drives a 2006 Jeep Commander Hemi, could get a light-duty plow for that. Pros: more maneuverable, still plenty of power. Cons: it is leased, and I'm not sure if I can mount a plow on a leased vehicle.

    3. My loyal 97 Toyota Tacoma could be the plow truck. Pros: most cost-effective choice. Cons: not sure it will have enough power/torque (2.4liter 4-cyl engine)

    4. Last but not least: what kind of plow to get? I am seeing lots of positive opinions about the SnowBears, and they clearly are the most affordable choice, but are they strong enough? I don't have $4000 to spend on a Sno-Way, but those look pretty sweet. And then there is the used plow market, but I don't know enough about plows and how to mount them to go and buy one out of Uncle Henry's.

    Thanks for any feedback and advice you have.
  2. Mick

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

    Buying out of Uncle Henry's can get real tricky, real quick. If you're not careful, it'll cost more than the price of a new plow. I knew a guy who did that, wasn't aware of what he was doing, wore through a spring shackle half way into the first winter and the plow was essentially useless. I doubt putting a plow on a leased vehicle is an option. You're going to wear out front end components quicker on anything and 2wd is not usually a workable option here in Maine unless it's a one ton with about 1,000 pounds of ballast (and not always even then). I can usually plow anyone's driveway for seven to ten years for what it would cost them just to get set up and that's not counting maintenance, fuel, repairs and aggravation ( as you know, a decent plow alone will be around $4,000). HINT - the bigger the driveway, the more plow you'll need.

    Think carefully before you sink a bunch of money into a plow. A plow similar to a Snowbear may be an option, but it'll still run over $1,000 to get set up.

    If you'd like, I'd offer to meet with you as a consultant. I have been plowing commercially in Maine - Augusta area - for seven winters.
  3. countrydoc

    countrydoc Member
    Messages: 40

    thanks, Mick.

    For what I've been spending each winter, it won't take that long for a decent plow set up to pay for itself. My family and I have no desire to move, so we are looking at a minimum of 15 more years of winter. It seems to me that a good quality plow set up that I am only using on my driveway and road should last that long if I take care of it. And it would come in handy if we ever get a camp or some other kind of getaway.

    I already have the aggravation factor even while I am paying for someone else's truck payment in the winter. This last storm, our guy didn't get to my house until 11 am (and he knows I need to be out early, his wife works in my office!). I was out there at 7:30 sweating my a** off with the snowblower trying to make a pathway up the driveway that my little truck could navigate. I was 3 hrs late for work...not good in my line of work. As you can imagine, that was what got me onto this new project.

    The other two options I am considering are to trade in the dually for a 4X4 diesel that hasn't plowed, and then getting a plow installed; or to buy a yard truck.

    The snowblower is on it's last legs at this point, so I am looking at spending another 600-1000 bucks to replace that. For a little more it seems to me that I can get a decent set-up that will make much lighter work for me. And a nice plow is a much better toy than a snowblower!
  4. weldit

    weldit Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Look on ebay, I have seen lots of good deals on there lately, I just bought an 8 foot meyer, (blade and a frame with hydraulics only) for 100 bucks, have seen several old set ups for under five hundred, there are some nice unimount outfits with everything but the truck brackets for sale reasonable, you could buy one of those and just set the truck up with the proper brackets from your dealer and be ready to go. :cool:
  5. mayhem

    mayhem PlowSite.com Addict
    from Peru MA
    Messages: 1,016

    I was in the same boat a couple years ago, paying about $700 a year to get my driveway plowed out...my guy did a good job and the service was reasonably prompt, but the numbers were killing me. I opted to buy a full size pickup when it was time to replace a car (which hs more uses for me than just plowing...hauling gravel or topsoil, doing the dump run, etc.) and put a plow on the front end, not looking back. In the next year or so I'll probably add a small hitch mount spreader too. I need to have the plow work well wihtout any major $ problems for 3 years and it'll pay for itself.

    In your situation I would get a slightly used plow for your Tacoma and use that until its time to replace it, then get something bigger if the Toyota isn't cutting it all that well. You could get into it for under $2k I think. Remember to put some ballast in the back to offset the weight of the plow when pushing...otherwise your front wheels are doing 85% of the work. If its a heavy torm, make an affort to plow with the storm so you don't overload the drivetrain and remember that you cna always drop it down into 4LO if you're having a hard time. Up your mainternance schedule on the truck and consider adding on additional cooling capacity if its available.
  6. das fisch

    das fisch Junior Member
    from maine
    Messages: 25

    if you're interested i know a guy selling a used snowbear for cheap money, with little rust. just need to buy mounts for it. email me, drumaps2003@yahoo.com
  7. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Sound advice from the previous posters here. I agree with you that it can be in your best interest to buy a plow -- one that will last for a while & do what you need to do. Your concerns for the Tacoma are undeserved. While I have never plowed with a small truck, SO many people have done great with them. If you're going to dedicate the Toyota's use to plowing, or primarily that, I see no reason that it wouldn't perform for your application. You're not going to push a foot of snow all at once for 300-400 feet, but you're not gonna do that with a 1-ton for very long either! You might have to get out there a little more often than a heavier truck, but if that means the wife has to make a path up & back a couple times while you're still at work, then so be it. It's costly to change vehicles if the ones you have now are working for you. Make what you DO have work for you even more with this situation. A LD Fisher might be an option, and your lengthy road section could probably be done with a Homesteader too. I've plowed commercially with the same Fisher for 10 years without a problem (finally broke a hose that cost about $5 to replace). Personal use for you should allow a plow to last far beyond the truck's life (and I know 'yotas last a long time!). Even 5 years on the Tacoma would make you back what you pay for a plow, and by then you might be looking at something heavier to plow with, or a 4x4 combination plow truck/travel trailer hauler.

    For used plows, some dealers/installers have used plows available. There are also guys on Plowsite who refurb used plows to brand new status, so then you get the mount & be on your way. Poke around here, ebay, and any plow dealers you know in the area. I think you'll be surprised how well you'll do, and I urge you to look into something for the Tacoma. You have a good truck to do this with. Good luck!

  8. countrydoc

    countrydoc Member
    Messages: 40

    Thanks for all the good advice. I am thinking that it will be possible to plow with my Toyota, and that will certainly make it easier to get started.

    I found this Sno-Way on ebay today...according to the Sno-Way website the 22 series can be mounted on Tacomas. It looks like its in good shape. It looks to me like it has all the hardware to get it set up, including the frame mount, but I can't be sure from the pictures. Still, even with shipping if I can get it for 1000 or less as a complete kit it seems like a good deal to me.

    Any thoughts on this deal? http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Sno-...6QQihZ014QQcategoryZ63688QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  9. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Looks like a decent setup if it doesn't get bid up too high. You're probably wise going with something used so you get the feel of what your plowing project will entail. Should you decide to move up to a heavier truck in the future, you can sell your current truck and plow. Good luck with it!

  10. MickiRig1

    MickiRig1 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,617

    Just plow with the storm.
    The first 4 inches comes down plow it. Just keep on it so it does not pile up too high. You can also lift the plow with it angled hard over. Take smaller cuts so your not killing the truck if you get a major snow fall. It will take longer but the truck will thank you.
    We must warn you it can be addicting,you may be looking for more stuff to plow! A bigger truck,more power.
  11. Ole Tower

    Ole Tower Senior Member
    from MAINE
    Messages: 210

    Newbee looking for Advice

    after reading all the posts--I have the Solution--instead of Wondering?? I*D Go to the State of MAINE D.O.T AUCTION--& BUY a USED Diesel plow truck thats all set UP--as $3500-$4000 will Buy You a Good ONE--Diesel w/ Plow & Wing--& where your planning on staying there for 15-20 yrs? YOU wouldn*t have to Register IT--& seeing Your just plowing Your Own Property--You Don*t need Insurance--& if You did? Get a Big Bad Storm--say 2 feet or More?--still NO problem!--so for the Price of a Good PLOW--You would have a SUPER Plow Truck! as an Ole Plower Your one Ton Dodge 2WD would DO your Drive--but--You would still have to BUY a Plow for IT & Install IT--& the COST would run about the Same!--& all that WORRY?--of wear & tear on the Dodge--& other Vehicle?? for the Price of a Good Plow! w/ a Used State Plow truck-One Trip UP & One Down & Your DONE! & if? You DO get Lots of SNOW? YOU can WING it BACK!--No Problem!--You Snow Problem is SOLVED!--for the Same Price as a Good Plow for what ever Vehicle You mount One ON? --My Opinion--thats My Advice to YA!--& I have over 50 yrs of Playing in the SNOW!--OleTower--
  12. countrydoc

    countrydoc Member
    Messages: 40

    Well Ole Tower brought this Ole post out of the dustpile...since those last few posts back in the spring I have sold the Cummins dually to a retired machinist from Sabattus who is going to put a slide in camper in the back, tow a big old boat, and travel around with his grandkids. That seemed like a more proper use for that truck. So I am back to square one with what to do for this winter.
    Recently found a 2001 Chevy 2500 HD 4x4, 6.0L, with an 8-ft plow (Fish MM) on it, looks to be in very good condition, asking price is $13,000 which seems reasonable EXCEPT for the fact that is has 100K miles on it, but the plow has only been on it for a little less than 2 years.

    The DOT auction is an interesting idea. How do I find out where and when they happen?

    And as long as we are talking about Maine, what part of this fine state are you in?
  13. Ole Tower

    Ole Tower Senior Member
    from MAINE
    Messages: 210

    Hi Countrydoc Me I*M in Augusta--DOT auctions are posted in the ALL the local newspapers & inUncle Henry*s the Auction site is Located on the Leighton Road --Go West on Western Ave--turn Right at Northern BANK--& Left at the end --Go By Central Maine Power & keep right after You cross the Over Pass--its on your Right just ashort ways--You will SEE--Plow Trucks--Police Cars--construction Equipment--ECT--its Fenced In--but YOU can SEE every thing--& they Anounce walk UP & inspection Days--in Advance--every thngs Numbered w/ a Breif Explanation of What any Known problems Are! My Suggestion just drive over & look around!--ME I*M a Life Time Tinkerer! from the Ole School of LIFE a Retired long Haul Trucker & as ONE I Do get a kick out of most site members Buying New! thats under Warrantee--so the Dealer has to Fix it?--Me I Shop at Auctions & Salvage Yards!--I have Freinds w/ NEW & theres allways some Problem!--I bought New a few yrs Ago!--Dealer Warrantee? Yeh Right!--to ME all the New Stuff--IS! Shiny Computerized JUNK?-- I Got Rid of that piece of CRAP! & never Again!! All Vehicles are the SAME- You Take Good Care of Them! & they WILL Take Care of YOU!--Me an OLE GUY I tell IT like it IS! & in Todays World Most don*t like that!--as We do get Older! & watch our Neighbors in constant computition w/One Other obtaining Material Things--as TENN Henry FORD sang--15 Tons--a Day Older & Deeper in DEBT--I Owe my Soul to the Company Store!--Truer today than Yesterday!--I read this Site every DAY & have to CHUCKEL at some Posts! such as Plowing by DEPTH--Hi MICK--it Sounds Good--but about as Practicle as Tits on a BULL!--& I*LL ADD!--NOT! Mine You Won*t!! DOC my Wifes a Nurse of over 40 yrs--& YOU will probably LAUGH? at MY personal Version of Our Present Day Medical System--the Assembly Line!--where theres a Bunch of Doctors Assistance personal--but NO Real Doctors?--OH the Medical Bills the Same!--only the Real Medical Expertise is MISSING!--to ME the local Medical Feild has a Higher Turn over of Employees than Mc Donalds!--& every Bodies An EXPERT? in WHAT? I have NO! IDEA?? There I Fell better NOW--Take CARE!-OleTower--
  14. Kramer

    Kramer Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    Last season, I pushed an 800ft drive that was a new account (waited till last min to call me)...it had 14" of snow to move... I pushed it all with my tacoma 2.7 liter 4 banger....without any ballast in the rear. It was chore for the truck to do, but had I taken it in 8" bites it would be no issue.... this was a flat drive though. Its not what IO'd recommend doing again, but it shows what the vehicle can do in a stretch.

    In general, the tacoma is good for about 6-7" of wet snow (12-14 of dry) with about 500-600 ballast against the gate... more snow than that and your sliding around...the power won't be a problem. Get good tires, plow with the storm and the tacoma is more than enough for what you need.
  15. SuperPlow Guy

    SuperPlow Guy Inactive
    Messages: 79

    Maine Men

    country doc... another alternative may be a SuperPlow. W are mid priced commercial grade and willwork on the toyota or other trucks or SUV's you may have. I live in Maine also just a suggestion.
  16. countrydoc

    countrydoc Member
    Messages: 40

    This post just keeps on going.

    Thought I would update anyone who may be interested in the final outcome. I bought the 2001 Chevy 2500 HD with the 8 ft Fisher. Got it for $12K. After getting it home, found it had exhaust leak at the manifold, and 1 tire that didn't match the other 3 (was the wrong load range). SO I brought it back to LEE AUTO MALL in NORWAY MAINE and asked them to take it back. They wouldn't; but they did understand that I could report these things to the state police so they suddenly became all concerned about making it right for me. It took two weeks; they had to pull off the cyl head and send it out to a machine shop to fix the broken bolts in the exhaust manifold that they claimed not to be aware of at the time it was sold to me. And they put 4 matching tires, all load range E, on the truck. Used tires but in good condition. All fixed under warranty at no extra cost to me so I decided not to report them on the inspection issue.

    Day after I got it back from that, the passenger side window went down and wouldn't come up. Couldn't get that fixed under warranty cuz not an inspection-related item, so I did have to shell out $250 to fix that.

    Since then everything working fine, driving it most days with no problems. Will be taking the plow to local Fisher dealer this saturday for an inspection and hydraulic fluid change and whatever else it needs to get it ready for winter.

    If I can keep this set-up going for 6-7 yrs then it will be cost-effective. I still have my Yota which is my daily driver and will now last at least another 6 yrs itself. Will get some pics going soon to post. thanks for all the feedback.
  17. Mick

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

    Good luck, countrydoc. If you decide you want a sander for it, let me know. I'm selling a 2yd Fisher Pro*Caster. I'm also selling some Cooper Discover M&S snow tires.