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OK- Question re: F-550 and plowing

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by PerfectEarth, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth Member
    Messages: 86

    Hello all! Been a lawnsite member for years and just wandered over here. Been a great winter in Louisville and I have some questions for the pros...

    I've been doing snow for 10 years- running skid steers and a Deere 4320 tractor with a nice plow set-up... This was for my old job that I left in Dec '09. I currently do not offer snow removal for my landscape company but this is something I'd like to ponder. I have been doing driveways with my Dingo widetrack (just the bucket, would LOVE a blade...) and the old job still subs me out to come in a run the plow- which has been very profitable the past month and a half. I charge 55.00 per hour just to come in and hop on their tractor....so yes, been loving that. We clear quite a bit of ground- lots of small drives and parking lots throughout a small town. So yes, I do have experience (but not in a truck/plow set up)... I think there would be a good potential for me to be a sub next year for a few guys I know. And I have a few very nice neighborhood street leads.

    SO, the question is this- I have a 2004 F-550 dump. A great truck, it's not 4-wheel drive, it's the base model chassis cab, MANUAL, nice Crysteel dump on it that would be very pretty with a salt box in it. ;) Obviously, the truck can handle a plow up front. BUT, is this a wise move considering it's not 4-wheel drive and it's not automatic?? Would I be hating life trying to plow snow in this truck?

    I also have a 2001 Chevy Z71 1500 that could probably take a lighter duty plow- but I don't wanna go that route and kill the truck. If I'm gonna do it at all next year and invest in a snow set-up, I'd like to see if it would be possible with the F-550.

    Thanks for any advice!!
  2. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    An F-550 will plow fine as a two wheel drive truck as long as the lots are flat, and you have plenty of weight in the bed. I would throw a 9 foot blade on it and call it good. If you have much to plow with hills, and or lots of ice under the snow, you may have some problems.
  3. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth Member
    Messages: 86

    Thanks RC- I should know better being a forum member to 'search threads' .... I appreciate the answer. I guess as long as my plow can clear the rear wheel width and I slap some winter treads on the back AND a couple pallets of icemelt in the bed, I'll be ok. And yes, flat, somewhat hill-less areas would be ideal...

    of course, any other input is welcome! Thanks, guys.
  4. Pennings Garden

    Pennings Garden Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 242

    I would not use a truck like that on driveways, not becouse of the size but because of the 2wd. We plow all our drives with a gmc 3500 dump and are fine, but if you slide only 2 feet on a drive you are in the ditch... as long as you are on a parking lot and have enough weight (in my mind as much as you can legally carry) you are fine...
  5. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth Member
    Messages: 86

    Yeah, I figured this type of plow rig would not be the best on Mrs. Jones' paver driveway with a nice little slope! ...Not exactly a finesse truck with the lack of 4wd. I'd like to not return in April to sod out the entire left side of a driveway!

    On the topic of manual shift, anyone have words of wisdom on that? I'm thinking it's probably not very much fun trying to control the plow and shift with the right hand...might take some getting used to. But I guess I'm picturing tighter areas and lots of direction changes. Open areas and straight-aways- probably not much of an issue,
  6. OrganicsL&L

    OrganicsL&L Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 253

    Had an '88 Dodge 1ton w/a 4spd manual. It was a bit of a PITA, but on the open commercial lots, and even HOA roads it was a piece of cake. It all depends on the type of accounts that you work on. Tight accounts/drives will not be fun, and your left calf will be huge! It does take a little bit of practice, but again, if you are choosing the right gear, you should be able to handle it fine.:mechanic:
  7. terraventure

    terraventure Member
    Messages: 52

    I am on my third f550. Of course they were all four wheel drive and autos. I have plowed with a stick and it does get tiresome for you left leg. The 2wd issue is dependent on two things good drive tires and weight. I mostly plow in 2wd with 4 to 5 yards of salt in my 4 yard swenson. If you have good drive tires such as Goodyear 622 or Michelin xze. you should be fine. If you have the stock continetals forget about it, they are useless you will need 4wd and even then it gets dicey. I know I have been doing this with f550 for 6years now and I have learned what works with these trucks.
  8. Subicbay

    Subicbay Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    I am looking at a 1999 2wd f550 dump . The boss site will not match a plow for this truck. Will she handle a 9' plow, being a 2wd? Thanks
  9. cold_and_tired

    cold_and_tired PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,247

    I would say that 9' is about the narrowest you can go unless you get an 8.5' plow and put wings on it. I like having wings on mine. They give you the ability to narrow up the plow for wet, heavy snow.

    I plow mainly in 2WD. Springtime is when I will have to use 4WD but only on when I get a really heavy pile.

    If you are plowing parking lots and you can avoid getting yourself in a situation where you need to move a massive pile, I think you will be just fine.

    Load that baby down to its GVWR and perhaps carry a set of chains for that "just in case" moment.
  10. outdoorsol

    outdoorsol Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    we havent used 4wd on our 99 f550 in the 5 yers we have plowed with even with record snow season in 08-09 in michigan. we normally run 1-2 yards salt and 35-35 50lbs bags for sidwalk material . imo woulundt but another 4wd if i can properlu load a 550
  11. Gumpy52

    Gumpy52 Member
    Messages: 70

    I personaly would stick to driving their tractor, at $55.00/ hr. It's much easlier than beating up your own equipment plowing snow.
  12. plowatnight

    plowatnight Senior Member
    from Mn
    Messages: 305


    I would add that I will never plow again without 4x4. (Minnesota) I plowed one season w/ an '83 Chevy C70 16' bed, 9 1/2 blade winged to 12' Had a spinout going up a hill and just about pooped my drawers ! ! My bad. ( Just me talkin' though) Best of luck to ya. Maybe the guy who pays you $55. hr will let you use his rig. I dunno, nowadays a guy has to be creative.
  13. Cherryco

    Cherryco Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    I plow with an 04 F550. I did have the stock continental tires on it and it had lots of traction problems. When I put on the new Goodyears it was a huge difference. I don't think I had to switch to 4 wheel drive rest of the winter. Also, I have a 12' dump bed on the truck and found that the truck was just too long for some drives. It worked, but I think I probably spent extra time trying to turn the boat around.
  14. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth Member
    Messages: 86

    Well, it's been a while- and I appreciate all the advice. Here's a bit of an update...

    As it turns out, I'm going to be plowing for a friend of mine who does quite a bit of work- he has a large city street contract (an incorporated "city" within Louisville) and a ton of large commercial properties. And everything in between. I'm really excited and think it's gonna be a great opportunity. And, I think we're doing it right!

    He has been generous enough to really be flexible with the set-up for me. He's going to outfit my truck with the major element (box, plow) and I can pick up the extras (lighting, tires, parts, etc...) Next week, we'll sit down seriously and work out the exact agreement on paper.

    We've found a GREAT Swenson Spreader that is now ready to go! The thing was used for 2 (?) seasons on a couple properties, barely any rust, strong engine, upgraded clutch, wired up nicely.... an awesome find! Pics below- picked it up yesterday and storing it at my shop.

    Plow will be a 9" Western... not sure which one yet...Tires are getting thrown on next week, found some (very well priced) Goodyear g622 luggers for the back and some nice Goodyear steering tires for the front. I'm going to do two white LEDs on the back of the truck and maybe two amber LEDs on the front of the dump body cab hangover...

    I'll update here with some pics and progress if anyone's interested. I'm really hoping for a white-out winter, obviously! Thanks again for the advice and reassurance!



  15. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,257

    That truck will work well for you. I would get the Contractor Grade plow for sure.
    I have 2 of those salters but both of mine are hydraulic. They work well and hold a lot.

    I wouldn't want to plow with a manual but to each their own.

    We used a 3500HD for 5 years and never got it stuck. You want to make sure you don't ram piles and hang the front end up. You can get a 4x4 stuck pretty fast doing that also.
  16. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth Member
    Messages: 86

    Yea, I'm hoping he springs for the 9' Contractor....but at the end of the day, it's his call. I plan on trying to persuade him a bit!!

    The only thing I am dreading is the shifting... For the vast majority of the ground we're covering, the areas are long and wide open, streets, big parking lots, etc. Good, but I'm still going to be doing 4 things at once. It's my only option now- until the next truck! I'm easy on equipment and very responsible when running stuff so I will do my best not to get stuck or get hung up. But who knows...famous last words, right?
  17. pohouse

    pohouse Senior Member
    Messages: 322

  18. Pinky Demon

    Pinky Demon PlowSite.com Addict
    from Ohio
    Messages: 1,121

    Get the heavier duty Western and maybe consider a 10 ft er. That truck would make a good road rig with the 6 spd. in there.
  19. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth Member
    Messages: 86

    I think the plan is to stick with a 9'

    Funny you mention the 10'....We had a chance to pick up a 10' Boss from the guy who sold the Swenson. Had one sitting right there on the ground. The thing was a BEAST! We decided to pass (a landscape buddy of mine ended up buying it.) This being my first year on the road, the complications with the mount he had for it and swapping everything, and just the size and weight of the thing- we are gonna go 9'. I know it's just a foot, but weight-wise I wanted a little less up front. And psychologically I'll feel better!
  20. Pinky Demon

    Pinky Demon PlowSite.com Addict
    from Ohio
    Messages: 1,121

    Just remember, that 9 ft will barely be the width of your truck when full angled, much less the width of the road. With a 10 at full angle, you have enough coverage and then some. And with that 6k front end on the 550, weight is not as big of a concern as you think. Yes more will wear out parts faster, but parts will wear anyway so it does not matter in the long run.

    EDIT: A 9 ft. is 7' 10" at full angle. A 10 ft. is 8' 8". A SRW truck is 7' 6" wide. I don't know how wide your ass is especially with the DRW, but with 2wd, keeping snow thrown clear and away from your ONLY drive axle is very important.

    On the heavy duty plows, it is a difference of 50 lbs. or so between 9' and 10'.

    2nd EDIT: Just checked the Western QuickMatch for your truck. 9 ft. Pro Plus is the largest straight blade that you can run on your truck. You can also run a 9' 5" V and Wideout but I doubt you want those for roads.

    3rd EDIT: According to Boss, Ford does not recommend a plow on your truck. However, to the best of my knowledge, FGAWR is the same on 550s due to SFAs on either 4x2 or 4x4. If 4x4 is selected for your truck, Boss says you can run both a Heavy Duty 10' V blade and a 10 ft. straight.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010