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Plow or Snow Blower?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by DieselWMB, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. DieselWMB

    DieselWMB Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    I'm new to this board and looking for a little advice. I have a 250ft. paved driveway that is fairly steep and treacherous in the winter. Since I've been in the house I've gone through various plow services all of which charge between $50-$65 per visit. The cost of the service aside, the service we've gotten has been touch and go (hence us going through a few providers over the years). On more than one occasion I've had to repair my curbs because the plow guy demolished a section. Needless to say, I'm ready to take snow removal into my own hands.

    As it turns out, I've just ordered a 2011 Ford F-350 Super Duty truck. My original thought was that I could put a plow on the front and plow my own driveway. The only potential problem would be the size of the truck and maneuvering during plowing...the truck is a crew cab with 8ft bed and duallies. I'm also beginning to realize that plows are not cheap...$3K to $4K for a decent set up?

    The other thing I've considered is getting a large snow blower with a 30-32" width. Of course the downside here is that it would probably take quite a bit longer, and would require me to be outside to do it!

    My question is...what would be the most effective way to handle snow removal in my case? It appears that the snow blower may be a lot less money than the plow. Are there any other things I should be considering?

    Thanks for the help!
  2. ferdinand711

    ferdinand711 Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    If you have a 250 ft drive, you must have a good size lot. I supposed you own a lawn tractor for cutting grass. a plow attachment or a snow blower attachment would be your option, which one? that all depends on your budget.
  3. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    plow for the new mule oh boy!!

    You have come to the right place

    and you will be the one to make that

    final decision.

    A two wheel drive garden tractor with

    from lowest or home despot or a john deere

    with a soft cab and snow chains and weights

    will be your least expensive option in

    my past experience as a hydrostatic drive

    tractor with chains is very nimble and you remove the

    snow the first time and get rid of it.

    A lot of folks like plows here and a lot of folks like blowers

    In the end its up to you, but the tractor you can uses the

    year round etc.

  4. MBrooks420

    MBrooks420 Member
    from Erie PA
    Messages: 79

    Do you have a lot of space to put the snow? Plowing in a truck really is nice. An f350 dually would need a pretty big plow. I don't think you will find a new blade for 3k that'll be proper for the f350. I'd consider getting a large commercial mower with a 48+inch blower. Unless you want to plow with your new HD truck. That's certainly understandable :) I'd never want to blow a 250ft drive with a walk behind. That would get old fast.
  5. DieselWMB

    DieselWMB Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks gents. I don't have a lawn tractor. As it turns out, I have a pretty sweet deal on lawn care service that keeps me out of the John Deere store (for now).

    Since both comments so far neglected the idea of the plow, I'm guessing that isn't a good approach? Is it the size of the driveway (too small) or the truck (too big) that would have you recommend a snow blower instead of the plow?

    So if the snow blower is the best option...what do folks recommend? I'd obviously love to clear the driveway with as few passes as possible!
  6. DieselWMB

    DieselWMB Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    BTW...yes, when I purchased the truck I had certainly intended on plowing with it. I think it would probably be a lot nicer sitting in my truck clearing the driveway with a few quick passes than walking behind a snow blower. And yes, there is a place to put the snow...I live on top of a hill and can push the snow off a ledge near the top.

    So what would be a good plow choice for my truck? Do I need to worry about it damaging the front end? I'd want something that I could attach/detach quickly & easily so I don't need to drive around with it.
  7. LEVE

    LEVE Member
    Messages: 79

    Don't discount an ATV Quad with a plow. It's upscale from the lawntractor, but is very, very nimble and moves a lot of snow in short order.

    As for the plow on the truck... I like the Snowsport that I use. I can install/remove in about 5 minutes.
  8. ferdinand711

    ferdinand711 Senior Member
    Messages: 130

    something like this? http://www.westernplows.com/movie.asp?movie=contractor_ultramount.flv
  9. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    plow for new mule

    It all depends on how much money you want to spend as I said.

    Even though you will on a hill it will drift over and if the snow is deep on a bad year........

    And then if your truck gets stuck over the ledge because of ice etc.

    you need to approach this using the ben franklin close where you have the minuses

    on one side of a sheet of paper and the plusses on the right side and after

    doing the math you know. the decision tree is a more definitive way as well.

    Buying a big garden tractor like a cub cadet or john deere from a JD dealer will give you

    lots of horse power to run a blower.

    The Cub Cadets that are built by MTD are approaching the 22-29 horse power range these


    The john deere units are very good as well- they are apparently building tractors that are

    inexpensive build and to own in the lower horse power ranges and expect them to last

    only a few years for the home owner now.

    You will still be money ahead with a small hydrostatic drive tractor and a big front

    mounted blower, chains, wheel weights and a soft cab.

    You can purchase a service agrreement and an extended warranty through the JD dealer

    or big boxes also.
  10. DieselWMB

    DieselWMB Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Wow...the Western plow system is something! Yes...that's exactly what I was thinking! What would something like that cost for my truck?
  11. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    plow etc.

    I think my brother spent 8-9K for his
  12. ferdinand711

    ferdinand711 Senior Member
    Messages: 130

  13. snobgone

    snobgone Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 122

    Is the service that bad that you are willing to invest that kind of money? It will take you forever to get a return on that investment unless you are going to get some contracts or money isnt an issue. Check out the fisher plows, they are great and so are boss. It really comes down to the dealers ability to service you if you have a problem and their location. But, why not stick with a contractor? Write a spec that cleary states your expectation and include damage to be the repsosibilty of the contractor.

    BTW, that truck will plow anything. Its a serious rig but yuor maneuverability will be limited.
  14. Capodosto

    Capodosto Member
    Messages: 30

    I had the same problem, expensive and unreliable plow operators. I would spend hours looking out the window watching the snow pile up and wondering if the guy was coming. I have a 400 foot driveway with a turnaround and the best price I was quoted was $50 per push. In Connecticut, we sometimes get storms that last two or three days and the plow would have to come four or five times which translated to $200 or $250 for one storm. I decided to clear my own snow, as much to be in control of the schedule as to save money. I bought a very-used but functional 1992 Jeep Cherokee with a manual transmission for $895 and hung a brand new Meyer 6.5ST on it. That and a Troy-bilt 24" blower for my walk and for cleanup around the garage and I am all set. I can do the whole job in less than an hour and on my own schedule. When the Jeep craps out, I'll just buy another one and transfer the plow. I initially thought of a big 36" snowblower, but I calculated the time and I figured it would take me about three hours to do my driveway, not to mention that I would still need a smaller one to do the walk and the cleanup. This would be while I am out in the wind and snow, usually in the dark. With the Jeep, I just crank up the heat, put my covered travel coffee mug in the cupholder, turn on the stereo, and plow my driveway, no coat, hat, scarf, or gloves required. Can't beat it.
    Also, who says you cannot put a small plow on a big truck?
  15. snobgone

    snobgone Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 122

    You can put a plow on a small truck, however, a truck with of his size and weight can turn a small blade into a pretzel if you are not careful. For your application it is perfect. His truck is 20 feet long and must be close to 3 tons. Depending on the configuration of his driveway turn around, that coule be a problem with another 3 feet hanging off the front.

    One small comment from a contractor's perspective, and I mean no offense, but the best price doesnt always result in the best service. You are the customer and you should set the terms and the operator should be there when you expect them to be. There are good guys out there that are capable of that.
  16. mayhem

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

    Could be that it is that bad. He apparently can't get a guy there on time and they seem to incur a fair bit of damage which the plow operators may not be repairing for him int he spring.

    At the prices quoted, I'm guessing the OP is paying out a bare minimum of $1000 a year plus his repairs and inconvenience. That exact situation was what drove me to buy a truck and my own plow as well.

    Here are your options as I see them:

    - Lawn tractor with a big blower.
    - Conventional walk behind snowblower.
    - New plow for your truck.
    - Used plow for your truck,
    - Used 4x4 with a plow on it.

    If you have the room for it, I would lean towards a used 4x4 with a plow. Basically a ayrd truck. You cna pick up an old Jeep, Explorer or whatever snall to midsize vehicle you run across iwth a 6.5-7' plow already on it. Put a bit of money into fixing whatever might be broken and you've got a decent, reliable solution for your snow clearing needs. You're in an enclosed cab with heat (if not, there's a good place to spend some money), its got a short wheelbase and is very maneuvarable and you're not going to be beating on your nice shiny new truck. Figure you're probably looking at maybe $1500-2000 for somehting decent that will do everything you need it to and if it lasts you 3 seasons and you snap the frame or blow the transmission, you're still ahead financially.

    Next favorite of mine is a large, commercial grade walk behind snowblower. A big Ariens or Simplicity will come in sizes upwards of a 36" cutting path and in that size and price range you're looking at nicities like heated grips and power operated chuts and such. Put a soft cab on it to keep the majority of the snow off you and you're in decent shape. Nice thing about the blower is you get to put the where you want it and not just pile it up at the end and sides of your driveway. You're probably looking at a couple grand for this option too.

    The walk behind blower is going to take you 3-4 passes to clear your driveway at a slow to moderate walking speed...so figure you're going to walk about 1/5 of a mile every time you need to do your driveway.
  17. DieselWMB

    DieselWMB Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    This is really great feedback, thanks to everyone who has posted thus far!

    Some of you have hit the nail on the head...for me it's about getting the job done right and when I want it done. We've had both expensive and inexpensive providers, and even the guys that do a great job still have to fit us into their schedule. Sometimes that leaves my wife stranded, and that's not okay. Taking over the job myself puts me in control which is the real advantage.

    After what I'm reading here, and talking to a buddy of mine who plows his own driveway, I'm leaning towards the snow blower option. I'm not concerned about the capability of my truck with a plow, but I am concerned about maneuverability with such a large truck made even larger with a plow on the front. I think someone said it above...if I was doing large open lots then I'd have no issue. The fact that I'm doing a driveway with a turnaround and curbs is something else.

    I'll check out Ariens & Simplicity, but I'll stop by my local Deere dealer to see what they have as well. Does anyone have any experience with the larger Deere units?
  18. snobgone

    snobgone Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 122

    The johndeere is a great blower. We have used one commercially for years and it still runs great. We have updated with ariens 13hp 32 inch blowers with heated grips, power chute and lights. Great blowers too.

    Good luck. Let us know what you decide. Btw, the average producion rate is about 1600 sq ft per hour but the time will vary based on moisture content and depth of course but those blowers will go through anything!
  19. mayhem

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

    Last I knew (and I may be well misinformed), John Deere doesn't make snowblowers. They buy them from someone else and paint them green...don't recall who sources them now.

    I think Ariens, Simplicity, Honda, MTD and Toro are the only actual manufacturers these days.

    Anythign you get, look for a good, high steel content...many today are made with an awful lot of plastic, which doesn't hold up as well in some parts. My office has a Craftsman blower and the chute and adjuster are both made out of plastic...works very badly.

    Also, no matter waht you get, add this.


    It makes a surprising difference in the effectiveness of your blower and how far you can throw the snow. It will also help you ge the job done a bit faster since you're able to process more cubic feet of snow per minute.
  20. MrBigStuff

    MrBigStuff Senior Member
    from Boston
    Messages: 140

    As has been pointed out, there are pluses and minuses for each approach.

    If I could only afford one option, it would be a plow. If for no other reason than the situation where you have 250ft of 4-6" deep slush. You'll spend all day working at that with a blower whereas the plow will hardly be affected.

    My last house was in the midwest and I had a narrow 200' drive and a K2500/bonus cab/8' bed/8' western plow. I can relate to long rigs and narrow residential driveways. You'll get used to dealing with the turning radius limitations and figure out the best approach for your set up.

    Slush storms were rare there. Now I live on the right coast and there's nothing worse than a slush storm followed by sub-zero temps and the resultant glacier if you can't blow that mess off your driveway...