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Plowing gravel, revisited

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by mtngun, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. mtngun

    mtngun Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    There is an old but good thread here about plowing gravel. One of the suggestions was to slit a pipe and put it on the plow edge.

    I tried the slit pipe, and it helped quite a bit. Instead of digging into the gravel, the plow slides along top of the gravel. It was much easier to push and didn't throw gravel into the ditch.

    This is what the 2" schedule 40 pipe looks like after 2 months, despite welding wear beads on the bottom of the pipe early on.


    So...... good concept, but not nearly sturdy enough. I plow gravel exclusively, (except for my access road which is one mile of 3" - 4" pit run). Yes, it suxs to plow, but not as much as getting snowed in like the winter before when I didn't have a plow.

    I typically plow 22 - 30 miles after each snowfall. That's a lot of gravel so it's no surprise the pipe wore quickly.

    I haven't tried conventional plow shoes, but don't think they would work well since my access road is rutted and uneven. The shoes sit in the tire tracks which are sometimes rutted, so I think the middle of the plow would be hitting the crown in the center of the road while the shoes wouldn't even touch the ground.

    I ordered some 3/8" flat bar to make an angled edge. It may be quite a while before it gets built, since the plowing season is almost over, but I'll post some pictures when it's done. Even with the 3/8" flat bar, assuming it works as intended, I anticipate quite a bit of annual maintenance on the wear edge. But if it would last an entire season, that would be satisfactory.
  2. Stumpman

    Stumpman Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    I used 2 inch seclude 80 and welded caps on the end. I only use it for a few drives and a 800 foot access road.

  3. magik235

    magik235 Senior Member
    Messages: 113

  4. snocrete

    snocrete Banned
    Messages: 2,862

    cool stuff !!!.....never seen or heard of the pipe on the edge, to much pavement round here i guess?
  5. ghlkal

    ghlkal Member
    Messages: 83

  6. mayhem

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

    Maybe other considerations here, but what about changing the angle at which the plow mounts to the truck itself? If you were to cant it forward some more the cutting edge would be alot closer to vertical and wouldn't dig in nearly as much.
  7. Tommy10plows

    Tommy10plows Senior Member
    Messages: 345

    Channel locks and Metric Vice Grips, my two favorite tools !
  8. pmorrissette

    pmorrissette Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    I usually pack-down the first couple of little snow falls by driving over it several times...makes a nice hard ice base, then I can plow all winter just like it was asphalt. When it gets a little soggy in the spring, I'll lift the blade an inch or so off the ground before I plow, the remaining bit of snow doesn't hinder driving and gets packed back down to reshape the base.
  9. RipT

    RipT Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    Sounds like that sch 40 pipe is working well for you MntGun. With the miles of gravel road you do, I would just prepare several split pipes ahead of season and consider them wear items. Sch 80 pipe would last a bit longer, but perhaps not enough to warrant the cost or extra effort in splitting them. Hard-facing certainly helps, but beware zinc fumes from galvanized pipe (I would avoid galvanized material for anything you are going to flame-cut or weld on. If you have to, only outside!)

    I use a Western Rubber edge on my rock/dirt/gravel private road and it had held up well for 7 - 8 years now, but it does not see near the miles you do.

    Good Luck
  10. mtngun

    mtngun Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    I think I paid about $50 for the 2" pipe at home depot. Then it took half a day to slit it and mount it. Then it bent (slit opened up wide and pipe flattened out) first time I used it, so I added a couple of bolts in the middle, in addition to the 2 bolts on the end that most people use. While I was at it, I welded a criss cross pattern on the bottom of the pipe to prolong the life. I didn't have hardfacing on hand, so I just used 7018.

    With all that, it still wore out after 1 1/2 months. That was not very cost effective, considering I don't get paid to plow.

    While I was waiting for the materials for the new gravel edge to arrive, I tried using plow shoes, set to lift the blade about 3/4". The shoes didn't work at all. They kept catching on rocks and both shoes were torn off after one mile. Plus, the blade still snagged the rocks, too, because my road has far more than 3/4" roughness. Scratch that idea.

    I considered the skid plate that attaches to the shoe mounts, as suggested on the other gravel thread, but that seemed weak for my purposes. It would put a lot of stress on the two shoe mounts, and I can imagine the skid plate getting bent up in the middle of the plow where it is not supported.

    It's hard to describe how rough my roads are. You hear guys complaining about how manhole covers beat up plows. Well, imagine a entire road made of manhole covers.

    The Mach II gravel edge is installed now and plowed about 28 miles yesterday. We had 6" of sopping wet snow on top of soft mud. It was hard pushing the sticky mess, but the Mach II seemed to perform as well as can be expected. I don't have a pic of the edge yet but will get back to that in a few days.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2009
  11. mtngun

    mtngun Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Here's a pic of the Mach II gravel edge. It was constructed by welding 2 pieces of 3/8" flat bar to the standard plow edge, in a way that approximates the contour of a 2" pipe.

    The mild steel flat bar did not cost much but I spent a couple of days welding it. The heat of welding warped the plate quite a bit and the bolt holes no longer line up, so I had a hard time bolting it back on. If you were going to have this made, it would probably be cheaper and stronger to have a shop bend the entire edge out of 3/8" AR plate (assuming AR plate can be bent).

    I'll probably go back and add a few gussets. You would think 3/8" steel would be strong enough, especially since the angled shape adds stiffness, but it is already bent a little after only one plowing session.

    I also plan to hard face the bottom edge.

    Time will tell how this edge holds up.

    I think the ideal gravel edge would be this shape made out of rubber or urethane.
  12. mtngun

    mtngun Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Winter doesn't want to quit just yet. Had another 8" today. I plowed over 25 miles of gravel, as usual.

    Traffic congestion.

    One of the access roads I plowed. Not even a real road, just a skid trail. No room to manuever, no where to put the snow, and a sharp drop off below.

    Once the plowing season is over, I'll hardface the gravel edge, and do some other maintenance on the plow, so it'll be ready for the next winter.
  13. mtngun

    mtngun Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Hardfacing the gravel edge.

    Several bolt holes were egged out. I cut out the old hole and welded in a patch made of 3/8" flat bar.


    There were also several cracks in the plow and frame that had to be welded up. All the bolts are being replaced, and the whole shebang got a coat of fresh paint. It'll be ready to go next winter. Meanwhile, 8" of new snow fell this morning. :bluebounc
  14. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    First of all, nice truck. Tell us a little bit about it. Chains all the way around, serious snow removal. I admire your determination to make this work. Nice fabrication skills too. I think you're getting real close to a design that is going to work and hold up well.
  15. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    Funny, my Channel Locks and Vise Grips are all Standard. My adjustables are metric though.
  16. mtngun

    mtngun Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    Well, not such a nice truck, just a worn out rustbucket. But, it is perfect for plowing and woodcutting duties.

    It barely made it through the plow season, trashing the front Dana 44 differential during the last push of the year. I'm still repairing that.

    I find 4 chains necessary for gravel road plowing. Sometimes I will plow a light snowfall with only rear chains, but then the front end gets pushed around by the plow. Not good when you are on a narrow mountain road, and it's a long way down if you slide off the road.

    The truck just recently acquired a detroit locker in the rear end. I've heard that lockers can be spooky on ice, but I think on the whole, I'll benefit from the added traction. Even with 4 chains, traction is an issue, especially pushing uphill, or busting through deep drifts.
  17. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    Holding the blade up a bit will help you in many ways. Your cutting edge will last longer. More weight on the front tires will help keep you from getting pushed sideways. And you will reduce some of the pounding on your plow gear and the truck. How long does it take you to plow all 30 miles?
  18. crmagr2

    crmagr2 Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    sorry if this is in the wrong place, but what did you use for a bit to drill through your moldboard. I am trying to fit a split pipe on but am having trouble drilling the holes.
  19. mtngun

    mtngun Junior Member
    Messages: 10

    I tried using a hand held electric drill, but the moldboard (probably AR plate) work hardened after drilling about 1/8" deep. It is not impossible to drill AR but a hand held drill is not the way to go.

    I ended up torching the holes.

    Sorry for the slow reply, 2COR517, I haven't been visiting the forum during the off season. Let's see, I typically start plowing around 3 - 4 pm and get home around 8 pm, so an easy 4 hours. I guess that averages 5mph. I probably average 10 - 15 mph on decent stretches but sometimes it takes an hour just to bust through a single drift, and some stretches require a double pass.

    With regards to lifting the plow up slightly, sometimes I do, but bear in mind this is the furthest thing from a smooth road so it is impossible to control the lift height with any precision. If you lift it up 1" on smooth level ground, it will be up 8" inches sometimes and dragging other times. Most of the time it seems better to let if float.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2009
  20. crmagr2

    crmagr2 Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    thanks a lot. I will ask my neighbour If i can use his torch. Thanks