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Plowing to maintain access

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by BeatCJ, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. BeatCJ

    BeatCJ Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    I have some questions about plowing snow. The latest storm in my area (SW Washington) has shown that my company, a small rural fire department, needs to have a way to keep our parking lots and approaches to our stations clear. In the past, we have been able to rely on the State and County crews to keep things passable. With budget and staffing constrictions, and the changes in their culture, we can't count on them any more.

    We are considering purchasing a snow plow for our 1997 Ford F-350 pickup. We do not plow roads, only 6 paved parking lots. Over the past couple of weeks, we had 2 feet of snow. Ordinarily, we get a few inches, and then it melts. We do have a problem with berms forming where snow slides off of the metal roofs on our stations, blocking the doors. What would you suggest? Eventually the pickup will be replaced, so we would also like to be able to switch the equipment to a new vehicle in the future.

    Also, as another consideration, it is nearing time to replace my Staff vehicle, currently a 1982 Chevy Suburban. My vehicle of choice (at this time) is an extended cab, 6' bed, 1/2 or 3/4 ton, 4 wheel drive pickup. I would consider something shorter and more manuverable, and attaching the plow to that, if it would make more sense in our application. I wouldn't mind a Jeep as vehicle, if they are a suitable plowing vehicle. I believe a 4 door JK could make an acceptable vehicle.
  2. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,780

    Sounds like you need a Dodge with a Cummins. Get a used one, before all the emissions equipment came out.

    The reason I say Dodge Cummins are these:

    It has four doors, but they are not as big as the 4 door Chevy or Ford, keeping the truck a little shorter, which can be a benifit while plowing.

    The Cummins is unstopable, and very reliable, and gets close to double the mpg's of a gasser while plowing. Remember, pre-emissions, so get a 5.9.

    The Ford diesels are not as reliable unless you go back to the 7.3, which are getting pretty old. Sorry Ford guys, I doubt the fire dept will be doing a DPF delete.

    The Chevy just sits too low, unless you want to crank up your t-bars and add Timbrens, but do you really wanna do that?

    In case you haven't noticed. I love diesels.

    There is a local fire dept here with a Red Dodge Cummins and it looks really sharp. .

    All trucks are good I am sure, just my opinion here.

    Oh, and as far as what type of plow, I would get a Boss V Plow, probably the 8'2". Not too big, not to small, and the V is very versatile for moving snow away from your building and entrances etc.
  3. BeatCJ

    BeatCJ Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    I doubt we will purchase a used vehicle. While I share your love for the CTD, or the older IH engines, if we get a new vehicle, it will be a new bid vehicle. The state auditor makes it more difficult to spend tax dollars, and we would have to go to bid ourselves, and pay for advertising a bid, etc.

    But my main concern isn't the vehicle, I'm pretty comfortable dealing with that part of the package. My thoughts run more to purchasing a plow package, mount, lift, moldboard etc. that fits our needs, without spending too much. I pay taxes here, too. I expect that we will buy it and use it for 30 years, considering our past purchases. Looking at websites, there are so many choices. Full trip vs. bottom trip. Do we really need a trip, since we are pretty much free of obstructions? We have curbing along the edge in a few places, but not much. Save money and weight with a poly plow? Or, since it is a long term purchase, the added expense of the V-Plow amortizes out well. BUT, in front of 17 bay doors we WILL need to backdrag. Since our biggest lot is only 200 feet wide, is carrying ability that critical for us?

    I have added airbags to one of our F-450 brush trucks to deal with 3500 lbs of water. If I need to add equipment to suspensions to make them work right, I don't have a problem doing so.

    We have a 6 locations, with about 5 road miles in between each. So transport ability is important.

    If we had more snowfall, there would be contractors available, and I probably wouldn't be having this discussion. Around here, we don't get enough snow to support a plowing business, IMO. We did have an excavating contractor ask if we wanted them to bring their equipment in, $100 per hour per machine. Seemed a little high to me, especially without someone familiar with plowing snow.

    Boss is a good choice for me, right now I can purchase them installed on State bid without any additional advertising on my part. It does usually work out to save us money, too. The added purchasing power, and all that. But the nearest dealer (according to their website) is quite a ways away, about 70 miles. Where we are, I didn't expect anything close, though.
  4. Bajak

    Bajak Senior Member
    Messages: 999

    I find it very surprising that the county or state won't plow out a fire hall. After all is that not considered an essential service? Are the fire departments privately owned in the US? I would think a petition submitted to the county would fix the problem. Up here in our county all the municipalities just passed by law allowing any municipal snow plow operator or contractor to assist emergency vehicles to their destination regardless of borders or jurisdiction, even a private lane if need be.. As you said you pay taxes too. If I were you I would attend a council meeting and sort that BS out. What if you were responding to a councilors family emergency and you couldn't even get a rescue vehicle off the station lot?

    RODHALL Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    if it is a state bid more then likely you getting a ford Powerchoke (goodluck)
    I take it all your parking lots are asphalt...
    I always run meyers plows and have never had anything break that i could not finsh the job, i have had hoses break and need replacing, and pumps refilled because of it.

    you want trip plow I perfer full trip as to edge trip, with full trip you see the whole blade trip as to edge trip where you can be running in 2 inches of snow and not notice it

    swap to anothe truck- this will just be a few hundred $$$ for the correct brakets to fit the truck
  6. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    There are a couple of things to consider. First is a poly plow is actually heavier than a steel plow. More steel reinforcement is needed to support the poly mold board. Second is the state purchasing. We tell everyone on here that ask what plow to buy, to buy the best you can afford, with the best availability for parts and service. I understand that the Boss dealer is 70 miles away, and may be your closest dealer due to the lack of snow in your area. I would look at a full trip plow, a minium of a 7'6" blade, and something along the lines of a commercial plow. Don't get sucked into a homeowners plow on the sly from a bid. Spec out the commercial plow, if you might be keeping it for 30 years. Good luck.
  7. BeatCJ

    BeatCJ Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Nope, not ours. We are a seperate public entity, with our own board of directors. It's a local control thing.
    They can assist us on an incident, but with the recent downturn, they laid off 12 employees in the Road Department. They just don't have staffing to meet the things they are LIABLE for, so taking time to help us just won't happen. I think if it were an event that didn't affect the entire region, we might get some help, but frankly, almost half of the roads in the county never were plowed.

    On a 3/4 ton, I would have a choice between a Ford and a Dodge, a 1/2 ton, Ford and Chevy.


    Good to know. So what is the benefit of the Poly Plow?

    The current state bid allows us to choose a Boss Standard or Super Duty Plow or Poly Plow. We can get a deduct if we don't want it installed (we do!) Depending on the
    vehicle we are installing it on, sizes are available from 7' 6" to 9'. Which is what really creates my dilemma, too many choices.
    I appreciate all of the advice
  8. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    The benifits to a poly plow is as follows. The snow isn't supposed to stick to the poly as much as it does to steel. This is true of a new plow more than an old one. As the UV rays, and stones, and anything else you hit over a few year period scratches and wears on the poly they tend to hold as much snow as a steel counter part. The down side to a poly plow is weight, and if you hit anything sharp hidden in the snow it will most likely put a hole in your mold board.
    With a steel plow, although they will rust over time, you can always sandblast them and re-paint. I personally have one of each and like them both. If I were to buy a brand new plow, I would probably just go with the steel one and forget about it. Of course this is just my opinion.

    RODHALL Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    if you can get a 3/4 ton dodge with the CTD....BUY BUY BUY

    poly or steel. as the poly gets old it will get scratches and end up breaking craking, where the steel will just get rusty and need blasted repainted, even if you do crack a steel plow, you can take it to any weld shop and have it welded. I know a guy that has had to replace the poly face on his 6-7 year old plow, where my spare plow is a steel plow from 1977 and it has never had anything done, as far as work to the plow.

    7 1/2 to 9 width- your going to have to look at all the places you will be plowing. is there a lot of tight spaces or is it more open area. tighter spaces you would want a 8ft plow more open space go with the 9
  10. BeatCJ

    BeatCJ Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    We have just over an acre, total in 6 lots. One of them is about 1/3 of an acre, the rest are all about the same size. No islands. Curb around the perimeter of one of the lots. Curb at a couple of edges of the biggest lot. The two vehicles I had originally planned on using are not suitable according to the Boss site, not enough front axle weight rating, frame on a crew cab not suitable in that model year. I do have a one ton Chevy, dual rear wheel I can put one, but again, it's nearing replacement, too. Still in excellant shape, relatively low miles, 454. Small fuel tank, but I have 24 hour access to fuel.

    How does a manual transmission affect plowing?

    It sounds like a steel moldboard is really a better choice for us. With the amount of plowing we will have to do, an 8' 6" is probably plenty, too. That way we could mount it on a 3/4 ton truck in the future. To allow a 1/2 ton, we would have to step down to a 7' 6" plow, the way I read it.

    As for the Dodge, I'm concerned about the quality control of anything manufactured by Cerebrus Capital Management.

    RODHALL Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    why are concerned about Cerebrus Capital Management.
    the 09 2500 and 3500 is still the same as body style as the 02-07 2500-3500
    only the 1500 is new this year. for i really looked at the package with the CTD being best motor of the diesels. GM has seen as many trans issues as dodge. fords motor issues have been well documented. All 3 have moeny issues, so it's pick what will be more depandable and buy that...
  12. jkitterman

    jkitterman Senior Member
    Messages: 140

    You need to consider what will happen if your only plowing vehicle gets damaged. What is your back up plan? You may want to consider budgeting for snow removal for your station. If you attempt it yourself and the vehicle goes down or gets damaged in an accident, you will put yourself in a bind.
  13. CityGuy

    CityGuy PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 17,220

    We are a private fire contractor along with our neighbors to the west. Very few but yet more than people think are private contractors.
  14. Brant'sLawnCare

    Brant'sLawnCare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,756

    Our city fire deparments has their own plow truck. The city doesn't plow them out.
  15. jaymorgan2

    jaymorgan2 Junior Member
    Messages: 16

    Your F350 is more than enough truck to deal with the parking lots your talking about. If your looking for a reasonably priced new plow for your truck, and intend to keep it for many years, then you should consider something like the new Western Contractor line. It takes care of the poly issue, since it has a replaceable steel blade with minimal effort to do so.. uses the shoes as the stand for easy on/off, and is very rugged. Plus, since your doing mainly straight lots with few obstacles, a straight blade should be more than ample. In this way you can get something adequate for your needs while not busting the budget.
  16. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    snow in washington

    Save your money and buy a 50-75 horse kubota tractor and a Pronovost rear mounted snow blower through the state purchasing system, it has a hydraulic scraper attachment that cleans to bare pavement.ands can really move snow to pull it away to a place where you can blow it away out of the way with out leaving piles of snow and ice etc.

    The pronovost web site has a great video showing how well the PXPL model rear blower works and how fast it works.

    A tractor of that size is smaller than a plow truck too and the visibility will be much better too. The pronovost blower will pull snow away from door ways,and drag clean the walking paths, and parking lots and side walk to bare ground etc.

    It will cost less to insure as well with a agriculture license plate.

  17. plowman4life

    plowman4life Senior Member
    Messages: 557

    our town plows the firehouse's lots. but we still have a plow on our medical/brush truck. its just a reg cab chevy 3500 diesel and has a blizzard 8611. personally i dont like it. i think we would have been better off with a fisher 8' straight blade just b/c ground clearance with the mount. and its only used for our stations when the town cant get to us. and even then it gets used to open up in front of the bays at the 3 stations and do the driveway at station 1.

    so id say get something simple with a low profile mount. my recomendations would be fisher,western,curtis. or whatever is closest to you.
  18. blackcoal

    blackcoal Junior Member
    Messages: 4

  19. BeatCJ

    BeatCJ Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    My biggest concern with that setup is the 30 miles of street driving to get to all six of our locations. I have an aversion to trailering when the weather is bad.

    Thanks all for the advice. One of the messages mentions the risk of having the plow down if we get in an accident, makes a good argument for having the attachments on more than one vehicle.

    Having discussed it with our three volunteers that have plowed quite a bit with 5 yard and 10 yard dumps, we will most likely purchase an 8' or 8' 6" Boss steel plow, mount it on our '84 GMC for now. When we replace the F-350 pickup or Suburban, we will do it considering getting a plow capable vehicle. This will enhance our flexibility during a longer, higher impact snow event.
  20. C.Solan

    C.Solan Junior Member
    Messages: 25

    [How does a manual transmission affect plowing?] BeatCJ

    I used a manual for plowing last year and will not use it again. Since this sounds like a lot of foward and reverse you will burn the clutch up real quick. I would only use manual if i plowed for the Public Works again on roads.