Plowing with a box van

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by 66Construction, Mar 30, 2001.

  1. 66Construction

    66Construction Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    Has anyone ever plowed with a box van? I have the oportunity to buy a 91 chevy with a 14' body, dually, around 11,000gvw 2wd It will carry about 4000 lbs of equipment year round, I figured this would provide enough traction. Price is too good to pass up, 0verall length is about the same as a 3500 dump with a 10' dump body or a club cab long bed pickup. I currently use a trailer to keep all the framing equipment in and leave it on site, I'd much rather use this van it will carry more and is more secure overnight. Other then seeing around the box when backing up does anyone see any other downfall to plowing with this. Can I even put a plow on it, I assumed with the gvw it would take a 9' fisher but I haven't looked into it yet. We don't build when it's snowing so the truck would always be available to plow. Any feedback is appreciated!
  2. 75

    75 Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    Hi Casey - one of the reasons I decided to go and put a plow on my 2wd dually (as opposed to shelling out $$$ for another truck) was seeing pretty much the setup you describe here in town. It's an older F-SuperDuty box van 2wd, about a 12' or 14' box on it. It carries a straight blade which I think is a Western (8.5, possibly 9 - I've seen it countless times but never had any reason to check it out closely) and they use it to keep their own lot clear. Seems to work OK for them - they've had it for years.

    Obviously, this wouldn't make a good driveway truck but parking lots it should do fine on. Having to rely solely on mirrors to back up doesn't sound like too big a problem either - I have to do that driving the welding truck 5-6 days a week anyway!

    Speaking of welding, I don't know if a mount kit is available to bolt up to the truck you describe but even if it's not, mounts are no problem for a competent welder to fab up.
  3. Doc L.

    Doc L. Member
    Messages: 38

    I'm almost sure that an E350 van and a F350 pickup share the same frame. At least I think the older ones did, (I'm talking late 70's?). I know a guy around here that runs an older one (E350) with a Western plow. I think he told me that he just pulled his frame off an F250 and put it on his van. Whether there was lots of fabrication involved I don't know. I know it can be done though and with the weight of the box you don't have to load it up with lots of crap for traction. I can't say for certain about a Chevy being the same scenario but I'd almost guess they'd be built the same way (sharing frames). I think Dino or somebody on here has a brother that works at one of the assembly plants. Maybe they'd know for sure. I'd look around for an old camper, that way you'd never have to go home.
  4. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    GM does not use the same frames on the trucks and vans, in fact the van frame in more of a unibody type construction.
    Also the front axel weight on vans are alot lower than trucks, so that would be a concern of mine as well. I feel a frame would have to be fabricated to mount on that van. Perhaps snowway may have a light weight plow for that application.
  5. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Dino is right about the frame-they do not have the same frame construction as the pickups,and more than likely re not as strong.The front end of a van already has a lot of weight on it with the cab,and engine being right over the front axle.I know you could do it,but I doubt anyone makes a frame for it,probably have to adapt a truck frame.
  6. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    There is a guy around here that plows with a 4x4 van. I think that it is an used Fed Ex van. He has a Fisher plow on it. I will have to ask him about it.
  7. dsr

    dsr Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    Casey i'm from the same area you are.One of the local school districts use that same setup.They use a meyer's plow. joe
  8. OP

    66Construction Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    Thanks for the info. The new vans have a 4300 lb front axel. I'm not sure what the 91 has. I'll definitly have to talk to the fisher people about what size blade to put on it. I didn't even think about having to fabricate the mount. How would I go about that, make an entirely custom mount or just extend the frame inward enough to mount fishers frame?

    It amazes me how well you know GM!
  9. MOE

    MOE Veteran
    Messages: 24

    A few years ago I almost bought a 86 army ambulance, a regular ford van that had an aftermarket 4x4. The guy said it plowed great but the rear visibility was an issue for me because I plow stores during the day with customers pulling out right behind me while I'm backing up. With the beep beep and the strobe I sometimes wonder if they are both blind and deaf!

  10. 75

    75 Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    Casey - can't be too sure without actually looking at it, but I would be inclined to leave the van frame alone and modify the mount as required to bolt on.

    Just a thought here: I have a plow on my 2wd C-35, which has a similar front end setup with A-arms & coil springs. I was able to run braces under the front suspension crossmember back to another crosser I bolted to the frame where it levels out to run straight again. This adds strength to the mount and takes a lot of the stress off the end of the frame. It will involve custom fabbing also.

    Keep us posted on your decision/progress!
  11. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    It sounds like a viable, year-round money maker. I have only one other thing to add,

    As the Friendly Giant said on kids TV "Look up, look way up".

    Just make sure you have clearance lights on all corners so you can work near hanging signs and awnings without rearranging the facilities. What you lose in rearward visibility, you'll certainly make up in forward visibility.
  12. 75

    75 Addict
    Messages: 1,382

    John - that's a really good point about overhead clearance. Puts me in mind of when I drove big trucks for a few years - I pulled a flatbed, most of the time with steel or lumber on board. It felt strange any time I hauled an empty sea container as a backhaul load because now I was right up around 13'6" in height. Never any problems, just seemed strange seeing that big box behind me.

    One other thought Casey - tires are a b-i-g part of being able to plow with a 2wd. Most of the box/cube vans I've seen had tires that are more suited to dry pavement - depending on what yours comes with you may want to invest in 4 good, aggressive tires for the back.

    [Edited by 75 on 04-01-2001 at 03:51 PM]
  13. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    My dad years back toyed with this same idea, he had a chevy at the time. It just wasnt suitable. If you look at GM vans, they usually are one grade lower in GVW than their truck counterparts.Meaning a one ton van is = to a 3/4 ton pick up. Except the duallies, they are = to light duty one tons. Anyway the other thing we noticed was the fact that the front frames are more unibody in construction that ford vans. So if I was going to try this, I would do it with a ford, they use a solid frame all the way.
    the gm frame, in bak of the front bumper is all stamped sheetmetal, and I dont think it will hold up to the riggers of plowing. I have seen a few plows on quigly 4x4 conversion ford vans.
    If you think I know alot about GM, John DiMartino has me beat by a long shot. He is the man.
  14. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    Forget plowing with GM vans. Unibody all the way. The front "frame" is actually a cradle which supports the engine and front suspension. It will not handle the rigors of plowing. No way. Take a good look underneath if further explanation is necessary.
  15. OP

    66Construction Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    Tell me that was an April fools joke. This was looking like a money maker and then you drop that on me. I haven't put any money down on it yet. I'll have to crawl under there and take a look at the frame. A Ford.....hmmm that blue oval just isn't very classy.
  16. GeoffD

    GeoffD Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Just don't see it working with any van.

  17. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy Addict
    Messages: 1,011 joke.

    The Fords, though full frame, also have a detachable front frame cradle similar to GM.
  18. OP

    66Construction Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    The Lawn Guy

    "The road less traveled, is usualy that way for a resaon"

    I guess I'll stick to pulling my trailer! Thanks, you guys saved me a huge headache in the long run!
  19. Tony Bonventre

    Tony Bonventre Sponsor
    Messages: 89

    Only you would plow with a box truck
    I can here TOM now.
  20. PLOWMAN45

    PLOWMAN45 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,581

    i would go with a four wheel drive myself