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Pros/Cons of chain vs hydro V-plow

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Tubby's Snow Plowing, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. Tubby's Snow Plowing

    Tubby's Snow Plowing Senior Member
    Messages: 199

    I'm looking to get a truck and outfit it with a V plow. The truck isn't important, but the plow is one I'm scratching my head on. Currently I use straight blades. Thinking of getting a truck outfitted mostly as a "stacker truck" to do clean ups and to hit sidewalks in V mode (much warmer than the ATV we currently use). Also for big snowbanks at the driveway apron (where it meets the road) sometimes being 3 feet high, would be good to punch through quickly so the straight blade trucks can go in and clear them out.

    I see the biggest difference being chain lift or hydro lift. I've done searching on here and never got a straight benefits list of either method. All I've read is "chain sucks" and "hydro is far superior to chain" which doesn't help one bit.

    I've never plowed with a V plow. My only experience has been watching my neighbor plow us out with his before I started the snowplowing part of my business. Think he has an older Western V plow with hydro. Might be a Boss (brand label is worn off).

    In my area we average 200+" of snow per winter and the snowbanks are deep and high, usually 6-8 feet high and 50 feet deep (long) in my backyard at the end of the season.

    Now some benefits of chain lift I heard from a website is it can stack higher than hydro, you can short chain in the event of lift failure, and it floats well. Those all seem to be nice to have. Up here there are a lot of uneven areas and such. Backdragging isn't much of a concern as to the effect of a "clean scrape to the pavement" since that's a joke up here. We usually have a 2 inch hardpack snow base so we just keep it clear from there. No practical way to get down to pavement. I've seen guys backdrag with V plows just by letting it down and the weight of the plow do the work, which has great results.

    So if hydro lift is better than chain, what advantages does it have over chain that are so superior? I'm looking for articulated responses, not just "chain sucks" like I've read a few times. I need actual reasons please.
  2. Pinky Demon

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

    This is a bit of a hot topic but in my experience:

    A. A direct lift plow gives faster response times when lifting up. This is important in residentials so you aren't peeling sod back when you get to the end of the driveway.

    B. Direct lift eliminates transport bounce.

    Only advantage of chain lift that I've seen is the instant float regardless of position. With a direct lift, you must put the plow into float with a controller and only then will it contour to the ground.
  3. nekos

    nekos Senior Member
    Messages: 586

    I'm not sure if A is really true. A chain lift will only go down as far as it need to so it will lift just as fast. The only time i have noticed a direct lift plow lifting faster is when you are stacking snow. It lifts instantly where a chain lift will have to get the slack out of the chain before it lifts the plow.

    Also direct lift is limited in how high it can lift the blade. Theoretically, with a chain lift the blade could float up until it hits the hood of the truck. A direct lift is limited in how high it can go. Neither of these make any difference because you will not be able to reach the limits with either system.

    The only other thing is driving around, like you said. The plow wont bounce as much.

    Both systems work just fine but in my opinion, I would be more concerned with the quality of the plow then direct lift or chain lift.
  4. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    I have both chain lift and direct lift (Fisher, Boss)

    "stack higher than hydro"... NOT true you can stack until the plow hits the stops whether a chain lift or a direct lift.

    "you can short chain in the event of lift failure"... you can short chain a direct lift. (you have to provide the chain/strap)

    "it floats well"... so does a direct lift.

    "A chain lift will only go down as far as it need to so it will lift just as fast." Well sort of
    When a chain lift plow follows a contour down, it pulls the chain down now when you again are on flat ground the chain has slack, takes time to lift the slack. Also my fisher plow the chain would drag down the lifting A arm to the bottom when ever I have it in float, so I always had to lift all the slack before the plow lifted. Fisher plows came with a spring to collapse the lift cylinder when ever you had it in float.

    OK you want a list
    * = advantage

    direct lift (Boss) ....................................Chain lift (Fisher)
    floats ......................................................... floats
    stacks ........................................................stacks
    instant lift * ..................................................wait for slack
    solid when transporting * ..............................plow can and does bounce
    you provide the chain for short chaining...........chain built in *
    plow will lift when not in float ..........................plow will lift when not in float
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  5. Tubby's Snow Plowing

    Tubby's Snow Plowing Senior Member
    Messages: 199

    Thanks. That's what I was looking for.

    So it boils down to lift delay, bouncing while transporting, and whether the short chain feature is "built in" by design or you have to provide (mod one up) it as an add-on.

    DGODGR Senior Member
    from s/w co
    Messages: 641

    I doubt you will notice any delay if you are already using chain lift plows. I have used a Western 8' Pro Plus (chain lift) for several years. I do not notice any delay when lifting. I hardly ever use float, and if I do it's only on pavement. Most of the residential drives I do are gravel. We live in the mountains so there are usually lots of grade changes. When I am plowing I do not put very much slack in the chain. I am always lifting and lowering in very small increments. I am always paying attention to the feel of the plow to determine if I lift up or lower the plow. We don't always have a firm frozen base so I am always trying to find the balance between not cutting the snow low enough, and digging up gravel. I have used a buddys Boss plow (direct lift) on one of my subdivisions. I did not like the feedback, or feel, that it provided. I will admit that I like the idea of the plow not being able to bounce during transit, but I prefer the way the chain plows. I realize that his is my opinion, and that others may not agree. You did, however, ask for opinions.
  7. plowguy43

    plowguy43 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,281

    Chain lift plows don't bounce during transport. If adjusted correctly, when lifted the A Frame is pulled tightly against the bump stops and holds it solid against it. When driving around it doesn't move.

    Personally I don't see any advantage or disadvantage to either lifting system.

    The differences come in blade trip or trip edge and hydraulics speed/reliability IMO.
  8. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    As you know all things in life are a compromise, If I lift my plow all the way up to stop bounce it blocks the lights and raideater... I could lower the stops then I loose stacking ability. with the direct lift I can put the plow anyplace and it wont bounce.
  9. plowguy43

    plowguy43 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,281

    That's what plow lights are for and I've had no overheating problems. Sounds more like a truck problem rather than a plow issue IMO.

    NICHOLS LANDSCA PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,362

    What do you have now? Lots of Boss up there
  11. samjr

    samjr Senior Member
    Messages: 481


    if u got a Vplow the plow well not be in the way of raideater or lights (in my truck anyways):)
  12. Tubby's Snow Plowing

    Tubby's Snow Plowing Senior Member
    Messages: 199

    Truck I use has a Snoway on it.

    Boss is popular here for V plows, but I see a lot of Western straight blades. Little bit more Fisher showing up. One of my guys has an HT that he loves on his F150. Been eyeing up their V plow.
  13. samjr

    samjr Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    I love my ez-v

    I love my fisher but boss got a good plow too
  14. Tubby's Snow Plowing

    Tubby's Snow Plowing Senior Member
    Messages: 199

    Lots of good companies make good plows. What it gets down to is quality, price, features, and support.

    ADLAWNCUTTERS Senior Member
    Messages: 212

    I like western better.I hit a lot of small crap in the lot and the chain is more forgiving.I have blown hoses before,no big deal just run the plow into a pile short chain it and fix it in a warm garage.The boss is a great plow too.It comes down to dealer support that just make up your mind.
  16. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    The V ain't but the strait fisher does. I have plow lights I also have a snow deflector on the fisher.
  17. Matson Snow

    Matson Snow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,985

    This is a Person with a Clue.....Good advice...Its all personal preference....I have been running chain lift since 1980...No problems...I think its up to what Plow you prefer and go with that System....I dont think you can go wrong eather way.....
  18. Matson Snow

    Matson Snow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,985

    BINGO......We have a Winner!!!!....Thats what it boils down to..:nod:
  19. plowguy43

    plowguy43 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,281

    Thanks Matson- I've plowed with both and didn't notice a difference in what was "better". I like a trip edge with fast hydraulics that is reliable. My plow has all that but fast hydraulics LOL.
  20. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    the origanal question was on chain Vs direct lift. that is a feature