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pros: what's the right tool for this job?

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by VTDave, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. VTDave

    VTDave Member
    from VT
    Messages: 46

    I have a 900' gravel driveway that's twisty and steep with some tight spots and poor visibility. This is central VT, so we (usually) get some decent snowfalls. I am a first responder and can't wait for a commercial plow guy. But I drive a lot for work and can't justify having a truck as my daily driver.

    What would you recommend for clearing my drive:

    1. ATV/UTV
    2. Tractor
    3. Yard truck
    4. Yard jeep
    4. Snowblower

    I have experience driving all sorts of machinery, including 1 ton plow trucks. This driveway is too tight for your typical rig. On the plus side, you can plow downhill. Price and reliability are important. I don't mind getting cold and wet. What's your recommendation? My goal is to minimize cost and drama.

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  2. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,392

    i would say what ever is cheapest, most ava. in your area, and something you can justify by using it all year round. see if atvs utvs are selling in your area for cheap.
  3. VTDave

    VTDave Member
    from VT
    Messages: 46

    Around here you can get a 3 year old 500cc Honda 4x4 ATV for the same price as a rusted 15 year old plow truck. I guess I'm wondering whether a 500cc or 750cc ATV w/ 4LO and tire chains can tackle the job I need it to do.
  4. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,392

    well depending upon how much snow there is....only a truck or wheel loader is a sure bet. if you keep up with the snow something smaller will be just fine,,but you'll have to keep up with the storm.
  5. sno commander

    sno commander PlowSite.com Addict
    from ct
    Messages: 1,063

    id go for a cheap yard truck, like an older 1st gen dodge there cheap, parts are cheap and run forever. a quad would be hard on the large events plus if you have to get out in a hurry youll have to make at least 3 passes with the quad to get out vs 1 with a truck.
  6. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    snow removal

    The right tool for the job is the tool YOU can afford!

    This is referred to as its "Opportunity Cost" which is
    what are you willing to give up to obtain something
    else in return.

    Your disposable income is what is going to determine
    what you are able to shop for and how much you can
    expend on this item.

    The only way you will minimise costs is by purchasing a
    compact utility tractor with an automatic transmission
    with a "new" rear mount snow caster,

    A 20 plus horse power garden tractor will have plenty of power and
    the front mounted snow caster will be more than adequate for your use.

    I purchased an excess inventory john deere LA115 with a 44 inch
    2 stage snow caster for $3,700 in march with rear weights and
    chains and it works very well.

    You should become member of www.tractorbynet.com and you will learn
    a great deal about snow removal using even the smallest garden tractor
    as many of the members use rinding lawn mowers to keep very long
    driveways much longer that yours open.

    If you wish to pursue this at a low first cost cost with reliable machinery a garden tractor with a snow caster, chains and weights is the most cost effective way to manage this as
    they typically have 2 year bumper to bumper warrantees for home owners.

    If you do some thorough shopping at an equipment dealer such as John Deere Inc. you will find unsold inventory and possibly a snow caster for that unit that is unsold as well.
  7. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872


    The other thing you have to take into account is traction/adhesion and the fact that a small plow rig even with chains will end up being bogged down due to snow weight as the snow weighs 21 pounds per cubic foot and eventually the ATV will not be able to move it especially snow that is banked up, whre a snow caster on a garden tractor wil get rid of it the first time and you wil have NO snow banks.

    NICHOLS LANDSCA PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,362

    Truck, you should be able to find something for $3-4k especially if it's only going to be used for your own driveway
  9. Buster F

    Buster F Senior Member
    Messages: 208

    Lots of older Bobcats around in the $3k price range. Stay dry and warm and put the snow anywhere you want.
  10. VTDave

    VTDave Member
    from VT
    Messages: 46

    Interesting idea I hadn't considered! Are you talking about a skidsteer or a Bobcat-branded tractor...

    Also, thanks Leon. I will start reading up on tractorbynet.


    NICHOLS LANDSCA PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,362

    Not quite sure what you'll find in the $3k range for a skid. An old pickup will be a lot cheaper to fix than an old skid
  12. meborder

    meborder Senior Member
    Messages: 142

    +1 to the yard truck.

    ive got a tractor, and now a yard truck. yard truck has heat, tractor dont.

    1500 for the tractor & loader
    1100 for the plow and 700 in upgrades for the yard truck ... i'll take the one with heat.

    plus the old tractor gets cold blooded, always starts good, but starts getting cranky as the updraft carb starts to ice up after about 30 minutes of use..... that crappy old chevy just starts and runs. plus i can haul water and move trailers without beating up on the good trucks.
  13. SharpBlades

    SharpBlades Senior Member
    Messages: 366

    Compact tractor with a plow on the front and a blower on the back. Not cheap, but very effective
  14. theplowmeister

    theplowmeister 2000 Club Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,617

    Do people actually read the posts?

    Jeep would fit the bill except there pricey. and you would need to add REAL snow tires and counter weight.

    by the way dont say a jeep to light to plow, the weight of the jeep is comparable to many skid steers.

    Tractors would work but they are slower
  15. theholycow

    theholycow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,180

    For a vehicle that's never going to see the road, wouldn't he do fine with chains on whatever bald tires come on it? The chains never have to come off...
  16. VTDave

    VTDave Member
    from VT
    Messages: 46

    Sounds like I have some options to think over. ATV/UTV is out. Recent model truck is out. I need to compare:

    1. Jeep
    2. '80s shortbed 3/4 ton truck (probably small enough for the tight spots unlike a 2010 F250!)
    3. tractor
    4. skidsteer

    I'll check out some used equipment in the spring when prices are lowest. Thanks for all your replies.
  17. magik235

    magik235 Senior Member
    Messages: 113

    I plow an 800+ foot sloped gravel driveway and the associated ditch area. I like my Jeep.

  18. BossPlow2010

    BossPlow2010 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,069

    Now I read your choices, but I would recommend something tracked with studs. Perhaps a used Argo. The drive being twisty and steep, once you start sliding, it can be hard to stop.
    If you can't afford tracked and get a wheeled, use chains!
    Good luck!
  19. woodsman

    woodsman Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    Used truck or freeze your buns off on a atv, or tractor.... 900ft is a long way. mine is the same and i use a 96 f150 with a western plow.
  20. H&HPropertyMait

    H&HPropertyMait Senior Member
    Messages: 558

    for personal use, jeep, bronco, single cab short bed 1/2 ton would be your best bet, cheap reliable and small enough to navigate tight stuff