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push type spreaders

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by therpmguy, Dec 31, 2002.

  1. therpmguy

    therpmguy Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    Hello everyone, I am new to this site but I have to tell ya that I think im addicted to it. I was looking for some information on push type spreaders. I have seen a few posts on the subject but they dont seem to be very popular. Ive read all of the posts on tail gate spreaders and v box spreaders and I think that they are very interesting but i am not at that level yet. three years ago I bought a truck that happened to have a plow, after plowing with it for fun here and there I realized that I could make some money. My first year I made 700.00. The next 1100.00. this year I am hooked on it, its not even new years and iv'e made 1400.00. after a few requests from my local small comm. customers I bought a stainless earthway spreader. I was looking for some basic information on the differences between rock salt, calcium, and ice melts. The difference between flake and pellet. which ones to customers seem to want more ant which ones seem to have the best profit ratio. the pellet ice melt sure seem to spread nicely, much better than rock salt. I realize that this is a fairly basic question but hey . help a new guy out. I imagion that most of you started out a similar way. Do you guys use your truck mounted spreaders to do lots under 10000.00 sq ft ? it seems like it would be more work moving and backing the truck than it would be to use a hand spreader. do you still use them ? and how often? hey , I have to start somewhere, right ?

    Messages: 63

    Broadcast Spreader

    This won't be of much help to you, but I just wanted to tell you not to feel like the Lone Ranger using your push-type spreader. This is my first year doing ice control and I am using my broadcast spreader this year. Unfortunately the last batch of rock salt I bought for the asphalt section of my large commercial lot (almost one ton) will not flow well through my Lesco spreader-guess who's throwing arm has been getting quite a workout! LOL . Oh well, like you also said, I'm learning. Next year I believe I'll get a hitch mounted spreader after doing my homework (and consulting the seasoned vets on this website). I have learned there definitely is money to be made in ice control-hope to pick up some more accounts next year. Good luck to you!
  3. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

  4. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    For fertilizer, we use Lesco spreaders. For rock salt, we have two 125# capacity plastic Agri-Fab units. They spread rock salt no problem. I could never understand buying anything less than an 80# capacity spreader, since most guys use 80# bags.

    Years ago I had a friend who always bragged about his stainless steel Spyker spreader, and how great it worked, how it cost him $300.... He carried on how Spyker was the BEST spreader out there.

    When I finally saw it I laughed. It was tiny, and held about 25#!!!

    He was happy with it, but for me it would suck, as most of the lots I was doing at the time I used 2 hoppers with my Agri-Fab.

    I never did see his Spyker in action, but I know my Agri-Fab spread 20 - 30' wide if I walked at a fast pace. Agri-Fab also sells an optional shield for salting walks to keep the product off the grass.

  5. Lawn Lad

    Lawn Lad Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    when I started de-icing for one account we used our lesco spreader and the lesco ice melt since it flowed nicely through the unit. The lesco will spread several types of material, but rock salt generally is not one of them.

    We bought an earthway this year for doing walks - not very happy with after spending $220. I think I'll have to look into Chuck's favorite, the Agri-Fab.

    You can spread some square footage with a push spreader. It's much easier to push it after you've plowed, so if you're trying to melt a 1/2 or 1" of snow with ice melter, you'll be there a little while as the slush and junk builds up on the wheels. Just more work to push it, that's all.

    Since de-icing is a very profitable part of the business - don't give up on it. save a few bucks and when you can afford it/justify it for the work you have, buy a tailgate unit.

    We see profit margins of around 75% to 80% with bagged product. Knowing what I know now, going to bulk will only increase the profit margin after the initial capital investment. You can make great money spreader material. So whether you do it by hand, push spreader or truck spreader, just spread it.

    Oh, and size lot depends on how hard you want to work physically. A 10,000 sq foot lot is about one #80 bag of rock salt. It takes me as long to do the paperwork as it does to spread the material. I know guys that used to use a push spreader on large lots. One guy would sit on the tail gate and load the spreader and they would drag it behind the truck. Took a while but got the job done.
  6. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    I have a fancy stainless steel Spyker spreader too, only its the $500.00 model and it holds 100#'s. Actually don't have too much sidewalk work anymore so we don't use it often- sticking with the 50# Earthway model most of the time. Anyway, when spreaders have been down, we'll use that Spyker to get lots done if it seems like its going to take too long for back up spreader trucks to get to certain places. Yes we do use the big spreaders & little tailgate units in the tiny lots under 10,000 sq ft. After you grow to the point where you're putting in long tiresome shifts, you'll also grow tired of hustling that push spreader & bags of salt, especially while the precip. is still coming down. By then you'll have the work to justify the cost of buying the bigger, easier, better equipment ;) We rust through the cheap Earthway models about one every 3 years, even with pressure washing after the storms. The Spyker I've had for 4 years now & it will easily last another 4+, unless we run it over or drop it from a truck sometime LOL. Its a high quality piece of equipment & well worth its price IMO. (those units are used for fertilizers also)
  7. OffRoadPlow

    OffRoadPlow Senior Member
    Messages: 247

    Push, then drive, but keep the push.

    Less than 5 years, so I will say I am new to a point, but I am finally getting one of the larger units, but I am keeping my broadcast as well. The larger units are worth there weight in salt, LOL, but after you do get one of the mounted units be sure to keep the broad cast handy for walks and entrance ways that your truck just won't get too. IMO, I like the idea of spreading from inside the truck, pushing the broadcast now and then has its advantages also..... Good luck, oh, and for the broadcast spreaders, if your not sure what you want, I was able to get an 80# to 120# at a home depot for under $50. I wanted to be sure it's would be what I wanted before spending any real money on the big ones, that and they sell them as high volume seeders so they are usually 25 to 50% off after the first snow... :D
  8. bam

    bam Senior Member
    from .
    Messages: 201

    we use lesco 80# stainless steel handled spreaders...I think one time they were out of the ones with ss handles and i purchased the reg. metal handle, what a waste.

    as for ice melts.

    Rock salt is ok to use on asphalt drives, walks.

    calcium or mag chloride would be used on concrete surfaces, as it is alot less damaging to them.

    i would favor pellets over flakes anyday. they flow thru a spreader easily.

    basically we use three products. we have salt/sand mix for certain clients that require its use, prefer to use bulk salt for all lot/drive/road applications and use pelletized calcium chloride for all walkway or concrete applications, spread by hand or with the 80# spreader.

    regardless of how i was spreading it, i would use rock salt for large areas, and use the calcium for walks and concrete loading docks etc.

    also keep in mind cost. rock salt is cheap, usually at most $5 for an 80# bag, while a 50# bag of calcium would cost $9-15. Then you need to sell that service to the client. calcium costs add up quick.
  9. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Keep in mind that the cheap Home Depot type spreaders have a very thin hairpin agitator near the opening in the bottom of the spreader.It doesn't take much to agitate grass seed.....

    Years ago I worked at a school, and they were tightwads, so they bought 3 cheap spreaders. Needless to say, one chunk of hard salt, and that cheesy pin wrapped itself around the shaft, and stopped agitating. I ended up drilling out the hole bigger, drilled a hole in the end of the shaft, tapped it, and put in a set screw. I then used a heavy 2" finishing nail in place of the cheesy pin. They lasted the 4 more years I worked there.....

    I also cut the bottom out of some milk crates (1 for each spreader) to make a screen to stop the large chunks from getting down to the spinner. Worked out great.

    Going back to the Agri-Fab units, another thing I do from day one now, is deflate the tires and fill them with Tire Slime to prevent flats BEFORE they happen. Actually, I put Tire Slime in all our small equipment tires, except wheel barrows, those we get foam filled before they even go into service.

    The Agri-Fab units also have an optional cover if you want to keep material in them dry when traveling between sites.

    We just picked up 2 from Northern, and they were listed at $149.99, but ended up being on sale for $129.99 each.

  10. OffRoadPlow

    OffRoadPlow Senior Member
    Messages: 247

    Good point!!!

    You do with most items, get what you pay for,,, Mine last one only lasted 3 years, but that was with seeding as well, the unit I found did have three, one inch openings to drop, and decent controls, but did have the bad pin style agitator until I replaced mine as well.... Thanks for reminding me.... And another good point, good tires,,, a must, the really cheap spreaders come with molded plastic wheels,,,no good for snow, you want a good tire... Good luck.. off to dinner, NYE party, then prep for tomorrow... Happy New Year to all......
  11. therpmguy

    therpmguy Junior Member
    Messages: 4


    Thanks for all of the quick replies. i never expected that many in one day(great site). I have been spreading with the agitator pin removed from the spreader ( as per the manufacturers instructions). If I put the pin back in will I do any damage to the gearbox if I run salt through it? The gear box is sealed so I dont know how well built the gears are. Does anyone have any experience or suggestions. I think the pin would really help the salt flow but i dont want to break anything. Also with an oversize pin does the drive wheel ever lock up due to the extra resistance? I did notice that the agri-fab has smooth tires or at least it appears to in the catalogs, is tire slippage a problem? thanks again and sorry for so many questions.