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Right equipment for our property?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Chandlerarms, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. Chandlerarms

    Chandlerarms Senior Member
    Messages: 118

    First off - Hey!

    I am completely new to this. Basic background is that we have a family business - 50 unit apartment complex with approx 85 parking spots split into two lots (front & back). My brother, cousin @ I do alot of the property maintenance, but we do have a "live in manager" who also does maintenance.

    I realize that plowing is not that easy, and does take knowledge and the proper equipment. We are looking for a plow set up. # 1. to save on the yearly expense, and # 2 adding a truck to the property for the obvious benefits that a truck provides year round. The idea is that the property manager (has no experience) will plow the lot. He can take his time, go slow and do it right. There is no rush to hurry and go from account to account.

    I have looked at the Fisher HT's & BOSS (not sure the model) straight blades. I would like to go new on the blade & spreader to avoid trying to find the exact match for a truck, and the wear & tear on a used blade. I think that is the right way to go?

    The blade is the "easy" part. We do not yet have a truck. I have asked around (plow dealers) and someone who plows, and they pretty much say a 1/2 ton truck shoud be fine for our use. Is this true? (ideal would be 3/4 to 1 ton) Again - this will only plow this property & maybe family's drive ways if we really get hit hard here in Detroit. I have been looking thru the local Craigs list (dealers since we want to finance). We are not looking for a "plow truck". Do not want someone elses problems!

    I'd like to find a truck that has been used as someones daily driver. We are looking for a truck with 100,000 to 125,000 miles. 4 x 4. Is there anything else I shoud look for/stay away from? Been told to stay away from new model Ford's due to power steering issues - but based on our price range shouldnt be an issue. Hopefully between $6,000 to $9,000.

    I know everyone has a brand preference, but I have seen more F 150's and GMC's. Very few Dodges. Besides preference, is there any real difference in truck (again based on my use)? Should I be concerned with a truck with much more then 125,000 miles? I see alot of trucks with 175,000 miles? (If we dont use the truck much for "personal use" - dont expect to put more then 2/3,000 miles a year.

    Oh, and I would say right now - we are leaning towards a 1/2 ton F 150 - Would we need to beef up the front end? We also are looking into a trialer hitch salt spreader and we do have a relative who is a good mechanic (always great to have on of those in the family!)
    Am I on the right track? Are we getting into something more then we expect?

    Any suggestions/comments would greatly be apprecaited!
  2. coyote

    coyote Member
    from montana
    Messages: 39

    I really dont think the brand pf pickup matters but would strongly recommend 3/4 ton
  3. bbct001

    bbct001 Member
    Messages: 35

    Half ton would probably be fine for plowing, but if your putting a hopper in the bed, you'll want at least a 3/4 ton.
  4. superdog1

    superdog1 Senior Member
    Messages: 257

    I agree to some extent? 3/4 and full ton PU's have heavier suspensions (obviously) and in some cases, heavier drive lines, thicker axles etc. When you plow with a truck, it has stresses and strains on the entire thing, not just the weight of the plow. IMHO, I would never plow with anything less than a 3/4 ton. When the plow is on the ground, all the truck is doing is pushing the weight of the plow and the snow in front of it. This is where the heavier frame, transmission and other drive line components come into play.

    While I am NOT an expert, I do know that some 1/2 ton trucks have lighter frames than the 3/4 ton and up units do. Since the frame takes all of the abuse, it would be important to have the heaviest one you can get. While all you are doing is plowing at an apartment complex you own, it is still wear and tear on the truck, and the last thing you want to happen is the truck breaking down and you having to find someone at the last minute to plow your lot. You will then have double the expense that you did before, Lol.

    The other thing is plows that are made to fit on 1/2 ton trucks tend to be lighter. They do this because the front GVWR on most 1/2 ton trucks is low, so they have to keep the weight of the plow down to keep it legal. This translates into lighter steel, thinner gauge metal on the moldboard etc. I have seen what employees can do to a plow and truck. Most of them have this "What the heck, it's not my truck" attitude, so the harder you make it for them to break, the better off you are.

    This is just my opinion after years of fixing plows, fork lifts, tractors and other heavy machinery. There used to a Fram commercial that said "You can pay me now, or pay me later", you will save yourself quite a few $$ down the road if you buy the heaviest thing you can afford.Thumbs Up
  5. Chandlerarms

    Chandlerarms Senior Member
    Messages: 118

    Well I think I am close to a new truck. Hope to get a GMC 2500. Anyhow - since this truck will only be used for our property and not charging customers- what added insurance will we need? I will ask our insurance agent this question on Monday but am curious?

  6. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Should be covered with all your other maintenance you do.
  7. skimastr105

    skimastr105 Member
    Messages: 35

    The old body style gmc and chevby trucks tend to be fairly bulletproof. 3/4 ton + would be much better. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a truck with miles... Its all about how. It's been maintained. My 93 gmc has 210,000 and is still going strong! It's been a plow truck since day 1.
  8. Chandlerarms

    Chandlerarms Senior Member
    Messages: 118

    ok - I have been reading as much as I can this last week or so, and have spoken to a few plow dealers. Of course I have received many opinions. I have narrowed it down to two trucks. Hopefully we will drive off with one this Friday. Choices:

    #1 - 2001 GMC K1500 - 93,000 $10,000
    #2 - 2003 GMC K2500 - 83,000 $15,000

    Both trucks are VERY clean, and look well maintained. Test drove both. Both seem to run very good (1500 has all te maintenance records)

    I plan on getting a SnowEx SP-325 tailgate spreader. As for the plow - Thats where it gets tough. Of course the 2500 will fit just about every plow that Fisher & Boss offer. I am looking for a straight blade. No V. For the 1500 - Fisher's eMATCH says the HT, SD & HD series 7'6'' will all fit. Boss says the 7'6' Standard duty straight blade will only fit (dont want poly). What should I do? Based on our needs (50 unit apartment building with 2 seperate parking lots- front/back). I think either truck will do, but I am still unsure. I keep leaning towards the Fisher HT series with its "trip Edge", but also like the BOSS plows. My biggest fear is getting something and it not being enough? SHould I be scared of the 1500? or will it do the job with ease along with a $5,000 savings (covers most of the cost of plow & spreader)?

    I appreciate everyones help!

    ps - found a local Landscape dealer that has 50# bags of salt for $224/pallet (56 bags). Is that a good deal? I am guessing we will need up to 10 bags per event? (of course based on conditions)
  9. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Go with the 2500 and get a Boss v plow ,this way you can scoop snow to different locations.Salt price is good.
  10. Chandlerarms

    Chandlerarms Senior Member
    Messages: 118

    ok - So by a 2 to 1 vote we picked up the 2001 Sierra 1500 (K1500/Model K15753). I realize the 2500 would of given us a little wiggle room, but I think for our needs, this should do the job well.

    Per the "plow selectors" I can mount ( all 7'6") a BOSS Standard Duty, Fisher HT, SD or HD. So my question is - Which one?

    Fisher HT - Seems like the obvious choice? I like the Fisher HT "trip edge" but not sure if there is any benefit since we will only be useing it in our parking lot, with no obstructions other then the curbs in the islands (260# ballast).

    Fisher SD - Not sure if I like the "polymer" cutting edge. Have also read it is expensive to replace.

    Fisher HD. Seems like the most "beefy" of the bunch. Says I need 450# of ballast (would that be an issue?) Dont know much about the "chain lift" system.

    BOSS Standard Duty - I must admit I do like the BOSS plow with no other reason other then it looks cool Thumbs Up and I am a sucker for things "made in MI". Also that fact that BOSS looks to be a very good plow all around.

    I will be picking up the truck Monday, so I hope to have the truck in within the week for install - Your help and opinion is greatly appreciated!
  11. pohouse

    pohouse Senior Member
    Messages: 322

    You'll be fine with the Sierra 1500. I have an 03 and plow several parking lots. Whichever plow you choose, I would recommend cranking up the torsion bars and adding a leaf to the rear springs to help carry the tailgate spreader.

    As far as plows, dealer support can be a factor. Will they be open during a storm, for example?

    It might be good to think about what you would do if the truck broke down midstorm. Get some names of local contractors who perform service in your neighborhood, just in case.

    All the best.:salute:
  12. Chandlerarms

    Chandlerarms Senior Member
    Messages: 118

    Thanks Pohouse. I have read alot about Timbrens - How might these come into play? I am guessing I might need these. Should I also "crank up" the torsion bars along with the Timbrens? Also - depending on the plow - will most likely need 260 to nearly 400 lbs of ballast. Can I reduce this if I have a TGS (looking at the snowex 325 or BOSS 600)?

    Oh, and one final question (for now) - should I have the plow installer do the added suspension stuff or should I go to a tire/suspension shop (locally belletire)?
  13. Chandlerarms

    Chandlerarms Senior Member
    Messages: 118

    Stoped by a local BOSS dealer. Though the configurater does not say a Super Duty will fit my truck, he said it should not be an issue and he has installed a few on 1/2 ton trucks this season so far. Would I be asking for trouble if I went that route?
  14. mnglocker

    mnglocker Senior Member
    Messages: 923

    2500 with a Western Wideout if you're doing lots. You'll cut your plowing time in half.
  15. pohouse

    pohouse Senior Member
    Messages: 322

    Both things, cranking up the torsions and timbrens accomplish the same goal. To reduce front end sag when you lift the plow. If your front end sags, with the weight of the plow in the up position, it can be difficult to push snow over curbs. Cranking up the torsions will increase the height of the trunk's front end. It will not increase the amount of weight your front axle can carry.

    Timbrens are rubber bump stops that replace the factory stops on the lower control arms. The timbren bump stops are larger and firmer, which means the suspension will 'bottom out' sooner, or higher than factory bump stops and will reduce the sag. Cranking up torsions or using timbrens will NOT increase the amount of weight your front axle can carry. They are just ways to reduce front end sag.

    I recommend cranking up the torsions at a suspension shop, since an alignment will be required afterward. A suspension professional can help you decide how much the bars can be cranked up, based on where they are set right now. Then get the truck upfitted with the plow and see how much sag you have. With your plow selections, I don't think you will require timbrens, but they can always be added. Your plow dealer probably can install timbrens. They are very easy to install on OBS GMCs maybe 30 min. Both are good, but you may notice a stiffer ride up front during the off season. Work truck, probably not a big factor.

    Your full TGS will work perfect as ballast. You'll probably have bags of deicer in the box also. Sounds like you can easily reload on the property when you get low. Ballast offsets some of the weight of the plow and adds traction to your rear axle. You'll notice a remarkable difference in your ability to move snow with ballast vs. without ballast.
  16. Chandlerarms

    Chandlerarms Senior Member
    Messages: 118

    This might be a silly question, but is there anything I can do to increase the load capacity of the bed? I am hopeing to purchase bag salt - and the best deal is if I purchase by the pallet. The pallet is 2800 lbs, but per the "specs" I found on line - The payload capacity max is 1624 lbs. I really hate to go back and forth to pick up the salt.
  17. SIWEL

    SIWEL Senior Member
    Messages: 129

    buy a 3/4 or 1 ton truck. You wanted a half ton, thats what they can carry, thats it.

    Don't forget to count the weight of the plow and spreader into that payload capacity also.
  18. pohouse

    pohouse Senior Member
    Messages: 322

    If your talking about the yearly purchase of a pallet, have it delivered. Or rent a single axle trailer to get the pallet to the property and restack where you want it. There are ways to do it, but using the 1/2 ton to carry the pallet is not an option.
  19. Chandlerarms

    Chandlerarms Senior Member
    Messages: 118

    Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I know I might be asking for the best of both worlds. We will have a pallet delivered and order pallets as needed. Not sure how much we might need. My current guess based on what I have read is that I might need 5 to 8 bags per event and conditions. We will be paying 4.99 per 20 kg bag delivered. That is not bad considering it's Canadian dollar, and everything in Canada is more. We try to get most things back home in Detroit (50 lb bag pallet is 4.00USD) but I guess in this instance it's still acceptable.

    I pick up the truck tomorrow. Next step is to make the final FINAL decision on the plow. Either BOSS standard duty or the Fisher HT. I think I will be happy with either one. I will make one more call to a few dealers to see who has a plow, when we can get it installed and who I think will offer the best on going support. Right now there is a Boss dealer 10 min away from where I live and very close to the Detroit/Windsor tunnel so that is also a plus.

    I appreciate everyone comments. This has been a very stressful task trying to make the best decisions possible. I am sure with all the help I get from this site, this new plow will make our property that much more pleasant to live at. www.chandlerarms.ca
  20. tsnap

    tsnap Member
    Messages: 60

    I plowed with a chevy 1500 last year and i loved it. I would definately suggest adding the timbrens. Definately will help carry the weight of the plow. I would tend to bottom out the bracket on steep approaches to drives when carrying the plow. I agree that picking the entire pallet in that truck is not reccommended. I did it with mine however i only had to transport ess than 1 mile from where i was picking up. I ran a meyers plow last year and hated it. Ran fishers before and they were ok. I had the oppertunity to use a boss last year, and i ended up buying a boss v this year for my new truck i liked it so much. In the end it's all up to you. Whatever you choose will be good but these are just my opinion. I am also in the detroit area, if you have any more questions give me a call. 248-579-3406 Tony