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Rookie Mistakes

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by 100InchHammer, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. 100InchHammer

    100InchHammer Member
    Messages: 34

    Here's the events of my first day of plowing.

    A little history first. I am completely new to plowing, so each and every day is a learning experience. In Sept. I purchased a 79 Chevy shortbed, Full Time 4WD w/ a Western cable operated plow. The truck sat for a few years so there has been quite a bit of repairs and maintenance needed to get ready for the plow season. I thought I had everything covered. Repaired Items: Brake lines, Master Cylinder, Carb, Vacuum Lines, Heater, Lots of Electrical ietms, front hub bearings and hub, fuel tank, Plow cables and hoses, etc...

    First real snow Tues Dec 14, 2010...there was 6-8 inches waiting for me on this morning. Roads were bad, visibility wasn't good but all was ok.

    3am: Got an early start to get my drives cleared before the customers leave for work.

    3:20am: Stop at Speedway, get a lg cup of coffee. My truck doesn't have a cup holder so I set it on the dash, leaning it against the windshield...seemed stable enough.

    Shortly after I arrive at my first stop. I take extra care to do a good job...I believe in quality first and speed will follow. Upon leaving I hit a bump in the road, the coffee that I have yet to take a sip of cause it was to hot is now on my lap and on my new seat cover...my leg is soaked and quite hot I may add and the cup is somewhere under my feet. I'm really pissed at myself for not taking the free cup holder offered to me by my buddy just 4 days ago.

    As I drive down the road my driver side wiper kicks sideways and falls off the truck...WTF! I stop grab my flashlight and walk down the road looking for it. Haha, I find it, but the plastic clip that holds it on is broke...thats a bummer. As long as I was going 30mph or faster the snow was staying off the windshield, but every once in a while I would stop and use the wiper like a squeege and clean the window.

    Shortly before 6am: I am at my last house on my morning route and I notice my plow seems to be going slow and sometimes I have to try it a few times to get it to lift or angle. Again, experience or lack of is kicking me in the ass. I get completely done and go to raise my plow and nothing. No matter what I try it won't go up, or angle...nothing! I back into the drive and pop the hood, thinking I have a loose connection. They all seem fine as this feeling of disgust sets in. Just 2 weeks ago I told my buddy that my alternator seems to be weak. I try and lift the plow by hand so I can choke up the chain and leave it raised, I can lift it by hand high enough but I can't hold it with one hand while I reattach the chain. (Ok, I never thought of using my jack.)

    I venture off down the road trying to get home, plow down and straight. Lights are dimming so I shut off all unnecassary lights and heater, etc... My lights are actually to dim to really be of use and no help in reading road signs. I'm in the middle of BFE on winding hilly roads in a snow storm trying to make it home, using my flashlight as my only real headlight. At this point I find a farm and pull off in his barn drive. I flag down a car and a young lady asks me if I'm ok. I tell her my truck is having issues and I just need to know what road I'm on so I can call for help. We talk for a bit and she gives me the info I need and goes about her day. I drive another 3/4 mi to a restaurant I know and park my truck there, phone a friend and wait. My buddy arrives shortly and we try and jump the truck but no luck. So I tell him, take me to my car and I'll tow it to his shop where I do all my work on it at. I have towing ins, thankfully.

    8am: I arrive back with my car, tow truck in route and I throw my heavy duty jumpers on for shits and giggles. Bam, it fires right up. But here is the flatbed, so I let him take it anyway. I tell him the truck is running and asked him if he wanted me to drive it on. He said that would be great. As I back on the plow starts to dig in and stops me. He throws a hook on the axle and tightens up his winch. Then he lifts the bed to relieve the plow and pulls the truck up on. After he secures it, he tells me to put it in park. I open the door to find I only have 6 in of flat bed, so I step on the vertical aluminum rail, my foot slips and I fall to the ground. WTF, can my day get any worse?

    10am: I'm in my chair under my blanket, pants in the washer and colder than hell.

    11am: My phone rings...it's a plow job, and not far away. I debate for a min as if I really want to go back out, knowing I have to replace the alternator. I don't feel like it at all but I made a commitment to this. I tell her it will be 2 hrs, she says np.

    I jump up throw on my coveralls drive to the shop and yank out the alternator. Hit the parts store, have them check it to make sure it was bad...sure enough it was. I put in my new 63 amp lifetime warranty $45 alternator and head out. By this time I have had 3 more new calls for plowing. That makes me feel better.

    5:30pm and heading to my last call. I notice my brake pedal was getting lower and lower each time I pressed it. WTF! I had just redone the lines and master cylinder, I had great brakes too...firm, high pedal, this can't be happening.

    I do the last drive with soft low brakes but the proportioning valve saved me and kept me some brakes. I take slow and easy, get back to the shop to find that the tow truck driver threw his hook over my axle and my new brake lines. UNBELIEVABLE!

    The worst part of this entire story is it was all self inflicted. Every thing that went wrong could have been avoided had I had more expeience. Oh and my last name is Murphy...Murphy's Law was written for this day.
  2. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    wont be your last bad day in the snow plowing game......lol
  3. BossPlow2010

    BossPlow2010 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,069

    No sir it won't! I wonder if it was the tow trucks driver first day too?
  4. Silverado10923

    Silverado10923 Member
    Messages: 82

    That sucks! Sounds like a bad day! I really don't know how much "experience would have helped you with much of that. I have been plowing mostly residential for about 12 years, ten of which heve been on my own. Something always F's up. The plow, the truck, I have learned to carry hoses, fuses, bulbs, motors...It is usually what you don't have that goes. New truck, new plow, old truck, old plow... something F's up! Don't be so hard on yourself, sometimes things work out. If they do just be ready to get F'd next time.
  5. maverjohn

    maverjohn Senior Member
    Messages: 902

    Yes every year something pop up you didn't exspect, I put a new srarter in thinking the old one was slow and low and behold it only lasted 8 days s#%? happens
    I agree with silverado, don't be so hard on yourself it will get better with time as you learn more about your truck.
  6. creativedesigns

    creativedesigns PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,929

    Yup! welcome to fleet maintenance & breakdowns, lol. I just replaced a block heater on one truck & a starter on another.....:realmad:
  7. KMBertog

    KMBertog PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,129

    can't be too hard on yourself.... it happens my man. new truck/old truck/new plow/old plow, etc... we have all been there.

    best of luck in the future!
  8. paponte

    paponte Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    Welcome to the business, and the blood money. One bit of good news for you, the first time out is usually the worst! Over the years I have learned to have a fully stocked shop with things we know can cause grief. Even with that, you can never be prepared for everything. You can make a good living off snow, but you had better bring your A game!
  9. As the others said welcome aboard, you will find that things always happen to ya in this business. At least you were able to fix the stuff yourself, not wait on a mechanic to do it for ya. Dont beat yourself up as this has and continues to happen to all of us. For some reason it always seems funny after the fact but sure as hell dont when its happening. Best of luck to ya this season.
  10. peterng

    peterng Senior Member
    Messages: 249

    Hopefully you've got a sense of humor in your toolbox, and a can of resilience.
  11. JohnRoscoe

    JohnRoscoe Senior Member
    Messages: 209

    Rainex that windshield, run the defrost as hot as you can stand it (crack the window), and you won't need your wipers a lot of the time anyway.

    And a decent bottlejack behind the seat goes a long way when a plow dies for whatever reason.

    Best of luck, most of plowing is being ready for the unexpected. If only it were all just steel scraping pavement.
  12. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    Just a dumb question for the OP why such a small alt.? Running a plow you should put the biggest alt on the truck that you can. I would go for at least a 90 to 100 amp. I actually run 120 amp on all my trucks, plows or not.
  13. ACA

    ACA Junior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 25

    I only have 1 chain lift plow left, but in the past if they died and I needed to lift it there is a easy way. Push into a snow bank which the plow will ramp up on. Leave it up there and jump out, move the chain up and there you go. Drive to your shop and fix it.
  14. Brandon29

    Brandon29 Senior Member
    Messages: 235

    I just put a trans, and new radiator in my 90 this year. Was out in it this morning and my reverse lights weren't working then my strobe broke so I couldn't see anything and backed into a big tree. Just scuffed my bumper but still enough to piss you off. Glad I'm not the only one having bad luck. Hope your luck turns around. Spare parts are always your friend but it seems like you never have the right one anyways. Good luck this year
  15. fordsuvparts

    fordsuvparts Senior Member
    Messages: 135

    Yesterday I had a front drive shaft break a turn joint and then got a flat tire on the way to the shop to replace the drive shaft. Before i got back to the shop one of my other trucks called me and told me he had broken a hose fitting off on the front of the pump and had to chain up the plow to get it back to the shop. Oh and did i mention that one of my guys left a full truck load of salt in the truck outside in the freezing rain while i was working on the trucks in the shop. He forgot to pull the trap over it, now i have large salt bricks. Sh!t happens every year no matter how prepared you are. I have spare pumps c-valves coils lights module's and hose and batteries alt's and even a blade. But nothing every breaks that i have a spare. Good luck and don't get too discouraged.
  16. mtnzone

    mtnzone Member
    Messages: 82

    ok you got the first storm blues add in that your a newbie to it and it is compounded.. Dont worry about it it should get better..

    Two things to think about.
    1. One guy gave you a great suggestion... using the snow to ramp up your plow to fx the chain to drive it home.. great advice but I have a feeling since yur a new bie you have not built you first snowbanking to ramp up. most newbies dont.. the drive in and dont lift their blade at the end making their banking angled... they just leave it with a flat face.. take a look at your snowbanks if they are flat faced then you will more than likey have issues. epcially if you have old plw and truck.....first off yu have hurt yourself with the ability to stck snow, and if those bankings harden imagine the shock your truck and plow are going to take plowing into them. solution as soon as possible go ack and ramp them up.. it will save oyu hassle later.. trust me.....

    2. older truck older plow... always bring a jack an extra lines just for those issues...

    good luck.,...

    oh and one more thing... get a coffee cup holder...lol
  17. fireball

    fireball PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 545

    self inflicated situations that could have been avoided LOL. There is a reason why we are not sitting on the beach in San Diago, we love the challenge.
  18. FinerCuts

    FinerCuts Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 85

    Everyone has there bad days. The problem with plowing compared to lawncare is you have a actual set schedule for the week. Plowing is balls out and everything has to (normally) be done right away.
  19. snowtech

    snowtech Member
    Messages: 66

    your not the only one, i have had nights like that. now its to the point where every night i expect at least one plow, truck, skidder or tractor to go down and if nothing breaks i consider it a bonus. hang in there
  20. tjslider

    tjslider Member
    Messages: 42