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Tractor or pickup truck? Help!

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by SnowedUnder, Apr 2, 2008.

  1. SnowedUnder

    SnowedUnder Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 65

    Hi everyone, first time post.

    Okay, here is my problem. I own a retail mall and I have two buildings. The mall has three acres of parking lot and the buildings about 1 acre each. This year, I was terrorized by my renters because the guy I gave the contract too was "too busy". At one point, I rented a skid steer and started to do the job myself. To say that I was annoyed that I had to do that is an understatemnt.

    Next year, I do not intend to spend $16,000 for a service and then have to spend thousands more for rental equipmental, not including the bottles of Aspirin to deal with the complaints. I am really debating of buying equipment and doing it myself or one of my guys.

    So here is my 4 questions....

    *Do I buy a used pick-up with a plow or do I buy one of those reletivly inexpensive Chinese tractors? The reason I am considering a tractor is that I am losing a lot of parking spaces if I can't pile it high. Unless somone can convince me otherwise, the skid steer is out of the question. Too slow.

    *Secondly, how much power do I need on the tractor? Are 50 hp and 10 foot plows enough to push 4 inches across 300 feet? 80 horsepower? Rule of thumb about this? I talked to a guy who has a 105 hp tractor and is pushing 14 footer but that is a ridiculous size for my use, not to mention the $75,000 cost. As it stand, my budget is about $35,000 but I am not frightened if I spend more.

    *Has anybody used Chinese tractors? Are they any good or should I stick to used tractors with known name brands (Deere, Kubota etc)?

    *Are tractors just as fast doing the job as pickups? Considering they can push bigger plows?

    Some details....

    Last year 3 years about 15-20 plows. This year about 35 plows. About 45 saltings this year.

    BTW, I had fun when I was using the skid-steer (renter whining apart) and since I don't want to vegetate when I retire (early 50's), I might do my properties myself and a few more. I have a friend who spends over a hundred grand to do 22 acre lot and he would love to see me "get tortured" on his property. LOL!

    Any and all information would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
  2. natueboy

    natueboy Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    First off you should leave the plowing to the pros.... Im kidding. Dont buy one of those tractors spend the extra 15-20% and buy something nice. They have a very small warranty and are very very hard to get parts for. Next a truck is nice beacuse you can do lost of other projects with it. But I would personally buy a two speed skid loader with a blade on the front then add a set of wings on that. A tractor can plow good and thats about it. A truck can plow and back drag but runs out of power with bigger piles. A skid loader has back drags better then anything and has enough power to push a full blades worth. Plus on top of that you can use the skid loader for lots of other projects around the town. But beware everyone thats a friend or a friend of friend or a family member will think you should let them use it.
  3. just plow it

    just plow it Senior Member
    Messages: 131

    Get a truck and a V plow, I have 2 V plows and I can stack the snow about 10 to 12 feet high with it. A truck will be a lot faster than a tractor unless like you said you spend $75,000 for a decent sized one. The only question is do a lot of pullbacks in tight areas, like around cars, If so you mite want to look at a 2 speed skid steer, they will go about 15 mph and with a snow bucket or a 10 foot blade or so you would be surprised on how much snow you can move in a little time.
  4. ducatirider944

    ducatirider944 Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 469

    First, find a reliable contractor to take care of the lot. Pay a couple dollars more for a good one. Make someone else responsible for your lots, so you can pass the buck if someone gets hurt. When you figure that you will need the same insurance that a legitimate snow removal company has to have, workers comp for the guys you hire to clear and salt side walks, the $40K+ investment in a good truck set up or skidloader set up, that will only get used 4 months out of the year, you will lose money on the equation.
    Let's not even talk about fuel and maintance costs at this point.

    If you really want to lose money or make $30 per hour for your time because you like doing it, I would tell you to go with a skidloader and a 10' pusher box. My 90XT 2 speed with a 10' pusher will run circles around any truck and almost any back hoe with up to a 14' pusher box, plus it is still small enough to get in tighter areas.
  5. SnowedUnder

    SnowedUnder Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 65

    Skid steer? That's the last thing I thought people would recommend. The 50hp unit I rented stalled when pushing a 7 foot bucket 10 feet into a drift. The backhoe I borrowed from a friend of mine was much better, butthen again, it's twice as powerful as the skid steer. Neither one of them did as good a job as a 3/4 ton truck, but then again, the truck had to take quarter passes just to budge the snow drifts.

    As for "lending out equipment". Fat chance in hell.
  6. ducatirider944

    ducatirider944 Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 469

    That was the first problem, 75 hp min with a turbo, you won't believe how much more a turbo machine will do. Was a 50 hp even a diesel machine?
  7. SnowedUnder

    SnowedUnder Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 65

    I KNOW a skid steer is far tougher then any truck. I found out exactly how tough it was when I misclaculated and hit the sidewalk curb full speed. Talking about shock and awe! LOL!

    Pardon my ignorance, why would a skid steer be faster then a backhoe/tractor? Wouldn't the tractors have more traction? More power? Better visability? And pile the snow higher? I lost two rows of parking spots and that was 50% of my problem this year. Again, I have no experience with all the variation of snow removal equipment so that is why I am asking all these questions.
  8. SnowedUnder

    SnowedUnder Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 65

    It was a diesel and it was only a month old. Perhaps you are right, it may have been an issue of size/power.
  9. salopez

    salopez Senior Member
    Messages: 876

    its also a technique thing.

    the reason a SS with a 10ft box is faster then a backhoe in a small lot especially is because it can turn on itselft and push back the other direction. plus you don't have to stop shift gears.

    if i had a small lot or 3. I would also go with a SS. if you really don't want to loose spaces think about getting a blower for the SS for clean up!
  10. DeVries

    DeVries PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,685

    Here's my two cents worth.
    I use trucks, skidsteers, and have a sub useing a tractor. The truck is not meant to clear a mall if you get a good dumping of snow. The tractor can push a lot of snow but is costly and depending on the layout of the mall can be clumsy, and it probably can't do the walks infront of the stores.
    I have a 65hp skid steer that has a two speed transmission and a ten foot blade. It stacks snow well, pushes good and cost is less than the tractor and less than most new pickups.
    I do agree with some though, get rid of your contractor and get someone that is reliable. That way you don't have to get up early to push snow, don't need insurance costs, fuel costs, salt storage and spreader costs, and you can go on vacation, or away at least in the winter and not be tied down.
  11. SQuad

    SQuad Member
    Messages: 58

    Get another contractor.

    Equipement is like square footage on your building. It's the revenue your going to get for your investment. If we get snow like last year and thier predicting another bad year next year, plowing yourself could get pretty expensive. Hiring another reputable contractor ( look around the neighborhood at other malls, ask the owners who does thiers) will save you alot of headaches. If your equipement breaks down the repair shop is not going to put you as a priority, tenants are mad. Storage of your single piece of equipement ,vandalism maintenance ,insurance, skyrocketing fuel prices. Do you really want all that for an investment that works for you 4 months a year. Having a contractor do the parking lot leaves you the option of doing your own sidewalks, nice small machine does the grass in the summer. If the equipement breaks down a shovel will do. Push the snow into your lane so your contractor will push it away. It's allways fun to do something out of the ordinary but become's a job after the second big storm or you (or someone else) runs into each other. Ontario, I assume Toronto get's thier fare share of snow, Barrie get's pounded at time's. Have fun up in the Muskoka's instead. I've heard of poor snow removal service in Barrie we hired a contractor to do my Sister's house so she could go for her cancer treatments and he would come late or not show up at all. Could kill the guy ya know!:nono:
  12. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    Where abouts in Ontario are you? Anybody that thinks a tractor is clumbsy hasn't seen our guys plow snow. In 1 acre lots a tractor will run circles around a skid. If you have alot of sidewalks to do the skid is more suited for that purpose but for plowing the tractors win hands down, even in small lots. We run 2 skids and 12 tractors so I can comment on this subject. Chinese tractors are junk IMO. If you buy a tractor look at Kubota, Case, JD or Newholland. You can also lease tractors for the winter in Ontario for a reasonable price. I still agree finding a good contractor will be your best bet though JMO
  13. plowman4life

    plowman4life Senior Member
    Messages: 557

    i would recomend finding a reliable contractor. there are probobly 100+ contractors on this site from your area that would give you a quote for doing it next year and would get it done right and on time.

    and about you friend that has that 22acre lot. we plow a couple lots around that size and for 6 inches it would take you days to do with a skid steer. lol
  14. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,215

    #1 How close are your 3 lots from each other?
    #2 The contractor you hired, what kind of equipment did he have? What was his reason for not servicing you on time? Was this the first year you hired him? Was he the lowest price?
    #3 What did your $16 grand include? Was salting included? Sidewalks? Is that taxes in?

    If your lots are not close together forget the SS. Even if they are, I would go with a tractor, blade and blower. Much faster, and you can stack your snow really high with a blower. It will cost you around $100 grand, new.

    Find yourself a good contractor, get references, and see what kind of equipment he uses.
    Hire a pro, and be stress free.
  15. ABES

    ABES PlowSite.com Addict
    from MN
    Messages: 1,322

    For really big lots tractor hands down. We have a JD with a 14' pusher and man it will move some serious snow and ask for more. It can easily push snow piles that are taller than the hood on the tractor I cant say enough good things about it. Now the skid steer that I run a lot of the time (S250) has a hard time pushing a 10' pusher it will either run out of power or spin the tires usually both when you get a decent pile going. But it is still much much faster than a pickup with a V blade.
  16. BlackIrish

    BlackIrish Senior Member
    Messages: 902

    Hey SnowedUnder if you're Ottawa East I'd love to talk to you and your 22 acre buddy. :D As glorious as the biz seems you'll tire of it quickly esp. when you already have a million other things to do. What would your back up plan be if your one piece of equipment broke:help: during a 40cm dump? There are reliable dependable guys out there who will treat you right , way easier than doing it yourself. My $0.02. If you have your heart set on it Paul V's option would be the ultimate. :yow!:
  17. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,215

    Hey Black I noticed your equipment list just got bigger. Congrats
  18. SnowedUnder

    SnowedUnder Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 65

    First off, thanks to everybody who took the time to reply.

    I was pretty upset with the service I got, worse still, I had no options when everybody and his mother is out plowing. It's no fun having people yell at you that you ar hurting their business because because someone else is not doing their job. What I think happened with this guy is that he got greedy. He wasn't very busy in the last three years so he took on far more then he can chew. When we got a couple of storms one behind the other, he was done....and so were my nerves. And of course, he tells me that I should expect a "massive" increase next year because he want to buy a new truck. Yeah, okay.....

    The reason I am considering doing it myself is that I don't want to repeat this at any cost. Spending the money for the equipment is not a problem. True, it does not make financial "sense" in terms of investment, but to me, that investment is minor compared to losing a major lease, or having that party bring up the lousy service next time I want his right arm renegotiating his lease. LOL! The "bigger picture" kind of thing. Plus, I don't really have to drive it myslef. I have a small company and a few of my guys can do it.


    A few weeks ago, I talked to a tractor/SS dealer and he tells me get a tractor. I talk to a SS supllier and he tell me SS, I talk to the guy who rented me the SS and he tells me to forget the SS and get a truck. The guy who was most forthcomming had two NewHolland articulated tractors with 14 footers and short and other then a large wheel loader, those things are perfect. BUT, not worth $75,000 with what I need to do. As for the SS, a salesman that I talked to was pretty convincing that a large SS (Bobcat S250 or equivilant) with a 8 foot/2yard snow bucket can clear 3 acres with 4"-6" in three/four hours and pack it 10 feet high. The guy with the NewHolland tractors said it would take him from 45 minutes for 2" to two hours for major storm for his equivilant three acres that he is currently doing. I guess 4"-6" would be about an hour or so for him. My guy takes three hours or more to do that much and he can NOT pack the snow more then 6 feet.

    I was leaning towards a tractor but now it seems that a large skid steer is a more suitable solution. Not better then a large articulated tractor, but good enough for what it has to do. And comes in dead on to my budget price for a new one. Plus, according to the SS saleman, the SS is much tougher then a farm tractor, a bit tougher then a backhoe but not as tough as a wheel loader. Just in case I want to keep ramming sidewalks as a past-time! LOL!

    Guys, is what I am repeating from the salesman all true from your experience with SS's?

    So...now, do I open a new thread asking which is the best skid steer for snow? Or has it already been discussed?

    Again, thank you for taking the time to respond.

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2008
  19. SnowedUnder

    SnowedUnder Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 65

    Thank you but I'm close to the GTA.
  20. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    Where, I can probably refer you to a good contractor or help you find a good machine.