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Tractor or Skid Steer

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by K&N Snow, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. K&N Snow

    K&N Snow Member
    Messages: 45

    I am thinking of purchasing a Skid Steer but I see some of you running tractors, and I wanted to know what are the benefits of the tractors with a front mount pusher. I am thinking of a mid sized tractor. What horsepower should I consider? Is there a brand I should look at for the best deal I expect to send mid 30’s set up; any other suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thank you
  2. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    I run tractors because that's what I use in the summer for my regular business.
    But, if I had the choice, I'd run a skid steer for snow removal

    same money to buy, MUCH faster to plow with, smaller and more manueverable and a lot more lifting capacity.

    A typical compact tractor (30-40hp, 5 to 6' wide) weighs about 3000lbs unloaded (add another 1200lbs to load the tires you'll need to) and has a lifting capacity of about 1500lbs.

    A typical mid-sized SS (L175 or so) costs about the same is about the same width, weighs about 6000lbs and will lift about 2000lbs (sometimes more).

    To get into a bigger tractor (say 75/95hp) puts you into 7' wide, 20' long with the blade way out front, weighs about 7000-8000lbs and can still only lift about 2500/3000lbs. For only a little more money, you can get a real loader (Volvo L25 or so) that is 6' wide, 15' long, weighs about 9000lbs and will lift 4000 lbs and you have no worries about bending the arms.

    Remember, tractors/SS cost money to run. Every hour you put on the machine costs you $10 to $30 (more or less, including depreciation), so if you can do the same work in a less hours, you make more money.

    1. Skid Steer
    2. Real loader
    3. Farm Tractor/compact tractor

    And I run compact/farm tractors, so that should tell you something.
  3. dannyslawn

    dannyslawn Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    I use a Kubota L48 loader/backhoe tractor. In the winter the backhoe stays on for extra weight. I use an 8' bobcat power angle plow with sides that swing out to make it a pusher. This set up works real well in the snow. The main reason we have it is for the landscaping side of the business. I didn't want to buy 2 machines (skid steer and mini excavater). The L48 has a 11.5' hoe and it diggs really well. If I was going to buy 1 machine mainly for snow I would buy a Cat 906 loader.
  4. cantoo

    cantoo PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 66

    danny, I have a Kubota L35 tlb that I use for cleaning my own property. I am very disapointed in the amount of traction I am getting or should I say lack of traction. Has the bar tires on it and even with the hoe on its pathetic. My property is all gravel so I'm thinking of putting chains on it. I would like to take the hoe off so that means loading the tires. then of course getting it removed in the spring to make it trailerable. I have a 9'-6" homemade straight blade on it, I push alot of snow but take small bites when it's wet. Had the same blade on my Ford 1520 with turf tires and it would push more. The thing will move a mountain in the summer but winter and snow/ice it will barely haul its own azz.
  5. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    The skid is better then a compact tractor but the rest of what LoneCowboy said is strictly his opinion and not that of mine.:drinkup:

    SNOWLORD Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 610

    I would say skid steer over the tractor up to around the 80hp range then lean toward the tractor especially if going much larger. In my opinion a bobcat S300 2 speed with a 12ft angle blade and an agressive operator is pretty tough to beat for all around use they use little fuel hardly ever breakdown, but if your taking large amounts of snow across a Walmart lot larger tractor or wheel loader with box is the only way to go. But what do I know
  7. grsp

    grsp Member
    from indiana
    Messages: 89

    i can't disagree that there isn't many machines that will out plow a skid steer. however, i just switched from a bobcat s250 that had the second gear and a blizzard plow to a kubota m7040 with a 10' snow pusher. i did this for one simple reason. i was sick and tired of feeling that i just got the **** kicked out of me after a long night in the skid steer. the kubota grand cab is more comfortable than any truck out there. the visibility is outstanding. and the ground speed is 20mph. every account needs its specific equipment, this tractor pushes snow all night on a huge (10+hours) apartment complex. i pair the tractor with a basic straight blade truck to cut away from cars and garages. so for me, it all boils down to ease of operation. by the way, kubota m7040 with grand cab, FEL, filled rear tires, 9 foot back drag blade, and 10 foot avalanche snow pusher for $39,500 out the door. best of luck to you.
  8. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,275

    If you are comparing compact tractors to a skiddy, sure they are faster. Like GRSP says, tractors are far more comfortable and with the right set up, they are way more versitile than a skid. I do use skiddys, but run the tractor myself.
  9. grsp

    grsp Member
    from indiana
    Messages: 89

    blowerman, we also kept 2 skid steers that i have the younger guys run. but the kubota is my new toy. i put my time in the skid steer. i can laugh about it now, but i haven't been dizzy at all this year. i use to feel like i was still in the damn thing hours after i got out of it. good things do come with age!
  10. K&N Snow

    K&N Snow Member
    Messages: 45

    So... what size of tractor to keep up with skid? When I said mid sized tractor I was thinking 70 to 100 Hp with a 12 to 14 foot pusher with a plow type mount
  11. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    Are you running the 10 foot pusher on a plow type mount, or on the front of the FEL?

    Wow, those M-series are cheaper than I thought. I was looking at a L5740 similarly set up for over 40,000. Well around 36,900 with just the cab and loader, but with the pusher and back blade it would be over 40. Now, what is the difference between the syncro shuttle, and hydraulic shuttle? I'm not familiar with the operation of either of these, I'm just used to hydrostatic. Is that why the L series are more expensive? It seems that M7040 is a lot more tractor for the money..

    Something that I am seriously looking into is the idea of getting an inverted snow blower on the back of a larger tractor, and hitting a very local and condensed area with heavy advertising (direct mail, door hangers, etc) and setting it up with 50 or so resi's. I"m just wondering if the M series would be to big for landscaping projects in the summer.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2008
  12. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,931

    Everything he said is very true. My biggest consideration was overall operating costs per hour, "maintenance" .

    Yes a skid will turn faster than anything that "isnt" a skid steer. Yet i dont like a lot of them, and for anything OTHER than snow removal, i think skids are a pita. For landscaping work i looked at a CAT track, which was awesome, but tons of $$$. I liked their heavier 287/297/299C cab track skids, but cant afford one. Not only that, but its something ridiculous like $17 an hour to run. The under cartridge, tracks, oil and fluid changes, even if at only 500hrs will kill a small company like us. If im not the one using it, and someone abuses it, they can do more damage to that type of machine than a tractor.

    A 4x4 tractor probably has the least operating cost "wear and tear" than everything else out there. Besides purchase costs, it will be cheaper.

    Our new JD 4720 cab tractor weighs somewhere in the 5700lb range with the loader assembly on but no bucket, thats with the optional rear 220lb wheel weight.

    5700lb machine
    900lbs 8' push box
    1500lb cement rear ballast box
    175lb operator

    8275lbs for that machine, yeah its plenty heavy, but i know with pallet forks on it just barely can lift a 2700lb pallet of rock salt. And even with all the weight, its so far forward that it still teeters the back of the tractor.

    The PROs are that you have 100x better visibility than most skids, even glass cab models. You sit higher off the ground, less snow coming up, bigger cab than any skid steer, hydro trans rivals the very elite of skid steers/track skids or is better, easy to maneuver close to objects, larger tires, on rear at least=more traction for weight. Loader arms generally are much further from tractors than skids. Skids you have to be right up against a trailer to dump and tractors you can be further away still, maybe makes taller piles or so you dont have to drive UP the pile to make it big?

    I drove a tracked 297c cat skid, 10,600lbs, and it would rip an 84" bucket of nearly solid packed ground clay right up out of the ground and barely rock it, had to be close to 7k in break out force and almost 4k in weight, a machine like that could take a 10-12' push box any day in a big area. At 72k, you then have to start thinking about smaller wheel loaders like a 244j Deere @70k+ and a 304j Deere @83k+ None of which i can use for my other jobs for landscaping though.
  13. grsp

    grsp Member
    from indiana
    Messages: 89

    i am running the pusher on the FEL. i am only fimiliar with the hydo shuttle that i have. it is very easy to use. you do not need to push the clutch in at all to change directions. it took me a little time to get my timeing down, but now i simply put the tractor in reverse a few seconds before i hit a pile, and the tractor eases to a stop and starts going backwards. even at 20mph, slam it in reverse, glide to a stop and start going in reverse. very, very slick! we have 2 other smaller tractors (50hp) that we use for landscape work, but the m7040 wont get a summer vacation. it would handle a 18 foot batwing perfectly. and for large open commercial properties, throw the harley rake on, and enjoy the air conditioned cab.
  14. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    How is the steering on that machine with the loader in float and a full load in the pusher box? Did you get the compact model of pusher with the shorter moldboard?
  15. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    I have found that compact tractors (usually 50hp and under) are incredibly expensive to run. They simply don't hold up to commercial use and their maintenence requirements are high.

    My TC45 (compact, 45hp) is running about $30/hour to run

    My TN75 (utility tractor, 75hp) is running about $15/hour to run.

    I had a 33hp tractor and it's costs were in the $25/$30 range also.

    If you are going to go 4x4 tractor, you should at least get into a utility tractor. Much much stronger and much cheaper per hour to run.

  16. dannyslawn

    dannyslawn Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    Ramair, I also use my L48 for landscaping. It picks up 90% of the pallets we use. The best thing is having 1 machine with a bucket, forks, and a back hoe on site.
  17. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    I'm not trying to be a jerk, so don't get the wrong impression, just more of a question to help me interpret what you mean. But If a 50 hp tractor isn't being used for "commercial use", then what is it being used for?? I cannot imagine a homeowner buying a 50 hp tractor to mow his grass once every other week. Farm work, snow work, field work, if its being used to make money, its commercial use isn't it?
  18. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,823

    Also, one thing that I have noticed about skid steers is that when they go up to a pile to stack snow and the front tires go up the snow pile a little bit, they loader arms get moved away from the pile very fast not allowing snow to be stacked very well (or atleast from my observations thats how it looked). I imagine because of the short wheel base they have, and the loader it mounted from the very back of the machine instead of mid point on the machine.

    I thought there was someone on here with a mid sized Kubota, and a bobcat skid steer? Can't remember who though.
  19. grsp

    grsp Member
    from indiana
    Messages: 89

    we have a mid sized kubota m7040, and a bobcat s250. i think that both these machines are extremely efficient, and push a ton of snow. the kubota stacks better, but the bobcat gets into the tight areas better. the kubota is more comfortable to operate, but the bobcat is more idiot proof. i just took myself out of the bobcat strictly for wear and tear on my body. i prefer the kubota over a truck any day. the young guy i have run the bobcat loves it. puts the ipod in, and off he goes.
  20. Grass Master

    Grass Master Banned
    Messages: 157

    Comparing our Bobcat 853 to our Kubota M7040, unless you need the 3-point on a tractor a skidder would be better for snow work, imo.