New pickup plows make pushing snow for a living an easy cruise
By John Tiger
Though it’s warm outside now, winter 2013-14 is just around the corner. If you’re reading this, you’re already in the right frame of mind.
Making the most of plowing time, minimizing down time and having the right equipment to make jobs go quicker with fewer issues is the name of the contractor’s survival game.
Although last winter was slow for snow, many of the manufacturers we contacted for an update on what’s new didn’t have much to show us.
But we found the true players are always looking for a competitive edge, developing and building something new, or at least perfecting what they have and adding features and benefits.
Here’s the latest scoop on pickup snow plows that can make the coming season very profitable:
V = VERY EFFICIENT
The V-plow continues to be the hottest setup due to its versatility and efficiency, with most of the major manufacturers either introducing a new model or making improvements to recently-introduced ones.
The hot trends that continue into this season include more compact, lighter-weight models for new model pickups.
Some of the new plows also have Improved features such as flared blade wings that throw and deflect snow further and enclosed hydraulics that help keep snow and ice away from hoses and fittings.
They also have improved and better-reacting trip edges and moldboards that don’t fully transmit the potentially damaging jolts to the pickup frame when hitting under-snow hazards such as curbs and manhole covers.
V-plows are becoming so popular that many of the manufacturers are now fielding models for smaller half-ton pickups, making these versatile plows available and viable options even for operators who use lighter-duty trucks, such as for residential or light commercial snow clearing.
IN THE WINGS
Plows with adjustable wings are also rising to the top when plowing efficiency and speed are paramount concerns. Fully adjustable wind plows can be used in just about any degree of any configuration, making the plowing results infinitely customizable for each operator’s situation and plowing preference.
In short, these plows make for quicker work of just about any job because they can be configured on the fly, from the cab, to match the boundaries and parameters of any lot or driveway layout.
Operators can adjust width in straight-blade mode, then adjust to use as a scoop or containment plow.
Extending the wings can cut plowing time dramatically by effectively moving a lot more snow with each pass.
And though the added weight of these plows may cause concern for some pickup frames, it also aids in reducing plowing time because the weight causes the plow to scrape the pavement cleaner than a lighter-weight unit would.
A straight or V-plow with a trip bottom-edge provides more than versatility and easier plowing performance.
Plows with trip mechanisms also provide a great measure of protection for the truck frame and body because it won’t allow the shock of hitting an immovable object (curb, divider, rock, etc.) to the truck frame and body.
Some are available in stainless steel, which extends life and provides an extra measure of durability and good looks.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Pickup-bed and trailer-hitch-mounted sand/salt spreaders continue to be very popular ways to aid traction on residential driveways and smaller parking lots.
These units are economical and relatively easy to mount and use.
The trick to these units is maintenance; keeping them clean and operational takes some effort between storms and before the spring put-away season comes.
Most plow and plow parts suppliers and dealers have access to very competitive and well-designed/built spreaders that really add ice and snow control versatility and effectiveness to a pickup with a plow.
On many steep driveways, you’d better have a sander/spreader or you’re not going to get the plowing business; it’s guaranteed that the guy with the sander will get the job.
A plow is a big investment – with an installed cost well into the thousands, it’s probably the biggest investment you’ll make short of the truck itself.
So it pays to look carefully at the different brands and models available for your truck or fleet and note particular features that will make your investment last. A few key questions to ask when you start shopping for that next plow:
What is the blade and trip edge/moldboard made of?
Clearly, corrosion is a concern for anyone looking to keep the same plow for many seasons. Stainless steel is the best choice as it resists corrosion longer, but it’s expensive.
Carbon steel has been used in plow construction for decades and remains the most economical choice; what matters is how it’s coated to keep rust at bay.
Most manufacturers use a powder-coat finish, while some use EDP (electro-deposition coating, which is an electrically charged dip-coating process) with powder-coat on top.
How it’s prepared before painting is also important; if it’s shot-blasted before paint, this helps seal the surface and enables the steel to accept paint better, so it stays on longer. It’s worth checking.
What’s the mounting system? Today’s plows all use a variation of a quick-mount hitching system, and in today’s world it’s a necessity.
No one has the time or energy to spend more than a few minutes mounting and disengaging a plow; time spent doing this is time not making money.
How does the plow lift? Chain lift plows are considered old school because they’ve been around forever, but they lift higher than those lifted by hydraulic arms, allowing you to stack more snow due to the extended available height.
Are the hydraulics, hoses, and cylinders protected? Hydraulic lines, fittings, manifolds, and cylinders are the most often damaged parts of a plow.
Employing a cover keeps these parts semi-protected (no plastic cover will keep the ice and snow chunks completely away, but it’s a good first line of defense).
If you have those questions and concerns answered, then the hardest part of purchasing the next plows for your fleet and corporate operation is over. The buying is easy.
If you are a commercial plow operator, you know the dealer is as important – perhaps more so – than the plow itself. Even if the dealer is a little higher on price than a competitor, if the dealer is willing to go the extra mile to keep your trucks and plows running, it’s worth the little extra.
Benefits such as 24-hour service in the busy season, a healthy stock of repair and replacement parts, knowledgeable “get-it-done” mechanics and a willingness to stand behind their products are just a few of the stand-out qualities good dealers have.
An owner-operator from upstate New York summed it up best: “If you’re commercially plowing, when you need parts you don’t want to wait three days … find a reliable dealer that opens 24 hours during storms and has a large stock of parts inventory. That’s more important to me than the brand of the plow or the price; they’re all going to have problems at some point, don’t believe anyone if they tell you different.”
Whether newbie or seasoned pro, one can find a wealth of snow plow and pickup tech information on the internet. Sites such as plowsite.com are great resources, as long as the advice is taken with a grain of salt. That is, it can be tough to weed out the free advice from trolls (so-called “plow experts” that offer free advice, when they really have no practical experience at all) from the actual advice given by experts who plow snow for a living.
Use the internet. But weigh what you read with advice cultivated from friends in the business, be they experienced plow operators, kind-hearted dealers or both.
Then you can at least compare what you read on the ‘net to what they say and make better educated decisions from there.
WESTERN MVP 3
Western’s MVP 3 V-plow’s most noticeable change is the flared blade design, with a 31-inch center height up to 39 inches at the outer edge on the 9-foot-6-inch models. Blades are available in 7-foot-6-inch, 8-foot-6-inch and 9-foot-6-inch widths in either powder-coated steel or poly material. The enhanced center-hinge features three connection points for added strength, plus a larger 1-1/4-nch diameter heat-treated center pin for more durability. Double-acting cylinders hold the wings firmly in place for clean back-dragging or both wings lock together to plow as a straight blade.
www.westernplows.com, (414) 354-2310
SnowDogg MD Series plows are as tough as the SnowDogg commercial plows but with half the weight, perfect for most half-ton pickups and SUVs not equipped with OEM plow-prep packages. They use the standard HT300 power unit. The plow design incorporates the same aggressive curvature, 70-degree attack angle and easy-to-use operation as the SnowDogg HD/EX series of plows for large trucks. Available in 80- to 96-inch widths.
www.buyersproducts.com; ( 440) 974-8888
The stainless steel-blade Fisher XV2 features a flared blade design. It’s available in 7-foot-6-inch, 8-foot-6-inch and 9-foot-6-inch widths with the two widest blades also available in 14-gauge steel with STORM GUARD powder-coat finish. Hydraulics deliver maximum plowing efficiency and the trip-edge design provides protection in all blade configurations. The XV2 snowplow also incorporates the Minute Mount 2 mounting system.
www.fisherplows.com, (877) 299-2736
BOSS POWER-V XT
New for 4-by-4-1/2- to 1-ton trucks and SUVs, the 7-foot-6-inch Power-V XT Plow from Boss Snowplows features a high-performance cutting edge, built-in curb guards and snow catcher. Flared blade wings with an enhanced curl throw snow higher. Enclosed hydraulics protects against corrosion and hydraulic freeze-up; full-moldboard trip design prevents plow damage when an obstacle is encountered.
www.bossplow.com; (800) 286-4155
SNO-PRO SNOW ICE & EQUIPMENT
The Sno-Pro line of plows consists of four models. The Sno-Pro Home-Pro Series is an easy-to-use homeowner’s plow with a corrosion free poly moldboard. The Sno-Pro 3000 Series is Sno Pro’s original full trip model; it features a durable steel moldboard. The Poly Sno-Pro 3000 Series is a heavy-duty contractor plow with commercial grade corrosion free moldboard. Finally, the Sno-Pro 3000 Trip Edge is a heavy-duty bottom, trip-edge design. All Sno-Pro plows feature exclusive hydraulic jack leg and patented HITCH-N-RUN™ system.
www.snoproplows.com; (800) 343-7676
BOSS V DXT
The new Boss Power-V DXT features a dual-trip, multi-position design combining the latest in trip-edge and full moldboard-trip technologies. Its dual-trip design provides enhanced plow protection when striking hidden obstacles, and to minimize blade twisting, the 10-foot Boss DXT features heavy-duty push frames, cross-bracing and reinforced moldboards. Boss SmartHitch 2 Attachment System comes standard.
www.bossplow.com; (800) 286-4155
Blizzard’s new Speedwing plow “thinks for itself” with wings that automatically angle forward or back (based on blade position)to maximize plowing efficiency. When angled for windrowing, the trailing wing folds back in line with the moldboard while leading wing retains its forward position to capture more snow, reduce spill-off, and allow use of the entire blade.
www.blizzardplows.com; (414) 354-2310
The new VF series flare-wing trip-edge V-plows from Hiniker feature deep-curl flared wings, providing the capacity to push snow farther and higher. Double-acting hydraulic cylinders provide positive hydraulic control. Quad halogen headlights have up to twice the power of typical sealed beam lamps. Also available in a conventional level-top configuration, the new VF series is available in 8.5- and 9.5-foot widths. Ribs incorporated into the steel superstructure of the plow combine with a 2-inch steel torque tube for strength. The moldboard is low-friction, high-density polyethylene that is corrosion-free, dent-resistant and never needs refinishing.
www.hiniker.com; (507) 625-6621
The Western Prodigy thinks for itself — delivering multi-position winged plow performance in a unit that’s as easy to operate as a straight blade. When positioned for straight-ahead plowing, both wings automatically angle forward, defaulting to a “scoop” position that clears an 8-foot-7-inch swath. As the blade angles left or right for windrowing, heavy-duty coil compression springs and cable assembly pull the trailing wing back until it aligns with the moldboard while the leading wing remains angled forward to capture more snow and clear a 7-foot-10-inch swath. Available for both pickups and skid-steers.
www.westernplows.com; (414) 354-2310