February 25, 2000 

Volume 2, Issue #01

Chuck's Snowplowing Newsletter


This is a major concern, that must always be in the back of your mind. Minimize accidents, and minimize injuries. Protect yourself and others at all times. There are a few aspects of plowing that are dangerous that come to mind. Perhaps you've even thought about these issues yourself at times.

Snowblowers - These can be extremely dangerous. Mainly from projectiles thrown by the impeller. Going along a sidewalk with the chute aimed toward the residence that is 25' away, may not be too smart. While the blower may only be throwing the snow say 10 feet onto the lawn, if it were to throw a stone, it could easily break a window, or injure someone in or near the house. You never know what lurks under the snow (those of you that have jammed your blowers with a Sunday newspaper know what I mean!). If there is a bottle, the blower will easily pick it up, smash it to bits, and shoot it as far as it can. You don't want to spray your customers lawns with broken glass! Even gravel and debris that will be left after the snow melts. Try to keep your discharge chute aimed so the snow is piled about 2 ft from the edge of the walk. In the spring, you can easily rake the debris onto the walk and pick it up.

When refueling Snowblowers, never refuel a hot machine. Be sure to clean all the snow off the fuel cap area, water in the fuel is not a good thing. Never rig up an impeller to stay "on". This is foolish. If the discharge chute on your blower has an adjustable deflector on top, use it to keep the discharge of snow low. The better machines have an adjustment lever to control it from the operators position, others have wing nuts on the actual chute. The latter is a pain to keep adjusting.

Keeping the deflector low, helps limit the distance a projectile can travel.
Remember to remove gloves before touching anything on the motor while it is running.

Snowplowing - Slow down! This is the biggest safety issue. Many operators plow too fast. Use a sensible speed for the conditions present. When transporting your plow, keep it as low to the ground as possible, without a chance of it scraping. Keep it angled fully to one side or the other. If you carry it too high, and straight, it will create turbulence in front of the radiator, and the truck can run hot, or worse, overheat. When actively plowing snow, or applying deicer, use strobe lights or beacons to warn motorists, and pedestrians. Add back up alarms to your plow trucks, they even sell models with flashing strobes and audible alarms. If you are going to be a slow moving vehicle, mount a reflective D.O.T. triangle on your truck or loader.

I had a bad blind spot on my truck, on the passenger side, due to my sideboards. I cut out a section of sideboard, and covered it with expanded wire mesh. This helped a lot. Visibility is a large part of plowing, you must see all obstacles, and pedestrians, being ever aware, the entire time hoping people realize you have limited visibility, and are trying to do your job safely. Many seem to think they have "the right of way", so be careful. Remember, just because you have your strobe on, and flashers, you don't have the right of way either (except official road plows). My high school Driver's Ed teacher said it best, and I've never forgotten it. She said "You never have the right of way, only the right to give it (to someone else)". That basically means always yield to other cars and pedestrians. They don't know your plowing patterns, and you don't know what they are thinking.


Well, I decided that this article I found, is much more informative than anything I could write on this subject. I suggest you all read it in it's entirety. You may want to print it out like I did.

Car Battery FAQ
EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know about 12 volt batteries!

Servicing Equipment After Storms, Well Sort Of...
Well, I am starting on this topic a little off topic. Due to two recent storms we've had, I'd like to address a few issues. I guess this should be called "Servicing Equipment During & After Storms".

The last two snowfalls we had were light, as far as how many inches total we got. They were very hard on our equipment though. We also had other piles from previous storms, with this being the third "row" of snow we were putting on the lots edges.

The first of the last two storms gave us 5" of snow, compacted down to about 3" after we got freezing rain, and rain at the end of it. It had a nice crusty layer on top. This was wet heavy stuff, and 4 WD low was needed. It was hard on the trucks scraping up the crusty mess. Lots of resistance, especially where the snow was driven on. This was evidenced by my brother breaking a trip spring while plowing one of our lots. He didn't realize it, I had to stop him and point it out. I guess he didn't notice the plow leaning forward as much as it was. I noticed it, and looked closer.

Anyway, I had a spare spring with me, and the wrenches to replace it. I also needed a wire brush, and propane torch to complete the job. I had to burn the yellow paint off the eye bolt threads, to remove the nuts. Within 15 minutes, he was plowing again.
Imagine if I didn't have that extra spring? Imagine if I had it, and couldn't get the nut off the eye bolt, due to the paint in the threads, or rust? Add to it the fact that it was drizzling steadily, and you have the makings of a real crappy delay. I'm working on it, so my truck isn't getting anything done. This is because my brother isn't allowed to drive my truck, let alone plow with it!

To make changing my trip springs easier, I put plastic caps on the threads of the eyebolts, using clear silicone to hold them on, and protect the threads from rust. It helps a lot. I have no problem changing my trip springs. So now that we are past swapping the spring, let's move on.

Due to the fact that the snow was wet and heavy, as I said, 4wd low was used (at least by me, my brother is another story). My shift pattern has a long "throw" from 4wd high, to 4wd low. In fact, they are at the total opposite ends on the shift pattern. Yours might be the same if your truck has an NP 205 t case in it. Anyway, since most of us drive in, and plow in 4wd high, low can be difficult to shift into. In my case, the shift rods move so that parts of them that are normally exposed, go inside the t case. If there is rust and crud on them, it makes shifting hard. To go from one end of my shift pattern to the other, also moves other parts of the linkage where crud or rust may affect engaging 4wd low. What this boils down to, is that we must shift our trucks into 4wd low more often. Since we all engage 4wd, lock our hubs, and drive for a few miles each month anyway, next time do a mile or two in 4wd low. It will make shifting into low easier when you really need it.

Next is the fact that we had 3 snowfalls prior to this first wet, heavy, 5" storm. We had pushed the piles well onto the grass, and into the woods, etc., where we could, like always. In several places, the snowbanks had to be "shaved down". The resistance of the frozen piles, and the new snow, puts tremendous strain on your plow. Add to it the fact that at the end of a push, the plows wouldn't, and will not stack. The snow gets "pinched" between the plow and the pile, and squirts out. Hopefully on top of the pile where you want it. The stacking action of the plow is no help in this situation. The truck really gets jarred when hitting the old frozen piles too. This also put a big strain on the whole plow, and mounting bracketry. When stacking and piling normally, the snow resistance becomes stronger than the forward momentum of the truck, and you stop. Hitting old frozen piles is like hitting a brick wall.

The second snowfall, which was the last we got to date, was a 3" storm, with a crust of ice on top. This was murder to plow in the commercial lots, due to the fact that it was a daytime storm, starting at 9 am, and ending at 4 PM. It was driven on all day long. While plowing the same lots as last time, my brother broke another trip spring. Luckily, he bought one to replace my spare, and a spare of his own. This time, he swapped on the new spring himself. Now when plowing, we were hitting the solid walls of snow once again, and pinching slush. Hitting the old frozen piles was too much for his plow pump motor, and it fell off!! This happened once before a few years ago. It seems the maker should have used longer screws to hold on the pump motor. I'm sure my brother was slamming the piles with each push. He took it to my friends shop, to try and drill 2 new holes, and tap them to remount the motor. When drilling the first hole, my buddy "struck oil". Not good. They put a sheet metal screw in the hole. No leaks... My brother went to a hardware store, and got a length of threaded rod. He replaced the screws with studs. He screwed the studs into the original tapped holes, until they bottomed out. This was about 3/8" more than the screws went in. He slid the motor onto the studs, and put stop nuts on. It seems to be holding up. He did have a ground problem though. It seems the steel motor touching the aluminum pump housing isn't a good contact. Remember after plowing one of these crusty storms, to check the adjustment of your trip springs!

Another factor when hitting old piles is dependent on what type of plow you have. By that I mean top trip, or bottom trip. Top trip plows pivot forward when tripping. Trip springs pull back the moldboard after a trip. What stops the moldboard from slamming back too far after tripping? Stops. Depending on the plow, they vary. They are designed to endure the stress transferred to them when plowing, and when stopping the moldboard after a trip. What this means is, they are not designed to hold up under added force. Hitting old piles, is "added force", in a sense. The top edge of the moldboard hitting the piles is what can add the most force. The added force, and leverage, can push the moldboard beyond the stops. The more the top of the moldboard hits a solid pile, the more of a beating the stops take. (Yes, my brother needed to have his replaced once.) Another part of this mechanism, is the pivot pin, and sleeve. The sleeve is basically a piece of steel pipe. Mine is beginning to mushroom on the ends, and starting to crack. I know for next year, I'll have to weld on new ones. Not bad, exactly 20 years old! My brother needed new ones after 2 years. Different brands of plows pivot differently, and have different mechanisms. These features I just described are on Meyer ST - 90 plows.

Bottom trip plows are built rigid, since only the bottom edge trips. How well they handle hitting piles depends on how strong the moldboards are structurally. All of the areas of the mounting frame, and bracketry take a beating, just as with top trip plows.

After plowing, when enough of the snow has melted, and you can crawl around your plow, and see all of it, take a close look. After you look it over, look it over again, more carefully. Look for cracks beginning to develop, half sheared bolts, leaky couplers, angle cylinders or connections, misadjusted trip springs, and anything else you can spot.
Look over your A frame carefully, checking for cracks in the welds. You want to take a close look at all the welds you can. Often, a cracked weld is hard to spot. Miss it, and more welds can crack, wreaking havoc on your plow. Checking bolts for proper torque is not something that has to be done often. Typically, if a plow is new, or the mounting frame is new, you'd want to check the torque of all the mounting bolts after the first 4 or 5 times you plow. On older trucks like mine, those bolts are rusted in place but good!

Link, Links, Links

This Issue is no different from past issues. I've got quite a few links for you. These should keep you busy for a while.

Tips for those seeking a Plowing Contractor. See what the customers are being told to look for, and what to look out for!

Winter Weather Definitions
From the National Weather Service

Winter Weather Terminology
From the National Weather Service

Advanced SNOWPLOW at UC Davis

Advanced Maintenance and Construction Technology Center at UC Davis

SnowMaster is a copyrighted program for efficiently routing salt trucks and sno

Modified Snowplows

Topics in the OLD Snowplowing Discussion Forum
This is my OLD Snowplowing Discussion Forum. Read only please, no posting.
Feel free to read and post at the NEW Forum, www.lawnsite.com/.

Fil's Auto Corner: Oil Facts v1.2
Everything you ever wanted to know about motor oils, all on one page. VERY informative, a MUST read.

Car Battery FAQ
EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know about 12 volt batteries!

Bolt head ID. markings
What do those little lines on the heads of bolts mean?

Next Issue
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More great Links

2000 Charles D. Smith
All Rights Reserved
May not be reproduced in whole or in part in any format,
without the author's express written permission to do so.

New To Snowplowing?
Then you NEED to seriously consider purchasing a copy of:
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