- Winter Vehicle Prep.

Old Man Winter



That Time of Year Again

Before you know it, winter will be here. There's nothing like working on your rig with cold, stiff hands. Now in the early fall is a good time to get ready. These are my opinions, "my way of doing things." Most is from trial and error, a little bit of theoretic, and ideas I've gotten from seeing on other rigs. I like to tailor things to better suit my needs. I'm a bit of a Boy Scout, as far as being prepared. Better to have, and not need, than to need and not have. Since I was 15 or so, I've been building things, maintaining and fixing things.  My hobby, and occasionally work (I pick and choose), is working on trucks. Body work, welding, etc. I enjoy it. I may seem partial to certain brands, again, my opinion. Also my experience. I think I've finally figured out what works well, in many situations.
I plow snow commercially in the winter. I've been plowing snow for about 15yrs. During the Blizzard of '96 here in the Northeast USA, we had 26 inches of snow. All of my accounts were done, without mishaps. The second to last pass, in my last parking lot, I heard a ::snap:: in the L front axle. I made 2 more passes, knowing the U-joint was shot. The next sound I heard was the axle shaft snapping. I was foolish. I should have stopped then, and would have just needed a $25.00 U-joint. Instead, it ended up costing me $129.00. I got a good deal, since my friend has a shop. even still, I got a used axle shaft, new U-joint, and was back in action the next day. Anyway...

~Here's what I do every year:
^L.O.F-Lube the front end checking parts for wear, change the motor oil and filter. I also lube all my U-joints on my axles, and check them for wear. I only use High Pressure waterproof wheel bearing grease (it's red, but comes in many colors I'm sure) If it's good for saltwater use, then it's what you want. I also use it to lube my front end, instead of chassis grease. There's more salt around here, than the Dead Sea! If I change my oil now, I'm usually OK on mileage till Feb. or so.
I take the lube part a step further. I lube my hood hinges and latch, my door hinges and latches too. I like to put a little squirt of White grease in my door locks, to repel moisture (I know dry graphite is for locks, but I can't see it repelling moisture). I also lube my tailgate hinges and latch. I check my tire pressure too. I run my 33-12.5's at 42psi. Yes, they're wide, but with a little ballast, my truck goes great. All the ballast I needed was added when I put wooden sideboards on my truck bed. I used to put 2 eighty pound bags of rock salt between the wheel wells. I still carry salt, but to spread, not for ballast, though it helps too.
^If my coolant looks rusty, or is dark, I drain and flush the cooling system, and add new coolant.
^I check all my belts and hoses. I adjust or replace in needed
^If I'll be due for a tune-up during the winter, I'll do it now instead.
^I check my exhaust and mufflers. If parts are shoddy, I replace them now, when I don't have to lay in the snow.
^I check my front and rear brakes, and gear oil in differentials.
^I lube the throttle linkage on my carb with motor oil
^I check to see that all marker lights are working, check 4 way flashers
^I Check all my U joints
^I give all the windows a good cleaning, before it's freezing outside
I wipe down my door seal gaskets with Armorall (I've had doors frozen shut before, it helps)
^I remove and clean my locking hubs, replacing them, using salt water proof bearing grease
^I use an 1100 c/a battery, rarely have problems with it, but now would be a good time to have it load tested (I just bought mine in April 98)
^This is about your last chance to clean the interior good too, before it's cold. Shampoo cloth seats, while they'll still dry in this lifetime. Vacuum it out too. I like to blow mine out with a Backpack 2 stroke gas powered leaf blower, works great !! If it's not screwed and glued, out it goes !!
^Now is a good time to put 2 ice scrapers in the cab, yes 2. Did you ever break one at a bad time?
^Next time I get gas after doing this, I add a container of dry gas, and fill ER up.
May as well start getting rid of the moisture now.
I'm sure I'm forgetting something........

Wondering what I carry in my rig? All sorts of stuff !!

Standard and metric socket sets, deep and shallow
Set of combination wrenches 5/16"- 1 1/4"
Slotted and Phillips screwdrivers
Pry bar
Two pairs of Vise Grips
Large and medium sized Channel-Loc pliers
Needle nose pliers
Wire strippers/crimpers
Diagonal cutting pliers
Wire brushes (small and large)
Small piece of med. sandpaper-for cleaning connections
Small files (1 flat, 1 round)
Sheetrock knife (cuts hoses quick)
Tin Snips (Wiss)
X Lug wrench
Gas can
Duct tape
Electrical tape
Hack saw
Makita cordless drill w/bits
Rivet gun w/assorted rivets (usually to fix shovels)
Small piece of tubing, that would allow bypassing the heater core if needed
Another piece of tubing with 2 clamps, to splice radiator hoses
A few lengths of wire, 16 ga.
A spool of 12ga. wire
Pair of jumper cables (I made my own 25' long, I can jump a vehicle in a garage, or pull up behind the stuck vehicle, like a tow truck)
Come-along (you never know)!
30 Ft. Nylon tow strap (stretch-n-snatch)
Road Flares
Blaze Orange mesh safety vests (I don't want to get killed when I get out to do whatever. Too many drive in snowstorms nowadays, they should stay home.)
Hydraulic bottle jack
Propane torch-great for frozen plow pins, door locks, and just melting ice off of whatever (carry bottle with nozzle removed)
Fuses, round and flat types
Tail light bulbs
Turn signal bulbs
Small folding Army shovel
Flashlight (I use a Mag-Lite)
A plastic jar full of nuts, bolts, and washers
Zip ties in different lengths
Starting fluid
2 Qts. Motor oil
2 Qts. Auto trans fluid (I use it for my PS too)
2 Qts. Meyer hydraulic fluid
2 bottles of fuel line Antifreeze (Dry Gas)
Never-Seize (messy stuff, but great)
Small bottle of brake fluid (sealed, I replenish at home if I need to. A sealed bottle won't absorb moisture from the air. Always use fresh Brake Fluid)
1 Gal. antifreeze mixture (50 / 50)
1 Gal. window washer fluid (really sucks having to throw snow on your windows )!
A pair of rubber insulated gloves (I LOVE these!)
Rain suit
Spare wool hat
Emergency Tire Chains (I made these, very simple to do, will get you unstuck, but not for driving on.)
I have steel wagon wheels. I really don't care if I chip them, since they're rusted already. I cut 4 pieces of welded link 5/16" chain. I wrap 2 on each wheel, feeding it through the wheel, and around the tire, connecting the ends of the chain with a bolt two washers, and a nut.

Another way that shouldn't harm your rims, is to use Nylon straps. You cut two pieces of chain, long enough to go across the tire tread, and half way up the sidewalk.
The catch is you need donor straps with looped ends. Securing the ends of the chain to the strap loops using "bend closed" chain links. A common style "buckle" is used to connect the strap ends. This type of chain is sold commercially.

Plowing stuff:

Spare set of mounting pins
Spare "A" coil (Meyer)
Spare "B" or "C" coil
Spare hose with 90 deg. swivel on end
Spare hydraulic couplers
Spare 12v solenoid (Ford starter type)
Spare sector King Bolt
Spare snowblower shear pins
2 Large cotter pins (that hold pivot pins in)
Assortment of bolts, nuts, and washers
Now is when I change the hydraulic fluid in my plows system. I like to put the plug back in, re fill it a bit. Then remove the plug, let it drain, and blow compressed air, in through the fill hole. At a LOW pressure. It's unreal how much black gook can come out of a "clean" system.

Got a pickup? You probably don't use the bed to haul much during storms. Leave the snow in it as ballast. In fact, trucks get loaded up in parking lots around here all the time. The weight makes good ballast, and your traction is greatly increased. When the snow is gone from the roads, shovel it out. Yes, it's more work, but I think it's worth it.
OK, I'm out of breath now........

Here is a prime example of why Site Diagrams are a must - What Lies Beneath The Snow


Additional Resources:

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Repairing Plow Welds Northern - Plow parts, tools, supplies, etc.
Changing Hydraulic Fluid  JC Whitney - Truck parts & accessories, etc.
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