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First Time Plowing Tips

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#1 bja105 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 21, 2012 - 09:54 AM

It is snowing, and my little Ford is up and running. Any tips for a first time tractor plower? My driveway is steep, gravel , and irregular shaped.
Do I keep the blade angled slightly and let it build up on the unplowed side, or take smaller bites with the blade straight?
Push up hill, down hill, or short trips across the hill?

#2 BairleaFarm OFFLINE  



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Posted December 21, 2012 - 11:07 AM

Its whatever works best for you. I plow uphill since rain washes alot of the rock down the hill. I usually angle the blade. Start on one side of the driveway so the snow rolls off the blade onto the unplowed part. Back down the driveway and do another lap until its clean. If your driveway is long split it in the middle and work your way out. One pass one way and another pass the otherway.

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#3 JDBrian OFFLINE  


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Posted December 21, 2012 - 12:10 PM

If you can plow down hill you can push more snow that way. When I had a small LT with a plow on it I used to plow across the driveway when the snow was deep so I wouldn't get stuck. The first pass can be a heart breaker especially if it's up hill. Once you get a path cleared then you can take smaller bites. I find chains are a necessity and make a huge difference. When the snow is heavy and you have the blade angled the weight of the snow will sometimes push the front of the tractor sideways. If you have a dif lock it will help with this.
It will take you a while to get the hang of it. Snow and traction will vary considerably from storm to storm. Have fun with it! Take some pictures if you can. Most of us are waiting to try out our plow rigs and would enjoy some pictures.

#4 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted December 21, 2012 - 12:15 PM

If you send a couple of pictures we may be able to see any possible problems with your setup. Chains and rear wheel weights are only a starting point. I've had to add weight on the rear hitch and sitting on the front hood(a helpful neighbor),depending on the snow. As BairleaFarm said its whatever works for you. I normally start with a pass down the center with the plow angled to the right because the drive curves to the left. Each pass works out farther. If the windrow gets too big I run a pass on the shoulders to make room for the snow. I recommend wearing insulated coveralls and goggles. It is actually fun when you've got everything working right. Good Luck.

#5 glgrumpy OFFLINE  


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Posted December 21, 2012 - 02:25 PM

Gravely Hill, Yep, just like mine! First pass down the middle with angle. Can't usually push UP, unless it is lighter snow. Go from middle to right with one angle and left with other angle. First few times go back aways from drive, sometimes snow can build up and next time you won't be able to move that bank. Drive gets smaller and smaller. Then, occasionally have to just set blade up a notch or two and just RAM the banks to push them back and make a tight angled run along them again to clean-up. Don't push too tight down into gravel. If you have feet, set blade up a little. YOU WILL be raking the gravel from grass in spring, and That is the worst part of the plowing, ha! Even chains will just let you dig holes going UP the hill and making dips. If you end up having to push off to side cause of big pile and can't make it, you May bury the whole rig in bank. Then have to get the OTHER tractor out to pull it out, or even the Truck. BTDT!

#6 John@Reliable OFFLINE  


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Posted December 21, 2012 - 02:42 PM

Remember , plow with the storm!
What this means, don't let it build up until it's 6 inches deep and except good results, not only will it take forever but a lot of wear and tear on tractor & belts. With gravel I would consider to wait until a couple of inches has fallen, then run over the area to plow with out plowing, this little bit of build up we help leave a lot of your drive in place, vs: getting pushed to the side. Trying to plow gravel w/o this little build up is almost impossible, as the plow will "dig" in, even if you think you can just rise the plow a little to avoid it, you can't.
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#7 David Brown OFFLINE  

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Posted December 21, 2012 - 02:56 PM

I agree with what's been said so far. I can only add that you will inevitably try different ways until you find the one that is most efficient for you. Some basics apply no matter where you plow. Basics such as plan ahead as to where you want to put the snow. Start further away and work to that point. Don't be afraid to push it back beyond where it just get's off the driveway. It may not melt before the next storm and you don't want to box yourself in. As stated, weights and chains are a must for plowing, especially on western PA hills. Been there, done that. If you have a long run that is straight or almost straight, you will make better time if you angle the blade and go. If your tractor steers well in the snow (most have some issues with this) you may be able to angle and go around bends and such. You really just need to experiment to find what works best for your drive. I've been living here for 23 years now and I'm still trying different things to see if I can find something that works just a little bit better. You'll find you can plow more down hill. Your tractor will let you know rather quickly if you'll be able to plow up hill. Also as stated, keep ahead of the storm. A few years ago the weather report was calling for 6". We had about 4 on the ground when I made the decision to wait until morning to plow. Well we got 30" and by morning it took me a while just to get to the tractor. I was on my hi lift for 8 hours straight clearing snow. I won't do that again.

Edited by David Brown, December 21, 2012 - 02:58 PM.




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Posted December 21, 2012 - 03:10 PM

One tip I learned the first time I cleared snow with the bosses F250. When pushing up into a pile don't hit going too fast. When half the pile falls behind the blade and the wheels ride up into the bank, you'll need a shovel to get out.
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#9 shorty ONLINE  



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Posted December 21, 2012 - 03:19 PM

I usually try to make one pass through the middle with the blade angled to where I make a pile. Then I can take smaller bites working to the outside. I fight the drifting so my piles have to be at certain spots which can make for interesting plowing. The other year we had a bigger storm and was helping a crew with plowing and wasn't home to keep after. I did a 40 hour shift and came home to a 8 foot drift at the end of my drive. Not fun.

#10 A.C.T. OFFLINE  


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Posted December 21, 2012 - 03:30 PM

I also have a gravel driveway. I like to drive on the snow first with a couple inches. I also back blade until I have a base. Once the base is there you no longer dig up rocks. Also plan ahead. I push the snow way back to allow for the whole season of snow. Dress warm, plowing is fun when you are prepared.
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#11 Farmlife OFFLINE  


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Posted December 21, 2012 - 07:28 PM

I see books of input written here so I'll keep it short. Any driveway I have plowed being with a truck, full size tractor, garden tractor, I have pretty much done the same. Plowing down hill is usally best, less resistance, less chance breaking something. Leaving the blade straight will also cause resistance because your puttin force against blade rather than pushing it off to the side. Plow 1 path down the middle with blade angled either way, then if its not too steep, come back up one side with plow angled in that direction, then down opp side plow angled that direction. keep pushing it back so-to-speak.

#12 xshooter OFFLINE  



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Posted December 21, 2012 - 09:37 PM

A lot of good tips have come up already so I'll just add a couple more.
Make a plan to put the bulk of the snow on the downwind side of your driveway if you can, helps reduce drifting.

Don't intentionaly pile snow where your drive meets the street. Cuts down on visabilty and when the city plow goes by it will tend to dump more snow on your drive.

Get the snow rolling off your blade it will push much easier if the snow rolls rather than getting pushed.
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#13 MH81 ONLINE  


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Posted December 21, 2012 - 09:43 PM

I had several suggestions, but they have all been covered but one.

Either Rain-x your blade or spray it with PAM. I've heard of guys waxing or even using bar soap & rubbing it on... anything to smooth the blade and reduce sticking.

The easier it slides off the blade, the easier it will be to put where you want it.
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Posted December 22, 2012 - 10:16 AM

Sounds like all of the authors have been there and done that, lots of good suggestions to follow. Sounds like the most important is to stay warm, have fun and be safe.





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Posted December 22, 2012 - 01:38 PM

One thing not yet said is to stay allert. Take breaks when needed or you can cause yourself more trouble than good.
The cold can sap your concentration quickly. The other night I got the tractor stuck by doing something so simple I knew better.
Yes I drove it out, but should not have had to.
Thats when I put the tractor away for the night. These things are or can be dangerous and you have to be on top of your game at alll times.
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