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  #1  
Old 11-02-2011, 12:48 PM
chateaupierre chateaupierre is offline
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DIY Snow Plow

The recent forum discussions on snow tires and wiper blades remind us that winter is coming soon. This got me thinking of the dreaded task of snow shoveling, which also means some dollar decisions: our trusty snowthrower is on its last legs; Should I plunk down $800 to get a replacement? or I pray that the machine will survive another season.

The weather forecasters mused that La Nina will bring heavier dumping of snowfalls in the mid-west and Great Lakes regions this Winter. I guess the Northeast region got an early installment of that snow dump last week.

Further to the equipment problem is the setup of our driveway. We have 90 ft of driveway to clear from the backyard to the front road; 60 ft of it is between two houses; ie. effectively a narrow 7.5 ft lane-way with no space to throw the snow to the sides. Snow has to be blown forward, which accumulates in an ever growing pile. Picture rolling a ball of snow that gets bigger as you move forward...an exhausting exercise. I even had to start clearing with only 3 inches of snow before it gets unwieldy, which meant more frequent use and premature wear of the poor snowthrower.

So I sought other (smarter?) solutions on the web over past few months. Surprisingly, there are several clever snow plow ideas using the trailer hitch: some homemade, some factory jobs. The factory offerings range $1k to $2.5k with width of 7 ft. The DYI ideas better suited to my narrow lane-way and low budget.

I opted to build a plow from wood since I have no welding experience nor equipment. So far I have spent about $50 in materials on a 6 ft wide contraption that is just slightly wider than the Riot's tire tracks. Unfortunately front hitch is not available for the MK platform. Thus I have chosen a plow design attached to the trailer hitch, that pushes snow when the vehicle moves in reverse.

While the DYI plow looks good on paper, will it work? We'll know in the December 'sea trial'. I'm concerned by a few factors: traction, torque and the wood strength. Furthermore, my Riot is a base-case-scenario: 2WD, and worn-down OEM steelie No-season tires. I'm holding off any tire upgrades until after the December tests. It will be interesting to test the capability of a base equipped Patriot, and to see if the reverse stick gear is indeed too tall.

My home-brew progress and pics are in the following post.
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:00 PM
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I've seen a few home made plows, good luck with yours.

I want to get a snowblower to put on the front of my Tracker. Just haven't found one yet. My driveway is long though, and there's just no where to plow the snow to, so hoping a snowblower will do it.
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:02 PM
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DIY Snow Plow, part 2

I tried to use readily available dimensioned lumber from buildings supply places. The wooden result looks a bit goofy like my kids' wooden train set. But Rube Goldberg may approve. Snow shoveling is not glamorous work.

Pic#1 shows the 15 lb 'mount assembly' pinned to the 2 inch hitch receiver; The top of the two vertical 'mast' elements is only 27" off the ground and allows for the hatch gate to open freely. It is braced with heavy metal shelf brackets (pic#2). I don't have a table saw to cut an exact 2" x 2" piece. Instead a long 0.5" wide slot was cut out from the 2x6 slab to clear the receiver opening lip. The wooden 'draw bar' fills the full 8.5" length of the receiver cavity to distribute the cantilever load.

The lighter color wood in the pictures is actually pale green PT (Pressure Treated) type; the regular framing lumber is stained brown. PT lumber is available only in certain popular dimensions around here; So some regular lumber had to be used. Eventually the whole project will be stained brown. For now the mix of wood colors highlights the various elements of the assemblies.

The 40 lb 'plow blade assembly' is shown in the pic#1 foreground, and it is looped onto the mount masts in pic#2. It is 6 ft wide and 19" high, made from 1"x5x6 ft PT fencing boards, screwed onto two vertical wooden runners. Two heavy steel barn-door D-shape pull handles are bolted to the top of the vertical runners which loop onto the mount 'masts' (pic#2). Thus the blade assembly can slide up and down, guided by the pull handles loops around the masts.

Incidently, my driveway's old concrete pavement is marred with cracks, and heaved-up sections. The plow design had to consider this imperfect surface; The blade assembly needs some freedom of vertical and skewed movements to ride over the uneven ground.

To reduce the risk of ground snags on the blade, the bottom edge is wrapped with a 1" thick spongy material to absorb the bumps and to ride over the cracks. I came across this spongy 2.5" dia x 4ft 'pool noodles' toy at a dollar store. I simply slit it lengthwise on one side and wrap it to the blade edge with steel straps (for heating ducts). Ideally a thick rubber edge would be better, but not available. The bottom edge section has a 30 deg pitch supported by wooden wedges. The upper section will pitch 10 deg opposite when is in plow mode.

An auto-lift arrangement was built for the blade traveling in an 'unplow' direction. This idea is from Youtube. The expensive factory plows lift with electric motors; others just let the entire blade drag backwards in the unplow direction. Our DYI auto-lift idea uses simple geometry & lever principles. MacGyver would nod.


Pic#2 also shows the blade lifted 1" off the ground in the unplow position. Note the small wooden skids/skis hinged at the base of the blade behind the sponge edge.

For clarification of travel directions, plowing is done when the Jeep reverses, pushing and tilting the blade bottom edge towards the vehicle. By contrast, when the Jeep goes forward (unplow mode), the blade bottom edge moves away from the vehicle; thus this opposite tilt angle causes the blade edge lift up, using the wooden skids as fulcrums (fulcra?), like a 2-wheel hand-dolly

To reduce snow plowing load to avoid wheel spinning, a 3" x 22" opening was cut at the center bottom edge of the blade, leaving a 22" wide center strip of snow unplowed. The crucial wheel tracks area are always plowed. After an initial plow pass, I can temporarily block off that center opening for a second pass of the plow.


If things work out well, I'll save me-self lots of sore muscles and time. It'll be much more comfortable sitting inside the Riot than wrestling a snowthrower with the wind blowing snow back at my face. I can stretch the life of the old snowthrower by using it for lighter duty area like walkways and sidewalks.

Yes, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas for the sea-trial, and wish for a rearview camera system.
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:05 PM
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:05 PM
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Yours looks good!
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:39 PM
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Couple things, I admire your thinking however

1 the pool noodle won't last long, some rubber belting would work better.
2 It's not heavy enough, it will end up riding on top of the snow.
3 Unless your drive is flat you're going to have traction problems.
4 Go slow and plow often the wood will break and the brackets will bend, I've broken 5/8 hitch pins on mine without realizing it.
5 If there is no place to the sides to blow the snow a plow likely won't work well as there is always a spillage to the sides with a straight blade plow.

Not trying to dissuade you but I'm trying to help you with real issues I've seen in my 10 years of plowing. In my opinion look for a used Honda or Toro blower either of those will be better than a new cheaper brand machine.
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Old 11-03-2011, 06:49 AM
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festerw, do you know of any snowblowers that I can put on either a Quad/4wheeler or a vehicle like the patriot or my Tracker? I have to have a blower as there is no where to plow my snow to. I don't need my drive completely clear, just to keep it below a foot, so I don't get high centered.

I have a walk behind blower for around the house, and think maybe I could have something fabricated for it to fit a quad or something. My drive is just way too long and steep for a walk behind.
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Old 11-03-2011, 08:48 AM
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Snowvac is the only company making then for trucks but only 3/4 ton up.

ATV would be more plausible but you'll run into the same cost issue as a lawn tractor blower where the blower is almost as expensive as the machine your putting it on.

An older farm tractor with a 3 point blower or a newer compact tractor with the same for a larger tight drive would be my choice.
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:29 AM
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just a wild idea.
i have a friend that designed a sort of sistem that is connected to the vehicle's chassis.
it is a toyota land cruiser.
he managed to connect it in place of the bull bar (taking off the bull bar,of course).
he attached a snowplow to it.
if seems to do the job.
front of the patriot is a bit different though....
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:32 AM
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Yes, a nice small tractor would be great, I just can;t afford one. I looked and was around $20K, maybe one day. So I'm trying to find a way to do it that I can afford. has to be less than $10K, and less than $6K would be better.

I have a decent riding mower, and have a plow for it, but that's not much good for what I need.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:15 PM
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Watch craigslist and the classifieds the deals are out there. Example there is an older Ford compact with a blower selling here for around 4k, a couple older Ford/Farmall/JD with plows for under 5k.

That will likely be my next step as the old Dakota is showing her age and a used tractor/plow combo is less than a new truck plow and comparative to a used truck plow. Only downside is they're slower and much colder without a cab lol.
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:30 AM
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festerw: Thanks for those observations, keep them coming. This is still work-in-progress; and it's much easier to make modifications now than later with frozen fingers. Your points are similar to some of my nagging concerns. I don't have concrete answers for them all yet. So I've set some very modest expectations for this project.

Quote:
1 the pool noodle won't last long, some rubber belting would work better.
Yup, the pool noodle sponge is far from ideal. Nevertheless, I have squirreled away extra pool noodles for spare replacements. I'm hoping that a thin film of residual ground snow covering will act as a lube for the spongy edge to slide along without excessive wear; I'm also counting on the thin residual snow to fill in the concrete cracks to reduce snagging risk.

Your suggestion of rubber belting got me thinking of rubber hand railing for escalators (with molded flanges). I'll check around.

Quote:
2 It's not heavy enough, it will end up riding on top of the snow.
I hope the 30 degree pitch on the bottom part will help; otherwise I have to weigh the blade down or just hope for fluffy dry snowfall. hmm, the décembre trials will answer lotsa questions.

Quote:
3 Unless your drive is flat you're going to have traction problems.
Fortunately, my driveway grade is flat. Even so, Traction is still my big worry with my base-equipped Riot: FD-zero (FWD) with aging OEM No-season tires.

Quote:
4 Go slow and plow often the wood will break and the brackets will bend, I've broken 5/8 hitch pins on mine without realizing it.
I'm thinking of adding some diagonal wooden braces behind the mount assembly; anchoring against the steel loops (3/8" thick loops on the receiver tube sides for securing a safety chain). That might distribute some of the load and reduce the shear stress away from the pin.

Quote:
5 If there is no place to the sides to blow the snow a plow likely won't work well as there is always a spillage to the sides with a straight blade plow.
Side spillage is always a problem. There is only about 10" of space on each side of the plow to a house. I'll just have to shovel/push the spillage towards the plow path before another pass. No much room for error either while driving backwards in the dark. 'Slow' is indeed the operative word. Another good reason to get a rearview camera.


Given these constraints, my modest expectation is to push out half the snow on each pass. Which also means that I will fire up my Riot after 3" of snow accumulation to avoid overloading and traction problems. I'll have to go over the same ground several times, with and without the center blade opening blocked. I have always had to use the same 3" accumulation rule for the snowthrower in the narrow laneway because of the built up forward snow pile. I use to do at least 5 passes with the snowthrower for the laneway alone. I'm hoping that doing the multiple passes while sitting in the Riot is faster and more comfortable; certainly less tiring.

My other problem remain as where do I pile up the snow? It's illegal to dump the snow onto the public roadway. After clearing the dreaded laneway, I'll deposit mini piles near the yard; then use the old snowthrower to throw piles into the yard.

or invite the neighborhood kids to use my abundant snow to roll big snowballs for snow man into their yards. à la Tom Sawyer, eh?
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:40 AM
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I want one of these...



Maybe I can find one on Craigslist.
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:01 AM
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Old 11-04-2011, 01:02 PM
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The Oshkosh trucks are the king of plow vehicles if the wife wouldn't smother me I'd have one.

And yes you could find one on craigslist
http://nh.craigslist.org/cto/2601316446.html
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