May 29, 2002
The right truck and plow make snow clearance more efficient

It’s never too early to be thinking about snow and snow clearance issues.

     In the opinion of John Kidd of Arctic Equipment, the acquisition of snow clearance trucks and plows probably requires more careful thought than most other equipment areas.

     The biggest single problem is to know what you are up against. A six-inch snowfall on a modest-sized parking lot, for example, will leave upwards of 60 tons of snow for removal. The same inches in wet snow will more than triple that volume.

     In short, a cubic foot of wet snow can present a formidable obstacle, which means that a snow remover needs to think carefully about the job he has at hand, the kind of spaces he has to clean, and the right kind of equipment to get the job done.

     The pro advice is to first think out carefully what kind of work lies ahead — is it going to be large parking lots, complicated condos or small driveways. “The biggest problem,” says Kidd, “is trying to educate the operator about what size of truck he needs first before we get around to talking about snow plows and attachments.”

     Most pro dealers have seen too many bent frames, brake and steering problems to know that a modest half-ton truck is too small for most snow clearance duties. Most would prefer to start at the three-quarter ton level and move up.

     Most sternly advise against fitting snowplow blades to your standard sport utility vehicle. What’s required is the right power base, plus a basic manufacturer’s snow plow package to ensure a vehicle package is up to the big task that lies ahead.

     Next issue is picking a blade, and again, the selection has a lot to do with the kind of work it will have to face. Most truck-mounted snow plows start at about 6.5 ft. and finish at 10 ft. The bigger the blade, the faster the job — especially in large parking lot work.

     But if the work gets finicky, with lots of narrow driveways, alleyways and loading docks to maneuver around, then a smaller more versatile blade will be quicker and easier to handle. The operator can select either full trip plows, which spring backwards when they hit an obstacle or are overloaded or a trip moldboard, which will provide a more rigid cutting edge but still provide a break-free edge if you run into a hidden curb.

     A marketplace full of handy sized snow equipment also provides the operator with a decision on steel versus polymer. The efficiency of the polymer skin provides a lower degree of friction and sheds the snow faster than old fashioned and still highly effective steel.

     A polymer blade sells at a premium price and, because it is supported by a heavier frame, can weigh more than a steel blade. The friction-free surface however, can really make the snow fly in fast, open areas.

     The final area of decision-making again has to do with the job at hand. V plows will cut a path down the middle of a road or path and throw the snow to either side. Snow wings can be added to the outer edges of the plow to widen the cut and assist in removing the snow off the blade.

     Says Kidd: “It is an area in which the wise operator should take some advice from the manufacturer or dealer. We can help to spec the right kind of equipment for the job at hand.”