Serious snow removal
January 27, 2014
For the last week I have obsessed about UTVs in the manner of someone gearing himself up to buy a new one. Of course I prefer the used market, but there’s a scarcity of worthy machines for the compulsive tire-kickers of Kijiji to examine.
The few UTVs which are for sale generally have plows attached and look as though they were equipped on the dealer’s order books as ultimate-snow-removal-machines-for-country-properties. That role in Eastern Ontario belongs to a 75 hp, 4WD farm tractor with loader and 7′ snow blower. Anything less is a toy.
I wandered over to You Tube to look for videos of Polaris Rangers plowing snow. There were quite a few, but each video featured a Ranger scraping along a driveway to remove three or four inches of snow. The videos never show the important parts: the beginning and end of each run. Where do the guys put the snow? What happens when the drifts get big? or the township plow completely fills in your driveway?
Snow storage isn’t part of the job; it’s the whole job. I can’t see how a small plow can help.
A couple of years ago I explained to an uncomprehending friend that the purpose of a homeowner’s snowblower isn’t to blow snow, it’s to take the snowbanks created by passing plows and pile them in places higher than the owner can reach with a shovel. For that reason alone the blower is worth garage space: it lets your driveway continue to operate at nearly full width until spring by finding creative places to store snow. The top of a hedge is a reliable storage place: usually your neighbour won’t catch on until he tries the same thing from the other side and discovers the space is already full.
Around Forfar we don’t even bother with snow until it gets up over six inches, and what would one of these expensive, light plows on a Ranger or Rhino do if it encountered the four foot drifts I had to deal with this morning?
Even with the tractor-mounted snowblower I’d had my work cut out for me. Fortunately the cab on the TAFE kept me dry while the blower tossed the snow up in the air, after which the wind whipped it away to become some other township’s problem. The first trip out the 600′ driveway wore out a 7/16″ shear pin, though. The new one held for the rest of the morning’s job, though as I broke for lunch the white stuff was drifting rapidly back into the gap I had created.
When the township plow goes through on my side of the road I’ll get to do the whole thing again. A tractor’s designed for the constant shifting and rough use it gets moving snow. Repairs to old tractors are relatively cheap. Rangers are wonderful machines for light hauls, dog-walks and people-moving. I just think repairs are too expensive to abuse these machines with snow removal duties.