In the popular Simpson’s episode Mr. Plow, Homer buys a truck equipped with a snowplow and becomes the hero of Springfield when a huge blizzard strikes.
Although there’s no guarantee that you’ll become a local hero, installing a plow on your pickup truck is a great way to keep old man winter at bay.
The most inexpensive option is a lightweight plow that is raised, lowered and tilted side to side by the cable from an electric winch. These types of plows can be installed on most full size light duty trucks and SUVs and are usually all that is required for light personal snow clearing.
If you have a larger yard, live in an area where extreme snowfall is the norm or you want to make a few extra bucks plowing for your neighbours you may want to opt for a heavy duty plow that is operated with a hydraulic ram, but in that case you will either have to beef up your trucks suspension or require a -tonne or larger truck to accommodate these heavier plows. Many new heavy duty trucks can also be ordered with a snowplow prep group package that offers increased front suspension strength and a more powerful alternator to power the plow’s electric and hydraulic components.
Depending on the plow you choose cost can range from as little as $2,000 for a personal plow to more than $10,000 for a commercial grade version.
There are numerous manufacturers out there to choose from. Popular brands include Curtis, Meyers, Western, Fisher and BOSS. The initial installation of a plow is typically best left to a professional but once the plow has been fitted to your truck it is easy to attach and remove it, often by simply removing a pair of connecting pins and backing away.
The number one rule when choosing the right plow for your truck is to remember that it is better to have too much truck than too much plow. One of the most common vehicle problems encountered while plowing is damage to the transmission, so it’s important to remember to always take it slow and periodically stop to allow the trucks transmission cooler a few minutes to catch up when plowing deep snow.
When raised, the plow will also block your trucks headlights so if you intend to drive the vehicle at night on public roads it is mandatory to have additional lights mounted on the plow. A strobe light and brighter backup lights are also a good idea as they not only increase your own visibility; they also make your truck more visible to others while plowing.
Installing a plow on your truck is an inexpensive solution to keeping your yard clear. Although many farms have the required equipment to blow or plow snow, using this expensive machinery in winter months can take its toll, and they often burn much more fuel than a pickup truck.
After just a few days of practice with a 7.5 foot Western plow installed on an old Dodge Ramcharger I was able to plow our 300 foot driveway and the area around our shop better than I ever imagined. Sitting high and dry in the comfort of a heated truck is a vast improvement over the cold metal seat from my old Ford 8N tractor, and as an added bonus I can sip coffee from my thermos and sing along to the radio.
But heed this warning — with a plow installed on the front of your truck you’ll be amazed how popular you become when a big snowfall arrives.
PaulWilliamsonisalifelongloverofall thingsautomotiveandamemberofthe AutomobileJournalistAssociationofCanada