- - - or how to watch me make the mistakes so you don't have to
As many people with a gravel driveway I have been experimenting with different methods to reduce the amount of gravel being picked up by the tractor snow blower.
Last year I tried installing wheels on the blower to make it float over the gravel and leave about 1-2 inches of snow cover. You can find my results over here.
The results were actually excellent but it was hard to steer without picking up the blower every time. So this year I wanted to improve and install caster wheels instead to see if it would work better. When I found some nice 8" pneumatic caster wheels on sale for $ 12 each I figured I would give it a try.
First here are the materials. $ 10 worth of steel pre-cut from Metals Supermarket. 2 caster wheels at $ 12 each at Harbor Freight and $ 3 worth of hardware.
I had the 2"x1"x1/8" channel cut to 9" and 11" - however as you will see later the 9" was actually too long. First step is to make the angle between the two main pieces.
And then weld it together. Grind down the welds on the side as I will be putting on some reinforcing gussets. I also welded on the 4"x5" 11 gauge plate that will be used for mounting the casters.
The gussets were cut out of 5"x5" squares of 14 gauge steel. I split it down the middle to create two gussets out of each square.
The gussets goes on here and get welded on.
Repeat to make two of these assemblies.
Now I ran into my first problem. The holes are too close to the 2" channel and the welds interferes with the nuts when assembled.
Nothing a grinder couldn't fix though. The plate is welded in several other spots so it should still be plenty strong.
I then slotted the upright so it can be bolted to the rear of the snow blower and be adjustable in height.
Here is the full assembly with the 8" casters attached.
Compare the size to the previous casters I had made to try out. They worked great but they were just too small so they sank into the gravel.
Here they are attached. I am using the same bolt holes and hardware as the original rear skid shoes.
It worked great and I was very pleased after a test drive down the driveway. Then I tried backing into the garage - and oops - I see a problem
I had some extra 5/16" bolts available that I could use, so I came up with an alternate idea. I needed to move the wheels outboard a little to give more clearance for them to swing around. Since there is a thick reinforcement plate for the rear skid shoes I could drill in and tap extra holes. This is the first time in 15 years I have tapped a hole, but it worked out OK even with the cheap HF tap and die set.
After this I also found that the pneumatic tire really squished down when under load and the 9" down leg was too close to the ground. I took off approx. 1" and then painted the assembly.
Here are the casters fully installed. I have them set to leave the cutting edge about 1" above the level. I also cut the slot longer so I can raise it higher if needed.
I drove it down the driveway and it all looks to be working good now.
As you can see I had a few issues along the way, but I think the result turned out very good. We will see when the snow comes if they work better than my fixed wheels last year.
At least if everything else fails it is fully reversible and I can always put the old wheels from last year on again.
Hope you enjoyed seeing my mistakes so you don't have to make your own