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Old 11-23-2011, 08:57 PM   post #1 of 20
Alan Lloys
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Default Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

- - - 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
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Old 11-23-2011, 10:09 PM   post #2 of 20
Aksarben96
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Nice piece of engineering , only through trial and error will we all learn . Can't predict if its the final design until you have some snow you can play , pardon work with but seems pretty good to me . Hope you will post a video to show this mod in action !
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Old 11-23-2011, 10:14 PM   post #3 of 20
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

WTG Alan - Very nice job on the engineering and fabrication. Looks like it should work just fine.

Rich
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Old 11-23-2011, 11:51 PM   post #4 of 20
pfreiburger
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Nice job!

Hope it works as well as it looks. If it does you could probably sell some as many have a problem with their gravel driveway. Good luck.
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Old 11-24-2011, 12:57 AM   post #5 of 20
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Very nice indeed, plus you took the time to put the nice clear pictures on

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Old 11-24-2011, 03:43 AM   post #6 of 20
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Thanks for sharing with us and let us know how it works out for you. slkpk
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Old 12-10-2011, 10:15 PM   post #7 of 20
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Good work. I can see that being beneficial.
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:19 AM   post #8 of 20
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Great Job.
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:27 AM   post #9 of 20
rhenning
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

I hope it works for you in the ice and snow when all the casters and wheels freeze up. That is the problem I see with these conversions. If you have the tractor in a heated garage it may not be a problem. Roger
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:42 AM   post #10 of 20
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Nice work Alan. Good fab job.
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Old 12-11-2011, 05:53 PM   post #11 of 20
Alan Lloys
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
I hope it works for you in the ice and snow when all the casters and wheels freeze up. That is the problem I see with these conversions. If you have the tractor in a heated garage it may not be a problem. Roger
That is a good point I really had not though of.
But I do have a heated garage and usually the snow and ice melts off the snow blower before it is needed next time.
So I think I will be OK.
I will report back once we get some snow around here.
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Old 01-21-2012, 07:46 AM   post #12 of 20
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Very Nice pics! I have been thinking of doing the same. I hate having to lift the blower everytime i back up! Have u had a chance to use it yet?
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:19 AM   post #13 of 20
Alan Lloys
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

No use yet - this winter is a bit weird.
We have about 1-2" on the ground only. So far I have used the plow for two small swipes in front of the garage and that is all. There is not even enough snow to try the blower on the lawn.

I did get my float position fixed on the tractor which should make this setup work even better. The plan is to leave it in float and then just have the casters hold the blower up. That way it should follow the contours of the driveway.

If we ever get enough snow here I will see if I can take some pictures. With my luck it will snow while I am traveling instead and my wife will be stuck at home since she is still sick
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:51 AM   post #14 of 20
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Looks real nice. I finally got a good snowstorm yesterday to try out my new rig. Up N I have been using my single stage on the gravel driveway and I just put the skid shoes all the way down and I don't seem to have a problem throwing rocks. I bet the 2 stage is considerably heavier so my guess is the shoes dig in.
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Old 01-21-2012, 01:50 PM   post #15 of 20
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Default Re: Snow blower mod for gravel driveway (Pictures) - large caster installation

Nice work great fabrication should work like a charm.
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