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Discussion Starter #1
I would like to hear from those who remove snow with your tractor. What have you learned about the equipment that is required for your own success? Weights, chains, blade vs blower, locking diff, tractor weight etc. What works for you? Yes im aware of those who have indicated that a 500 lb LT with chains weights and a blade work well. Any blower attachment guys out there? I ld like to know if anyone has

Gone from blade to blower or vice versa
Wished for locking diff
Wished for more weight
Found that a blade or even chains scuffs up your concrete
Anything that didn't work as expected

For context, my concrete is the equivalent of 10 car lengths (its wide not long) and i have stamped stained sections (hence the reference to scuffing ). 4 inches is more snow than i can move via hand shovel but in my area we rarely see more than 6 inches at a time. Definately not NE or upper mid west
 

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I have a blade and a blower... well I just sold the blade. I’d rather deal with the less than ideal conditions of blowing an inch of snow than having to get up in the middle of the night to push 6-8” in the middle of an occasional blizzard. With a blower you are less apt to spin the tires and mark up the concrete than trying to push with a blade. Chains give amazing traction, and weight is your friend. Marks from chains is all based on you. Learn what your tractor can handle, and you won’t spin a tire.

I live in central PA, where like the last ten years or so we got a decent amount of snow, and then last year we only got an inch. In my area, chains are a necessity because either the snow is wet (warmer air temp) and the driveway is frozen, or vice versa. That typically leads to a slick slush below the snow.
The draw back to a blower is the fact that you are blowing the snow into the air. My driveway has no consistent airflow. So I was constantly moving the chute to keep from getting blowback in my face. A cab solved that problem.
‘67 John Deere 112 with a Model 36 blower (single stage), Hinson soft cab, loaded rear turfs with 2 link chains, wheel weights, suitcase weights (2, I’d like to add 2 more) and ribbed front tires.
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4WD with HDAP tires is one solution to scraping up your driveway, but yes, my blade leaves scrapes even if the tires don't.

I have a 4WD tractor with blower for deep, drier snow and a 4WD tractor with plow blade for lower amounts and wetter snow and slush. It is a great combination and prevents me from being snowbound in our New England winters.

More weight will help with traction, diff lock will help with traction, chains will help with traction.
 

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I have a blade for the front of my JD X500 that I use for anything below a 6" snowfall and a blower for my Kubota BX25D that I use for anything over 6". They both do a great job. I could handle deeper snow with the JD and the blade, but it would mean multiple passes because of snow spillig over the top of the blade The blade is acually a little over 12" tall but if you push 6" of snow for more than a few feet it piles up on itself to where it will eventually spill over the top of the blade. Anything more than about 18", which is the height of the blower housing on the Kubota requires going very slow and backing up repeatedly to get it all. But I have soft cabs and heaters on both so I stay comfortable regardless.
 

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I put a plastic scraper on my blade, haven't noticed any marks from it on the driveways I do. I've got the blade attached to the drive unit of a walkbehind mower, so it's a lot lighter than a tractor, and I regularly push snow that completely fills the 54" plow with 8" wings (wings point forward to hold more snow). It generally only has difficult starting to move on ice, and I only use it as a pusher, as it doesn't have the traction to handle using the plow at an angle.

I'm working on another walkbehind mower (similar Snapper Pro drive unit as the first one), that I plan on attaching a BercoMac 48" brush and 44" 2 stage snowblower to, and swap between them depending on conditions at the start of the day.

For longer distances (I have some locations where I would have to blow snow 2 or 3 times to get off the driveway), the plow is much much faster, while for deeper snow that can be blown off in one shot, I find it's faster to use a snowblower.

And for smaller parts, or even to clear snow you've plowed, you'll be amazed what those Toro 21" gas mowers will handle. I regularly jam mine into piles 2 or 3 times as high as the front of it is, and while it isn't super fast, it'll get through it (and for me, it's faster than loading the toro up and unloading a larger 2-stage walkbehind snowblower. As long as the chute isn't blocked by the pile, it'll go.
 

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I've been using tractors for snow removal for 47 years.

Things that I've learned:

1. Load the drive tires with the heaviest medium available.
2. Add 2-link chains to the drive tires.
3. Add wheel weights.
4. Add weight to the back of the tractor.
5 Start with a tractor that actually has a reasonable base weight.
6. Install Carlisle Multi-Trac C/S turf type tires.
7. 4wd is not as good as 2wd with chains.
8. If the setup has enough weight plus chains, a diff lock is rarely needed.
9. 4wd without chains needs a diff lock more often than a 2wd with chains.
10. If the winter tractor configuration doesn't weigh more than 1000 lb . . . it's a lawn mower and shouldn't be playing in the snow.

First tractor was a LT with a snow thrower. It was . . . frustrating, but it taught me the first five lessons on the above list. Maybe 700 lb GVW.

Second tractor was a small GT (775 lb) with a snow thrower at first, then transitioned to a FEL and back blade. It reinforced the first five lessons. 1150 - 1450 lb GVW.

Third tractor was a heavy GT (950 lb) with a snow blower and back blade and transitioned to a FEL and back blade. It taught me lesson 6. 1800 - 2250 lb GVW.

Last tractor is a SCUT TLB (1379 lb) with loader and back blade for winter service. Based on previous experience and the new features, it taught me lessons 7 - 9, and my neighbour's experience with R4 industrial tires reinforced lesson 6. Lesson 10 was an after thought. About 2450 lb GVW.

Most of our snow events are less than 8" and a FEL or front blade is as fast at clearing as a snow blower/thrower and with less fuel consumption. Over 8" the thrower/ blower takes less time, but it takes about 15" before fuel consumption matches.

Note the weight progression. Tractor 1 spun its wheel constantly. Tractor 2 was a big improvement, but still spun more than desired and was close to maxed out for ballasting. Tractors 3 and 4 have room for additional ballast and do not spin when clearing a driveway unless there is a wind packed drift deeper than the bucket is tall. They will spin when pushing back snowbanks. They will also climb a 20° slope while pushing a full load of snow, as well as pull their 5' back blades while plowing with the buckets, in effect almost doubling the snow removal on each pass.

I clear several asphalt driveways and even down pressure on the bucket doesn't leave scuff marks. I also do one driveway that is a cobblestone type made with firebrick. Firebrick have square edges and corners so some do get a bit chipped now and again due to frost heaving, but they are also at least as hard as concrete and do not show any scuff marks.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
thanks guys very informative responses! one of the most important lessons I have learned here is that GT isn't going to suffice if you hire out or have large/multiple areas to clear large amounts of snow on a regular basis. However it seems that the heavier GTs can be pressed into snow removal service, with the usual additions, at least in an occasional residential situation where a strong dude with a snow shovel and a desire for exercise would get the job done as well. the expense of doing so is not entirely insignificant though -- by the time you add weights, tires, and a blower you start to wonder about hiring the strong dude who wants the exercise -- or the guy with the SCUT that services half the subdivision. I was reading on a big box store review about someone who added the snowblower to a JD 100 series LT. He was learning about the 1000 lb rule :)

The blower / GTs angle is interesting to me though. I suspect with a GT I would get frustrated with traction trying to push snow around.

snowfall is pretty sporadic here too -- last winter I did nothing: my driveway faces south and the sun melted things sufficiently in short order whenever it snowed. last year I used a hand shovel once, but wouldn't do that regularly. if we get more snow than last year I'll want something different.
 

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thanks guys very informative responses! one of the most important lessons I have learned here is that GT isn't going to suffice if you hire out or have large/multiple areas to clear large amounts of snow on a regular basis. However it seems that the heavier GTs can be pressed into snow removal service, with the usual additions, at least in an occasional residential situation where a strong dude with a snow shovel and a desire for exercise would get the job done as well. the expense of doing so is not entirely insignificant though -- by the time you add weights, tires, and a blower you start to wonder about hiring the strong dude who wants the exercise -- or the guy with the SCUT that services half the subdivision. I was reading on a big box store review about someone who added the snowblower to a JD 100 series LT. He was learning about the 1000 lb rule :)

The blower / GTs angle is interesting to me though. I suspect with a GT I would get frustrated with traction trying to push snow around.

snowfall is pretty sporadic here too -- last winter I did nothing: my driveway faces south and the sun melted things sufficiently in short order whenever it snowed. last year I used a hand shovel once, but wouldn't do that regularly. if we get more snow than last year I'll want something different.
I shoveled three driveways for my winter spending money from when I was 10 until I joined the air force at 19. While I could throw the snow further when I was 18, each driveway took about the same amount of time to do as when I was 10. I used the same scraper and had to travel the same distance to do the job.

Each driveway requires a different approach for clearing snow The driveway that took me longest, 40-45 minutes for 8" of snow, would only have taken 15 - 20 minutes with my small GT with the 40" loader bucket.

Currently, I clear 7 residential driveways (850-900' total driveway lengths, plus pushouts) any where from 12 to 26 times a season and snowfalls ranging from 1" to 24+". We normally get at least 2 snowfalls of 16-18" depth.

It takes experimentation to devise the most efficient routing for the various depths of snow for each driveway, but carrying the right amount of ballast reduces or eliminates wheel spin from the equation. Some of the driveways that I do would be served more efficiently with a blower than a loader, but mine absolutely requires a loader at certain times.

Last winter, we got over 11' of snow. The previous winter, over 13'.
 

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Interesting. I just bought a used John Deere 425. Now you have me wondering if its big enough to do my driveway and sidewalk. Don't know the weight but I'm guessing its around 1000 lbs with the hard cab.
 

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Interesting. I just bought a used John Deere 425. Now you have me wondering if its big enough to do my driveway and sidewalk. Don't know the weight but I'm guessing its around 1000 lbs with the hard cab.
Properly weighted and chained, I think your 425 will handle just about any snow you get with the proper snow moving attachment, unless you're clearing Donner Pass on a particularly bad winter. The hard cab is a big plus, not just for weight but also comfort!
 

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I shoveled the first five years here. Shoveling here builds huge 5-6’ snow banks, worse by the road. That year 1978, I bought a 5hp two stage blower just in time to clear the 5’ drift by the garage, 24” on the flat. At the end of most Winters, we typically have 24+” of snow on the ground. My wife bought a snow gauge for in front. It measures up to 24” and has about a 6” snowflake on top. A couple of years ago at the end of Winter, we got another snow and the snowflake disappeared.

Well pushing snow in some areas works for some, but I don’t want to push it unless it’s an 1” of fluff, then I use my shovel to get a little exercise. However, when I got older I decided walking was a much better plan than even using my Ariens 8hp, 24” walkbehind snowblower. I keep it for my backup. I’ve seen one like it go through a drift taller than the chute and it was throwing snow up through the upper snow.

I helped a friend with his 37hp Cub Cadet with loader and back blade a couple of years ago. It took me 6+ hrs to clear his sloped loop 300’ each side driveway plus his aprons of snow that was being pushed by the bumper of my Yukon and was wet underneath with some ice. Last year I cleared 8”+ wet snow in a little over an hour on the same area.
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I first switched to an X360 (to not walk), with 44” belt driven blower, two suitcase weights on the rear, and chains and was fine as long as you shut the blower off before raising the blower, very little traction issues. Last year my Son-in-Law was taking it out of his barn through 6”+ wet snow and I (210 lbs) had to stand on the back of the tractor to get through, even then the tires slipped some. Once on the concrete driveway, dropped the blower and started blowing the rest without traction issues (because the weight of the blower isn’t lifting the back wheels).

However, now I use the X738, with 54” shaft driven blower, no weights at all, HDAP tires all around - NO CHAINS! I cleared 12” with a crust on top from the rain that fell on top from 9 driveways and mailboxes in the neighborhood in a couple of hours with one rather steep driveway and only used the diff lock once by one mailbox (and have never used it otherwise). I thought the first Winter I would try it without a cab, but that was enough. I chose the soft cab to keep the inch of snow off me from blowing snow. I would love a hard cab and heat, but can’t justify $5-6000 for it, with me doing the work. I get cool, but not cold. I added a very good strobe and dual LED lights front and back to help avoid getting hit since I do a fair amount by the road where traffic doesn’t understand staying away to be safe.
 

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As you can see from the pics we had 24" of snow hew in N VA. Had the JD 322 ready with front blade, fuilded filled tires, and chains. Should have got on on it before the snow stopped but didn't. Had to dig it out by hand until I had a hole to work from. Once I had a hole to work from I was able to clear my driveway, but it took me a couple of days. I now know a snow like this needs a blower but can't justify getting one for once every 10 yr snows.
 

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Consider a blower as insurance and hope you don’t HAVE to use it on that much snow, but shoveling is the main cause of heart attacks in older people. If you aren’t there yet, you will be some day. I was just trying to point out the time saved using a blower in tough conditions as compared to a blade or FEL + back blade. Blowers may not be for everyone, but where I live, it’s the best choice, especially when space is limited for piling snow. A front blade is certainly the lowest cost, at least until you have to hire someone to plow you out, maybe even then once or twice, just not every day or even 2-3 times a week.

A few years back, I had to clear 1-1.5 ft off the roof three times in a week. It doesn’t happen often, but I prefer to be prepared if it does.
 

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I have two tractors ready to go, one with a blade, and one with a blower. But I'm in the NE. In your case, 6-8 inches of snow is still easily plowable, especially if you get dry fluffy snow. If you were ever to receive an occasional heavy snow, say 1 ft., or more, you could always "herring bone" plow it, if necessary. Starting from the middle of your driveway, you would plow the snow to one side, and then the other. Once you opened the driveway up you could then make passes the length of the driveway to clean it up.

Of course, if you're thinking that it might still be a good idea to also have a blower attachment, or maybe a second tractor with a blower attachment "just in case"... :)
 

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So far my tractor count is two. I will heed your advice and look for a third because it never hurts to have a spare. Maybe I could snag a 318 or something along that line that is easy to find a plow for. But then I would need another cab and this is going to be never ending I can tell right now.
 

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I like your line of thought. You're going to fit right in here!:D I think I have 6 spares at this point. Still only 1 cab though, so there may still be some hope for me. :)
 

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I'm going to need a bigger garage and probably a heated one. I have visions of tractor posters hung on the walls. A mini-hoist and an array of specialty tools a 6' tall toolbox. Reality sets in.... I don't have room for another garage but the rest of the dream could be achieved in time.
 
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