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Old 11-19-2009, 11:01 PM
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Plowing gravel roads / drives

All of my plowing has always been on paved surfaces. I now have someone asking me to plow their gravel drive. It is in good condition, raised above the surrounding grade, and is maintained every year. Their is a layer of loose stone, 3/4", on top. The home owner is concerned about loosing the top of his drive. It is very common for our area to hover arround freezing, so a soft surface is possible.

My question is, what is the best way to minimize gravel transfer. I would assume it is to run shoes, something I have never needed to do. How should I adjust them for this drive? Flush with the bottom of the edge? Possibly a little lower to lift the blade slightly? I will be using this set-up for this drive only.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:44 AM
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Hi Ron, I plow my dirt driveway, road, neighbor's driveway & horse's sand paddock. My shoes are set to keep the cutting edge about 3/8 of an inch from touching.
Once there's a base of hard packed snow down, I take them off.
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Old 11-20-2009, 01:14 AM
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just put it in writing your not responsible for stone displacement. And you dont need shoes. Just bump the plow up to plow it if your worried about moving the stone . IF there is washed stone on the driveway dont even bother taking them on............
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:29 AM
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99% of my plowing is gravel/dirt. There is NO way to not move the top stone. Some will have methods minimize it but it will still happen. Sorry but that's just the fact of this type of drive.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:32 AM
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99% of my plowing is gravel/dirt. There is NO way to not move the top stone. Some will have methods minimize it but it will still happen. Sorry but that's just the fact of this type of drive.


EXACTLY!! Especially in an area that hovers around the freezing mark. If they are worrried about stone displacement now they will def be calling you in the spring.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:58 AM
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With out back drag blade ,( strap it up if you have to ), back drag untill its frozen .
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:05 AM
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick View Post
99% of my plowing is gravel/dirt. There is NO way to not move the top stone. Some will have methods minimize it but it will still happen. Sorry but that's just the fact of this type of drive.
Well said... If the customer sounds like he's a pita, walk away.

2 options:

1. lift the blade slightly to reduce gravel transfer... customer will complain about still having small amt of snow on his driveway

2. drop the blade and remove all snow... customer will complain about gravel transfer

I only take gravel drives if the customer is fully aware of the possibility of gravel transfer... usually reasonable customers with gravel drives are well aware they must choose between the 2 options.
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:33 AM
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If this is what we call "Crushed Stone" - rocks all the same size, say 3/4 inch, with no sand in between, I don't think it will ever freeze solid.
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:37 AM
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Almost all of my drives are gravel .. I plow without shoes.. which is fine on gravel because it will usually freeze so there is not much problem.. A stone drive is another story... it doesn't seem to freeze well at all ..I drop plow then pick it up a little... But no mater what you do there will be some gravel / stone moved
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Old 11-20-2009, 08:33 AM
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Almost all of my drives are gravel .. I plow without shoes.. which is fine on gravel because it will usually freeze so there is not much problem.. A stone drive is another story... it doesn't seem to freeze well at all ..I drop plow then pick it up a little... But no mater what you do there will be some gravel / stone moved
I agree. I do virtually all gravel. Loose stone will move, and will not freeze. I have some in one spot in my drive and find stones 70 yards away in my garden. I guess snow stuck to the blade and fell off up there.

Leave the first snow and drive over it to pack it down. Little luck, it will turn to ice. Then plow next snow. Shoes should hold the blade up a trifle, but since they are free to drop, if they catch they will plow furrows.
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Old 11-20-2009, 08:52 AM
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Thanks guys. The home owner is reasonable, and the first thing I told him is that gravel moves. The drive is smooth and well maintained. I am just trying to minimize damage / transfer. Shoes seem like the best option. I don't think furrowing would be a problem if I don't allow the shoes to drop (spacers). I was also thinking that having them set about 3/8" below the blade would be about right.

There are four homes on this short common street. I have been plowing the only paved drive for the past two years. The other three are gravel. I want to leave him happy so he can sell the last two for me

P.S.....he just called and accepted. We'll see how it goes.
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Old 11-25-2009, 08:08 AM
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I plow several gravel drives and like many others have stated, I too use the drop and lift method as I don't want to mess with putting the shoes on and off. A big key for me to minimize transfer is to go slow whenever possible, as you will be able to hear and feel when your blade is digging in to to gravel somewhat and you can lift more if needed.
They are not easy drives to do, but if you take your time(which is not always easy), you can minimize the pain for the homeowner. With that said, as others have pointed out, a realistic homeowner is great to work with!
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Old 11-25-2009, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by jkski View Post
I plow several gravel drives and like many others have stated, I too use the drop and lift method as I don't want to mess with putting the shoes on and off. A big key for me to minimize transfer is to go slow whenever possible, as you will be able to hear and feel when your blade is digging in to to gravel somewhat and you can lift more if needed.
They are not easy drives to do, but if you take your time(which is not always easy), you can minimize the pain for the homeowner. With that said, as others have pointed out, a realistic homeowner is great to work with!
One caveat with the drop and "lift a bit" technique, it really works well on flat ground (Ohio) but in rapidly changing up and down you have to drop as your plow goes over a crest, and lift real fast as your truck goes over, and the opposite as you go through a dip. Terrain following radar is a necessity!
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Old 11-25-2009, 02:36 PM
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I use my ears as much as anything when plowing soft gravel or crushed stone.
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Old 11-26-2009, 10:27 AM
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I plow one that is gravel, just bump the plow about a half an inch and go. You will always move some gravel, but you can worry about that in the spring.
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Old 11-26-2009, 11:03 AM
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Maybe you will get lucky like i did with a former customer and they will tell ya that they just put fresh stone down to let ya know. And then bitch because you still are moving it, and you get out of your truck to see why and its about 2 inches of washed stone lol that was the last year I will ever plow for that lady, she called this year and i told her no way never again lol
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Old 11-26-2009, 07:30 PM
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I don't expect too many problems. The gravel is CA-6 with a lot of fines. It is well compacted. There is a small layer of loose stone on top, but not bad. I will be taking BEFORE pictures though.
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Old 11-26-2009, 08:53 PM
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If the snow piles are left on the driveway itself then when it melts the gravel will end up back on the driveway. This way it is still salvagable and can be relocated after winter. You would obviously need a larger driveway to be able to stockpile snow in a designated spot over gravel. Considering your in chicago and you get lots of snow im sure you can run out of spots for piles quick.

bottom line you always end up with a plow full of gravel sooner or later. Maybe you could put it in the contract that you will charge a certain amount to grade the drive out with a bobcat after winter. Make a little extra money in the early spring.

good luck with it
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Old 11-27-2009, 03:33 AM
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Ron, I wouldn't use the shoes. At even a slight drop, they will be the first to touch and will leave furrows. Not sure how long a drive it is but I would backblade it and let the plow float over it. We have a couple gravel drives (one almost 100 yards) and we drop the blade and plow the whole thing in reverse pretty quick even if there is 8" of snow. It will leave somewhat compacted snow to begin the base. Even if your temps are around freezing you'll have some ice buildup that will last a while.

If you drive forward and "float" the blade it will inevitably gouge at some point leaving a trough for your tires to drop into which will cause the blade to gouge again. Then the process repeats itself. Have to go painfully slow.

And like Kentucky mentioned, sell the cleanup in the spring.
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Old 11-27-2009, 03:43 AM
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I never had any luck with shoes, either. On the real soft driveways, they seemed to dig in and cause the blade to trip, and if its hard enough to hold the shoes up, its probably hard enough to hold the blade up.

A guy I know once took a piece of like 3" or 4" diameter steel pipe and cut a 1" or so slot out of it the whole length of the pipe so that the pipe would fit over the cutting edge. The pipe was a couple inches longer than his blade, and he had fabbed up tabs on the ends so it would bolt on to this blade. I never saw him using it, but he swore it worked very well, said it would get most of the snow, and hardly any gravel. This of course was on a straight blade. I always wanted to try it, but I don't do enough drives to warrant messing with it.
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Old 11-27-2009, 03:49 AM
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Nobody has mentioned a U edge, that might help some, but hard to designate one plow just for that. I used to have a lot of dirt/gravel roads, and was considering setting up an 810 with a polar edge for that application.

I would go shoeless, back drag first, then just try to lift the plow a touch. No way to separate gravel from snow once you get to the base.
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Old 11-27-2009, 03:52 AM
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I never had any luck with shoes, either. On the real soft driveways, they seemed to dig in and cause the blade to trip, and if its hard enough to hold the shoes up, its probably hard enough to hold the blade up.

A guy I know once took a piece of like 3" or 4" diameter steel pipe and cut a 1" or so slot out of it the whole length of the pipe so that the pipe would fit over the cutting edge. The pipe was a couple inches longer than his blade, and he had fabbed up tabs on the ends so it would bolt on to this blade. I never saw him using it, but he swore it worked very well, said it would get most of the snow, and hardly any gravel. This of course was on a straight blade. I always wanted to try it, but I don't do enough drives to warrant messing with it.
That's an interesting concept, kindof a rolling pin/squeege action. I'd think that would make quite a skating rink in the right conditions?
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Old 11-27-2009, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Fastjohnny View Post
Nobody has mentioned a U edge, that might help some, but hard to designate one plow just for that. I used to have a lot of dirt/gravel roads, and was considering setting up an 810 with a polar edge for that application.

I would go shoeless, back drag first, then just try to lift the plow a touch. No way to separate gravel from snow once you get to the base.
I will mention it. I used to have a couple of U edges. Bought them from Dino on here. A U edge will reduce gravel displacement but not eliminate it. Also I found once the gravel did freeze it acted like a "cheese grater" on the U edge and tore it up. I ended up selling both U edges and going back to steel for a cleaner scrape on my paved stuff. I also vote no shoes, backdrag if you can, leave the piles on the drive instead of pushing way back if you can, and tell the customer gravel will be moved. I have also gone back in the spring on some gravel accounts and spread the gravel piles back out with my plow as a nice gesture for free. Once you get the gravel in the grass though you just created a lot of labor for someone.
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Old 12-01-2009, 10:49 AM
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That's an interesting concept, kindof a rolling pin/squeege action. I'd think that would make quite a skating rink in the right conditions?
I personally would only try it if say you had deep enough snow that it needed cleared right away early in the year on a driveway with lots of loose gravel. As others have said, once you had a frozen base, there's no need for anything really. On a side note, I was at Jerre's saturday morning rooting through the "lightly used merchandise" on those racks in the back and saw I think it was an old meyer that had a piece of 1 1/2" or 2" solid pipe attached to the edge like I was thinking. Maybe he can shed more light on this??
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