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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a newbie snow plower, and basically am starting to plow two stone/gravel driveways this year (my house and another apartment building). My driveway has a slight crown to it, but not too dramatic.

I'll be using a 7.5' Fisher, but it doesn't have any shoes on it. Do I need shoes to prevent pushing all the stone off the driveway?

I found the attached (6" or 7" round bottom with lynch pin ... for some reason, the pic doesn't show up in the preview ...) at www.discountsnowplowparts.com but any suggestions in finding the right shoes for my plow is appreciated too!

Thanks!
 

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You shouldn't need them,even on gravel drives.

Just lift the plow up a hair,to prevent the plow from digging into the gravel.

If you really want a set,I'm sure there are quite a few guys with an unused set in their garage.

A urethane edge will also help when plowing gravel drives.
 

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Chris and the guys on here have plowed about 10 million times as many miles as I have and I am sometimes reluctant to disagree with them but it sounds like you are about as new to plowing as I was a couple of years ago. And I had a bad time plowing loose gravel roads and drives as you stated. In the spring my first year I had tons of stones to move back into the driveway. If your plowing well packed bank gravel you might be fine with just the blade but if like people do here just pour on a layer of 2B stone every couple years then IMO you will find it hard to hover your blade a inch above the ground and get a nice looking job without digging in here and there. And the reverse is leaving areas with 4 or 5 inches when you go over a rise.
I tried the round skids and they worked better than none at all but depending on what your blade weighs I found them not large enough so I made a set for my plow. I have mine set at ¾ inch and that’s about right for my crown. When I want them off I just pull two hitch pins and they fall right off 1 minute max to change them. I’ll attach a picture to show you. mine are 6 inches wide by 12 inches long and I maybe had 10 stones in the yard last spring. Once I have had a couple of good freeze days and the drive has been packed in I leave them off till it warms up. Hope this helps.

Bud
 

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I have found on most gravel drives and gravel parking lots, shoes are a must have. In my part of the country the freeze thaw cycle is going on all winter long. Some times when it snows the ground is not frozen, so the blade ends up digging in and plowing the gravel off the drives or the lots.

I have tried to hold the plow up just a little but this becomes a real pita after just a short time plowing one of the parking lots or the driveways for that mater.

I have 3 driveways and 1 parking lot that are gravel; I keep mine (shoes) in the truck at all times. Just put them on and take them off this only takes a few minutes.

I do not use them on blacktop / concrete roads, drives, or parking lots.

Just my 2cents worth.

Rich
 

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First off welcome new members. It seems over the last week or two membership has really taken off. And its good to see people of all skill levels coming together here.

I’m really surprised that some of the old pros on here are at opposite poles on this issue. I’m not sure. Is it a difference as to what we call a gravel road or driveway. Or is it that the U edge acts as a big long plow shoe. Or is it skill level / experience. Or is it like leaving training wheels on your bike when you were a kid its just not what you should do. Personally I find it very hard to regulate the blade height to say 1 inch above the surface and plow with any kind of speed over a gravel surface with dips etc.
I’m pretty interested in this aspect of plowing because it closely relates to the down pressure system I invented. I’m always trying to understand as much as I can about the skills involved in doing this stuff as with the equipment used to do it. The equipment is only half or less of most of these kinds of operations and the operator is the rest.
With my new down pressure system even set to a very low force (say 100lbs) without shoes on my driveway the rake angle and the cutting curl of the grader blade would easily dig down 2 or 3 inches at a pass and I would doze the gravel along with the snow. I have had luck setting the blade down pressure to just a few lbs and floating along just above the stones. I just would think a 600 lb blade would really do a number on loose stone and even packed bank gravel.

Just my thoughts on this and always willing to learn something new here.

Bud
 

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It depends a LOT on just what the "gravel" is. When I put material on top of a gravel drive I use either "shur-pak" (dust to 1/2" stone) or "fines" (dust to 1/4" stone). These both pack very tight and don't peel up too bad unless they are wet/thawed. Some cretins try to use graded stone and it always peels up badly.

If the surface is frozen the edge doesn't cut into it anyhow. Particularly with Sno-Way which is a light plow. If it's thawed I always found the shoes just settled down into the mush and didn't do anything anyhow.

Since I've switched to urethane there is little or no gravel pushed up. I run a 1 1/2" edge and my theory is that the edge is thick enough that it acts as a full width "shoe".

I have also found that a plow will raise less material when angled than it will if you're pushing straight.

Bottom line is that I've been in the shoeless camp since about the second time I plowed.
 

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Alan

You confirmed what I was thinking about the U edge being thicker and acting as a shoe across the full width of the blade. I found the same thing true with the round shoes when I first tried them wasn’t enough area to keep the blade from digging and in fact they seemed to actually do the digging sometimes and then the next pass I would plow away what they scraped up.
I have about 8 times the area with the flat shoes as my round ones and probably about the same area you have on your u edge.
Letting the first few snows pack in also helps until we get a good freeze.
Around here we call what you call fines we call shot. It is like you say pretty good for packing in tight. Trouble is we have a huge deposit of cretins living here that like lime stone graded crushed stone drives. Or 2B or pea gravel. The stuff you cant ride a 10 speed bike thru. So until I get U edge or something else I guess the toboggans will be staying on and off.

Just a question with the 1.5 thick u edge can you still rip up a ice layer say a inch thick that is frozen to the pavement?

Shoes on in Erie
Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #9
On one hand, I'm glad to hear the differing opinions and I didn't ask a stupid question. On the other hand, it sounds like the answer is not straightforward, nor is plowing a gravel driveway!

The driveway is fairly well packed down and does not have a layer of loose gravel added every year. I've added what they call "crusher run" around here (dust and up to about 1" stone) to fill in some pot holes.

It sounds like at least for a beginner like me, it may be hard to go without shoes. The problem sounds like even with shoes, keeping the shoes themselves from digging in. Unfortunately, I have only found reference to the round shoes, at least for Fisher plows.

I wish I had the equipment to whip up a pair of shoes like yours, bud ... those are nice, almost like skiis. I can weld, but don't have the equipment ... maybe I can rent ...

If anyone can suggest alternatives to the round shoes for a Fisher, I'de appreciate it.

Thanks for the feedback thus far!!
 

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Bud,
Pea gravel is round, & I can't believe people actually use that for driveways, especially in a high snow area like Erie. If I was plowing that I would probably use shoes as well, maybe. Like mentioned, my experience with shoes on gravel resulted in the shoes usually digging in creating 2 thin ditches lol. Before switching to urethane I would put the shoes on about half of the times I plowed the few gravel lots I had. It basically depended on my mood, how tired I was, how behind I was in the schedule ;) , & what the weather was doing at that moment. Otherwise, while a PIA, I just adjusted the blade height as needed when I didn't feel like dealing with the shoes. Slower, but still works well & leaves most of the stones in the lot.

termiflyer,
As you have learned here, there is more than one way to skin the cat. Try both ways & see what works for you, in your conditions. The round Fisher shoes are the ones you want to use if you aren't going to custom build something like Bud did. They dig in less than the other style. Good luck!
 

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Termiflyer

You never said what kind of an edge you are running. If its U edge you might be fine as Alan said. And if its packed in like you say it might not be bad ether. What Iwould suggest is throw it on now hopefully when no one is watching and make a few passes and see how it goes when you can see what you are ripping up or not. It most likely will catch those high spots and thats not a bad idea to grade things up a little anyways. I use mine for spreading gravel all the time and back filling etc. but now is the time to find out not when its to cold out to be messing around with buying or making something.

Let us know what you learn

Bud
 

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Bud,
What a great point!

T,
By all means, try it now with & without the shoes to experiment with how much stone you move. Being a beginner, some practice runs certainly can't hurt, especially when you can see & there's no pressure to get it done.
 

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BRL

Pea gravel is pretty common actually because of being on the great lakes the gravel pits come up with a large amount of it when they wash the stone. That’s not the worst stuff sometimes you find people using fly ash its like black rough sand almost and they get it free from the power plant or they used to. We also have a shingle factory in town and you know those little slots that are cut out of the 3 tab shingles they have tons of them to get rid of and give them away to anybody that wants them with a truck to haul them away in. they put them on 6 inches deep and then run them in with the car tires until they mat down then add another layer the next year etc etc. I know people don’t think of Pa as a Yankee state but we get our share of Yankee ingenuity over here.
As for my skids i have been thinking of reworking them so they caster also. If I make the change I’ll post a picture.
Anyone out there want to start a cottage industry making oversize swiveling skies for the shoeless out there feel free to use my ideas. I have no plans on getting a patent on that one.
Hey they have “turkey wings” why not “toboggans” or “big feet”

Bud
 

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I have the same problem as Tileman... the cycle keeps going throughout the winter. I have one driveway that is pea-gravel and it is a mess regardless b/c it seems to stick to the snow and it never ever freezes together as there is no spaces between the 'grains' for water to freeze.

The other trouble lot is quite large. The front section where the majority of the traffic is is fine, but the rear overflow lot (used mainly for special events) is really not much gravel over top of soil so it is a)not level b)often not frozen...

Don't forget the shoes allow the plow to 'float' over the surface and follow its contours. Trying to hold the plow over the surface manually will definately be a face-meets-windshield if the ground is not flat, or if as often is the case, the tires of my truck sink down an inch or so in the ground. If the plow isn't in 'float' mode you might as well be trying to plow with a bulldozer because thats what it becomes.

:argue

:canada
 

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Derekbroerse

I think Erie and Niagara on the lake have a very similar type of winter conditions. It’s not uncommon to find 18 inches of new lake effect snow on top of warm gravel. Or mid winter to get a couple of freeze thaws in a row and that hard packed gravel gets loose and fluffy almost. The problem of gravel sticking to the snow I have no idea how to solve and trust me I have thought about that also. The only solution I have come up with for that is keep your piles in a place so in the spring you can get behind them and push the gravel back. But the over size skids have worked very well for me I looked around for something to buy but all I found was the same old small round ones. So I made a set from 3/8 thick mild steel they seem to be lasting well with all that wear area it should take a good long time to wear down.
I started a post a while back about a new plow lift system I invented and I’m sure most of you newer guys haven’t read it. See:

http://www.snowplowing-contractors.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3681

the invention is in part to address this problem of floating over soft surfaces along with being able to really put some high pressure down for breaking ice etc. you should read thru it you might find it interesting. I also put up a webshots page showing the invention. See:

http://community.webshots.com/user/snowplow2004

you might want to think about making a set of skis for your rig. If you do let me know if I can be any help.

Bud
 

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We plow commercial parking lots, and roadways. I always use the shoes on all our trucks and set them for about 1/2". I feel I get longer life out of the cutting edge.:shades
 

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CPSS said:
We plow commercial parking lots, and roadways. I always use the shoes on all our trucks and set them for about 1/2". I feel I get longer life out of the cutting edge.:shades
TTT and..
Thats what I've been told...?

My blade has the stock 1/2 x 6 cutting blade..aren't those skids cheaper than a new edge? Not trying to start a controversy, just wondering.

And also, whats a 1/2 inch , is that the didtance of the edge from the ground? I'll be doing mostly asphalt.
 

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I would suggest plowing your lots with them, then try them without, so that you can form your own opinion based on your conditions & site requirements. Before I switched to urethane, I really wasn't that concerned with the price of the steel cutting edges (maintenance part). It's simply a part of being in this business like buying insurance or plow oil. And they aren't that expensive. So I was never worried about extending the life of that part which is made to be worn down anyway.
 

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Around here gravel drives are not plowable without the nagging problems They dont use proper stone . I gave them up for asphalt :D . I use the fixed Curb protector / shoes on my X blade . They have kept my from scrathing the purdy SS edges of my moldboard. and keep the ends of the U edge from wearing prematurely
 

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Poly Skids

I should have some pictures to post before the weekend is over I have heat molded two poly pads that fit over my skids. This stuff is super slippery same stuff they make cutting boards out of these days. I still have to attach the skins to my skids and I will post some pics. I’m interested in testing them both for being slippery on the loose gravel and also as non marring on those fancy pressed and died concrete drives that look like brick or stones.

Stay tuned for pics

Bud
 
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