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Thread: Snow Plowing AT

  1. #1

    Default Snow Plowing ATV

    Hi,

    I am researching an ATV and I would like some input. I foresee the ATV used for plowing snow in the winter, hunting in the fall and fun in the summer. I live in Valdez and I want to use the ATV to plow snow to help offset the cost. We get a lot of wet heavy snow here. It's not uncommon to get 1-2 feet in a night (or more)

    What size ATV would one recommend. I really don't think that I need anything more than 500cc. Could I go less? The bigger atv's weigh more, but I would probably put a couple of sand bags on the rear to help with traction. Fuel economy is an important factor.

    Manual or auto?
    What about Honda’s ES shifting? Is an auto with low gear as good as a 5 speed?

    Rear Suspension. Does IRS do anything for traction on snow?

    I have been looking very strongly at the Honda Foreman 4x4ES. Seems like the ES shifting would offer the best of both worlds, and Honda’s reputation can't be beat. Is the price tag worth it though? I was also looking into the bombardier atv's.

    One last question. What type of break in period do they need. I was hoping to find some deals after hunting season and if I bought one new could I start to plow with it right away or would I need to ride it a bunch first?

    I'd like to buy something that still works well in 20 years from a dealership that is great on service and will back me on any warranty issues.


    Cheers
    -c

  2. #2
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default Plowing

    I plowed for years with a little Suzuki LT 250. My driveway is approximately 5,000 sq' and it would take me about an hour. I was using a Cycle Country 48" plow and would chain up the rear tires (a good "V" bar chain) of the bike. This combination worked very well in 95% of the snows we get here in Palmer. If it got really wet or there were concrete like packed wind drifts, it lacked a little.

    I don't think engine size will really be an issue. I know the SRA vs. IRS won't be a problem either way. Honda makes bulletproof machines, but I don't like their reverse system (having to pull the brake while pushing the little red button). It can be kind of awkward with heavy gloves on. The automatics have a large shifting lever which is easily actuated with gloves and their low range is very ample for plowing.

    Usually, the smaller engine will get better mileage, but the extra power is nice when pulling trailers up those nasty hills around Valdez. So consider the summer time useage as well. I'd recommend a 400-500cc automatic with a 5' plow.

    As far as break in, the factories recommend running them at variable speeds initially. Don't stay in the same RPM range for long periods of time. There shouldn't be any problem plowing with a new machine.

    Chain 'er up in the winter and have at it!
    AKmud
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    The porcupine is a peacful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....

  3. #3
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Jim

    Jim: Just drive around town and see what everyone is using. Yea a lot of guys are out moose hunting right now but there are still some around. My friends in town all bought Honda 500's, auto trannies and plows. My 350 gets much better mileage and is easier to handle on the trails. With a back back, it is something I can hande if stuck.

    A lighter machine than a 500 can handle it. You can either plow more often or take a smaller cut when the snow is the same as wet cement. Last winter was a breeze though. I do my 100 yard drive with a 10 h.p. Honda blower.

  4. #4

    Default

    Hey Guys,
    Thanks for the input.

    -chris

  5. #5
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    Default

    I have a plow on my outlander 400, works great.

    But I would think with the amount of snow you guys get down there you would run out of places to push snow, real quick! By the end of the season up here in Fairbanks I'm out of room, and we don't get nearly the ammount of snow you guys do.

    I would look into a snowblower mount, alot more $$ though!

  6. #6
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    Default

    I plow snow in Fairbanks with my Arctic Cat 500 auto. I also own a Grizzly 660 but the Cat shifts from forward to reverse easier since you don't have to step on the brake to shift it like you do the Grizzly. That said our snow is typically much lighter than yours in Valdez. I have a 60 inch plow and I don't have any problems with the average snow but the amount you are talking about would be nearly impossible to move with a quad. I've had a few big wet snowfalls which was too much for my machine to handle. The snow packs and the springs on the plow tip over or I would spin out.

  7. #7

    Default

    Here in Anchorage I thought about getting a plow for the 700 Prairie but decided to keep using my 10hp snowblower. Same reason as above - space to move it to. And you for sure ain't going to move the berm once it has set without beating your rig to death.
    Mike
    Mike
    www.alaskaatvclub.org
    There is a faster way off the mountain, might hurt a little though.

  8. #8
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default ATV

    If you do not already have an ATV for plowing, then you need an ATV for plowing. Or, that is what I would tell the wife. The ATV could also be used for hunting. Can't use the snowblower except in the winter. Got to think about the number of toys that you can own and how often you can use them.

  9. #9
    Member Dirtofak's Avatar
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    Default

    I would suggest a 2 stage snowblower for Valdez. There is a reason the old Yamahas are still being repaired instead of junked. They will throw the snow! The problem with ATV's has allready been brought up. You can push snow, but you cannot push it over the top. Most yards will fill up quickly when you can only push it 2-3 feet deep. I would look at the ease of shifting fwd to rev. IMO - The yamaha wheelers are a PITA. My older 400 Honda was also a PITA. My polaris is easy. BTW - Pick your dealer carefully. Make sure the machine is PDIed thoroughly, that they have a parts stock and will ship to you reasonably. The plow is the reason to tell the wife that you need a wheeler.

  10. #10
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    Default

    You need to get one of these! http://www.v8snowblowers.com/id6.html

  11. #11
    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Default

    Actually, this is what you need for a Valdez winter http://www.atvsnowblowers.com/SnowHogg_Brochure.pdf

  12. #12
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Running out of room....

    When I was plowing with my LT250, I had the Cycle Country manual lift plow. I got quite good at "stacking" the snow with it. I would straight push a lot of snow out of the driveway and stack it on either side. The trick is to get it moving and as you approach your "stack", pull back slightly on the lift mechanism and kind of feather the lift as you push the snow up and over the pile. I had piles at the end of my driveway that were measured at over 10' tall. It got to where I was in 3rd gear in order to get the momentum up to push the snow that high. Once the snow sets up a little, the wheeler will climb right up with no problem. It takes a little practice, but you can sure plow a lot longer than if you are simply pushing it to the side with an angled blade.

    You can't do this effectively with the winch lifts or the electric jack screw type lift. They simply don't lift fast enough to get started up the pile.
    AKmud
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    The porcupine is a peacful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....

  13. #13

    Default doesn't matter

    I used to have a 300cc kawasaki and now have a 450cc yamaha. Not much of a difference in pushing snow. The big difference is in the field and trying to get it unstuck. The smaller the machine the easier it is to get out. Better of fuel and easier to man handle. The big machines are getting way to big and heavy for extreme mountain climbing. To much power and weight. Supprised we don't read about more people being killed on them.
    As for the springs on the plow tipping the plow in heavy snow. Easy fix, just weld the darn thing down. Been there, done that.

  14. #14
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    Default

    I think that if I were in Valdez, I'd just get a truck with a blade unless I just needed a new toy. Even with a blower you're still restricted to how how high you can blow it and also room.

  15. #15

    Default Snow Plowing

    I live in Valdez. Most of my friends plow with Honda 450 Formans. They swear by them. I use one of my older 280 cc Suzuki king quads with a 48" cycle country plow with wings. It has never powered out. In any case I know for sure these two above listed models do well.

    If I was to buy a new machine it would probably be a honda. I have never seen one of these fail to start or get stranded in the woods. I have seen them pull super heavy loads on some sever hills (read mountains).

    There are probably other makes that do as well or better but I have no experience with them.

  16. #16
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    Default

    I have used both a Hoda Racher 350 ES and a Polaris 6x6 500 to push snow in Valdez. I actually preferred my 350 over the big 6x6. It had a smaller turning radius and with all four tires chained up it would push some snow. The 6x6 did push better but it was 400 pounds heavier and I did not have to chain it up though but the turning made up the difference. I also feel the Honda will last longer for this type of work. I have to agree that the reverse is somewhat of a pain on the Honda but nothing is perfect.
    If you go with a Foreman ES you wont go wrong.
    Just my $0.02
    Dave

  17. #17

    Default

    I use my 450 Foreman to plow my driveway, it has ES and I have never had any problems with it at all. As for the reverse button, it can be a pain but it's not that bad really. There are ways you can rig it so you don't have to push the button for reverse but I just left mine the way it is.

  18. #18

    Default

    Hey all,
    Thaks for the replies. I'm going to look at the foremen es and the rubicon.

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