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Thread: ATV for plowing

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    Default ATV for plowing

    Wondering if anyone has input on what I should consider in purchasing an ATV for plowing my driveway. Bought a recreational property that I (my wife) would like to be able to drive to in the winter. The access is less than 100 ft, uphill. Never owned an ATV before so....if you have ideas I would appreciate the input.

    Thanks

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Lots of options, a 6wheeler can push quite a bit of snow, but the cost is significant. Lots of guys plow with their big 700 plus cc belt drive hunting ATV's. If I was going to buy a wheeler specifically for the purpose of plowing my drive I think I would go with the Yamaha Big Bear. Manual transmission, reasonable priced, comes with good tires and will last practically forever. Add a winch to raise/lower the plow and a top shelf set of grip warmers along with a set of bar mitts and you will be all set for many years.

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    I use a Honda Rubicon which is shaft driven but also automatic or I can use electric shift. It does very well especially in low gear with heavy wet snow. We tend to plow two of our neighbors driveways which are both uphill. Never had a problem.

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    Just about any utility ATV with 4WD and a winch should be able to do it. Plowing is not particularly demanding.

    A couple of things to consider when plowing.
    1. Do you have a place to push the snow to at the end of the driveway? Plowing works best when you have somewhere straight ahead to push the snow to.
    2. You will probably want to put some kind of side shields on the plow blade--otherwise the snow mostly spills off the side of the plow, meaning that you have to make multiple passes to get everything.

    For only 100 feet, I would instead consider a tracked snow blower. Not as much fun as plowing with an ATV, but will do a much better job of clearing the snow.

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    It all depends on the amount of snow you receive every year on average.

    If you get minimal snow (say less than 50 inches of so) go with a 4wd wheeler. Belt drive is just fine. In fact, less trouble than using a manual shift. The smooth power delivery and speed of an auto belt drive really helps to adequately push deep snow. You'll move it quicker and easier.
    Use chains on the front wheels (or all four) for best traction. Just putting chains on the rear will result in poor traction as opposed to the other options.

    For major snow fall areas, go with a tracked blower as was mentioned. The blower will throw the white stuff much far than the wheeler will reasonably plow it and will make things much less cramped by winter's end.
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    I agree with the tracked blower idea. If it's remote property and toy aren't up there all the time, you might go through a freeze thaw, heavy dump, drifts, just settling snow, whatever, and that us where you will see the plows suffer. I did my Dad and I's driveways for 3 years with my bike and the plow. Last year we got a craftsman tractor with the snuffboxes attachment, and I'll never go back...

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    Default Stuff to look for re: ATV for plowing

    Its more fun to rid yourself of snow with an ATV than with a snowthrower. Plus you can put a kid or two on there with you and share the fun like we do here; though consider a big back seat thingy so they can't fall off.

    Beware of the larger plows for your ATV. Yes, they move a wider swath of snow at a time, but they'll bog/stop your ATV more easily, and cause more damage to both your yard stuff and your ATV when you hit things you shouldn't, while plowing. You'll still get the job done fine with a little 48" wide plow.

    Don't skimp on tires. If the stockers aren't working, toss'm and upgrade to tires with big lugs, if your ATV is big enough to support that.

    ATV-wise, figure out what you can afford, and go spend that amount. Either buy new, or almost new off of craigslist if you want to save a few grand; this time of year people are selling; great time to buy used. Figure in the winch, plow mount, hot grips, and if you're not a fanatic in shifting, only go automatic transmission - they're WAY simpler to operate and run. And no matter what else you do, get fuel injection (EFI); do not buy an ATV with a carburetor. EFI lets your ATV idle perfectly right after you start it even at 20 below.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Sure is hard to argue with the EFI comments but I am still a fan of a manual for plowing. Sure the belts have come a long way but the shifting system for forward/reverse is not designed to be changed repeatedly, you also have to use your hand to move the selector on an auto. The manual shifter is designed to handle the punishment of repeated shifting plus you never have to take your hands off the bars so it is possible to go without gloves if you use the gauntlet mitts w/ grip warmers. Almost no one has the patience to wait for their auto to come down to idle when doing the nearly constant forward/reverse work of plowing. This results in grinding the shifter which will shorten the life of your tranny. For most driveways with reasonable snow fall the Big Bear is almost purpose built for it off the show room floor. It comes w/ mud lites, is small enough to fit through tighter areas like between vehicles, it has a bullet proof tranny, high torque low end gearing, it's pretty cheap for a new ATV, diff lock, sips fuel, and it doesn't take up a ton of room in the garage or shed. A big bear w/ a good quality 48" plow will last many, many years!

    Honestly if I wasn't 6'5" and 265lbs I would use a Big Bear as my everything wheeler.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Agree completely with Hunt_AK... the ATV plow is only good if you are plowing within a day of the snowfall. After the snow has settled for a couple weeks, moving it with the ATV is a pain and becomes very hard on the plow and ATV chassis in the process.

    For way less than the price of a wheeler, winch, and plow, you can get a lightweight truck mounted plow package that will do a much better job in a fraction of the time. So if the only reason you're looking at the wheeler is for snow removal, I'd rate it as the last resort and far behind the blower and then the vehicle mounted plow.

    I use my old Suzuki 4-wheeler to plow my driveway most of the time and it does just fine for most snow loads. However, during a warming spell with heavy, wet snow, it hasn't got the "umph" to move very much snow very far. So, in heavy snow, I run it side-to-side over the driveway so I'm only pushing about 15-20 feet to get the bulk of snow off the drive. Then you can do lengthwise cleanup runs. It just takes 10 times longer than using a truck mounted plow.
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    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    Id say get a snow blower. Also if your properties driveway gets a burm in front of it from the grader like ours does, then prepare for hours of shoveling or hope the neighbor comes over with his tractor to get it cleared. Man when that burm gets high and frozen solid it is a nightmare to get rid of!

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    Thanks for all the input. Your experience speaks volumes.

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    I've had a Honda tracked snowblower for years. What a pain in the rear. I almost never use it and switched to a snow scoop because it was easier and far quicker. I was thinking about buying a new wheeler just for plowing. A friend just gave me the opportunity to buy a nice Polaris 800 Sportsman for a good price. I've had wheelers for years but never as big as an 800 and never one I intended to keep at home. This one will stay in town. The first thing I did was get a Glacier 2 plow system from Polaris with a 60" blade. Easy install, really good design, and the quick attach/quick release is so simple a 6 year old can do it. It plows well and makes the chore something to look forward to. When I cleaned up the hard, frozen-in snow piles the trucks had left I just took a few passes with a smaller bite. Simple and effective. I'd recommend a wheeler/plow to anyone who enjoys wheelers and who might want that wheeler to play with when the snow's gone.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    I've had a Honda tracked snowblower for years. What a pain in the rear. I almost never use it and switched to a snow scoop because it was easier and far quicker. I was thinking about buying a new wheeler just for plowing. A friend just gave me the opportunity to buy a nice Polaris 800 Sportsman for a good price. I've had wheelers for years but never as big as an 800 and never one I intended to keep at home. This one will stay in town. The first thing I did was get a Glacier 2 plow system from Polaris with a 60" blade. Easy install, really good design, and the quick attach/quick release is so simple a 6 year old can do it. It plows well and makes the chore something to look forward to. When I cleaned up the hard, frozen-in snow piles the trucks had left I just took a few passes with a smaller bite. Simple and effective. I'd recommend a wheeler/plow to anyone who enjoys wheelers and who might want that wheeler to play with when the snow's gone.
    I agree with you completely. I also have a track drive Honda, and I love it, but it has it's place, it can not do what my sportsman will do.
    Someone above posted using big lug tires for plowing, from my experience these work no better than stock, but the major difference is, you can chain up the stockers, where you cannot chain up the big lug tires, and chains work far better than no chains.

  14. #14

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    I have hand shovels, Honda Tracked Blower, ATV Plow, Truck Plow and a dozer. If I had to choose 1 for the intended purpose of maintaining a 100' driveway, on an occasional basis, I would choose the Honda Blower. Change the oil once a year, maybe a shear bolt every couple of years and you don't have to worry about it starting. The Honda Blower will chew itself through any burm. I often use mine to move the burms back, that have choked down my lot, due to plowing. I have found that plows work best on lots and blowers work best on drives.
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    Member Roger45's Avatar
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    If you have a gravel driveway you will be getting rocks in your blower causing never ending problems. I HATE my track thrower and would never buy another. On the other hand I bought an Arctic Cat 500 over a year ago with a snow blade...in 4x4 it has been awesome!
    "...and then Jack chopped down the beanstock, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and vandalism charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks the inconvenient questions." Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    With the gravel drive just drive on the first snow and blow the rest. If you want to keep the drive down to the gravel all year round then a blower is the wrong tool.

  17. #17

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    Good info so far.

    If you decide on a wheeler, even my little Honda rancher 350 with mud tires and a 52" plow works very nicely for clearing my 400 ft driveway in Fbks (light interior snow). Good luck.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    With the gravel drive just drive on the first snow and blow the rest. If you want to keep the drive down to the gravel all year round then a blower is the wrong tool.
    Absolutely. I drive over the first snows for a base layer. Then the first time of blowing, I put the blower in the UP position. After that it goes to the Scrape and Blow. I have graded up way for gravel with a single plow job than I have with hundreds of times using the blower. At one point, in the spring thaw, it looked like a gravel pile at the edge of the lot, due to using a plow...too soon. Plow blades are designed to go down down down...and they do it extremely well on gravel.
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  19. #19

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    [QUOTE=Akres;835827]Absolutely. I drive over the first snows for a base layer. Then the first time of blowing, I put the blower in the UP position. After that it goes to the Scrape and Blow. I have graded up way for gravel with a single plow job than I have with hundreds of times using the blower. At one point, in the spring thaw, it looked like a gravel pile at the edge of the lot, due to using a plow...too soon. Plow blades are designed to go down d
    own down...and they do it extremely well on gravel.

    I use a lawn tractor with a blade on a gravel driveway. As an experiment I took off the wear edge and replaced it with a piece of angle iron to keep it from digging in. It kind of slides over the gravel but does a good job on the snow. Seem to work good so far.

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    Just get a wife, Oh maybe I shouldnt of said that. I immediately regret saying that!! :-)

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