Welcome to our first installment of Tools of the Trade. Periodically throughout the year we will highlight some of the tools that we use in our industry with pics, what it is, what it's used for, the importance of the task that it is used for and any pros/cons versus using a different tool.
If you have any questions about the tools we are highlighting or you would like to see us do an article on a specific tool, please leave a comment and we will answer it.
Not much landscaping going on during this time of the year, however snow removal is in full swing. What better tool to talk about than a snow plow. There are two types of plows that we use- straight blade and v-blade. Both types can be mounted to the front of a truck in about 5 minutes (once the mounting frame is "permanently" attached to the frame of the truck).
Straight blades are the old trusted stand-by. They are great for clearing large parking lots where you can windrow the snow to one side of the lot or the other. They are also ideal for back-dragging snow away from buildings or residential garages. Some straight blades have a small secondary blade on the back side of the plow to aid in back-dragging. With both straight blades and v-blades you can either get them in the standard steel or polycarbonate material. With the poly blade, you don't have to worry about rusting and they are a little bit lighter.
Straight blades are also made for larger equipment as well. We have several bigger pieces of machinery that we run either blades or snow pushers on. The snow pusher looks similar to the attachment on the right. It is essentially a box with one side missing. The pusher is great for clearing large sections of parking lots as it holds a lot more snow than a v-blade can.
The v-blade is a better option for "containing" snow than the traditional straight blade. With the v facing fully to the front you can collect snow and leave less of a trail as you plow. This is ideal when doing final clean-up on a property or when you are needing to clear snow straight from one end to another. The v is very versatile as it can also be used as a straight blade for wind-rowing larger lots. With the v fully retracted back, it works well to make the first pass through a deep snow as it acts just like a cattle pusher on the front of a train. It clears the snow off to both sides of the truck.
Regardless of the plow used, they are controlled by some type of hand controller inside the vehicle. The two controllers to the right are the two most common for v-blades. It comes down to personal preference on which type snow fighters use. The top one can be mounted to an armrest, center console, or straight to a seat. The bottom picture is one that straps to your hand or when partially dis-assembled can be mounted to your dashboard or leg with a few modifications. If you zoom in on the picture you can see the various functions they control. The control for a straight blade (not shown here) is much simpler. It is typically a small box that can be mounted just about anywhere. It is a small joystick that controls left, right, raise, lower.
This was a very brief run-down on the snow plows that we use. There are many variations of these blades as well as accessories that you can purchase that can aid in snow removal as well. If you have any questions in regards to snow plows, please leave a comment below and we will answer it.