Plow Day from Hell

Discussion in '<a href= target=_blank ?>Sn' started by Alan, Apr 10, 2000.

  1. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    Saturday evening, April 8, forecast for 1-2&quot; of snow here in the Champlain Valley. No big deal, anything that falls will melt right off. Heard it raining during the night, supposed to turn to snow later, maybe the forecasters got this one right<p>Woke up Sunday morning, around 7:30. Maybe 1 1/2&quot; on the ground and snowing moderately. Weather Channel is now up to 2-4&quot;, still no big deal, it'll melt, none of the residence customers will want to be plowed so we won't have to mess with gravel drives.<p>9:00 AM Sunday, forecast jumps to 6-12&quot;, radar maps show heavy snow surrounding us. Had the Bugler sound &quot;Boots and Saddles&quot;. Equipment status is one truck (91) down with no heater blower motor, no big deal, we've got a spare truck. Took the mounting brackets for the small spreader off 97 last week, have to remount them and get the spreader on. Hang plows on 88 & 97 and get the spreader on, we're ready.<p>Son starts on the trailer park, I go load Magic salt and swing back by home. Son is here with a bad leak on the plow. Leak is because part of the lift linkage has broken and bent/broke a hydraulic fitting. I go to finish trailer park and spread salt, son takes sidewalk blower to one of the condos. Blower quits on him, by now there's 4&quot; plus and falling 1 &quot;+ per hour. He hand shovels sidewalks, then goes after plow parts. (Our Sno-Way dealer is the main reason we like the plows, 24/7 parts availability)<p>By now there's 6&quot; and gaining. Residence customers start calling, they get told we will plow but if they are on gravel we will not accept responsibility for damage<p>We end up at opposite ends of the route, he calls, spun out on snow pack and is now cross ways a driveway and every time he tries to move he gets closer to the deck on the house. &quot;Sit still, I'll be there soon as I can. I'm 12 miles away and traffic is going 25 mph. Leisurely drive and I'm there, snatch him out and we tag team the driveway, it's one of those where you have to push downhill to almost the garage and then push off crossways to clear it. Get that one done and separate again. Not 5 minutes later he calls again, truck popped a brake hose.<p>He goes home again, swaps his plow onto 91 (no heater motor) and heads back out. As long as you're traveling there is enough air coming out of the defroster to keep the windshield clear so we can at least work.<p>By now there's a foot on the ground. Bottom few inches are soaking wet from all the water on the ground when it started snowing. Pushes mean, won;t slide off the plow and if you leave any it's like ice under the wheels. <p>9:00 PM by now, we hold council of war at home. Son heads for the industrial park, which we had let sit all day, nobody needs plowing on Sunday. I head out for the final few residential customers (they ALL needed plowing before we were done), snowfall is over 13&quot; in some places. Earning our keep on this one! <p>Finally got all but four sites done, 2:30 AM, gotta sleep! I stop for two hours, then back out, one industrial shop, one small apartment building. Son gets 3 hours of snooze time and meets me at the Waste District site and we tag team it, then we both head for the last stop on the route, another Waste District site in the next town.<p>Finally DONE, at 10:30 this morning. And not a minute too soon.
  2. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 474

    Hope you weren't still under contract for that plow from hell. Our seasonal contracts were for Dec.1st-Mar.31st. We convinced our customers that it rarely snows in November or April, so those months are &quot;per plow&quot;. All our residentials (not many) are also &quot;per plow&quot;.<p>----------<br>Dave in S.Ontario<br>
  3. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    All our residential are per push, our condos are on a yearly contract that covers all winter and summer work. The bulk of the industrials are on season contract. Up until now we've carried them for the &quot;season&quot;. After yesterday I'm seriously rethinking that approach. This is the first time we've ploweind in April in the 6 years we've been in the business
  4. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,411

    Alan writes: &quot;Up until now we've carried<br> them for the &quot;season&quot;. After yesterday I'm seriously rethinking that approach. This is the first<br> time we've ploweind in April in the 6 years we've been in the business &quot;<p>Why re-think the seasonal thing? As you say, its the first time youve plowed in april, probably be another six years before you do it again. I am convinced, if done right, you come out ahead with the seasonal pricing approach, and the customer THINKS they come out ahead, which is the way you want it.<p>Bill
  5. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 474

    Prior to this season, our seasonal contracts for snow ran Nov.15-Apr.15. This year we charged our customers the same annual grand total but spread it out over four months and not five. We get the same money but are covered if we get a &quot;freak&quot; storm in november or april. They don't have to pay any more than they did any other year (unless it snows in november or april which is unlikely).<p>----------<br>Dave in S.Ontario<br>
  6. yortengel

    yortengel LawnSite Member
    Messages: 216

    I've had days like that. Just hang in there. Sound like you and your son are a good team.
  7. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    Dave, that's pretty much what I'm thinking of doing. The storms that hit either before freeze up or after spring thaw (like this last one) are usually hell to deal with. Soft ground, as the storm usually starts with rain, so you try to be careful not to tear thigns up too badly. I don't even want to think about what my hourly rate worked out to this time. The going was SO slow as we were constantly trying to carry the plows just off the ground. Fine line between leaving too much snow and tearing gravel/turf. If I do go to shorter contract dates the cost for the per push for the freak storms will be significantly higher than a normal, midwinter, storm
  8. plowking35

    plowking35 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S.E. CT
    Messages: 1,687

    Alan how did the lighter s-10's with the 8' plows do, with the weight of the snow being so heavy?<br>I find that my truck with 12K plus behind it does much better than Brians Ranger in the heavy wet stuff.<br>Dino<p>----------<br> Professional Ice and Snow Management <br>Products:Services:Equipment
  9. GeoffDiamond

    GeoffDiamond LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,651

    Sounds like a tough storm. I remember all of us comming back to the shop, in a convoy, dead tired. We couldn't even get in there must have been 9&quot; of snow and like 3&quot; of sleet and freezing rain, and rain on the top. I think we sent the v-plows in at front, to open up the place, and the other trucks just kept opening up the sides. There is only one thing i can say the place was a mess. I and everyone else was ready for sleep, and the guy who was driving the 650, backed it into the shop, and fell a sleep in the driver seat. I he didn't sing out, and i didn't sign him out either, figures he could sleep there as long as he wanted on the clock after what he had been through. The funny thing was when we all came in around 10 am the next morning he was still asleep in the truck, we got him up, when we started the truck up with him sitting in it.<br>:)<br>Geoff
  10. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    Dino, the S-10s were in over their heads on this mess. They are heavy for a small truck and I've added heavy rear bumpers and headache racks but they are still a small truck. Even the K-2500 was having trouble, and that's with 700 lbs or so of salt in the hopper spreader. Tires are getting down all on the trucks, the worst ones on the 2500, so that didn't help either. But, a buddy of mine was pushing with a K-3500 diesel dump with a V-box and load of salt and STILL having problems pushing a 9' Fisher-Price. Even with the down pressure on our Sno-Ways we could not keep the plow on the pavement, snow would ball up and lift the blade so you were then trying to get traction on an inch or so of smooth, packed material, virtually ice in consistency.<p>I really was thinking in terms of tire chains on the S I was driving. Cable chains on all four and stick to the gravel drives and I could have at least been able to push a full blade.<p>We have one site that has about a 1/2 mile of access road which the town plows when they get to it, it's not a priority for them. As it was I got there first yesterday morning and had to bull my way uphill through 12&quot; or so of the stuff. Snow was too sticky to slide off my blade (Lexan, I wonder how anyone with a rusty steel moldboard couls even move in it) and every little ways I would have to stop and back away, then go around the pile and keep going. While we were doing the lot the town truck showed up and swung through the site, then backed up and took two passes for us with blade and wing. That big Navistar with a full load of salt had no problem at all moving the stuff. I want one of those! :)

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