Using your tractor to move snow this season? Check out these tips.
Power Up: Most small lawn tractors aren’t a good choice for plowing or blowing snow. Their transmissions aren’t strong enough to handle the strain of a wet, sticky snow. Unless you have a high-quality lawn tractor, you’ll want to upgrade to something more substantial. My favorite tractors for plowing snow are the Farmall Cub and the Farmall A.
Get a good blade. Many old tractors here in the midwest have front blades – either factory originals or homemade ones that replace a loader bucket. I far prefer plowing with a front blade, but a rear blade can get the job done, too. Either way, pay attention to the angle of your blade. It’s often useful to angle to one side or the other while clearing large areas, and then straighten the blade to clean up and push snow into banks.
Accessorize. Winter is a great time of year to accessorize your tractor – those tire chains and weights come in handy!
Push it clear. Be prepared for your snow pile to stay around for a while. Push banks further away than necessary in order to allow for more pile-up as the season progresses.
Height Matters. Set your blade to the right height off the ground. This is especially important if the ground isn’t frozen – too deep, and you can dig up half the gravel on your driveway. Some blades come with guards (shoes) on the corners that keep you from digging in too deeply.
Take it Slow. Especially in heavy, wet snow, you’ll need to take your time plowing. Don’t push your tractor too quickly. If the snow is deep, it’s probably better to take multiple passes (lowering your blade each time) rather than trying to get all the snow cleared in one push.
Protect your Transmission. Plowing can be hard on your tractor – particularly the transmission. You can help prevent damage by coming to complete stop before shifting from forward to reverse. Accelerate slowly, and don’t ride the clutch. Change your transmission fluid periodically.
Be visible. Plow snow in daylight hours. If you must use your tractor to plow after dark, use your headlights and be aware of your surroundings. Never plow after dark without working headlights.
Bundle Up. Take care to dress for the weather. Layers are your friend – particularly if you’ll be stepping off your tractor to shovel. A seat cushion can make a big difference. If you don’t have one, bring along an old towel to cover the bare metal seat.
Be Generous. Snowplowing can be a great way to show kindness to your neighbors. Pay particular attention to the elderly and single women in your neighborhood – they might benefit from some extra help.