Depending on your location and the snow conditions there, you will need a particular attachment to address the difficulties each type of snow poses.
With winter right around the corner, it is time to dust off your skid steer snow attachments and take inventory to confirm you have the necessary equipment to meet the season’s demands. From blades and sweepers to pushes, snow blowers and buckets, understanding the uses and benefits of each is crucial to have a productive and efficient snow removal team. Weather conditions, application requirements and size are all important factors in deciding what snow removal attachments you need to move more snow faster.
“Depending on your location and the snow conditions there, you will need a particular attachment to address the difficulties each type of snow poses,” said Dave Aldrich, dealer development and service manager of FFC Attachments, a Paladin Construction Group company.
“Snow accumulation with a lot of moisture is much heavier in weight while light, dry snow can be swept away. Deep snow needs to be removed or piled in order to create the necessary path clearance. Uneven terrain, confined spaces, barriers and highly traveled areas create other obstacles that can be overcome with a versatile inventory.”
Light, Dry Snow Fall
Snow blades come in widths of 60 in. to 12 ft. (152 cm to 3.6 m) with 8-ft. (2.4 m) blades being the most common on skid steers. They are ideal for light, dry snow on roadways, in residential areas or business parking lots.
A snow blade can move snow up to 6 in. (15 cm) deep straight forward or to the side using a 30-degree angle to the left or right based on where you want the snow placed. When angled, the snow rolls from the forward most edge of the curved blade and is placed by the rear most edge. Because of the curved blade, pushing snow straight forward will end up with snow expelled from either edge. In areas where ground conditions can’t be seen, blades with trip edges provide a safer removal attachment. The trip edge keeps the entire blade from tripping over man-hole covers or uneven terrain.
Sweepers are most commonly used for depths up to 3 in. (7.6 cm) and while they work best on dry snow, variable speeds allow for snow with moderate moisture to be swept away as well. Polywire brushes pick up compacted snow and penetrate into concrete grooves and pavement to more effectively remove all snow and restore traction. Wet snow is harder to sweep but running at a higher speed with an angle or open broom will help these conditions.
Sweepers are appropriate in areas where snow has been primarily removed but the conditions call for a cleaner surface, or on heavily traveled roadways/sidewalks where the snow has been compacted.
Heavy, Dry Snow Fall
For snow depths over 2 ft. (.6 m), snow blowers create the best solution to relocate the material so the path can be cleared. The typical in-cab electrically controlled adjustable chute rotates left and right and the deflector controls the height of the discharge allowing you to position the material exactly where you need it to go. They also can blow snow into trucks that can haul away the material. If using a snow blower on material high in moisture it is important to check the shoot often for clogging. If not cleaned properly before storage, the snow and ice in or on the unit can freeze and cause damage.
Heavy, Wet Snow Fall
While buckets come in all sizes and can be used on any amount of snow accumulation or moisture, dedicated snow buckets are the required attachment for piling thick, wet snow. The moisture that can plug a snow blower is easily picked up and carried in a bucket. The design of a bucket provides the strength to pick up heavy material that other snow attachments can’t handle.
One caution when using a bucket is the importance of weight relationship between the bucket and your skid steer. For instance if you put a two-yard bucket on a 1,500-lb. (680 kg) skid steer and overload it with snow, you may tip over your skid steer.
Versatility in Depth and Moisture
High-tech blades operate in a variety of positions providing added versatility to penetrate drifts and roll material off to the side. V-shaped blades can push material, work as a traditional blade or pull material away from a barrier. Their design is effective for sidewalks, driveways and parking lots or pulling material away from barriers like curbing, fencing or building exteriors. The common in-cab advanced hydraulic controls attach into the wire harness on your skid steer and are used to position the blade as needed for a wide range of conditions and applications.
Snow pushes are effective in applications where material needs to be pushed or piled and come in sizes ranging from 10 to 12 ft. (3 to 3.6 m) wide and 30 to 48 in. (76 to 122 cm) high. The box construction gathers the material inside as you move forward making it ideal for greater depths of snow while also having the structure to take on heavy, wet material. Because it has no moving parts, it is a cost effective snow removal tool.
Options on some snow pushes provide another method for removing snow from buildings, fences and confined areas.
“Buckets, blades and snow blowers create a strong foundation of equipment that can handle a variety of conditions and applications,” said Aldrich. “Depending on your geographical location, you may need to expand your inventory to include other attachments, such as sweepers, pushes and high-tech blades, based on the regional weather conditions. If you are unsure about the issues your snow removal team may face this season, contact your local dealer and they will help you get the proper type of attachment for your snow conditions, applications and skid steer size.”
(Joe Budde is the light construction market manager of Paladin Construction Group, which includes FFC Snow Attachments, based in Dexter, Mich. For more information about FFC Snow Attachments, visit www.paladinconstructiongroup.com.)