Thinking about my snow plow truck investment recently, I can’t be sure that I actually bought a snow plow with what might be called a truck attached to it.
Since the snow plow’s purchase, I have run into a cascade failure from the truck. The first thing I knew before the purchase was a transmission needed to be repaired or replaced. So, a sizable chunk of my savings went to replacing the destroyed transmission. I could drive the truck using second gear and work my way to fourth, but there were no first or reverse gears. I drove it to the mechanic back in September making sure I didn’t need to reverse when I parked it. The mechanic took almost 3 weeks to fix the truck because as he began removing parts to get to the transmission, he found the flywheel was the wrong part, the starter decided to implode, the engine was leaking oil like a sieve, and the four wheel drive was on its last leg. I decided I could afford to do the necessary transmission, starter, and flywheel, but the other repairs would have to wait. Needless to say my confidence in the truck was visibly shaken as I sputtered home with teeth rattling inside the cab’s panel-less doors. The plow, however, was beautiful and has operated like new, but the truck was held together by creative, improvised mechanic work and lots of luck.
Surprisingly, on the first day of real accumulative snow fall, the truck would not start. It took a volt meter and a neighbor to help me track down all the bad electrical connections in the engine compartment. Once the connections were all cleaned, the truck fired up and we were ready to begin plowing the quarter of a mile easement/driveway as well as our mile of private road to the county maintained road. The truck still rattle a little, but with the clean electrical connections and correct flywheel it performed like a champ and continued to do so, until last night.
Last night, I began to hear a weird scraping sound. It sounded like metal scraping against metal, piercing enough to make me grit my teeth from the discomfort of whatever damage was occurring under the plow truck. Before the sound appeared, I was attempting to move slushy snow off the easement and I hit one of the embankments with a thud. After the thud, the truck began its incessant high pitch scraping noise. I crawled under the truck and saw what had happened. The homemade gas tank that was held in place by perforated galvanized steel duct strap had shaken itself loose enough to rub against the driveshaft. The irony is my neighbor and I were riding in his truck the weekend before this past Christmas and we heard a similar sound. His muffler was scraping against his drive shaft until it cut the aluminum drive shaft in two. If it wasn’t for my neighbor’s misfortune; I probably would have a two piece drive shaft myself.
So what to do in the midst of winter? The shop isn’t built; the conditions to work outside are miserable, and I just couldn’t justify working on it while lying in the slushy snow. So, I took a page out of the previous owner’s manual on how to improvise a failed part until better conditions arise this summer. I went to a North 40 store and purchased four 900 lb. rated ratchet straps and used two of them to ratchet the gas tank, still held by the perforated galvanized steel duct strap, away from the drive shaft. The system will hold until this year’s snow season ends, but this summer, among all the other summer projects, the snow plow is getting an overhaul to be a truck again.
Overall, I can’t be too hard on the Ford pickup. It has done an excellent job cleaning up the property and easement this season. It has enough gusto to plow a large amount of snow before needing to turn out, and it can even pull out a suburban stuck off the side of road in snow embankment. This summer with a few tweaks here and there the truck will be a superb specimen of a snow plow truck that was ever out working on the road.