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Suppliers talk benefits of back blade plows

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- Posted: April 30, 2020
Supplier-Boss back blade

Western Michigan is a hotspot for the use of rear-mounted back blade plows, and Grand Rapids-based Ebling Snowplows has been producing them for over 40 years.

Ebling’s Sales Manager Wade Madsen says back blades provide a safer option that maximizes the equipment on which it’s mounted, whether it’s a UTV, ¾-ton pickup truck or a Category II tractor.

He says back blades have evolved from the 6.5- to 8-foot containment model to units with wings that hydraulically open to as large as 16 feet as standard. In addition, mounting systems have improved in terms of durability, specificity and ease of hookup and disconnect.

“With a back blade, all of the snow plow operations are completed while moving forward. This is safer due to visibility and operator fatigue,” he says. “Trucks and tractors are built for pulling and towing. They are not specifically built for pushing. Pulling snow can only lead to extending the life of the vehicle investment.”

The popularity of rear-mounted back blades has traditionally been localized in areas like western Michigan and New York. BOSS Snowplow’s Director of Engineering Jon Coyne says with large dealers in those markets, it made sense for the company to explore the addition of back blades to their roster.

“The back of the truck is very much a new realm for us,” Coyne says, adding that the company is in the second season with their back blade plow. “The more we learned about them, we thought there was an opportunity for these to become more mainstream. We talked to customers to understand how they use it, what they liked and didn’t. We did extensive durability and impact testing so the structural design was solid.”

 

While the plow’s benefits are many, Coyne cautions that contractors new to the equipment need to be realistic in their expectations:

  • It can plow a lot of snow but not an unlimited amount
  • Snow can pile up under the truck and limit vehicle traction, which makes good tires essential
  • It will take time to get accustomed to operating with a plow on the back of the truck, how to safely make turns and to adjust to the depth of the equipment to prevent damage to garage doors, etc.

Understanding the possibility of damage to the plow, safety protections are built in to ensure that if the contractor hits something, the structural integrity of the plow remains intact, minimizing repair costs.

Front-mounted back drag plows

Front-mounted plows can also be used to back drag snow. Some companies offer conversion kits to existing plows whereas Hiniker’s C-plow is a front-mounted convertible plow that can be used as a conventional or back drag plow.

“A well-designed back drag plow provides increased underframe clearance to allow the plow to pull more snow without causing the plow to lift off the surface,” explains Mark Miller, inside sales manager for Hiniker. “Back drag equipment will cost more, but the ongoing benefit of daily increases in efficiency will typically offset the additional cost many times over.”

If opting for a front-mounted plow, Miller suggests asking these questions:

  • Is the equipment convenient to operate and easily convertible from conventional to back blade functions?
  • Will the equipment have sufficient capacity to pull a meaningful amount of snow without filling and lifting the plow frame?
  • Is there a means of capturing the snow behind the blade so it doesn’t spill off the sides?
  • If the cutting edge is rear facing, is there some form of trip protection provided in the event the operator hooks something? Protection mechanisms could be springs, a resilient cutting edge or hydraulic pressure relief.


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