Mr. Plow vs. the Frozen Tundra

by Ben N on November 27, 2013


IMG_2753 I think I’ve started a new annual tradition…. It involves me, a sled, and steel implements frozen to the ground in my backyard. Today, I finally felt like I was starting to catch back up on my work,  and it was sunny outside. Since we had our first real snow two days ago, it seemed like it was the right time for me to rig up the electric tractor for winter.

I already owned an old, beat-up E-10 Elec-Trak, but was pretty excited to find a good deal on one this summer which included a snow plow. The E-15 also has a larger mower deck (3 blades instead of 2,) but the blade motors really needed rebuilding. So, I kept mowing my lawn with the E-10, figuring I could sell it at the end of summer, and move on to the E-15 with it’s mighty large wheels, multiple electronic speeds, and a four-foot snow-plow!

I trekked into the backyard, where both the plow-blade and 135 lb. weight bar were now solidly frozen to the earth. The plow had some good handles to it, so I was able to get a grip and pull it free. The weight-bar is as big as my thigh, but weighs as much as a dead body. It also has near exponential surface area freezing it to the ground. I grabbed my three-foot crowbar, stabbed it as best I could into the frozen tundra, wedged a 2×4 under it and pried. After a few tries, I was able to loosen it from the ground, bringing a giant frozen dirt clod with it.

I rolled the weight bar into my toboggan and towed it to the driveway, the rope wrapped around my waist as I sled-dogged forth. After tipping the bar out, I made the return trip and repeated with the plow.

Installing the plow on the tractor actually went pretty well. The front has a “stabber” connection which is simply slots and tabs for the metal to connect at.  Further back, two sliding bolts can move out of the way, the back of the plate is lifted into place, the bolts go back and cotter pins are added. Easy as pie.

The next couple  of steps only took a little more figuring. An arm is mounted on the right, which raises and lowers the… Wait, no it doesn’t! Hmmm. Where’s that hole? Ah, this one swivels the plow left and right. Looks like this rod goes in that hole and add another cotter pin. A handle on that arm pulls a cable to release the lock for the plow angle. I lubricated both ends of the cable and got the handle and release to loosen up, but it still seemed like it didn’t lock the plow in position as best it could.

I looked and found the point on the plow where the “lift tape” attaches. The E-15 has a small electric winch in the front which attaches to the plow or mower deck to raise or lower it. I didn’t have the proper pin that should go there, but did have handy a bolt with matching nut and washers that was just the right size. I flipped the switch to run out some slack, and attached the lift tape to the plow.

So far, so good. Then I tried installing the weight bar.

The weight bar is a home-made design. It’s a four-foot long piece of steel pipe, six inches in diameter, and filled with, as best I can tell, bits of neutron star. The only thing at all easy to grasp on it are two prongs that bolt to the tractor. Of course, you can’t hold those because they go INTO the tractor. This left me with a very cold, dense, and slippery thing to drop on my toes. I rather like my toes and was figuring out the best way to protect them, while still being able to plow my driveway this winter. I eventually settled on a combination of several 2x4s, a trolley jack, a heat gun, and a BFH*. Through careful lifting, jacking, smacking, and grunting, I was able to will the bar into place, while keeping my toes the heck away from under there. I still did need double-jointed wrists to reach inside and put the nuts on the bolts.

Perhaps in the spring, I can grind off the mounting tabs and properly weld on ones appropriate for the “stabber” mount system. Not only would it be ten-times easier to put on the weight-bar, but I could use it on front as well. Handy for those times you want to tow a parade float without doing a pop-a-wheelie.

With both the blade and counter-weight finally installed, it was time for a ride down my driveway. I put the transmission in Low and pressed forward into low speed. The tractor quickly picked up speed and cruised down the drive. I pressed down on the lift control and the blade engaged the driveway with a guttural scraping clatter. My driveway was mostly clear of snow, so this really wasn’t a very good test. However, there was still plenty of snow on the shoulder of my road, just past the end of the driveway.

I plowed right out onto the road, four-foot steel blade slanting to the right, barreling past my mailbox. Snow sneered and recoiled from the blade, retreating to the ditch. No nasty “We couldn’t get to your mailbox…” note from the mailman THIS winter, no siree-Bob!

I pulled a U-turn and headed back to my driveway, this time shoving snow beyond the right-hand edge, baring frozen dirt and grass.

Yes, this tractor will do nicely.

As I parked my mechanical beast, I was pleased. I could now make use of those wheels and batteries year-round. I don’t  exactly look forward to the next snow, but I do look forward to moving it out of the way without gasoline or an aching back.

Like a large pile of neatly-stacked firewood, a prepared (and gasoline-free) snow-plow gives me that  warm feeling inside, all winter long.

’til next time, stay charged up.



*Big Frackin’ Hammer.

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