Cheeky Plowman

The “Cheeky Plowman” sounds like a character from Chaucer, maybe the ribald opposite number of Canterbury’s pious plowman. Here’s how I became the cheeky plowman.

This fall I spent some time under the welding helmet improvising improvements for the snow plow. I bought our farm truck from a school district auction and one of the perks is that it came with a snow plow. I’m glad to have it, but straight plows aren’t nearly as efficient as newer designs due to all the spillover wingdrowing.

I originally was going to build containment wings similar to the factory models, but after starting down that path I realized that the plow, which is already nine feet wide, would become obnoxiously stretched with wings. They would push the tips out all the way to about 10′-4″. Even with detachable wings, I know that in a snowstorm I’m not going to spend time messing with iced over hitch pins and frozen attachments, so I had to plan for something else.

Almost a perfect starting point.

Looking around for inspiration in my scrap pile, I happened upon a 24″ circular 1/4″ steel plate that was buried under angle iron cutoffs. It didn’t quite match the radius of the back of the plow, but it came close. I saw that I had the solution for a set of plow cheeks to contain the snow.

Front view

I built the cheeks with about 6″ extension from the front of the plow. I wasn’t sure how aggressive I should be. After using them all season, I think I could add another few inches. I might weld a 3/8″ extension to the leading edge to give it another 4″ or so. The wear edge is made from scraps of an old quarry loader tire from another project. There are other rubber blends that are more durable than tire scraps, but these were free.

Three pin attachment points

Each cheek is fastened in place with two pins in the outside rib and one pin through the moldboard. I used a stack of washers on each attachment to take up the slack. This seems to work well, since I can’t hear any rattling from the plow with these installed.

I’ve been pleased with the ability to contain snow in front of the truck. In early December we had a two foot snowfall and I needed to remove the cheeks for that one. The loads were just too great and I needed to be able to dump the excess snow off the edges. But other than that one big snow we’ve been dealing with light snows all less than six inches, and the plow cheeks are working well to reduce the number of cleanup passes I make.

Strapping on the gravel guard

I also fabricated a guard to use when the ground is soft while plowing gravel driveways. This was made from a 2″ schedule 40 pipe slotted out and strapped onto the bottom of the blade. It prevents the plow from being able to scrape off as much gravel and grass as it otherwise would. This comes at the cost of leaving a compacted skim across the surface. The factory solution is to use plow shoes but I’ve found that shoes tend to break or to create their own gouges when they aren’t perfectly aligned.

Using the guard on a warm snow day.

I’m not thoroughly pleased with the gravel guard. It is a hassle to attach and it needs to come off when transitioning to paved surfaces. The pipe is already showing wear. I might be able to fix the wear issues by having a welder hardface the bottom of the pipe. I’ve noticed that while the guard achieves it purpose in preventing the plow from knifing into gravel and peeling it up, it doesn’t prevent the plow from shearing off high spots (probably no plow design can avoid this, but it would be nice). So for this attachment I’m not as thoroughly pleased as I am with the cheeks. It has its place. Ideally that place would be on someone else’s truck…

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