Farm Build: Snow Plow for the Tractor

This fall I spent some time in the garage cutting and welding an attachment for our tractor so it could plow snow around the farm. Years ago I bought a pickup truck at a municipal auction, and it came with a snow plow. The truck rusted itself into ruin and is no longer with us, but the plow remained in reasonable shape. No longer having a plow truck and living as we do on a snowy hilltop, it seemed like a good idea to rework the plow into a tractor implement.

I completed the project before winter, early enough time to paint it before the weather turned too cold. But I didn’t want to show any pictures before we actually put it to work a bit. At this point it has been through its paces with a few good snow storms, so I think it is ready for public view.

I fabricated a bracket that attaches to the tractor loader. It reuses the original connections with the lower pins and an upper chain, permitting the plow to “float” along uneven surfaces. For the situations when I need to apply downward force to the cutting edge, I included two blocks that press down on the plow’s A-frame whenever I curl the loader forward. This arrangement seems to give the right balance, allowing me to choose between a floating blade and a scraping blade.

Here the loader is curled all the way forward to press the cutting edge against the snow.

For the hydraulics I was able to reuse the cylinders on the original plow, but the old hoses needed replacement. Since the tractor’s pressure and flow rates are quite a bit higher than a standard pickup truck setup, I found I needed to install flow reducing fittings to slow the angling function down, preventing things from slamming back and forth. I also decided to purchase a crossover relief valve, so if the corner of the plow catches on a stump or a rock it will allow the entire moldboard to angle away from the object rather than blowing out the hydraulic cylinder.

A closer look at the connections.

Nothing here is especially original or creative — plenty of folks have adapted snow plows to tractors. But in every homemade project like this, there’s a specialness for the creator connected to the odd bits of history built into it. All the 3/8 steel for brackets and gussets came from a heavy scrap of metal my Dad found for me and lugged up here. The 2×4 tubes were leftovers from a trailer I repaired in 2013. The trailer repair became necessary when an (unnamed) preschooler of mine managed to shift the towing pickup truck out of Park into Neutral when I stepped out to close the gate, and coasted backwards down the sloping pasture and through a wire fence, only stopping when the trailer jack-knifed itself into the bed of the truck. And the 2×3 tubes were offcuts from a chicken shelter I built in 2018, back when the farm was just starting to pick up some momentum and we realized we needed to get serious about our chicken infrastructure. The size of each scrap of steel influenced the way I designed the components for this project, fitting each one around what I had to work with. In the same way that homemade quilts and rag rugs crafted from salvaged fabric and worn out clothes carry old stories and memories, all other custom projects also contain their own tales. I love to pick up on that sense of the richness of a backstory whenever someone shows me something they’ve been working on. All our artifacts convey a little bit of our humanity.

2 thoughts on “Farm Build: Snow Plow for the Tractor”

  1. Wow. I’m impressed. You probably would have been a good heart surgeon, but I’m glad you’re a farmer! I also enjoy Just a Few Acres Farm’s (Ithaca, NY) YouTube channel. The owner,( former architect), loves to tinker with old tractors that he uses on the farm.

    1. I don’t you’d want me as your heart surgeon. You should see all the things that I end up “fixing” two or three times before I get them right. Nobody would want to deal with that on the operating table.

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