Putting a Snow Plow on an 80 (1 Viewer)

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Straight up- this is a long read with lots of pictures but hopefully it will help anyone looking to put a snow plow on their 80.

Due to multiple factors including limited finances, a rusty 80, my old plow truck burning up last winter, and general unwillingness to enter into car payments I decided to take an 8 foot quick-switch Fisher plow off a donor F350 and put it on my 80. Now, this was not an easy decision nor was it entered into lightly since the plow frame would radically reduce my ground clearance(that I worked so hard for) and pretty much puts an end to my off-roading, at least when the plow frame is mounted to the truck. So this is not going to be a project for everyone.

My late model 1995 truck is set up like so: factory suspension with no lift, 255-85 tires on factory wheels, 30mm spring spacers on the tired factory springs to get back to factory height, Firestone Coil-Rite air bags in the front and rear suspensions, and the front sway bar has been removed due to the axle brackets breaking off the axle. So that's where I started from. Actually the front air bags were added to support the weight of the plow and I did a thread about those here: Added Front Air Bags

So starting from the very beginning, living in Maine means dealing with snow and ice It's just paht of the deal up heah buddy. If you don't hire out your plowing you really need a plow truck of some type unless you have a small driveway and can get by with a snowblower. My yahd is pretty big and I have always used some kind of beater rusted out wreck of a plow truck to keep it all clear. Some folks put a plow on their daily driver but plowing is just about the worst thing you can do with a truck or to a truck and it typically kills the front end and warps the frame in pretty short order. Some plow manufacturers have put out small light homeowner plows that are usually plastic to reduce the weight and stress on the vehicle but it seems like they really won't handle much heavy wet snow. A real plow runs upwards of 700 pounds and many are close to 1000, and the weight of these ruins the front end of most trucks in very short order.

If you have a nice heated garage and a flat place to park then there are drive-up plow mounts that can be removed completely between storms to keep the weight from killing the truck. I don't have either one, and they also run upwards of $3000 installed and that simply was out of my price range. I haven't ever paid more than $750 for a plow truck and usually get at least 3-4 years out of them before retiring them, usually due to mechanical issues or simply falling apart due to rust.

If you don't live in the rust belt there's no way you can truly appreciate how pervasive and insidious the road-salt rust is. Here's an example:
KIMG0037.JPG


That's what's left of a 1990 F350 1-ton dually frame that's had a 1/2 inch reinforcing strip welded to the bottom of it. It is completely and truly shot, and the rest of the frame is no better. The frame is warping and trying to spread apart and the ratchet straps are trying to hold it together. So despite it having a smooth running 7.5 liter V-8 and fully functional running gear, this truck is totally and completely done for. This is what living in the rust belt means. And just to rub salt in the wound-yeah, it truly is our tax money at work. :censor: Awesome.

So anyway, the cab on this truck is also rusted out and finally collapsed to the point that the cab floor was actually in contact with the exhaust headers. This caused a cabin fire when the carpets caught fire while plowing after a storm, which was a bit exciting but not my first time there either, and it was extinguished without much real fire damage:




KIMG0173.JPG


So that pretty much sounded the death toll for this plow truck, although I did finish up the winter still plowing with it-just in short doses with cool-downs between them. The collapsing cab also jammed the driver's door and it would no longer open. I was going to force it but realized that the door latch was probably the only thing holding the whole back wall of the cab on, so I just crawled across to the passenger side to get in and out- not an easy feat when the roof has also sagged a good 3 inches. I had spent the previous summer rebuilding the plow with new pins, valves, solenoids, springs, and welding up the cracks and the plow itself was in pretty good shape and was working well. So at least I had that going for me. This type of plow was an electric over hydraulic, which lent itself to a pretty simple installation, and the 80 was fully paid for and had the front end rebuilt a few years ago, so that was another plus. My plow trucks usually have a broken windshield and no brakes, since the brake lines rot out faster than I can fix them and the calipers bind up with rust. As long as it can go forward and backward, and the heat, wipers, and plow work then it's a decent beater plow rig, all-and I do mean all-else is optional. A hard look at the budget showed we could either get another super-cheap beater and keep on keeping on, or I could actually spend a bit less and put the plow on my beloved and trustworthy 80 which is, finally, getting rusted to the point she's probably only got 4-5 years left on the road. As much as I hated to do it, the choice to put the plow on the 80 did make sense. So I gritted my teeth and set about doing it.

Firstly, as with all 80 projects, I searched here on Mud. Outside of a few threads with pics like this one: 80 Series Land Cruiser - Snow Plow? I couldn't really find much info. Seemed like the folks that had plows had small ones that were either done in a shop or by someone else, and there was not a lot of info about how it was actually done. Armed with the sure knowledge that I'm just too stupid to know when something's impossible, I set about swapping my full sized plow over.

I have a non-winch ARB front bumper and a 4x4 Labs rear(on the shortened frame) that I wanted to keep because I'm a Paramedic and do use my rig for rescues occasionally. This usually means I don't get to pick the trail but I need to get up it somehow, and often that means incurring some body damage. No big deal, she ain't no mall queen by a damn sight. And because of my work, the worse the weather gets the more I need to get to work, so there's that. And, the whitetail deer up here can run up to 200 pounds or more and they love to stand in the roads and lick the salt- usually on a blind corner. I'm not going to mention the Maine moose because those are so big no bumper in the world would help- they can wreck Peterbilts. So keeping the bumpers was very desirable, and actually worked out well to help with combining the geometry of the Fisher plow and the Land Cruiser.

So some pondering with a tape measure between the two trucks showed that the LC axle was much more forward than the Ford one, as the F350 had leaf springs and the LC has coils. This meant that keeping the frame mounted push plates-the part that transfers the force to the frame- clear of the front axle meant moving the entire plow forward. As the A-frame of my plow was about 26 inches from the hinge pins to the lifting chain and I didn't want to change that(to make repair parts simple) this meant that the pin location had to be pretty much set and the plates would have to accommodate that measurement. So that's where I started my layout from. The 80 frame was also almost 3 inches narrower but that really wasn't a problem since I couldn't use the push plates from the Ford anyway- they were totally wrong for my front end. My plow pin centers also needed to be 9 inches from the ground to keep my A-frame level, and that gave me the other measurement. So now I had somewhere to start.

So how to mount the push plates? I was wanting to keep them removable in case I ever wanted to do real wheeling again or transfer the plow to another 80 someday, so I settled on using as many factory bolts as possible. This will have to be proven in use as I have no way of testing the mounting any other way. My ARB was mounted from underneath by 4 large 12mmx1.25 bolts and on the sides by 4 more 10mmx1.25 bolts, so I planned on using all of those. I also wanted to engage the front crossmember as a reinforcement to take some of the force of pushing, which can be considerable when striking a icy snowbank or hidden rock or stump(see why plowing snow is so hard on a truck?) This led to some fitting as the bottom of the front crossmember on my truck sits at an angle, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

First job was to cut the existing mount off the Ford and see what I actually had to work with. The cutting torch left me this mess:
KIMG0218.JPG


But the center section with the pin mounts is the only part of this I needed. It was cleaned up and narrowed to fit the new frame using the chop saw and lots of elbow grease. It cleaned up well:
KIMG0076.JPG


This is where the tabs on the plow A-frame are mounted to pins on the truck. Large pins go through those holes to hold the back of the plow and most of the force of pushing goes through the pins, through this bar, and through the push plates into the frame. It needs to be right, and reusing the factory piece instead of making a new one made good sense. It had to be shortened to 30-1/2 inches to fit the new frame dimensions. Next I had to make something to mount it to.

I made cardboard templates repeatedly until I got something that was easy to make and covered all the mounting spots. It was very different than the Ford plates:
KIMG0223.JPG


I decided that 1/4 inch plate was going to be sufficient for the forces involved since they would be reinforced many different ways. I was going to make them myself but after realizing how much cutting was involved I decided to have them made. This turned out to be a very wise decision as they came out uniform and right to size, which certainly would not have been the case if I tried to hack them out of solid plate with an angle grinder. I'm sure it could be done that way or with a handheld plasma cutter, but the shop cut them to my print and charged me just over $100 for the whole job, which saved me countless hours of screwing things up and having to redo them. Print to follow!

To be continued-
 
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Joined
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pushplates.jpg


Here's the print I gave to the shop. The plates fit with almost no fitting and seem to be working well so far. Don't sweat the 158 degree angle too much as the final product ended up more like 156-1/2, but it wasn't an issue for the shop they said. The plates were cut from 1/4 inch stock on a CNC plasma table, came out great, and I couldn't believe the price was so reasonable.

So with the plates done I had to make the rest of of the pieces. They mocked up like so:
KIMG0099.JPG


The I-beam is the beam that holds the pins, the angle iron above that engages the crossmember, the front large angle iron tabs engage the lower bumper bolts. These got reinforcing gussets added later.

Locating the frame holes was not an easy task as on my frame they were close but not exactly uniform from side to side and top to bottom. I made some mistakes here and had to do some filing to get the bolts to fit, but I didn't want the holes to be too oversized because of the forces involved. I finally got it done but if I had it to do over again I would have made some threaded punches to put in the holes to mark the centers. I tried to do it from measurements and had a hard time of it since the frame is pocketed inside the ARB bumper. My crossmember mount had to be fitted as well:
KIMG0125.JPG


I clamped it to the frame crossmember and tacked it, then took the whole thing off and welded in the crossmember. The lower tabs are visible at the top of the pic. Yes, I know my welding sucks. It's ugly but it don't break. Someday I'll have a nice MIG and be able to lay down beautiful stacks of dimes, but for now all I have is an old Lincoln tombstone welder. It gets the job done.

So the angle I mentioned earlier is shown here:
KIMG0129.JPG


I'm not sure what the actual angle is because I never measured it since I just tacked everything together to fit. It looks to be about 15 degrees? Not sure if this is how it's made or if mine got bent, but looking it over I don't see any other signs of damage to the crossmember so I'm guessing they come this way. This piece is made from 1/4 inch by 4 inch angle iron and should be pretty rugged. The lower tabs are made from the same stuff since I had some lying around.

Once it was pretty much together it looked like this:
KIMG0156.JPG


The material is all 1/4 inch thick but different sizes. You can see the tab gussets in this pic. The pin mount is at the bottom and the front of the truck would be toward the left in this picture. I welded in the washers just to take up the space the ARB mount takes up on the forward bolts. Those may have to get some bolts through them but I don't know how I'd get nuts into the frame back there.

To be continued-
 
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OK, so once I got to this point the rest went pretty well. Got it primed and painted:
KIMG0160.JPG


You can see the angle iron reinforcements along both outsides in this picture. These took some careful measuring as the push frame here already fits outside the ARB bumper, which fits outside the truck frame, and I did't want the tires to rub. These are 1/4 x 1-1/2 angle and leave plenty of clearance for my tires even at full lock. Since these will be a rusty mess in less than 2 years I didn't bother grinding the welds to look pretty...

So with it all mounted up the front lift frame clears the bumper like this:
KIMG0166.JPG


Plenty of room for the ARB and good geometry for the lifting cylinder, but look at my poor ground clearance! It's gone!

Actually I still have 7-1/2 inches of ground clearance left but still, it's quite a reduction.

The lift frame was braced with 3/8 by 2 inch straps:
KIMG0212.JPG


And that finally gets us to this:
KIMG0215.JPG


Success! The plow clears the bumper at full angle both up and down, the weight is being handled by the front air bags, and the plow works perfectly. As soon as I get the lights fully wired up I guess we're ready for snow!

It brings the truck weight up to a little over 6800 pounds with the plow installed and a full tank of gas, but that's the price you pay for the durability and ice-scraping ability of a real full size plow. I am running 25 psi in the front air bags when the plow is on vs. the 15 psi I run with just the plow frame, and I may go up to 30 psi since it still seems a bit low. I can go up to 35 if necessary since the Firestones are rated for it.

Let's see, what did I forget to mention? Oh, due to corrosion in the threads I wound up rethreading all the frame nuts to a larger thread. The 12mm bolts were tapped to 1/2-20 and the 10mm to 7/16-20. This cleaned up the holes without going too oversized. All the frame fasteners were replaced with grade 8 flanged bolts. The lift frame and braces are using 5/8 grade 8 bolts, and the ones going into the bumper have 1/4 inch backing plates.

I also forgot about having to remount the steering damper. I just got some longer metric 10.9 bolts and drilled access holes to allow them to reach the factory crossmember where they normally mount. These were more holes that I got wrong and had to mess with, but at least these weren't structural.

I won't know for sure until I hit some snowbanks with this setup but it does seem hella stout and hopefully will take the beating.

I hope this helps anyone looking to put a snow plow on their 80.
 
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Howard705

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Cool project. Plan on doing this to my rusty DD 80 one day as my '79 40 with a 6.5 old Western is constantly needing major rust repairs. Looking for an older Myers to put onto it though. 100% correct about overuse of salt. Waste in every way. I've had 12ga replacement panels go through and had to re- replace. It's never ending even with washing.
 
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Sometimes during the summer months it can get to almost 120 dregrees in the desert where i live. So I've often though about moving to a location that has 4 seasons. But after reading this i think I'll stay right where I'm at. At least living with the heat i don't have to plow it, or shovel it, and best of all, zero rust problems to worry about.
 
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Sometimes during the summer months it can get to almost 120 dregrees in the desert where i live. So I've often though about moving to a location that has 4 seasons. But after reading this i think I'll stay right where I'm at. At least living with the heat i don't have to plow it, or shovel it, and best of all, zero rust problems to worry about.

True - but there are places with snow that don't have the roads salted. I'm fine with the snow but would really struggle with the salt and rust.
 

JOFS

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Nice project,
If you want to come for a visit I would be happy to spray it with wool wax to at least try to delay the rust progression. It won't help the wear and tear of plowing.

Has done a great job for my trucks.

These trucks are great to drive in our Maine winter conditions but just the salt sucks on them. I bet it will plow like a beast.

Good luck
John
 
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Yeah, that salt is a bitch but the calcium they are using now is even worse. These are the rear brake backing plates I had to replace off my rig next to the new parts:
KIMG0120.JPG


Wound up having to rebuild the rear axle even though there was nothing wrong with it except the rusted plates.

You'd think with all the metal rusting off my rig it would be getting lighter and the gas mileage would gradually improve, but I ain't seen it yet...
 
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Well, still haven't needed to plow with it yet but have been doing some driving around with the plow on to get the feel of it, check for handling issues, watch clearances, etc. Noticed a few things.

First off it REALLY matters what angle you have the plow set at when driving at highway speeds. At first I thought I had something going in the front axle because it seemed to be pulling to one side so bad with the plow on. Usually you drive a plow truck with the plow angled to help with the radiator airflow, but the truck was pulling hard to one side. Then tried angling the plow the other way and it was pulling to the other side just as hard! When it's straight to the road ahead it does not pull at all. I wouldn't have thought a rig this heavy would be so sensitive to air pressure but it is an 8 foot plow, so apparently it's big enough airfoil to make a big difference. That was surprising.

Secondly my ground clearance REALLY sucks now. Even with 30psi in the front airbags the plow frame sticks down so far that I am scraping on curbs and parking lot dividers that I used to not even notice. That's unpleasant, so I will most likely be detaching the entire headgear for the summer months. I can't see any good way to improve the ground clearance while maintaining the proper plow frame geometry.

And lastly all the added weight makes the acceleration and braking feel pretty darn mellow. Not a bad idea for slippery surfaces really, but a bit of a pain on dry roads. So there's another reason to pull the headgear in the summer. Or set the truck up for a minute-mount plow setup where the entire lifting headgear comes off with the plow when you're not using it.

Hope this helps anyone thinking about putting a plow on their 80.
 

Howard705

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Little late now but pull the bumper and mount the plow back further? Tehy have to brutalize the front especially trunion brgs etc. mounted ahead adds even more weight than the plow itself to the axle and unloads the rear. Manual steering my 40 unlocked on dry pavement is brutal. Maybe find some cheapo HD front springs that someone's selling used - to compensate for it hanging low. I see 1/2t plows all around in winter with BAD stinkbug and some only leveled by a salt spreader way out back. My stock 40 with all that weight almost doesn't move raising the plow. I angle it in town to narrow it up some and leave low to the pavement for visibility and cooling. It plows like a mule and isn't much faster. Worst thing in it is traveling in traffic and fogged windows. Every year it;s something rust related. Had to put used fenders on it and repair the BADLY rusted frame at the front axle last year. Both sides almost completely through.
 
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Well we just had a bit of snow this week- about 20 inches of fluffy stuff so the plowing was pretty easy. I did hit a few hidden rocks and banged the plow pretty good a couple of times, but nothing broke and it piled the snow up in great shape. I'm going to call this one a win!

I got lucky. The geometry on this setup seems to be spot-on or at least pretty damn close. It scrapes right to the pavement and isn't digging up the dirt too badly, carries well in transit, clears the bumper and body at every angle and lift, and goes on and off easily. There haven't been any issues with my home built plow frame as of yet, although like any plow I'm sure I can break something if I'm not careful with it.

It's a lot of plow for the truck but with the added air bags it seems to be handling it all well. I'm airing up the front air bags to 30psi with the plow on and down to 15psi with it off, to compensate for the heavy headgear and frame that stays on the truck. I'll probably drop down to 5 with the headgear off or maybe just remove the bags entirely when removing the headgear.

In retrospect I do wish I had gone with thicker material for the push plates though. Not having any trouble with the ones I made but it'd give me a little more peace of mind if they were thicker, maybe 3/8 instead of 1/4 inch. But these are working well so I guess I should just be happy with it the way it is!

This has been quite a project and I learned a few new things along the way. And I didn't set my garage on fire even once this time, so that was good. (That's the reason for the four fire extinguishers out there, I'm learning from my past mistakes.) Everything is working well and my amateur welding seems to be staying together. I think the hardest part of the whole project was wiring up the plow lights to work correctly! That was a real pain, but it got done finally and they are still working.

Hope this helps anyone else wanting to put a plow on their 80.
 

Howard705

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Well we just had a bit of snow this week- about 20 inches of fluffy stuff so the plowing was pretty easy. I did hit a few hidden rocks and banged the plow pretty good a couple of times, but nothing broke and it piled the snow up in great shape. I'm going to call this one a win!

I got lucky. The geometry on this setup seems to be spot-on or at least pretty damn close. It scrapes right to the pavement and isn't digging up the dirt too badly, carries well in transit, clears the bumper and body at every angle and lift, and goes on and off easily. There haven't been any issues with my home built plow frame as of yet, although like any plow I'm sure I can break something if I'm not careful with it.

It's a lot of plow for the truck but with the added air bags it seems to be handling it all well. I'm airing up the front air bags to 30psi with the plow on and down to 15psi with it off, to compensate for the heavy headgear and frame that stays on the truck. I'll probably drop down to 5 with the headgear off or maybe just remove the bags entirely when removing the headgear.

In retrospect I do wish I had gone with thicker material for the push plates though. Not having any trouble with the ones I made but it'd give me a little more peace of mind if they were thicker, maybe 3/8 instead of 1/4 inch. But these are working well so I guess I should just be happy with it the way it is!

This has been quite a project and I learned a few new things along the way. And I didn't set my garage on fire even once this time, so that was good. (That's the reason for the four fire extinguishers out there, I'm learning from my past mistakes.) Everything is working well and my amateur welding seems to be staying together. I think the hardest part of the whole project was wiring up the plow lights to work correctly! That was a real pain, but it got done finally and they are still working.

Hope this helps anyone else wanting to put a plow on their 80.
I need to motivate to do mine. Had a old myers elector touch 6.5' bought but blew off once the riots etc started. Figured decent size- easy to repair cheap.
 

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