Plows Overcome Mounting Challenges
With new mounting systems, putting a plow on your pickup has never been easier.
Quick Hitch, Minute Mount, Rapid Tach, Ultra Mount, EZ-Mount … These are just a few of the names of mounting systems currently offered by snowplow manufacturers. Their names imply simple and fast hook ups, but do they deliver? In a word: yes. Never before has it been this easy.
Quite simply, a mounting system provides you with a method of connecting the plow hardware, which is permanently attached to your truck, to the snowplow assembly. Putting a plow on a pickup hasn’t always been an easy task, and these new systems are the evolutionary product of the self-contained snowplows. It used to be that the plow’s hydraulic power was supplied by a clutch pump. It was designed to be installed on the truck’s engine, or as an electric/hydraulic unit under the hood or out on the front of the grill. The plow’s lights, lift chain and hydraulic disconnects were also out in front of the truck. This was permanent hardware that was unsightly and heavy.
When the new generation of pickups began to emerge, plows had to change. Today’s computer-monitored engines and space restrictions have all but eliminated under-hood installations. By removing the lights, pump and the chain lift from the front of the truck, airflow restrictions to the engine are eliminated, and a substantial amount of permanent weight is reduced. Because trucks are much more than just a utilitarian work platform, the appearance is also a major consideration and the clean look has been well received by contractors.
Each manufacturer of plows offers its own version of a quick-mounting system. Some use simple, mechanical, self-aligning hook-ups while others use hydraulically assisted systems.
While the systems are not interchangeable, they do have a common design element. For all manufacturers, the snowplow is now a single, self-contained unit with the moldboard, push frame, lights, power unit and lift all as one assembly that can be taken off the truck as a single piece. Then, the removed plow assembly is simply left in position to allow you to hook it back up in seconds when needed.
Because these new mounting systems are simple to use, you can remove the plow after each snow event. This makes for a safer vehicle to drive in the meantime, and also reduces the extra weight on the truck’s suspension.
Currently, all nationally recognized snowplow manufacturers are members of the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA). The NTEA, based out of Farmington Hills, Mich., facilitates the flow of ideas and the information between truck-equipment distributors, equipment distributors, equipment manufacturers and truck manufacturers.
The NTEA has established committees that focus on specific industries. One such committee is the Snow Control Committee, which brings together representatives from the membership’s plow manufacturers and pickup truck manufacturers. This group schedules meetings twice a year to discuss current issues, future design changes and needs as they relate to the industry.
It is through the NTEA and this committee that snowplow manufacturers are made aware of truck chassis changes and new chassis models. Because of this cooperative effort, there are mounting systems available for new model trucks when they begin to show up on dealers’ lots.
The relationship between manufacturers provides more than just timely product introduction. The mounting hardware attached to the truck not only has to support the snowplow in normal operation, it must do so without preventing the truck from reacting as designed during a head-on crash. When asked, the committee supplies mounting kits to be used in barrier crash tests. The information gathered from these tests is then shared with participating members.
Daimler Chrysler, Ford and General Motors are members of the Snow Control Committee. No import truck manufacturers are represented, nor are there any import pickups currently recommended for snowplow use.
Each major brand of snowplow now has a fast-hitch type of mounting system available, so you will not lack for choices. When you are reviewing your options, there are a few questions to keep in mind. For example, if you have different types of plows of the same brand in your fleet, are the plows and mounts compatible? Will your straight-blade plow and your “V” plow both use the same mounting system?
Keep in mind that the new mounting systems do not adapt to the older generation of plows, so if you already have plows in your fleet, there will be some incompatibility. In order for the mounting system to work properly, it may be necessary to modify or remove the trim below the bumper of some model pickups. If this is a concern, you should consult with a snowplow dealer prior to purchasing a new truck. If ground clearance or appearance is a major consideration, ask your dealer if any of the mounting hardware is designed so that it can be easily removed in the off-season.
Another advantage to the new mounting systems is that the main cost is in the plow assembly. This can make it cost effective for you to set up an additional truck to support a compatible fleet. When a truck is in for service, this can be a valuable asset.
These new mounting systems do not require any special maintenance or service. Follow the recommended procedures in your snowplow operator’s manual. It is always good practice to check all hardware periodically during the plowing season and keep it tightened to the manufacturer’s specified torques.
The mounting system is only one part of the complete plow assembly. When you are ready to purchase your next snowplow, take the time to explore your options. Most people buy out of habit: “It’s what I have always had.” Look around. With new mounting systems, new models of plows and new brands to choose from, you may find new ways to increase productivity and product.
John Berlowski is sales manager for Hiniker Company (Mankato, Minn.).
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