I've finally got a solid snow setup that I think can handle anything, and I wanted to share it with you, along with the journey I took to get to that point and the lessons I learned. I have a 1000' gravel driveway with about a 100 foot elevation gain. We usually get light snow with drifts, but every now and then we get hammered. Last year we got buried in March and it took me four days to dig out with a loader. It was awful.
My first setup was an x758 with the 54" plow. That worked great even for heavy snow (2' or so) so long as I went out and plowed a few times as it was falling. However, I quickly ran out of room to push the snow (a common problem with plowing up here). My driveway is bordered by a ditch on one side and a grassy slope on the other...if I stray into that, I get stuck. Not even my Rubicon with all diffs locked dares stray too far off the driveway.
For reasons that had nothing to do with snow, I traded the x758 for a 1025r (still miss the 758, what a great machine) just in time for the aforementioned March storm.
The loader saved my life, as it can handle any amount of snow, it's just really, really, really slow. It took me a long time to dig out to the point where I could drive my car up and down that driveway. Four days, to be exact. I would clear most of the road and the next morning the drifts buried it again, almost as though I had never been there.
For this winter, I didn't want to fool around anymore so I bought the 54" front snowblower.
I quickly discovered that if you have a gravel driveway, snowblowers are both wonderful and terrible things. If the snow is deep, nothing beats them. But for light snow, because I have to have it elevated or it becomes a rock throwing machine gun, it's nearly useless. First I tried using a box blade. The idea was to drop it until it was full, then lift it and leave a mound, then come back and use the snowblower on the mound. That worked, but even with the top link all the way out and the blade tilted back so it wouldn't bite, it bit and tore up a few rocks. That would be okay, except that these rocks were mixed in with the snow pile and chewed up the inside of my snowblower. I don't mind the occasional rock, it's part of having a gravel driveway, but I don't want to make rock spitting my default method.
This is a pic of the little mounds I made with the box blade after a light snow a week ago. They are bigger than they look in the photo, and filled with many rocks.
Finally, I decided to buy a back blade. At first I was going to buy one with all the features...tilt, offset, etc., until I realized that having a lighter blade would do two things. First, it would bite/dig in less. Second, it would put more of the weight up front, which means that I would have better steering control when plowing uphill. So I bought the lightest blade I could find, a Frontier RB2060L which weighs just 155lbs. I was able to lift it off my trailer by hand by myself, which is a big plus. If the tractor gets stuck and I need to remove it, I can just pick it up and carry it away. Last year I got stuck in a ditch with a full ballast box I had to remove to get free. NOT FUN.
I bought the blade with skids, but they didn't have them in stock, so I tried it without them. Fantastic. Amazing. Perfect. For light snow (the kind I don't need the snowblower for), it's actually better than the front 54" plow (which I still have, along with the 54" tractor shovel kit...anyone want it/them?). The front blade sometimes digs in and I have to pay attention and be ready to lift it, and that's with skids. This rear blade doesn't dig in at all. I can just drive down the road and up the road and I'm done. I don't even have to look back, slow down or pay any attention except to stay on the road and not hit my marker poles. If I encounter a tall drift, I turn the blower on and it destroys it and then the blade cleans up what's left down to the gravel.
This setup is perfect, and I'm happy. I don't even needs the skids, though I will install them to see if they make a difference. If the snow is light, I just zip up and down with the blade in a fraction of the time it used to take me with the front blade. If the snow is more than the plow can handle (it's not very tall) then I turn the blower on, drop the blade and go. No rocks spit, no snow left behind me. Perfect.
So this is my final setup. I feel like I can take on any snowfall now. Hopefully my journey will help some of you decide what to get for your property.