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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,
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.

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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.

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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.

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For this winter, I didn't want to fool around anymore so I bought the 54" front snowblower.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
 

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Turn that RB around backwards and it’ll dig up far fewer rocks and still scrape your snow as good as it does now. You’ll end up with even fewer displaced rocks in your lawn.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Turn that RB around backwards and it’ll dig up far fewer rocks and still scrape your snow as good as it does now. You’ll end up with even fewer displaced rocks in your lawn.
I've tried that. It does work well, but if there is too much snow (which doesn't take much for this blade) then it doesn't have that wave effect where the snow is way over the top of blade but still being shunted to the side. If I were not lazy I would switch back and forth, but as it doesn't really bite down anyway I just leave it alone. Also, the skid shoes should eliminate what little bite it has preserving that plow/wave effect. I'll let you guys know how they work.
 

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Nice write up. You have the exact same setup I've been using for the past 4 seasons with my 2720. The only difference is I have a Land Pride 5-foot rear blade with hydraulic angle control as I have to change the angle a lot and getting on and off the tractor to change it was killing my knees.

You are right about the lighter blade. While I like my blade, at 280 lbs it's not something you can move around by hand.

I find that I use my rear blade about 80% of the time as like you I have a gravel driveway and unless we get a foot or more of snow it is much quicker to just use the blade. I'm occasionally lured into creating little piles of snow and then blowing them away but it always results in blowing gravel through the blower as no matter how careful you are the blade will collect some stones.

Even with heavier snows I will first blow everything clean with the blower and then go back over it with the blade to scrape it down so the Sun can melt it bare.

One thing you might consider is aftermarket snow skids for your 54" blower. I have been using a set on mine for a few years and they work much better than the stock skids and offer much greater adjustability.

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They are available from Snowblower Skids For Sidewalks and Gravel Drives
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks! Do you paint the inside of your blower to "repair" the rock dings or do you just oil it to prevent rust?

I like those skids, and I've seen them before, but the order process for them seems intimidating (hole pattern, spacing, etc.). I'm sure I could figure it out, but I've been spoiled by amazon. I say "I want this thing" and they say, "It will fit the thing you want it for" and I say, "Take my money" and they say, "thanks, now here, have the thing." I don't suppose they have ones pre-speced for the JD 54"?
 

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Thanks! Do you paint the inside of your blower to "repair" the rock dings or do you just oil it to prevent rust?

I like those skids, and I've seen them before, but the order process for them seems intimidating (hole pattern, spacing, etc.). I'm sure I could figure it out, but I've been spoiled by amazon. I say "I want this thing" and they say, "It will fit the thing you want it for" and I say, "Take my money" and they say, "thanks, now here, have the thing." I don't suppose they have ones pre-speced for the JD 54"?
I just went through the order process myself, 4.5 inch spacing and they recommended the ProXT-1545-b...they'll be here Monday via USPS


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Excellent documentation mike01....to make yours the absolute perfect perfect set up.....you just need one more piece of the puzzle........a Mauser Cab....... :thumbup1gif:
I'm running a similar set up right now with the regular RB2060 blade and 60" front blade.

I hear you about the stone throwing dilemma. We also have a gravel drive, and what I like to do to start the season is to drive over and pack down the first few light snowfalls to get a bit of a snow base, and sometimes if we are lucky up here, we get a bit of a melt and that does a super job of sealing up the gravel with ice. Then we are golden till spring. Up here in the northland we generally don't get any mid season melting...when winter sets in...it's like the North Pole up here.

The 54" front blower and Mauser Cab are getting spec'd and priced out now as we speak for my 1025R.

Thanks for sharing your story. (and get that cab !).
 

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I don’t know for sure, but it looks like to me that if someone modded the skids off the Frontier tillers to fit the snowblowers, you would be in business. The tiller skids curve up steeply in the front to ensure no digging in. Easily adjustable. Why JD hasn’t thought of this, I don’t know. The ones I have seen are from my RT1165 if you want to take a look.
 

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Thanks! Do you paint the inside of your blower to "repair" the rock dings or do you just oil it to prevent rust?
I prime and repaint any bare metal at the end of each season.

I like those skids, and I've seen them before, but the order process for them seems intimidating (hole pattern, spacing, etc.). I'm sure I could figure it out, but I've been spoiled by amazon. I say "I want this thing" and they say, "It will fit the thing you want it for" and I say, "Take my money" and they say, "thanks, now here, have the thing." I don't suppose they have ones pre-speced for the JD 54"?
I agree their order process could be a bit clearer. It is very simple though. You simply measure the distance between your two mounting bolts and order the shoe of that size. I don't remember what the spacing was on the 54" blower but they have a show that fits it exactly.
 

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I don’t know for sure, but it looks like to me that if someone modded the skids off the Frontier tillers to fit the snowblowers, you would be in business. The tiller skids curve up steeply in the front to ensure no digging in. Easily adjustable. Why JD hasn’t thought of this, I don’t know. The ones I have seen are from my RT1165 if you want to take a look.
They would still dig into the gravel. It's not the end that digs in when the ground is soft. It's the shoe itself. You could have a completely round shoe and it will still sink in to thawed ground and cause issues.
 

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I just went through the order process myself, 4.5 inch spacing and they recommended the ProXT-1545-b...they'll be here Monday via USPS


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That shoe seems to be targeted for a Cub Cadet. What is the length on those? For the 47" and 54" blowers you want the 9000 series shoes that are 16.5" long.

That's the one area of the website that drives me crazy, they don't shoe you a photo of each shoe and give the dimensions.
 

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That shoe seems to be targeted for a Cub Cadet. What is the length on those? For the 47" and 54" blowers you want the 9000 series shoes that are 16.5" long.

That's the one area of the website that drives me crazy, they don't shoe you a photo of each shoe and give the dimensions.
I hope they're the right ones, the owner told me he sells these all the time for the JD 54...I hope I don't have to exchange them, what a pain!


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Nice write up. A lot of the time, it's a process of trial and error to see what works best for each situation with the variables you are dealing with. The front blade and hitch set up sell very fast around here on Craigs list because it fits so many different size and models of Deere.

While the actual mounting bracket which goes under the front of the 1 series is unique to it, the actual Quick Attach hitch and blade are widely universal. That same Quick Attach Hitch has been used by Deere for over 25 years and fits everything from the old 4 series (425,445, 455) to the 5 Series which was the predecessor to the X7xx series and it fits thex7xx series as well. While they may use different mounting brackets on the machine, the expensive part to buy is the Front Hitch which fortunately fits a wide range of Deere L&G Tractors and now the 1 series. I bet you could sell it for 75% to 80% of new price in a hurry if it was advertised.

Do you think putting a rubber flap on top of the rear blade would help with deeper snow and also keep it focused on moving the snow off to the side when it's accumulating taller than the blade? The trick is finding the right rubber flapping strength. Too stiff and the snow will go right over the top of it like a taller blade. Too flexible and the snow will over power it and it actually impedes snow flow to the side when the blade is angled.

When I made a top flap for a front plow, I found the baler strap that Tractor Supply Sells at about 10" wide in like 20' lengths to work the best on the front plow top edge for "rolling the snow" off to the side and not going over the top of the blade when it's deep enough to accumulate. It also helps to have the snow flap at an angle to the top edge of the blade. I ended up using two of the baler straps and riveted them together and it's a very good strength for achieving the goals of rolling the snow and preventing it from going over the blade and requiring clean up.

The Deere 54" front blade has a natural lip on top to use as a mounting surface. The rear blade might require using another piece of steel which could be bolted to the top plow edge. Just a piece of advice, use some clamps like welding clamps, large vice grips or something similar as trial and error before you drill or weld anything.
 

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I hope they're the right ones, the owner told me he sells these all the time for the JD 54...I hope I don't have to exchange them, what a pain!


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I hope they work for you. I've seen a lot of posts from folks with the 47-54-59 blowers and the main idea is to get a longer shoe to better distribute the weight. I cannot find anywhere on the website that lists the length of the shoes that you bought. From the description on the website it is an extra tall design to accommodate the mounting bolts on a Cub Cadet.

Please report back on how they work for you.

Like everyone said, the website could be better. For as many customers who have bought the 9000-series shoes for the 47-54-59 JD blowers they still do not list it in their fitment chart.
 

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Nice write up. I am partial to your setup, as I have the same except I have the 47” blower and my rear blade is a CountyLine. I however operate on all paved and concrete surfaces. Have fun this winter and be safe!
 

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Part of my drive is gravel and I always struggled with the blower picking up stones. Then I decided to put "snowshoes" on my snow blower. Went to Menards by the welding section and got a 2" wide piece of steel. Cut it about an inch longer than the plate on the bottom of the original skid shoe, bent the front to try to match the original skid shoe angle and welded it to the bottom of the original skid shoe. When I do the gravel drive, I put the the blower in float and away I go. Haven't picked up a stone since.

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Nice write-up, Thanks for sharing! That is a great setup for your needs. I don't get the snow like you do, so I get by with a 60" rear blade for the long runs and the FEL with bucket and Edge Tamers for pile cleanup / some pushing. My driveway is asphalt (old and rough) but the rear blade is just -not- heavy enough - it floats leaving a real thin layer of snow.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I prime and repaint any bare metal at the end of each season.
Do you take it apart to do that? If so, have you ever documented this process, or found any other documentation (preferably with pics) online?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Do you think putting a rubber flap on top of the rear blade would help with deeper snow and also keep it focused on moving the snow off to the side when it's accumulating taller than the blade? The trick is finding the right rubber flapping strength. Too stiff and the snow will go right over the top of it like a taller blade. Too flexible and the snow will over power it and it actually impedes snow flow to the side when the blade is angled.
It probably would, but I have no need for that. If the snow is too deep for the blade, that's when the snowblower comes on. But I'd love to see someone document this process. I like to tinker, so I might do it just for fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Excellent documentation mike01....to make yours the absolute perfect perfect set up.....you just need one more piece of the puzzle........a Mauser Cab....... :thumbup1gif:
I'm running a similar set up right now with the regular RB2060 blade and 60" front blade.
lol
I wouldn't mind a soft cab, but I'm not spending $5000 when I could just wear a coat and motorcycle helmet. Also, I can't have the cab on in the summer or I'll roll the tractor, so hard cabs are out of the question. I may get a soft cab for next year. I was looking at the "original tractor cab" ones with glass windshield.

I usually like the fact that the tractor is something I ride on, not in. I like the connection that gives me to the terrain I'm driving over. I have a lot of hazards on my property.
 
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