After lying idle on the ground for a number of years, an 8-foot snowplow blade was given new life and purpose in Banner County thanks to some road department ingenuity.
“We purchased a surplus snowplow for a pickup in the early 2000s,” says Tim Grubbs, a mechanic for the road department. “We really didn’t have a pickup to put it on so it just sat."
But after the county leased a skid steer, that idle blade began to take on a renewed purpose.
“We leased a Caterpillar skid steer in 2011 and once you learn what it can do it’s really handy,” says Tim, who would visualize how easily they could clear snow with a blade mounted on the front of the machine.
So with a little planning and a very small investment on the county’s part, that old 8-foot blade was given new life and for the past five or so years has been used to clear snow as it has accumulated on the roads in Harrisburg, the county seat.
Tim says he was able to purchase an adapter and hydraulic fittings, then customize the mounting bracket to attach to the skid steer. He estimates the total cost of the project was around $500, which includes the price that was paid for the blade. Tim also added side mirrors to the cab to improve visibility when reversing the machine.
“I plow the snow here in town,” he says. “Over the years I’ve had a 950 CAT loader, a 140G CAT grader and a snow plow truck. Those were always available to me to use. With this skid steer combination I can actually do a better job faster.”
Part of the reason, he says, is the agility of the smaller piece of equipment and its ability to make sharper turns. With the hydraulic system the blade can easily be adjusted to move snow toward the left or right. Plus, the skid steer moves more quickly than the larger equipment.
“The last storm we had we had about 12 inches of snow. I was able to clear my entire route in a day whereas before it would take two days,” says Tim, noting that his route also includes clearing the courthouse and local bank parking lots.
“It’s a lot easier than using the old machines,” he says. “It was a unique need we had and we had the unique parts to put this together and make it work.”
Tim says he is currently building a new piece of equipment that the road department will use to smooth out its gravel roads, and there may be other projects in the future.
“I have real good bosses here who will let me do these kinds of things,” says Tim in acknowledging Highway Superintendent Tom Neal and others.