Snow plowing is ever so much fun! Since the town refuses to plow my street (it is a Class VI road, which means……the town doesn’t take care of it, but still taxes me the same) I need to do this myself. It has been quite a process learning how to plow a street most effectively with a tractor. Slowly, I have been modifying my equipment in order to get the best possible performance. The first year of plowing with the tractor, I tried to use just the bucket with a 600 pound concrete real ballast box. For those of you who have never tried this.. it is really hard to “plow” with a bucket. Basically, you just end up pushing the snow into a big pile that you then have to bucket it around. This takes forever, especially with the relatively small bucket on the CX 200 loader (the quick release, stock loader for the JD 2320). The next year I added a rear grader blade into my arsenal. This blade really will “plow”, but the problem is you need to drive through the snow first and it often gets so much snow wedged under it.. the tractor gets stuck (yes, even in 4WD with the rear differential locked). Luckily, I still had use of the bucket to push me out of tricky situations when I got stuck. The next year I tried the purpose built snow plow for the front. This is the John Deere quick release stock plow with hydraulic control. This looked great, but didn’t plow well. There were several problems. The first one is that you need to take the bucket off to put this plow on. This removes about 800 or 900 pounds of weight from the front of the tractor. So with the rear ballast box on the 3PTH, there is almost no weight up front and steering is impossible in heavy snow. Also without the bucket, if you get stuck.. you need to winch the tractor out (as opposed to “pushing it out” with the loader). Also the trip springs are pretty weak, and where constantly “tripping”. You can lock the plow in place, but I was always nervous about this as the plow seems somewhat “medium” duty (I dinged the crap out of it on the rocks within the gravel road the very first year).
This year, I happened upon a “clamp-on” snow plow from a local company (Silver Lake Fabrication) that attaches directly to the bucket. This seemed like a good way to go to alleviate some of my other issues. I called the JD dealership to see if JD had a factory option like this. They reported, that they did not. They did have a plow that attaches directly onto the loader arms that would “technically” fit, but they do not recommend it. The rationale was that the loader arms on the CX loader might bend under heavy use like this. They did not recommend attaching a plow to the bucket for this reason (although they said many people do). I decided to chance it, and contact Silver Lake Fabrication in Concord, NH.
I got in touch with the President of Silver Lake Fabrication (and probably the only employee), Aaron Leclerc. He was very friendly and explained how this whole process would work. I would need to send him very detailed measurements of my bucket so that he could handcraft my plow for me. $1500 (payable up front) for a 6 foot plow. He also explained he was somewhat behind in orders, and that it might take up to 6 weeks (if he didn’t get a needed shipment of steel from his supplier in the Midwest). I paid the man, sent him his measurements (and pictures of my bucket) and waited. Eventually, a few days later, I got an email from him indicating payment was received, and I would get an invoice soon. I never got an invoice, and I didn’t hear from SLF for a couple weeks. I contacted Aaron and he told me “good news”, in that the shipment did arrive from the Midwest and I that I would receive my plow “earlier than 4-6 weeks”. Again, I waited. After about 4 weeks, I called for an update. Apparently Aaron had lost my email with the measurements, so I again had to send him the measurements. He promised me my plow would be ready “by the end of the week.” The end of the week came and went and no update from Aaron. I called again, and luckily my snow plow would be ready on the weekend (more than 6 weeks from the original order date). When I went to the shop, it appeared to be simply a garage on a residential lot. After looking at the website, I expected a semi-professional shop, not a home workshop in a what essentially was a big shed. However, Aaron was very friendly and helpful and I did eventually get my plow exactly as described.
Overall, if you don’t mind a bunch of hassles, delays, and unresponsiveness associated with an amateur (I guess it is hard to both be the only employee welding, and handle all the customer service) Silver Lake Fabrication is okay. If you are looking for something a little more professional (like actually providing invoices, shipping your plow vice picking it up yourself, etc.) , you probably won’t be happy dealing with Aaron.
The plow is pretty heavy (~300 lbs.) and can’t really be manhandled easily, but it mounts as easily as can be expected.
I am a little nervous about how much it “bounces” the bucket when traveling rough terrain, but besides this.. it works pretty good (see video). With the ballast box in place, and the loader still attached.. my JD 2320 is weighing in at about 3500 lbs. (1600 tractor, 800 loader, 600 ballast, 300 plow, and 200 driver). It is like a mini bulldozer and easily pushes the heaviest of snow on level ground (uphill, I can still spin all four wheels). I am very cautious of the loader arms and try to baby it as much as possible, but so far…. So good. Overall, this seems to be the best plowing solution I have tried… since I definitely do not want to shell out the 5 grand for a stock JD snow blower for the 2320!