Winter is nearly upon us. We can look forward to trimming the tree, singing carols and tucking into Christmas dinner. Then there is the scramble for the January sales. And all the time, excited children keep fingers crossed that there will a chance to build a snowman and create the longest slide ever.
For the managers of parks, town squares, retail sites, campuses and commercial sites such as golf clubs and hotels, a severe cold spell is unwelcome. And it will often fall to the grounds maintenance staff or contractor to don the wellies and body-warmer and clear the snow or tackle the ice. But what equipment will they use? There may already be something in the shed that, with a few accessories, could be brought into action for snow and ice removal without the need to have expensive dedicated equipment that, after all, would lie idle for most of the year.
The tractor is likely to be one of the most useful items of equipment when it comes to tackling the results of winter weather. It doesn't have to be a big tractor - there is kit for all sizes.
Winter equipment specialist Bunce (Ashbury) of Wiltshire has been producing snow ploughs since the late 1920s and offers a wide range of snow ploughs for all applications. As well as the huge truck-mounted highway equipment that works to keep the road network open, the company also supplies steel ploughs to fit compact tractors - a good combination for use on footpaths and other areas where larger tractors cannot access.
Bunce's compact-tractor snow ploughs can be manually angled to the left or right, so the snow can be put where required and is hydraulically raised from the vehicle cab. Available in 1.22m or 1.52m lengths, a plough can be chosen to slightly exceed the width of the tractor. The blades have replaceable sprung wearing edges that retract to reduce potential injury to the driver or damage to the tractor in the event of a small immovable object being struck. Rubber squeegees can be used where slush is to be cleared.
Tractors can also be used with snow blowers. Bunce is believed to be the only British manufacturer of snow blowers and offers a municipal range for powering by the PTO shaft, front or rear-mounted. You need about 60hp or 80hp from the tractor, plus heavy-duty PTO drive with special shear pin protection. Four-wheel drive and a crawler gearbox are recommended for optimum efficiency. To clear roads of major falls of snow, the company also makes the Sno-Blo snow cutter.
For two-wheel tractors
If you have one of these for mowing and cultivation purposes, you won't need it when the snow is on the ground. Or will you? Several brands of two-wheel tractor can be used to operate snow clearing equipment, so it is worth checking out the list of attachments from the manufacturer.
Kersten has snow brushes for its K-Line machines, along with 1m and 1.25m sprung snow blades and a rotary grit spreader.
BSG Tractors, based in Essex, is one company supplying a snow blower for use with two-wheelers. It is a two-stage 60cm-wide front-mounted machine with a rotating discharge chute and can be operated on pavements or in confined areas. The double action allows the snow to be blown 10m.
SEP two-wheel tractors from Bunce can be fitted with snow blowers and snow brooms.
For forklift trucks
Many nurseries and garden centres operate a rough-terrain forklift and could bring it into action to clear snow from the car park by adding Bunce's polymer-faced forklift snowplough. Designed to fit directly onto the forks, this plough is intended as a low-cost solution to keeping sites open.
For skid-steer loaders
Own a compact skid-steer, tracked or articulated loader, or one of the company's telehandlers? There are a variety of attachments and carrier combinations from Bobcat and this year the company is offering an even wider variety of solutions for dealing with winter weather.
There are six widths of Bobcat snow blade, ranging from 1.22m to 2.13m. Designed for the quick removal of light to moderate falls of snow, these blades are suitable for pavements and driveways. An optional wing kit converts the largest two models into snow pushers for use in car parks and larger areas. For heavier falls, the company supplies snow V-blades in five different widths for use as a V-blade, scoop blade, straight blade or angled 30 degs left or 30 degs right.
Of course, you can always use large-capacity buckets for handling the snow. Bobcat buckets have high backs to help with pushing snow and straight sides to penetrate snow piles.
Bobcat also has four snow blowers with widths from 1.22m to 2.13m and capable of throwing snow distances from 7.6m to 13.7m. A rotating chute and deflector allows the desired direction of throw to be set by the operator. For the removal of light snowfalls, Bobcat offers an angled broom.
For articulated loaders
It is well worth checking the attachments for loaders such as the Avant Tecno. Not only are these machines highly manoeuvrable but many are offered with equipment for dealing with winter conditions.
The snowplough - called the Snow Plow - from Avant consists of two independently adjustable blades. Both blades have a spring-release mechanism in the lower part of the wing to prevent any sudden stops caused by frozen objects. The Snow Plow is available in blade widths from 1.6m to 2.2m and will slew up to 35 degs.
Avant also has snowblowers to fit some its range. The single-stage snowblower is said to work well in frozen conditions. It has an auger-type high-speed impellor. A two-stage heavy-duty blower is available for wet and heavy snow. The discharge chute can be rotated 200 degs and is powered by a hydraulic motor operated from the driver's seat.
A large-diameter broom, specially designed for light snow removal, is supplied for brushing surfaces such as stone or brick paving.
There is snow on the ground so the mower stays in the shed, right? Not necessarily. A number of ride-on mowers could be fitted with attachments to extend duties way beyond grass cutting. Etesia Hydro mowers, for instance, are a prime example of mowers that can help with winter-clearance tasks.
"At times like this, end users realise the true multi-tasking nature of an Etesia ride-on," says Etesia's UK general manager Les Malin. "Simply add a snow plough or salt/sand spreader attachment. These accessories are keenly priced so keeping roadways and paths clear is very cost effective."
Etesia offers easy-fit snow clearing attachments for all models in the Hydro ride-on range, including a blade that can be angled to the right or left and lifted for transport between sites. There is also a spreader for distributing salt or sand on icy driveways and paths, while wheel chains can be fitted for grip on car parks, play areas and other hard surfaces. For operator comfort in winter, there is a glass-panelled cab with optional heater.
Tailor-made to suit individual models of ride-on mower, a front-linkage kit from Kersten enables a 1m or 1.25m sprung snow blade to be used. The blade can be angled from the operator's seat.
For motorised barrows
A 1.22m snow plough is available for fitting to the front of the MuckTruck's bucket. Suited to removing snow from pathways, the blade can be turned at an angle to push the snow in the required direction.
Popular with land-based businesses, 4x4s and other lightweight trucks are often associated with accessories such as winches. Many can also be fitted with snow-clearing devices.
Bunce supplies a lightweight frame system that can carry an interchangeable snowplough or slush blade. There is a choice of hydraulic raise and lower powered by a hand pump or an optional electro-hydraulic pump, meaning the blade can be operated from the cab. The frame is easy to detach to free up the vehicle for other duties.
Suppliers of equipment suitable for spreading salt, sand and grit include:
- Amazone - towable spreaders with capacities from 200 to 400 litres and tractor-mounting models with hoppers from 300 to 1,100 litres.
- Avant Tecno - towed or mounted spreaders available. Also centrifugal model with adjustable bouts from 2m to 6m.
- Bobcat - a hydraulic spreader for skid-steer loaders. Hopper capacity is 250 litres and spread-pattern ranges from 5.6m to 8.7m depending on the hydraulic flow of the carrier.
- Broadwood International - UK distributor for SnowEx products, including push-model utility spreaders with capacities from 76 litres to 163 litres, plus tailgate and truck-mounting units. Also supplies the Accuspray de-icing system.
- BSS International - offers Matterhorn and Mont Blanc pedestrian units with 25kg and 50kg capacities, plus the Olympus drop spreader and Everest and Fuji towed models.
- Bunce (Ashbury) - push, towed, tractor-mounted. The company also offers de-icing sprayers.
- DMMP - the 2030ps pedestrian model has been upgraded for this winter to the Ev-n-Spred 2040. It has a new solid alloy linkage, rather than a cable, to provide positive on/off control and improve the spreader's resilience in tough winter conditions.
- Eric Hunter - push and tailgate-mounting spreaders, plus the new Thunderbird SnowPlow.
- Kersten - 70-litre rotary grit spreader for use with the K-Line two-wheeled tractor.
- Peacock Salt - as well as supplying salt products, Peacock also offers a wide range of push and towed spreading equipment and de-icing equipment.