In case you haven’t noticed, Winter is here. It is here for a good time … and a long time. And, according to our little shadow fearing varmint, the groundhog, there will be 6 more weeks of it. I haven’t checked my farmer’s almanac but judging by the frequency of snowstorms this Winter, I felt it was time to extend the reach of my snow blower. It was time to build a snow blower ramp so that I could load my Ariens Deluxe 28 snow blower onto the farm truck for some snow therapy at the farm. The high winds over the past few days have cause hard packed drifts to litter landscape of the farm, even making our farm lane impassable. Our tractor blower has been out of commission since my grandfather passed in August of 2003 and these cold days with windchill up to -39 degrees Celsius have rendered the old Massey 383 out-of-order due to severe frostbite. Time to bring up the Ariens to the big leagues and blow out a path to my chicken barns. The cold has been a nasty opponent to our flock’s health and laying production this winter. I’m in the process of adding more ventilation to my chicken barns, some poop boards beneath their roosts, and some heating via heat lamps, which will be run off of a solar panel on the south side of the barn. A diversifying farm is never without projects. In fact, if you’re not careful you’ll get bogged down with them.
I’ve always enjoyed repurposing materials that are readily available. I had two 2 x 6s that came out of an old green house frame, excess ice shield from my reshingling my home this summer for grip on the tracks, and an abundance of greenhouse strapping. We could basically say, the cost is free, or better yet, undetermined. Overall this project took under 2 hours to complete. I assembled it in my basement next to my toasty pacific energy wood stove.
- 2, 2×6 @ 78″
- 12, 1 x 2 strapping @ 5 1/2″
- 3, 25″ long boards (any width). I used 1 x 6 spruce.
- 2, 5 1/2″ wide strips of gripping surface (I used ice shield)
- 2 x 6
- 1 x 2 strapping
- Material for grip on the surface of the tracks (I used excess ice shield)
- 2 1/2″ screws
- Staple gun to secure the grip to the track
- boards (1 x or 2 x)
- Cordless Power drill
- Staple gun
- Circular (skill) saw
- Scissors/shearers (To cut ice shield or grip material)
- Cut your 2, 2×6 to 78″ (or a length that suits the vehicle you will be loading your snow blower onto)
- Cut the ice shield (or similar material) to 78″ length and staple to the tracks.
- Cut and fasten 3, 25″ cross pieces (braces) to the two tracks. The boards are cut to 25″ to accommodate the width of the snow blower tire base. Fasten, with 2 1/2″ screws, in three locations: bottom, middle, and top. I used 4 screws on both sides of the ramp.
- Cut, and then fasten, your 5 1/2″ pieces of 1 x 2 strapping. Fasten the first piece 2″ from the bottom of the track and then at 12″ spaces until you have installed the final piece on each track.
- Test the sturdiness of your ramp before you attempt to load your snow blower onto your truck or SUV. If it’s bending, you may have to add thicker cross pieces or shorten the ramp tracks.
Loading your snow blower:
- Firmly set the base of the ramp into the snow. The bottom cross-piece will act as a footboard so that you can brace the snow blower as it travels up the ramp.
- Engage the differential lock on your snow blower, if it comes equipped with one, so that the wheels turn equally as it climbs the ramp. Otherwise, one wheel pulls more causing the snow blower to come off the ramp.
- Walk the snow blower up the ramp in the slowest travelling speed. Take caution as you do this and, if at all possible, have someone with you as an extra set of eyes and hands. You may find that there are alterations and adjustments to be made with this plan to make the loading and unloading of your snow blower an easier endeavor.
- Once the snow blower is loaded, firmly secure it with ratchet straps and/or rope to the bed of the truck. Do the same to your ramp. Don’t forget, it has to come off at some point but the name of the game is safe road travel.
- Remove the key. We wouldn’t want that to bounce loose on the drive. Drive to your destination.
Unloading your snow blower:
- Firmly position and secure the ramp before loading the snow blower on to it.
- Do not bother to start the snow blower. Slowly back the machine down the ramp. Use the cross pieces as braces to give more resistance to the snow blower as you back it slowly down the ramp.
- Bundle up your ratchet straps and ropes. Put up the tail gate and get to work.
I hope these plans and pictures can inspire you to make this functional ramp. At 200 lbs, it safely handled my weight. During the snow blower test, it safely handled the weight of my Ariens deluxe 28″, which weighs in around 250 lbs according to the specs. I would suggest fortifying the track supports by using 2 x 4 instead of 1 x boards should your lumber flex more than it should. I used true rough sawn 2 x 6 for this project. This is a bit of a change in content from my usual blog posts but, I’m determined to make this a site for all things related to farming. I’ve always admired DIYers and FIYers so projects like this continue to help me draw a deeper connection to the way things used to be done. Namely, when people built their own needs and didn’t flock to the nearest hardware store to order something they could build with their own two hands. People like Dick Proenneke, who built his own log cabin with traditional woodworking tools in the Alaskan wilderness, are becoming harder and harder to find but for people like us, the MacCurdy family, they represent a truer sense of sustainability and an honest way of living. Enjoy your build. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment. Next up, a blog on cooking heritage breed chickens. After that, building a farmhouse table.