You’re going on hour six in your truck in the middle of a snowstorm. Its 3am and you’re hungry and tired, but the end is in sight! Only 4 more parking lots to go and you can catch some shut eye. Next thing you know, you plow won’t move. You jump out of the truck and your stiff legs almost buckle. You walk around to the front and see your Western snowplow hydraulic hose in tatters with all your fluid pouring out. Dread starts to creep in as you realize that light at the end of the tunnel just got further away. You’ll now need to wait until a snowplow repair shop opens to repair your hose.
On average, about one out of every five repairs we see here at Traffic Safety & Equipment during a snowstorm are due to hose failure of some nature. There can be a multitude of explanations for hose failure during a snowstorm.
WHY DID MY HYDRAULIC HOSE FAIL?
You could have tube erosion, fluid incompatibility, abrasion, an excessive bend radius, an improper hose or more.
- Tube erosion. This is due to having too high a velocity of fluid running through the hose or particles in the stream that will slowly erode the hose from the inside out. It can be very difficult to detect, as often the exterior of the hose looks and moves well with no clear sign of failure.
- You could be using the incorrect fluid. While you might be able to get away with using some Automatic Transmission Fluids, these are not recommended with snowplows. We recommend using Western plow hydraulic fluid instead. The Western plow fluid is created to have a better viscosity at all temperatures. It is a high performance fluid that has a much lower freezing point than the auto transmission. Using the right fluid in your system can help avoid tube erosion. (Proper Western snowplow hydraulic fluid can be found here)
- The minimum bend radius, or a kinked line. If you attach the fitting or Western hose in a way that overbends the line, like seen in the image below, the bend you’re forcing into that hose will eventually lead to a rupture and a failure. You want to ensure that your hose and all fittings are set at the proper angles for optimum performance.
- Abrasion. Snowplowing is a rough business and equipment is frequently jarred with impacts or banged and scraped by anything in its path. It is very common for hoses to break due to exterior factors. That could be excessive rubbing and wear on the hoses, snagged lines, or even by age. If going through multiple seasons with hot and cold, rubber over time will crack and erode. Combine that with excessive wear during the season and the life expectancy of your hydraulic hose is sure to decrease.
- Improper Hose. There are many possible hydraulic hoses that can be used with Western snowplows. However, that doesn’t mean they’re all good options. We recommend using Western hydraulic hoses or other high quality hoses at the right size and length. Using the right size allows the proper amount of fluid to flow to and from the piston for optimal operation. The correct length is also important. If a hose is too short, it won’t reach the fittings for a proper seal and could lead to extra tension on the hose that pulls it apart. If you use too long of a hose, it could snag, become kinked or have an increased chance of abrasion. Western high quality hoses are produced with an increased durability and performance to handle the harsh environments they are expected to perform in. They’re developed for each plow and have varying sizes that allow for each plow to function at it’s best. You can find the proper hoses for your plow in our hose kits or by getting in touch with us.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
There are a few ways you can prepare for a hydraulic hose failure, but a combination of everything would work best!
- Check your hydraulic hoses during the preseason. It is very important to look over the entire plow and ensure safe and proper operations before the season. If you find a hose has dry rot, abrasions or is leaking, you’ll have a much better time changing it now than you will when its 20 degrees out at 3am.
- Make sure you’re using the right hose. Ensuring the right size, length and quality of your hydraulic hose as well as it’s angles and attachments to the angle fittings is key!
- Be prepared. Have backup hoses for your snowplow on deck. We strongly recommend that any professional or home snowplower have a few of the key tools and backup parts with them while plowing.
By doing those three simple things alone, you could save yourself both time and money. Here at Traffic Safety & Equipment, we believe in being prepared for all situations. We offer specific hose kits and emergency parts kits for each of the plows we carry. This makes life easy for you because all you need to do is select the kit based off which plow you have and you are guaranteed to have the proper hoses for your plow. Including the emergency parts kit will also add Western hydraulic fluid as well as a few other key components that will assist with many of the main issues that snowplowers face. What was once a potential loss of hours as you waited for your snowplow to get into the repair shop could now be done by you in under 20 minutes. You could even be the hero and help a friend who breaks a line too. Whatever the reason, it is always best to be prepared, especially when it comes to snowplows. Follow these steps and you will be sure to have better success both with maintaining your Western hydraulic hoses as well as a quick repair in a pinch!