Hyde Equipment Supplies Snowplow Needs In Northern Michigan Cities

Sept. 1, 1997
DURING the summer, Petoskey, Michigan, is not a place that evokes visions of blowing snow, sub-zero temperatures, and snowplow trucks.At the northern

DURING the summer, Petoskey, Michigan, is not a place that evokes visions of blowing snow, sub-zero temperatures, and snowplow trucks.

At the northern tip of Michigan's lower peninsula, Petoskey surrounds Little Traverse Bay, and just beyond is Lake Michigan where sailboats bob on the horizon as a bright orange sun sets. At the city marina, several 40-ft yachts from Florida are tied up after their long journey.

The yachts make their way to Petoskey and the Great Lakes via the St Lawrence Seaway. On the outskirts of this bayside community, surrounded by rolling hills and pine trees, is where Hyde Equipment Company does business.

The small town is in the heart of a resort area frequented by wealthy suburbanites from large midwestern cities who stroll the city's gaslight district and cruise in Rolls Royce Bentleys and comparable autos. But Petoskey's short, idyllic summer gives way to deep fall and winter snows that cover Petoskey and the nearby ski slopes at Boyne Mountain, Nubs Nob, Shanty Creek, and Schuss Mountain.

Last winter, Emmet County and Petoskey received 200 inches of snow, says Scott Bachelor, marketing manager at Hyde Equipment. In May, heaped snow plowed from parking lots was still melting.

Mountains of Snow During the winter, the city changes drastically, Bachelor says. Many summer vacation homes in Petoskey were built without insulation and are located in a central district. Before winter begins, the owners empty water lines, lock up, and don't return until the following spring.

"The city doesn't plow snow from the streets in that neighborhood because nobody lives there in the winter," Bachelor says.

But plenty of other streets are plowed, which keeps Hyde Equipment busy selling snowplows, snowplow parts, and doing service work during most of the fall and winter. Hyde sells snowplows primarily to municipal customers in 36 counties in Michigan's northern lower peninsula and in the upper peninsula.

Most of Hyde's customers use snowplows from late October through April, Bachelor says. Each winter, Hyde sells 30 to 40 large snowplows made by Root and Frink that are installed on trucks owned by municipalities, as well as several 22-ft power-angle snowplows used on airport runways.

Hyde also sells about 300 snowplows made by Western Products in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Designed for use primarily on pickup trucks, the snowplows are also installed on medium-duty trucks.

Western snowplows have a UniMount system with four pins and two electrical plugs to quickly attach or remove the snowplow, Bachelor says. The snowplows have either steel or polyethylene moldboards.

Expanding Sales Area Hyde Equipment recently made efforts to expand its customer base by opening a website on the Internet. The address is Http://WWW.hydeequipment.com. When the website first opened in July, a company in West Virginia inquired about repairing a Gresen hydraulic valve that it eventually shipped to Hyde for the repair.

In its machine shop, Hyde repairs hydraulic valves, pumps, and cylinders. Most snowplow trucks are operated with hydraulic controls, and Hyde has 15,000 numbers for parts and components needed to repair a wide variety of snow-control and truck equipment.

"We have to be prepared for the worst," Bachelor says. "During a snowstorm, we might have 15 people waiting to get snowplows repaired."

Almost any size of hydraulic hose can be manufactured in Hyde's shop, Bachelor says. The company is a "premier" Aeroquip distributor. This means Hyde has the machinery available to crimp up to a six-wire hydraulic hose and can assemble virtually any size of hose for a truck hydraulic system.

"Hyde Equipment's main business is selling snow and ice control equipment," says Bachelor, who owns and operates the business with his brother, Dean, and Roger Rensel. "We specialize in snow- and ice-control equipment for municipalities."

Root Snow Knife On trucks used for snow control, Hyde Equipment installs hydraulic systems, mounts dump bodies and spreaders, and attaches front plows and underbody scrapers. A snowplow Hyde sells and installs that is designed for plowing streets and highways is the Root-RR 95 Snow Knife made by Root Spring Scraper Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The snowplow cuts an 8 1/2-foot swath and weighs 2,100 lb. The Snow Knife allows for high-speed plowing at a 23-degree "angle of attack," a moldboard with greater roll, and an integral snowshield to prevent blowback on the windshield.

"It is easier for a truck to push the Snow Knife because it's cutting into the snow rather than bulldozing it," Bachelor says. "It's a premier snowplow for municipalities."

An optional automotive wheel with a 14-inch tire and fender is mounted on a stub axle behind the leading edge of the Snow Knife to smooth the operation of the snowplow. The automotive tire rides on the pavement and lasts longer than a conventional steel shoe.

The cutting edge on a large municipal snowplow such as the Snow Knife often rides one or two inches off the ground, Bachelor says. The remaining snow is removed by an underbody road scraper mounted underneath the truck on a hydraulic turntable.

Similar to road graders, underbody scrapers have hydraulic cylinders that position the angle of the cutting edge. While snowplows are used primarily for drifted snow, underbody scrapers alone can clear roads of snowfalls up to about four inches deep.

Underbody Road Scrapers Hyde installs Root underbody scrapers on many of the trucks. Exhaust systems often need to be relocated before an underbody scraper can be installed.

Hyde is one of the top three distributors of Root underbody scrapers, snowplows, and hitches, Bachelor says. Hyde is in the top five percent for sales of material spreaders made by Swenson Spreader in Lindenwood, Illinois.

Hyde sells Swenson 8-ft V-box spreaders and 9- to 14-ft spreaders that fit into beds of pickup trucks and dump bodies. The spreaders have 10-gauge steel hoppers with capacities ranging from 4 1/2 to over 17 cubic yards.

A 24-inch wide conveyor in the bottom of the V-box spreader is driven by a worm gearbox powered by a hydraulic motor. The conveyor chain can be adjusted in a three-inch range for proper tension.

Another spreader-type body made for snow-control is the Flo N' Dump made by Air-Flo Manufacturing in Prattsburgh, New York. The Flo N' Dump has a conveyor built into the floor that moves ice control material or aggregates such as asphalt or gravel.

The conveyor can empty over 90 percent of the load while the dump body is in the lowered position. A Flo N' Dump front spreader model conveys material forward for spreading ahead of the rear drive axle for increased traction on sloped or icy roads.

Truck Bodies Installed Besides Hyde also distributes Stahl service bodies and Knapheide platforms. Truck bodies, underbody scrapers, spreaders, snowplows, and hitches are installed in Hyde's nine-bay 10,000-sq-ft shop.

In April, Hyde built a two-bay addition for gritblasting and paint preparation. Each bay has a five-ton overhead crane for mounting and removing truck bodies. The bays have an inside height of 17 ft, 20-ft width, and 46-ft length.

Adjacent to the new bays are a spray booth/bake oven and a new computerized paint mixing room. Rensel says Hyde has paint formulas on microfiche and can mix any colors used to paint trucks built by Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, or Toyota.

The spray booth and bake oven are made by CWN in Ede, Holland, and distributed in the US by The Grinstead Group Inc in Louisville, Kentucky. The booth is 16 by 16 feet and 42 feet long. The inside temperature of the oven and spray booth can be raised to 100° F above the outdoor temperature.

"In the summer, we could raise the temperature inside the booth to 180°F if we wanted to," Rensel says. "The normal temperature is 140°F for a bake cycle. For a fast paint cure, we raise the temperature to 160°F."

Hyde hopes the addition and new equipment will help keep its employees busy year-round, Bachelor says. Trucks used in seasonal work are often refurbished during the off season.

"We want to gritblast and paint snow removal equipment in the summer and excavating equipment in the winter," Rensel says.

About the Author

Mark Nutter