Floating a Bobcat Snowblower

October, 2011

Last winter, for the first time, I used a Bobcat S650 skidsteer loader for snow removal. My driveway is 1/2 mile long, has a gravel surface, is single lane and rises unevenly 200 feet in elevation. There is about 600 feet through open fields where heavy drifting is routine. Most of the remainder of the drive is through a narrow, heavily wooded area with limited space for pushing back snowbanks. I used a 72" wide Bobcat SB 200 hi-flow snowblower to deal with drifts and to prevent snowbanks from building up such that further plowing was not possible. Here's my snowblower:

Here's the blower in action last winter clearing some minor drifting after windrowing with a plow:

I'm very pleased with the performance of the Bobcat snowblower except for one significant design aspect. With this combination, the fixed design of the blower mounting to the Bobtach quick attach plate does not allow for floating of the blower with respect to the Bobcat when travelling over uneven ground. It's fine for smooth and flat paved areas but for undulating gravel roads, frustrating adjustments to the height are required. Going over crests tends to leave more snow than desired in places and going over valleys causes the cutting edge to try and dig in. This happens in both directions. I have tried tilting the blower back on the original skid shoes and floating the Bobcat lift arms but have not been satisfied with the result. The Bobcat doesn't have the ability to float the tilt cylinders. I have no need for significant down pressure on the blower for increased scraping action. The weight of the Bobcat's lift arms only adds to something I don't need or want. Plus, the lift arm pivot points are to far to the rear for what I think would be best for blower float..

I decided I would try modifying how the blower attaches to the Bobcat and change the design of the skid shoes to improve operation on my gravel drive. I have the Bobcat 3pt adapter attachment so I can use my tractor three point hitch implements on the Bobcat. Namely, to date, these are a 3pt York rake and a 3pt log splitter. By modifying the blower, I could use this adapter plate and allow the blower to float on the pin points relative the Bobcat with only the weight of the blower as down pressure. Here's the bracket I made that adds pin points to the blower:

I located this bracket such that the blower would be flat on the ground when both the blower and the Bobcat are on a flat surface with the Bobcat lift arms on the bottom stops and the Bobtach plate in the "normal" forward tilt position

Here's a side view showing how the 3pt adapted mates up to the blower. I added a padeye to the blower for using a chain "top link". This arrangement allows the blower to pivot at the pins and float, relative to the Bobcat, over an undulating surface.

The addition of the 3pt adapter locates the blower about 12" farther forward than would be the case without it. Because of this I had to add 12" to all three hydraulic hoses and the electric control cable.

Here's a view of the skid shoe redesign:

I used 1/2" x 4" wide steel flat bar for longer skid shoes that protrude under the cutting edge to keep it off the ground and prevent attempts at digging in to a gravel surface. I also added a skid shoe in the center of the blower to permit riding the crown of the road should I decide to travel down the middle at any time. The new outer shoes are bolted to the original shoes as shown here:

There is a tab at the front end on each shoe that protrudes back over the top of the cutting edge and keeps the shoe tight to the edge while still permitting easy removal. There are also tabs welded to the cutting edge on either side of each shoe to provide for lateral stability.

I'll see how these changes work when we get the first significant snowfall this coming winter. Hopefully i've made an improvement for my own particular neeeds.

Rod (NH)
October 2011