TowPlow Tames Winter’s Toughest Tasks

Keeping highways clear of snow in winter can be a herculean job. Often, snow piles up faster than it can be cleared away. But what if there was a way to make every highway truck clear twice as much roadway with each pass?

That’s the idea behind the TowPlow. Manufactured by Viking-Cives Inc. of Harrisville, New York, the TowPlow was tested on highways around Rochester, NY last winter, which was one of the snowiest on record. Based on how well the TowPlow performed, the State of New York ordered 62 of the super snow sweepers for use on Empire State highways this winter.

What is a Two Plow? It’s a hydraulically operated plow mounted on a separate trailer that is towed behind a standard plow truck. The trailer is ballasted to keep it from being pushed around by the snow. The 12′ long blade effectively doubles the width a plow truck can clear on each pass. That means fewer vehicles are needed, which saves time and money for the state highway department.

The plow truck needs a pintle hook rated at 90,000 lbs, a seven wire trailer plug rigged for ABS, a generic trailer air brake delivery system, and two hydraulic remotes, one single-action and one double-action. The truck can be operated at speeds up to 55 mph with the TowPlow attached.

TowPlowOne hydraulic control  raises and lowers the blade, much the same way the front plow is controlled. The second control angles the trailer wheels and swivel tongue at the front of the trailer. In operation, the rig looks like a car with a bent frame crabbing its way down the road. The driver can move the trailer into line behind the truck to clear obstructions like stuck cars and bridge abutments and then deploy the plow again once the obstacle is left behind. TowPlow operators must complete a 12 hour training course before they can operate the equipment.

An array of warning lights is attached to the trailer to alert drivers coming up from behind that there is a very unusual vehicle ahead. In the middle of a snow storm with frozen wipers and a smeared windshield, the TowPlow might look like something from another planet. 11 other states have purchased TowPlows for their own highways, so if you are on the road during a blizzard this winter, you might just see one of them in operation, clearing a 24 foot wide path as it goes.

Photo credit: Viking-Cives, Inc.

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.