Around this time last year, I got a late-afternoon phone call from my father: “Can you come over after the kids are in bed? I need your help.” It turns out that putting the plow on his ‘97 F250 with the first snowstorm of the year wasn’t such a good idea. That is, it would have been, had he not been planning to drive off into the woods to collect firewood. He had backed into an area of questionable integrity and found a hole the size of his front axle.
I showed up to find the truck with the plow blade resting firmly on the ground, even with the hydraulic all the way up. The hood was about at waist height for me as I approached the truck; not good. It’s not like we could hook up a winch and pull this thing, either. The wet-snow-covered field was devoid of an anchor point for over 100' in any useful direction, and also we don’t have a winch. All we had was a 2006 Volvo XC70. We actually needed a crane.
So we did the next best thing: lifting the truck by its frame using a series of jacks and wood blocks, over and over, lifting the whole beast and stuffing things under the tires and frame to get it up and out of the muck; a Sisyphean task at first. 6" up, 5 & 3/4" back down into the muck.
Lifting the truck - plow and all - not only taxed our cheap floor jack and bottle jack to the point of partial failure, but also the balance point of the truck was so far forward that we really were lifting the rear wheel off the ground before the front made much progress upwards. So basically we were lifting half the truck with no leverage,
occasionally jumping on the rear bumper to pry the front up, using a precarious pile of wood as the lever point.
. I kept shoving wood blocks farther forward until finally we got a chain under the plow, although we still had to use a prybar to get the plow up.
At this point we were both soaking wet, muddy, and exhausted. We had filled the hole up as best we could, and made kind of a ramp for the wheels to get the rest of the way up. So we hooked up the chain to the Mightiest Tow Vehicle available to us - the Volvo. This was a big grassy field covered in 6" of wet, sticky snow. The Volvo didn’t even have snow tires. But we were done digging and lifting and swearing. Time to try powaahhhh!
On my signal from inside the Ford, my father gave the Volvo a good application of throttle in reverse, the chain hooked onto the threaded tow point on the front bumper, with the other end wrapped around the plow frame of the truck. I gave the old Ford a healthy dose of throttle in 4-low, too, and by a small miracle of redneck engineering, we were out of the woods, literally.
I wish I had not been covered in snow and mud and exhausted and frustrated, and gotten a video of a Volvo pulling a rusty old Ford plow truck out of an impossible muddy, snowy trap. I didn’t even get a single photo. My phone probably spent the whole ordeal in the warm, dry safety of my car. But it wasn’t all about traction, or about the relative merits of 4WD over AWD. Momentum is king, and a good old Swedish brick is always good for that.
So here’s a close re-enactment of the job: just chop the extra doors off the Ford and add a Fisher plow to the front, plus night time, snow, mud, trees, and... well, at least I got the colors of the vehicles right.