If you are like the millions of others who got sick of city living during the COVID years, welcome to what the founding fathers envisioned. Abandoning these concrete jungles brings about a freedom that most simply cannot be expressed in words. Trading bureaucracy for a small local government allows us to breathe a little easier and better exercise our rights as Americans. However, this swap does indeed come at a cost: self-sufficiency. One of the big-city benefits you’ll have to learn to live without is its Department of Sanitation, including trash disposal and snow removal. Depending on where your journey takes you, the latter might be beyond what can be accomplished with a shovel. Furthermore, if you plan on hunting in the winter months, you’ll need a means for off-road snow removal. You might just need the KFI UTV Plow System.
KFI UTV Plow System
Close to two years ago, we purchased a perfect little homestead with ten acres of stepped woodland, making it the ideal passageway for the delicious wildlife that inhabits the area, not to mention a rifle range. What it isn’t ideal for are human legs and a back full of shooting gear. To that end, I promptly purchased a Kawasaki MULE 4010 to haul my equipment up the hill and take care of other routine business.
I chose the MULE for the same reason I choose common handguns to carry: accessories. I knew plowing was in the cards, and I wanted to ensure that I could utilize parts from a reputable company without having to resort to a custom fabrication shop. This move allowed me to use the KFI bolt-on UTV plow system, something a typical homeowner can install by themselves without having to drill any holes or weld any parts together.
KFI stands for Kappers Fabricating Inc., and although it sounds like a large corporate entity, it’s your typical American-owned family business. Located in Minnesota, you know they understand snow. The company started back in 1986 as a small custom shop, which eventually delved into ready-to-install setups like the one in this article. Later, in 2002, they rounded out the lineup with their signature winches, which ensure a trouble-free installation while being some of the toughest in the industry.
Each component they make is tested and installed on various versions of the UTV (or ATV) it is made for, ensuring that something useless doesn’t arrive at the customer’s door. For me, this was one of the major draws to this company, as the last thing I’d want to do is get halfway through the job and then find out the piece that ties it all together doesn’t fit this particular VIN.
The plow system involves five primary components: the winch mount, winch, plow mount, push tube, and the plow blade. Depending on your rig, you might need a pulley, but we’ll get to that later. Not necessary, but I highly recommend adding the hydraulic actuator. This device allows you to angle the blade at will with just the push of a button. Without it, you’ll have to get out, pull a lever, and make this adjustment manually. If you have an irregular plowing area, it’s a worthwhile investment, especially if you plan on closing your cab. At this point in the article, much of this is likely Greek to you.
The good news is these people are passionate about their products and are more than happy to help you pick out everything you need to ensure you get the job done right the first time around. At the beginning of this project, I had no clue about plows, but I knew a little about mobile electrical systems and how to swing a wrench, so I felt confident.
Multiple component projects are always easiest when the pieces are sorted out, which is precisely how this system showed up. After unpackaging everything and laying it out in my driveway, it all started to make sense. I began by installing the winch mount plate which provided the holes to securely mount the winch. At first glance, it might look like I’m adding one of these to my ATV because I’m worried I’ll get stuck in the snow. While a winch is undoubtedly great for that, the primary reason for installing one is because it raises and lowers the plow. I chose the AS-50x Assault Winch for its extreme capacity, ungodly power, and its striking resemblance to a weapon of war. Just kidding, although you can likely convince an urban idiot that’s true.
The funny thing is, the “Assault” moniker is rather fitting for this line. These winches offer the smallest footprint-to-power ratio while being extraordinarily weatherproof. The synthetic cable makes them far lighter than conventional steel-wound versions and, dare I say it, provides better ergonomics when it comes time to handle it. KFI includes everything you need to wire it up, too, even a rocker switch, which requires a little cutting and filing to get into your dash.
Mounting the KFI UTV Plow System
Just as the winch needs a mounting plate, so does the plow. The KFI plow mount is made to fit both your vehicle and the push tube, which is the part that positions the plow away from the vehicle and allows it to swivel. It, too, was a simple bolt-on process, and I had it done within a few minutes. After locking down the hardware, I connected the push tube, which was only a matter of slipping in two pins.
The best part about this is that removal is just as easy, meaning I don’t have to keep the plow on for the entire winter and can be ready to handle a storm in an instant. As the angle of the plow to the winch was shallow, I installed the fairway pully system to reduce the stress on my winch and its cable. Locking up three bolts completed that process.
Completing the package was the plow itself, requiring nothing more than affixing some hardware and setting the skid depth for your particular surface. KFI gives you a lot of options here, but I went with the 66-inch PRO-S series steel blade. Although their poly-blades are tough as nails, my machine needed a little more front-end weight, so this was an easy fix. You can go up to 72 inches wide if you like; however, given the tight nature of my woods, I didn’t think that was a good idea. The last piece of the puzzle was the actuator and its mount, which took the place of the hand lever. Bolting it on was straightforward, leaving me with just the wiring.
Wiring vehicles can be a nightmare, as you never know where to start, and you can find yourself re-routing leads time and time again when they come up short. KFI wants you to have a clean install so the wiring is tight. However, with a little exploration, I was able to find a neat path from the winch to the battery and the battery to the dashboard. The process was nearly the same for wiring the actuator. After cutting both switches into the dash, I stood before the completed project, taking a total of 12 hours and 18 minutes. I marked the day down, as it was the first time I’d ever prayed for snow.
While a White Christmas alluded us, it wasn’t too long after New Year’s Day when we saw our first accumulation. As the clouds started to thin, we found ourselves looking down at approximately six inches of soaking wet mess. This is commonly referred to as heart-attack snow, as not only is it significantly heavier than the fluffy kind, but snowblowers are essentially useless on it. As I was prepared for the storm, days prior, I played with the adjustment holes to properly pitch the plow for asphalt and backed the machine into the garage.
With the blade positioned straight in front of me, I rolled up the door, started the motor, and blasted down our driveway; it was as if nothing was there at all. Behind me laid a path of clean pavement without even the slightest hint of scratching or marring. Raising the plow, I backed back into the garage and completed the driveway in just a few short passes.
Clearing a Path
Our neighborhood sits on a private road, with approximately six homes in my immediate vicinity. This means that not only do we need to maintain it ourselves, but we need to be mindful of other driveways. Cutting the blade to the right, I ran the entire length of the horseshoe and spun around at the very end. Then, from the comfort of the driver’s seat, I used the actuator to turn the blade in the other direction and pushed the collective snow from both sides of the street towards everybody’s lawns, saving them from the mounds that would normally be deposited at the end of their driveways.
With the asphalt cleared, it was now time to tackle my greatest concern: the path to my rifle range. Not only is it steep, but it’s wholly uneven. Entering it with the blade still cut to the right, I realized that this angle caused it to dig a bit deeper than the other side. With that, I straightened it out, adjusted the height to sit two inches off the ground, and steadily ascended the hill. I had hoped that I was high enough to clear the stump that I knew was “somewhere” in the middle, but alas, I was wrong.
I guess KFI is used to misjudgments like this, which is why the plow has a spring rescue system that tips it when you strike something that you shouldn’t. Being that I was (wisely) only moving at about 2 MPH, I didn’t hurt anything, and all I had to do was back up, raise the plow and continue on. In this fashion, I got nearly all the way to the ground, scraping away the residual leaves that gave away my presence in the process.
Good Off-Grid Gear
Getting off the grid poses plenty of challenges, but luckily, getting set up for snow removal doesn’t have to be one of them. I found the KFI UTV plow system to be extraordinarily handy without having to rely on a technician to install it. When comparing products, that’s an important factor to consider, as it has the potential to double the final cost. I also liked that they’ll take the time to sell you everything you need without pushing you for products you don’t.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a project sit idol because “X” wasn’t included, but you don’t find out until you’ve disabled the machine. In practice, it did everything I needed it to do and indicated that it would have no problem handling twice the snowfall of that given storm. While I might miss fishing off the shores of Long Island, I’m certainly not going to miss pushing a snowblower or breaking my back with a shovel.
For more information, visit kfiproducts.com.
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