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What seem to be the most common problems with Home Plow by Meyer Hydraulic Units?


This is my first article about the Home Plow by Meyer. The fact is, I have little experience with them personally. Probably hard to believe based on everything I have written about Meyer plows in general over the past 20 years or so, but true. I won’t go too deep, but the gist of it is that Meyer decided to keep the Home Plow line separate from all the other lines, and chose big box stores online to sell it instead of their existing Distributor network. Since then there are many more models and you can actually pick one up at Home Depot, I believe it is not only online anymore, you can walk in and walk out with a Plow in a Box (PIB Meyer calls it). It was designed to be an affordable, easy to install, and easy to use plow for vehicles that a “real” plow will not fit. That is what I was told, and I think they accomplished what they set out to do. So although Home Plow by Meyer has been out many years now, it’s popularity had been slow growing at first, but there are a lot out there now, but what is not out there is any real support for them. As I sit here and review parts orders as they come in I can usually tell what they are trying to accomplish with the parts ordered about half the time. The other half of the time based on what was ordered, I have no idea….. anyway, I can see the common parts ordered for Home Plow by Meyer. Knowing most if not all of them are going to a homeowner novice, often it would seem to me they are just throwing parts at it. It seems there are a few parts that are easy to determine the old one broke (more on that later) or, the plow is not working properly and I am just going to throw parts at it and hope for the best.

The broke parts, by far, the 15144 Reservoir Tank is the most common. The Tank O Ring comes with a new Reservoir, but the Vent does not. There is no part number for the O Ring. I actually had a somewhat local customer order a new one and we were waiting on more from Meyer. I told him I expected it soon. He came here the next day in person looking for it. So I had a chance to ask him why he needed the new tank, and he said they keep cracking. They seem to split  right at the seam when they freeze. Stop, wait, freeze? Yes, he said it freezes up a lot. We shipped him the part when it came in, that was one reason for replacing it. I had another customer come in two years ago with a used Home Plow by Meyer. He wanted me to take a look at it, the plow would not go down. I suspected it was frozen, sold him fluid and he went home to drain the tank (how to later) and found a huge blue ball of ice in it. He sent me pictures of it. So that is two local units freezing up. Meyer M1 fluid is yellow. Cheap aftermarket, generic fluid is blue. I am all for aftermarket when the situation calls for it, but fluid is not the place to go the cheaper route. The unit holds a quart or so, less than $20 a year to change your fluid annually or more often if water is getting in…..

That brings us to the next subject, HOW is water getting in? Well, the fill plug on the reservoir tank, the cap, whatever you want to call it is actually a vent. The cap is hollow with some type of fiber in it to prevent debris from entering the tank. It allows air flow to prevent pressure from building up in the tank. Pressure would make it split. The same as freezing fluid expanding will crack it. So it is vented. EVERY time you raise the plow, the fluid leaving the tank to raise the plow creates a vacuum in the tank, which draws in outside air. The tank breathes as the plow goes up and down. It is possible for it to suck moisture in, but it seems something is causing more water to be taken on than normal. I can base this on commercial Meyer hydraulic units that use the same  vent, and do not have a moisture problem. They go up and down far more than a Home Plow in a driveway, or even 5 driveways, 10 driveways, you get the picture. So something is different with the Home Plow by Meyer. One difference is that on the other commercial units, the vent is vertical, not horizontal. Believe it or not it may make all the difference.  The ONLY way for water to get in the tank is through the vent. So the less contact it has with water the better in my opinion. How to accomplish that is up to you. Getting the water out of the tank requires removing it because there is no drain plug. You could also buy a cheap turkey baster, and slip a hose onto the end, because any water in the tank goes right to the bottom. It would be somewhat easy to siphon it out. Just remember, when there is ice in the tank, it needs to be thawed to get it out, and if you try to use heat to do it, you will be buying a new tank. Get it indoors and let it warm up slowly. Oil does not freeze at 0°, water does. Also remember if ice clogs the vent, raising the plow will create taht same vacuum in he tank, and it will crack. The same holds true for when yo udrop the plow, if the vent is blocked, the returning fluid will expand the tank and crack it at the seams.

 Another common part is the 22816 ½” x 3” Pivot Pin with Hairpin. We sell A LOT of them. They must fall out like crazy when plowing. I’d replace them with a bolt and Nylock nut and be done with that. Wheels (Casters) we sell a lot of as well. We also sell a lot of the Cart Jack Brackets, both the tall and short. Not sure why, I was never told by any customers, but I assume the square hole is not square anymore. The square is too small by design to be durable. They are not a tight fit even when new. Great idea poor execution.

 What appears to be “throwing parts at it”…. Here in my shop, I have to prove a part is bad before I replace it in most situations. Experience has taught me what to check, but just because I have it does not mean I check the parts for proper operation any differently than you would with the same simple tools. This is one of those times I think of auto mechanics that say “I don’t know anything about plows”. Sure they do, they just can’t see it. The plow electrical system is no different than the vehicle. It is just wiring. The same practices are used, how to test, how to repair, etc. Don’t be scared of it, take your time and you will figure it out with help. What do we sell that seems like parts are just flying at the problem? Motor Solenoids, Harnesses, Coils, and Valves. Here is where that experience comes in. Coils, maybe you call them solenoids, RARELY fail. It would take 10 seconds with an Ohmmeter to test one. Unplug the Coil, then touch both leads to the pins and if you get an Open Lead (OL) it is bad. I am going to test a few new ones and see what the reading is because we have no specs for the Home Plow by Meyer hydraulic units (testing showed 0 ohms resistance for 15147). They are made by Bucher (formerly Monarch Hydraulics) and have been making hydraulics for over 150 years. Half (or more!) of the small dump trucks you see on the road use Bucher hydraulics on the dump body. Durability is not a concern with  their products but for some reason, the Home Plow by Meyer seems to have hydraulics problems, or does it? Well again the same Valves are used on the commercial units. Even after years (4, 5, 6, 7, and more) of service I can count on one hand how many Valves I have had to replace on the plows I have sold and installed locally. I have customers that have not even been back for an fluid change in 8 years or more! I have moved plows from their old truck to their new truck, and not done a service on the plow! STILL no problems.

 So what is different on the Home Plow by Meyer? WIRING / Electrical. It has to be the problem. I outlined all the reasons why the hydraulics should not be a problem by design and reputation. So what is wrong with the wiring? It is likely undersized. It is also left up to someone who may be inexperienced making the connections at the battery. Good contact on clean terminals is very important. In fact, these are the two wires that are likely undersized. IF you look at the Home Plow by Meyer hydraulic unit, both the Auto Angling and Power Angling models, you will see a large diameter jumper wire(s) on the Motor Solenoid. They are 6 Gauge. (ALL “real” plows use 6 gauge or larger, it is the “standard”). Why are they so large, but the Home Plow by Meyer battery cables feeding them only 8 gauge wire? According to the general consensus and Common Practices, 8 gauge would be the choice, well sorta... (see below). The Meyer E-47 motor is a little larger, and maximum amp load is 229 amps, with 230 amps being “reject” and replace the motor. In my experience, anything over 200 amps is bad. New E-47 motors will usually pull around 150 amps which is great since around 180 amps is “normal”. So when you try to put a large load on a wire too small to handle it, you will overheat the wire. An overheated wire is not a good conductor, especially with high amp loads. Over time the copper inside the wire turns black from the heat. I do not know what the load is on the Home Plow by Meyer motor, but at this point I can assume it is higher than 50 amps. I am going to set up a Home Plow by Meyer Auto Angling hydraulic unit I have here with a pressure gauge and an ammeter to find pump pressure and amp draw in the near future (see below, I DID).

Electrical connections are extremely important. They must be clean and tight at all times. This includes the plugs on the plow and vehicle. NO CORROSION on the pins in the plug, or the socket. CLEAN. Use Dielectric Grease to prevent corrosion. Not too much or it will build up and make it difficult to plug in. A little goes a long way. Just a light coating is all you need. Here in my shop I use Fluid Film instead, it never builds up and protects. I use it on my personal vehicles as well. It is perfect for trailer plugs and the vehicle battery terminals as well. One other often overlooked item is the vehicle battery. It must be in good condition to run a plow. Always have it load tested before you start buying plow parts to throw at a problem. Many vehicles do not have a voltmeter in the dash anymore. You would have no way of knowing if when running the plow your voltage drops below 12 volts your controller is shutting off. The vehicle can even be running and it will happen if the voltage drops below 12 volts. You will just get a click from the Motor Solenoid on the unit, and the controller shuts off. The battery can be a year old, or 4 years old and it can happen. The vehicle will start and drive with no problems, no indication of a battery problem. I just had another commercial customer last month who had problems with his commercial plow. The motor solenoid was just clicking. I replaced it, same problem. He only brought me the truck, not the plow. Running out of ideas for the problem, I asked if he replaced the batteries recently, maybe the power wire to the Motor Solenoid was not connected when they were done? No. BUT, what I said jogged his memory, the truck was a 2015, and it was almost 2020. He never replaced the batteries! Truck ran and drove fine, a big Ram 5500 with a 9’ Meyer Lot Pro. He got new batteries, problem solved! It had nothing to do with the plow or Motor Solenoid. IF you have a “dedicated” plow vehicle and it sits a lot, get a solar charger, plug it into power port, and it will keep the battery charged. That battery is the “gas” for the plow, don’t run out when you need it most. Any plow vehicle you have to jump start is not going to perform well until you replace the battery (since we are on the subject). So if you can’t maintain your battery, take it to a shop who can. Have them load test it and clean the terminals. If you go once a year in September you should be in good shape. You can also go to most chain auto parts stores WITH your battery (you usually have to bring the battery inside for testing) and they will load test it for you free. Shops can do it in the vehicle.

Home Plow by Meyer Specs:

 Now, I just took a brand new 13853 Auto Angling Home Plow by Meyer Hydraulic Unit out of the box, filled it with fluid, installed a pressure gauge inline on the Lift Ram, and hooked it up to my Meyer test stand. All I can say is WOW. I was right. The unit is making 1900psi @125 amps! From 85 amps up to 125 amps, an 8 gauge wire is good for up to a 7 foot run. Over 7 feet it should be 6 gauge or even 4 gauge. The Home Plow by Meyer (battery) wiring is just about 7 feet. The general rule with wiring is to oversize rather than undersize. The whole automotive industry has been going the opposite way these days, undersizing everything, BUT using the BCM (onboard computers) to monitor and regulate these circuits that have undersized wire. Marker lights for instance, back in the 80’s they were 16 gauge wire. Then in the 90’s – 2000’s they went to 18 gauge. I have done new vehicles recently, and some have gone to what I will call 20 gauge. It must be a metric gauge, because my wire strippers will not strip them using the 18 gauge slot unless I turn them at an angle. It all boils down to saving costs. That is why the automotive industry (and even some plow manufacturers) went to multi-plexing. Google "multi-plexing" and see what comes up if you care to learn about it. Copper is expensive. Multi-plexing is a nightmare to diagnose without the proper tools and training.

 A few pics:


 Filling this new unit I also learned that 1 quart of Meyer M1 fluid is perfect to fill the tank. Raising the plow will drop the level about 1” or less. The pickup tube with strainer on the end is in the bottom of the tank, so you could run these with a half of a tank of fluid and it will still work. It is best to have more fluid, but it would work with less. Each quart of Meyer M1 fluid will absorb about 1 ounce of water. Once that threshold is crossed, the water will separate from the oil. That is the reason for changign the fluid annually. Not because it gets dirty, not beause it breaks down, because it gets contaminated with water.

A few more tips and tidbits.

No, you can't just loosen the tank clamp and tilt the tank forward to drain it. The pickup tube inside goes to the bottom of the tank.

The fill hole is almost exactly 9/16" diameter, so make sure any siphon you want to use to suck out the fluid has an OUTSIDE diameter of no more than 1/2".

DO NOT OVERFILL. The fluid needs room to expand, and the level will go up and down constantly during use. It will leak out, yes, but if it can't get out the vent faster than it is coming in (when you lower the plow) it will crack the tank.

How do you check the fluid? Go in the vehicle, turn the controller on and put the plow in float. Walk around the front and push the Lift Arm all the way down by hand. Go back in the vehicle and shut off the controller :) then you can check the level. IF you do not push the Lift Arm down all the way by hand, you can overfill it. Once you have the front cover removed, you can see the unit and should be able to see the fluid level. About an inch down from the top is perfect. As I mentioned above, functioning requires less than half a tank, so don't think low fluid is your problem if it is over half full. FROZEN fluid is a problem, but we talked about that above already.

Frozen fluid, how do you know? On a power angling plow, when you lose all functions, it can only be a few things causing it. IF the motor runs and no response from the plow it is either low on fluid, or starving for fluid because it is frozen. IF you have more than a half tank of fluid, and no response, it is frozen. Remember up top where I mentioned the pickup tube inside the tank that goes to the bottom with the strainer on it? Well, I also pointed out that any water that enters the tank goes right to the bottom. So if the fluid turns to slush due to water in it and low temps (oh yeah, freezing rears its ugly head usually when it drops into the low teens) that slush can't get through the screen on the pickup tube. Depending on how much water got in, the whole screen could be frozen in a chunk of ice. Often when the unit is frozen, you might be able to raise it, but then it won't go down. The orifices for the lower function to return fluid to the tank are very tiny and can easily get blocked off by ice. In all cases of freezing, the only way to "fix" it is to drain the unit and refill. To do so as I mentioned above, it needs to be brought indoors and thawed.

 We have so many Home Plow by Meyer customers I need to start learning and sharing more about the Home Plow by Meyer in the near future!



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