Western Unimount Snowplow: The End Of An Era
The people over at Western plows certainly know about snowplows, they have been making quality snow removal equipment since before I was born and they continue to be an industry leader even after their parent company Douglas Dynamics went public in 2010.
Before there was the Western Wideout, the HTS or even the MVP3 there was the Western Unimount plow. A reliable chain-lift plow with a sturdy powerpack and moldboard that could take a beating. For more than a decade, the Western Unimount was the plow of choice for many in the snow removal industry, especially in the Midwest.
As suburban areas continued to thrive through the 1950s, and the light-truck market continued to grow, the demand for snowplows continued rising, allowing Western Products' sales to double between 1961 and 1968.
The 1970s also proved to be a profitable time for the company, as its share of the national market for the type of snowplows mounted on light trucks rose from 33 percent in 1968 to 40 percent a decade later. During that time the precursor to the Unimount, The Conventional mount came out in 1972 and held its reign until 1988.
In 1977, Douglas Seaman incorporated as Douglas Dynamics Incorporated, which he placed as the parent company for Western Welding & Manufacturing. In 1984, Douglas Dynamics also expanded by purchasing Fisher Engineering, a well-respected competitor in the snow plow business.
In 1989 the Western Unimount was born and ever since these plows have been passed down from father to son like pocket knives and baseball mitts. When the Unimount was released, it quickly became the workhorse of many snow removal professionals and homeowners alike.
Maybe the most innovative part of the new Unimount System was the ease of removing the plow. The Unimount allowed for a quick, one-piece removal of the snowplow whenever the truck was not being used for plowing. The result was an improved vehicle appearance, less permanent weight on the front-end all year long and happier customers in general. Once the stand was in the position, all it took was four pins, two electrical plugs, and two quick couplers to attach or remove most of the plow.
No longer did you have to connect and disconnect hydraulic hoses, or hook and unhook the lift chain with this easy-to-use system. This was a total transformation from how previous plows attached and detached, and quickly became the standard for other snowplow manufacturers to follow.
The last of the Unimount plows came off the production lines in 2001 making way for the newer, even more user-friendly mounting style called the Ultra-Mount. When the Ultra-mount was first introduced, it had the same 2-plug wiring as the older Unimount but a very different mounting style. These first year Ultramount are rare but you’ll see them from time to time.
Typically, in a Unimount plow transfer, the only components that might possibly need to be purchased would be a mount and harness, as these items are vehicle specific. If you are transferring to a new truck that has the same frame and headlight configuration as your old truck, these items may not be necessary.
Another factor to consider is that, while we may offer a snowplow for your new truck, we may not be able to recommend the same size blade that you had on your old truck due to weight capacities and limitations. The information required, for both your old and new truck, is as follows:
- Year, make and model
- Pick up, chassis cab, or sport/utility truck
- Regular, extended, quad cab for pick-up trucks; 2-door or 4-door for sport/utility trucks
- Size of bed
- Front gross axle weight rating
- Gross vehicle weight rating
In 2014 Western completely stopped making the old relay harnesses used on the Unimount plow for Chevy trucks years 1999-2004 because of the new H13 headlight configuration. For most other trucks the last year of harnesses in circulation are for 2003-2004.
Before this change, a Unimount truckside kit was about $700 - $1000, which made the investment in a used plow or change over to a new truck feasible. Now you’ll have to switch your wiring to the 3-port isolation module type on both the truck and the plow. After you add up all the costs of putting an old Unimount on a new truck, a truckside kit (Mount, Wiring, and Controller) could end up costing you $1500 - $2000 dollars!
The mount adapter (Conversion Kit) that still allows you to use your Unimount plow with Ultramount mount and wiring was produced in 2001 to correspond with the making of the Ultramount. It is still in production today.
If you are in the market for a used plow, like the Unimount, a good rule of thumb is to find an older truck that can still use the relay parts. If you have a newer truck (newer than 2003 or a Chevy) you may want to look at a different used plow or even a new plow.
In recent years, plow manufacturers have been adding some great technology like plow security guards, flared wings, and stainless moldboards just to name a few that all make operating and protecting your plow more efficient.
The good thing is Western still has replacement parts available and there are many aftermarket parts in the marketplace as well.
Unfortunately, time must go on and the legacy of the Unimount is slowly ending however; no one can argue the significance that this plow played in the light-duty snowplow market. Personally, I am sad to see the Unimount fade away, but you can bet Western will continue their streak of excellence in plow building well in the future.
(The Western Heavyweight plow is the only plow still in production that uses the Unimount-type mounting, however it is technically a universal weld-on mount used for larger trucks like International)