Tuesday, August 30, 2016

MoW: Snow Removal

On the mainline out in the country, snow can be removed with plows, both rotary and wedge. There are so many videos of them in action that I'm not even going to bother to include some here.

But in towns, the rotary would be too dangerous. When our town bought a snow blower to remove the record snowfall we had in 1978 from our streets, it blew the limbs off the north side of a tree in our yard. Imagine what the more powerful stream from a rotary plow would do. Especially to the windows of trackside buildings. And in yards there is not enough room on the side of a track into which to shove the snow with a wedge plow or Jordan spreader.

New York Central System Historical Society posted
So instead of shoving the snow off the tracks, devices were developed to remove the snow. The comment for this photo was:
Snow loader X631 (Lot 751) and snow melter X1435 (Lot 752) were built by the Barber-Greene Company ofAurora, Illinois in 1945. In operation, a steam locomotive heated the tank of X1435, into which loader X631 dumpedthe snow to be melted. (NYCSHS Photo Collection)
John Wood They have street cleaning machines in Montreal that do this, scoop up snow, melt it and let the hot water out the back. Down the street drains it goes before freezing.

Note the large pipe in the bottom of the tank to the right of the ladder. When the tank was full, they would go to the nearest creek and dump the water. But with the advent of diesels, they lost their source of steam to melt the snow.

Now a method to remove snow from turnouts is a jet engine on a railcar. A video of a CN blower in action. I've looked at some other videos. It is not clear how much of the snow is blown away vs. melted. I wonder how easily the creosote in ties is to ignite. The video points out that some of the ballast rocks also get blown off the track.

Levi Hirt posted, cropped
Putting the snowjet to work tonight. [Feb 9, 2018, Michigan]
Joe Leichtman Jr. We're firing ours up tomorrow morning in Elkhart, IN.
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Parked at the BNSF commuter service yard, a jet to help clear the many switches in their Chicago commuter yard.

A video of a Snow Jet working Frontier Yard, Buffalo, NY.
Robert Seemueller Most of CSX three dozen snow jets used B-52 surplus jet engines.
Bill Baker When the CP bought the D&H, they took our 2 jets and shipped them up to Canada. They replaced them with a couple of well-used old Kershaw regulators that had an auger attached to the broom box. They actually worked surprisingly well. About 3 or 4 passes at a switch with the broom box lowered a little bit more with each pass and it was clean. Had an air compressor with us, (behind the truck), along with a wand for blowing out the switch rods and between the stock rail and switch points.
Bill Baker Couldn't begin to count how many I cleaned with a shovel and broom and sometimes a burning can.
Bill Baker commented on Robert's video
Cleaning switches at Collinwood!
A video of that jet engine working the west end of CSX Frontier Yard.

Kevin Piper posted
For nearly two years I loved going to a small and wide open satellite diesel facility located on the north side of IHB's Blue Island Yard, near Chicago. Camera in hand, this 17-year railfan was shocked to find the area devastated by a midnight fire on 2-12-78. The fire was started by a MOW snow melter machine. CR GP35 2300 was rebuilt, but the ex-PC SD45 was scrapped. Unfortunately the party was over, and the facility was never reopened.
[A jet engine creates an open flame. Thus one must be careful were it is used/pointed.]

Another method to clear turnouts is a cold air blower.
Fred Bain posted
A video of a more modern one in action (source)
Rob Bennett Have 2 of the nose jets. They are ok. Here is a link to the AF1 blower. Have 2 of these also. This is the cats meow of all blowers on the railroad hands down.. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=76pe67QDVxA . we have the jet blowers you reference still in use in Green Bay and Stevens Point. They work well when wet snow or freezing snow. [With an air speed up to 430 mph and an airflow of 19,000 cfm, it can blow away ice and hard packed snow, etc. It looks like it has an engine on the bed for the blower that is bigger than the truck's engine. The next video offered showed it clearing airport runways of various objects as well as ice and snow.]Tim Bentley Had three jet sno blowers in Toledo when I retired two years ago.Ottis Hundley Had a jet snow blower in North Kansas City yard one year. Let off of the forward throttle and that baby would blow you backwards down the track as fast as you were brave enough to go..Tim Bentley Made record time moving one from Toledo to Willard one time we just happened to be facing the right direction so we fired that baby up and flew down the track
Speaking of a jet removing snow.
Rob Bennett posted
Green Bay JET. Still in use but lonely this year... and that’s OK!
(new window) It took longer than I expected. That snow must have turned to dirty ice.

For turnouts on heavily trafficked mainlines in cities, they used to set out several oil-filled pots with a wick to create a flame along the tracks. Before a storm, those pots would have to be set out and lit. After a storm, they would have to be collected and refilled. Now they put gas jets inside a hood along the rails and let the gas burn during a storm. (Please click, or touch, that link to Marshall Beecher's photo. It is well worth the effort.)
David Daruszka shared Xavier Quintana posting
Cold Chicago:
Arthur LaCaille uses a gasoline torch to light gas jets that thaw out switches in the rail yard outside LaSalle Street Station in Chicago on Dec. 26, 1944. (Chicago Tribune historical photo)
Rick Knowles I would think that they would use kersosene insread of gasoline in the torch because of safety. I know that's what smokejumpers use for starting backfires.

Richard Mead Drip torches run a mixture of 50% gasoline and 50% diesel. That is what I was taught at fire school.
Patrick McNamara commented on another posting about fires burning at switch points
 I remember these smudgepot warmers at Proviso Yard, until some bean counters thought they were employing too many M of W guys to fill them with kero...so they just got rid of the workers and the heaters and handed us worthless brooms with dandelion picker ends on them to laboriously chip out the ice.

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When I was taking pictures at Dolton Junction, the gas meter on the left side of this photo (closeup below) appeared in many of my photos. In the closeup, you can also see the hood of a heater for one of the turnouts.
Zoomed in
I think that one gas meter supplied all of the gas jets in the junciton. Since one always has plenty of time to kill when railfanning, even at a junction as busy as Dolton, I took a closeup of a turnout with its remotely controlled machine and heaters that was just a few feet from the Park Avenue crossing.You can see there is an underground pipe that comes above the ground an feed gas jets on both sides of the turnout.

The gas meter and the turnout we saw above is in the background of this picture. Below is the meter in the lower-left corner of this excerpt from the background at camera resolution.

But in less traveled areas, the conductor still has to clean out the turnout points with a broom. Note he uses the handle more than the bristles. That snow was not very "fluffy."

Arturo's photo of CP 502 shows the points being kept snow free with a hot air blower in the foreground of the left track.

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