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. Pictures of EJ&E's and MWRD's.

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.

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.)

20150510 1174
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."

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