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|
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.
|Screenshot from a Stephen F. Magrowski post|
I had some fun playing with the snow jet years ago.
[The comments have a video of a blower and discuss the differences between jet and blower.]
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!
|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
|Rob Bennett posted|
Green Bay JET. Still in use but lonely this year... and that’s OK!
When the switches are dense and on heavily used tracks, open flames are used. The Chicago media gets excited about Tower A-2's tracks being on fire. Also check out Marshal Beecher's photo.
Lake Tower also has a lot of switches to keep operational for commuter operations during winter weather. Before natural gas became available, workers used to set out several 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. Or, instead of pots, they just poured flamable liquid on the tracks. It is amazing that creosoted ties survive that technique.
|David Daruszka shared Xavier Quintana posting|
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 instead 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.
|Bill Blake posted|
January 22, 1947 - A New York Central Railroad yard worker, right, is using a torch to thaw a frozen switch. The terminal tower is in the snow-hazed background. - Buffalo, New York
Bob Cerri Its actually a casing head fuel can. Open valve, light up fuel and apply to switch points & rods
|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.
|Rocky Myrtle posted|
Keeping The Trains Moving
The call came shortly after midnight. It was the first of many nights that would be the same every winter. Little Peak said we needed to get the heaters going. I wasn't sure what this involved, because I'd never worked on a Section during the winter.
When I got to the Section house Gandies were loading barrels of kerosene onto the back of the Section truck and had a hand pump with a long hose attached to it. Others carried a box of cotton wicks and a couple cases of railroad track flares.
We pulled up to the far end of North Wichita where the first Mainline power switch was that the Dispatcher had control over. There was no orders being given. It seemed liked the older Section hands knew what to do. A couple men were already standing on the back of the Section truck. One of them had inserted the pump into the first 55 gallon barrel of kerosene while men were carrying these black pots to the back of the truck and laying them on the ground. The hose was inserted into the first pot and he started cranking the handle of the pump filling it. Each pot held two and a half gallons.
I saw Little Peak grab a shovel and followed him with one, too. He was removing the snow from under the rails of the switch points. I went to the opposite side and did the same. When the first pots were filled Gandies slid them under the rail where Little Peak and I had removed the snow. Some of the pots were burned out from the winter before and new wicks were inserted while they were being filled with the kerosene. Two Gandies sweep snow that had already accumulated between the switch points. When the pots were all under the first switch, two Gandies lite their flares and touched the wicks of each pot going down the line until they were all burning.
The switch took on the look of an angry monster as the flames burned red. Black soot rose in the cold night air, as the snow around the rails began to melt. The switch was now ready, and we moved to the next one down the line.
When one location was done we drove to the next Station. The process was repeated at each switch the Dispatcher had control of. It was slow and dirty work. The soot from the pots made everything black handling them. No matter how careful you were kerosene seemed to spill onto your clothes. When daylight came we were at South Wichita.
The Section truck pulled into a restaurant. All the Gandies followed Little Peak inside. I heard it said we could order whatever we wanted. No one went hungry that morning with the railroad buying our breakfast. We were all tired, but everyone was joking and laughing.
It was the same with lunch since we were called away from home in the night and didn't get to go home. The rest of the day we finished placing the pots under the switches so the Dispatcher could run his trains without delays.
This first storm of the winter lasted three days. I learned that once the pots were lite they needed to be watched. When we got in that night Little Peak divided the Section into two groups. Each group would work a 12 hour shift. Little Peak told the oldest Gandies in seniority they were working 7 am to 7 pm. All us younger Gandies were stuck with the dark cold hours from 7 pm until 7 am.
It wasn't hard work once the pots were under the rails, but it was dirty work keeping them filled and burning. We kept making the rounds every four hours checking on them.
When the storm was over we readied the pots for the next storm and late night call.
Joe Dockrill shared
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.
(new window) (source)
Tommy Vee How about three telephone poles leaning over the tracks . We hit them at 95mph. It was slightly louder.
Tom Galloway I have plowed snow with and SD-60 or a Dash-9 before I retired... The only problem I had was hitting a tree, going down-hill, around a blind curve... Hit the tree about 5-10 carlengths from a Dragging Requirement Detector!
Dennis Chornoluk Here hoping that the initial contact knocks them clear of the train, otherwise the Conductor is going for a walk when the tree swings back and gets a few operating levers and the air goes and etc, etc.
|Mark Hamel commented on source|
[I good thunder storm or hurricane could cause a comparable problem.]
Video of a blower cleaning switches The comments show there are several other attachments for the