For 30 years I've been plowing snow on a model railroad.
I haven't shown it for a few years, and these are my first digital photos of it.
The modern digital cameras are much better than my old 35mm for getting close-up pictures.
I have my share of snow plow photos of real trains plowing snow.
I built my operating display models to re-create the excitement indoors anytime I want.
The real railroads never put the snow back on the track for a re-take.
I put some of these pictures onto a Flicker picture site, but I like the larger ones on this web page.
This is all HO scale, but some parts of the plows were built oversize for dependability during public shows.
The display has two tracks, one for the Rotary and one for the Jordan Spreader.
I built my Jordan spreader twelve years before Walthers produced their fine model.
Mine is slightly oversize and rugged so it holds up to hard use during a snow show.
The wing cylinders are made from tubes and wire rods.
The right wing automatically extends when the plow moves forward,
and retracts when going backward so it gets out of the way of the Rotary on the other track.
I have heard of a story of a real Spreader getting the wing clipped off by a passing train.
The locomotives move by hand-crank power.
The audience runs the Jordan Spreader.
Nylon fishline is wound around the wood dowel, and winches the trains forward and backward.
It is a very dependable way to move trains.
When I say this is a SHORTLINE RAILROAD, I mean it has a real short line.
I have fun with the audience.
Since they are the power for the engine,
I ask them to make some locomotive sounds.
Some people go RRRRRrrr, some chuff-chuff,
and one modern youngster said beep-beep-beep.
Every time I show these plows, I hear 'Mom, buy me one'.
But it's not for sale, it's homemade and you have to make your own.
The fishline runs up to track level by passing through holes and guides in the wood.
Many people don't even see it, especially when it is buried in the snow.
A swivel loop makes a handy place to hook the fish line onto the equipment.
The Rotary is the HO Athearn model that originally had the rubber band drive from the wheels.
I added an old Athearn motor. If I had to do it again, I would put in a can motor to be more sealed against the weather.
Like real railroad equipment in snow plow service, many openings are taped shut to keep the snow out.
Only the motor of the Rotary wheel is powered from the track.
These big brass shoes have very dependable contact.
And note that there aren't any trucks on the front of the equipment.
It can't derail if there aren't any wheels there. Nobody notices because that is hid by the snowbanks.
I put my own wheel into the Rotary. For simplicity, I made it throw just one direction.
What makes it dependable is the U-shape wire that spins in front of the wheel.
It helps break up the snow (real or artificial, I've tried both).
I don't have to wait for Winter storms.
I can make a fresh blizzard every ten minutes.
Then the Rotary opens the first track, and the spreader opens the other track.
And the Rotary makes another pass to blow the last of the snow from the mainline.
My artificial snow is flour.
I tell people DON'T do this at home.
It is not track cleaner!
It's like that freeze-dried North Dakota snow, the kind that never melts.
It just blows around until it wears out.
I collected a few links to pictures of real spreaders in use. (you can search for other plows yourself)
I consider it rare to find pictures of spreaders with the wings out. It's a lot of work and hazard to use the wings.
Many operators just do the easy part, lowering the front plow to flange out a few inches of snow below the railhead.
Iowa Snow by Craig Williams
plowing for rotary
Canada with wings working wide
backhoe on flatcar
Hauling snow fighting machinery on flatcars was also done in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the 1950's and 60's.
A bulldozer would be unloaded in the morning, and they worked all day to push snow banks to the edge of the ROW
Maine yard plowing
New York plow
snow shed and spreader pictures
Here's more on flickr.com/groups for sharing pictures
Railroad Snow Fighting Equipment railroad snow fighting
Russell Snow Plows
Railways in the snow
Snow Plows for all types of vehicles, not just RR,and models too.
Snow Plows and Snow Removal Equipment , more than just RR type
Link back to my index page, Bruce's RailRoad Pictures
( the index page is now on the TrainWeb site, as of January 2011. And I will have to also keep the Next Generation index up-to-date also )
This page wrote Feb 2011.