Which is better, a railroad snow plow or a railroad snow blower?
Butthead claims that the plows are better, I think blowers are better? Which one of us is right?
- Angry Sailor 302Lv 77 years agoFavorite Answer
Actually, the Union Pacific keeps a small fleet of snow-blowers for when they are needed to clear out heavy snow drifts, particularly on the Donner Pass. There are other roads that still keep rotary blowers on hand for emergencies, such as the deep drifts that accumulate in the Dakotas.
Railroad snow plows are ideal for light snow at lower heights. Rotary blowers do great with heavy levels of compact snow, but the problem is that once a blower is used, plows cannot be used to clear out the path as plows rely on the ability to push the snow aways from the rails, something that is not easily done with the compacted snow walls around where a rotary blower ran.
Plows are cheaper to use, but the blowers can do the heavy work.
In most cases, just plows will suffice, so much as snow removal trucks are able to access the area to take care of heavy work.
- DerailLv 77 years ago
Angry Sailor is right about the types of snow, and the methods used to clear it. There are still snow blowers around (US), but they are considered the heavy artillery of the snow removal jobs and aren't used unless plows would have difficulty. The snow blowers are expensive to operate whereas a plow has no maintenance, fuel, or labor costs. So the plows are favored by railroads right up to the point where conditions dictate the blower will be more effective.Source(s): Engineer
- Samurai HogheadLv 77 years ago
There is some confusion here.
I've made hundreds of trips on the Hill and worked 100s of hours on snow removal equipment, so let's define some terms, at least as I have heard;
A snow plow, pilot plow, rotary plow or snow blowers are different things.
"Snow blowers" is a term I've never heard when working and unless it is another name for a rotary I've never seen one or run one.
A "snow plow" is ancient technology, but still used here and there on short lines. It is a scoop shaped wedge on wheels pushed by a locomotive. Here there are two types; the header plow and or bucker plow. Very inefficient and prone to derailments.
Then there are the rotaries. Amazing. 150' rooster tail when plowing. SP added wings to their rotaries so that they would make a larger cut. These needed pusher power in the middle of a consist with one rotary on one end and another on the other end. That way you can plow in either direction.
But the war against the winter elements is fought in stages. Separate battles, if you will.
In lightest snows, a MOW ballast regulator may be used.
Pilot plows,( a "pilot plow" is that scoop on the front of a locomotive) do a great job, but only to an extent. They leave a core behind and do not go as low as the top of the rail. Core gets too deep amd it can lift the cutting lever and uncouple the cars. That is when you send in the flangers.
Flangers have two blades underneath, one which throws to the right, the other to the left. Very rough ride. No springs, so it doesn't bounce, because the blades extend below the top of the rail to keep the inside of the track free of ice, which could cause a derailment. But these leave a core behind as well, just wider. Now you need the "spreader."
The spreader is equipped with wide, hydraulic powered wings that can extend out to 15 feet on either side of the track to clear a up to a 30' swath. They push the snow down the hill or, if you must, pack the snow against a cut or cliff or some other place with limited side clearance. But you can only pack so much snow into a given space.
When you run out of room you make the last ditch effort and put a rotary to work, with its wide wings to clear all the packed snow out.
Good question. Thanks for asking.
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- Anonymous7 years ago
Plows are faster, if the snow is not over 2 or 3 feet the plows are just fine, faster and more economical to operate.
However, if there is a lot of snow then a plow cant handle it and the snow thrower has to come out.
They are slower and cost a lot more to operate but they handle large amounts of snow better than a plow.Source(s): RR engineer
- Old Man DirtLv 77 years ago
They haven't used a snow blower for years on railroads. It takes a lot of snow to justify lighting one off. While plows can be put on any locomotive. If it gets deep enough to need the blower a plow might work (a bucking plow).
I think both the bucking plow and the snow blower have gone the way of the caboose (resigned to museum's and scrap yards).
- Phil MLv 77 years ago
One would think that blowers are always the way to go, but I prefer plowing myself.