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Good Evening All

Here's an update from the folks at R&D, which BTW, includes all of you!

Me thinks the comments and suggestions here are almost as fun as the project. For starters, sand or anything abrasive needs to off the table. I'm starting with light and fluffy and may move on the more dense material, e.g corn meal, based on obtained results. My sacrificial Russel plow is on the way. I am going to modify the plow to emulate something closer to what the real plows are. Our O Scale ones sit too high above the rails. For now, I'm ignoring switches.

For now, I'm starting out with snipped up foam peanuts (all I have kicking around), I'm hoping that 2-4 blowers and power stick mounted in a dummy GP7 directly behind the plow will be able to keep the rails clear, especially the power rail. See attached video. I will then use a post-war loco (no electronics to short out) as motive power. This will be built and toyed around with indoors. My old layout room is going to gutted sometime this winter, so I'm not overly concerned about a mess. Reading about crumpled paper lead me to think of using paper from the shredder, It's certainly light and airy!

Hopefully, I will get this perfected enough to do outdoors with a 1-2 inches of fresh powder and at night. Sun is definitely not helpful when it comes to keeping snow fluffy. The key to working outdoors is to keep everything cold. 20 degrees would probably suffice. That means cold track, cold plow and defiantly cold locomotive (wheels anyway)  Any of you that ever took a warm plow out of the garage knows what happens when you try to make that first run. Cold grease is easily dealt with.

This may only make one run....if it even works. But ask yourself where we'd be if Robert Fulton or Rudolf Diesel ate a piece of pie and went to bed?? LOL. I doubt this will ever be a "Watson, come here I need you" moment, but I'd hazard a guess that sillier things have been tried!

Again, I love all the suggestions and concerns but especial the camaraderie . If nothing else, we're getting a laugh or two! For the record, I may have to slightly mist Styrofoam or like material to cut the static down. There are days here we have 5 degree dew points and the stuff sticks to everything.....

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@Steve Tyler posted:

Yep, it's edible . . . by the mice and other vermin, and if they find it, *they* can convert it to doo-doo.

YMMV, but I prefer to keep edibles away from the creepy crawlies, if I can.

Well, we don't have a problem with vermin crawling around all over our house, so that's not a concern. If someone has such a terrible problem with vermin that they can't put a little cornmeal on a little part of their train layout for a brief period while they're standing right next to it, they have serious issues and need to call an exterminator. Maybe two of them! 

I wonder if friends and club members who gather at someone's home layout for running sessions, and have some snacks and pizza, are aware to the terrible risk they're taking.    Personally, I have something to eat while I'm running trains all the time, and have yet to be attacked!

Well, enough of this. It's only an experiment. I'm going to try some artifical snow first anyway, if I can find anything that might work.

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@JD2035RR posted:

How about some crumpled up paper balls?  Lightweight, white, and won't cause any mechanical issues.  I would avoid all of the small, grainy, sandy, solutions above.   

With a nod to JD2035RR, thank you, I emptied the contents of our shredder onto the tracks. I'd say for a first-round, the results were impressive!! Junk mail finally redeems itself !! See attached slow motion video and pics.

I pared this report down from trying with the coupler still on, which went pretty good, but decided to tape over it and also extend down at the same time. There is no weight (yet) in the plow and only minimal pressure from my finger. Although the vid is slow-mo, I was pushing along at a decent clip. I'm pretty happy with how the banks look, as well as how clear the tracks look. Also, not counting the colored paper, I'd say the plowed banks look quite prototypical!

Next, I am going to make a few adaptations to help keep the road bed a little clearer, as well as prevent loose pieces from getting in the trucks. Then is will be on to the motive power, after I shred up a ream or two of white paper. Where re the grandkids when you need them??

If there's a Hall of Lame on OGF, I aim to be an inductee!! But I've done lamer things for certain!!

Update: the Jordan spreader (which I thought I sold) didn't do half-bad either!!

Bob

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Tonight's goal and was to get that diminutive new Atlas Russel plow fattened up. I tried eggnog because it fattens me nicely, but it ran right out...LOL....so out came the sheet lead and one wheel weight. I got that baby from 14oz up to over 25! And there is room to spare within those walls. I don't think 32oz would be hard to achieve, but I'm going to hold it where it is for now and work more on the plow blade. I want it lower in the rails. I have some thing plexiglass that ought to work.

Stay tuned!  Bob

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Update: with the plow previously lead-weighted to 25oz, I modified it further using cut up blister-pack. That was an ideal material and sourced locally: the kitchen trash can.

It now more closely resembles real a Russel plow, since the front trucks on real plows are covered and not visable. The wing plows also are extended down to be more prototypical and to make sure the "snow" is really pushed aside and doesn't fall back under the wheels. It didn't.

Now, we're ready to run! The GP loco is non-powered. The switcher is doing the pushing. I am plowing clean white paper right out of the shredder. If you have a shredder that makes strands or powder, I'd think twice. This stuff is pretty crumpled and as such, really did not foul the running gear. All things considered, very few particulates made it into the power train. Since it a post-war with open metal gears, they were easy to clean and "worth the bother". IMO!!!

This all worked well until the plow sweeps off the inner edge of an 027 curve. THE 027 curve was actually the biggest problem, but I don't presently have my Fastback layout assembled. I'm still curious about other materials, but this was it for today!

I'm going to build an 042 (or bigger) outdoor layout on my flatbed trailer, cover it, and wait for a nice ten degree night and a an inch or too of powder! Lights, action...

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Folks, Today brought some nice snow and a little time to kill. Actually, several hours. For this test, all track, the loco and plows were in the barn overnight. With an equalized temperature of 19 degrees, nothing melted or gummed up. No wet gears or wet anything, really. Just very cold fingers on my hands and knees! I probably should've used Fastrack but the old 027 stuff was OK for today.

The thing I did a little wrong to start was let the snow get too deep for the first attempt using the Russell plow. I only had a 65w transformer, but that was probably OK. The loco may have been little light, too. For this attempt, the snow was somewhat granular. It proved to be better than the  big flakes which fell for the second attempt.

The second attempt is the Jordan spreader, which fared much better with a heavier loco even though the plow was not lead-weighted. The width of the cleared track is actually impressive, IMO.

What I learned was that an outdoor layout in the cold is entirely possible with a some due care and planning. I will eventually  build something on my lowboy flatbed trailer. I do have to say, as nuts as this all was, that the track was amazingly clear as seen in the picture. A quick shot of compressed air under the loco and all is well.

Not sure when I'll get to expand on this. Now, the weather on Wednesday is forecast in the 50s. Cwap, at Mark B would say!!

Happy New Year to All!

Bob

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When I lived in FLA, I had a hobby shop that was my favorite and he had access to parts for Lionel.  This is in the late 70's, long before the internet and great folks like the Train Tender.  I was in the shop one day in the winter, ordering a set of pilot wheels for a Lionel Adriatic, and a fellow came in just overjoyed.  He was telling everyone how the snow we had a couple days ago, he finally got to use his G Gauge snow blower on his outdoor railroad.  Not sure how many snows they have had in FLA since then, but at least he had one.

@BillYo414 posted:

This is a pretty wild idea haha but I love that you were able to get it done and actually clear your tracks! I never would have thought anyone was attempting such a thing!

BillYo414, some would perhaps blame the oxygen level at my modest elevation....LOL.

CALNNCC, Stay tuned! I may get to try a full oval at some point. While the rest of the country is enjoying 4 foot blizzards, by the time the storms get to New Hampshire, we get stuck with mostly rain and defiantly too warm. No fun at all!. That's very cool about your friend with the rotary !! I would have expected snow in Florida to be too wet and heavy, but it sounds like it worked and it was fun.

LT!Poncho, and others: thanks for your support and words of encouragement during my spates of reckless behavior!! For anyone trying to emulate this burst of sacrilege, read my previous notes on having everything as cold as possible so as to avoid melting snow on things, etc etc.....and good luck!!

I've also attached another video taken with less snow. As you can see, the plow scoots right along. It is fresh snowfall, not me with a shovel, and I'd say it may scale at about 1-1/2 to 2 feet if it was real.

Bob

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