LATE WNTER SNOW STORM
Saturday morning, February 28, 2009, a late winter snow storm was in the process of leaving about 6+ inches (four 4 scale feet) across the region. This caused the crews of the Big Creek & Southern Railroad to stay at home to the dismay of management. As the storm cleared from the area, the winds picked up and the temperature fell into the single digit with a minus wind chill.
Sunday broke clear and cold, with a very low wind chill. There was some major drifting on the line and Management was anxious to clear the line but since it would be overtime (and very cold) it was scheduled for Monday. On Sunday evening the call went out for a 9am plow train on Monday morning.
A little history is in order to help you understand the importance of this day. Following the completion of the phase II track expansion project, snow drifting into the cut on either side of the tunnel was discussed on several occasions. The operating practice prior to the expansion was to plow the track using an engine(s) and bucking the drifts, but in a cut this seamed impracticable. During a lunch break one day, a VHS tape was being played showing a rotary plow working on Donner Pass. In the course of conversation; it was mentioned that the BC & S needed a snow thrower (rotary plow) to handle the drifting on the new main line.
The mechanical department of the BC & S, consisting of John Stephenson, Jerry Salsbury, Emmett Stephenson and Master Mechanic Pat Mc Carthy scoured the shop for materials and formulated the plan for the BC & S's snow thrower.
Once the plan was finalized, the erecting shop of the BC & S began the construction of the snow thrower under the skillful hand of Pat Mc Carthy with input from John Stephenson. While the erecting shop worked on the frame and body, Jerry Salsbury worked on the power plant to ensure its dependable operation.
Following the completion of the snow thrower now referred to as BC & S Rotary Plow 01(RP01), in December, 2008. It was placed in service during the Frost Bite Run, January 1, 2009.
Management of the BC & S appointed Sam Younger as the operator of this impressive machine. Following Mr. Younger's appointment, an intensive training program was held on a yard track in Langeston Yard. The one-on-one training was conducted by BC & S's Master Mechanic. On completion of this training class, RP01was moved to its assigned operating terminal at the Car Barn. A plow train was assembled and left on the ready track awaiting a call.
At call time the weather was clear with a temperature of 16 degrees and the winds were light and variable. The crew was Bob Miller (Conductor), Sam Younger (RP01 Operator), Pat Mc Carty (Master Mechanic and Relief Operator) and I (Dave Gibson, Engineer).
Plow train is moving toward the Car Barn Yard lead from the tie up track located in the car barn.
Plow train is moving through the Car Barn Yard. RP01 Operator Sam Younger is making sure the plow is operating properly before hitting the high iron.
RP01 Operator Sam Younger is making sure the discharge chute has the proper 180° movement. Conductor Bob Miller is on the rear car looking over the train.
Plow train is on the Car Barn lead bridge over Big Creek approaching the Main line.
The plow train is on the main line heading north toward Big Creek Station.
The plow train is fighting the snow and the ruling grade as it moves north.
Passing Langeston Station on the northbound main.
The plow train is leaving Big Creek Station heading south to Sterling.
Stopped to service RP01, the main drive shaft bearing needed lubrication. Sam Younger and Bob Miller are discussing the possibility of a coffee break.
Relief operator Pat Mc Carthy has relieved Sam Younger for the trip over the southern half of the line to Bethel Park.
The plow train is moving north to the tie up track at the Car Barn. Notice the track to the left side of the speeder shanty, the plow has cleared the snow down to the rail head.
On the return trip back to the tie up track, the plow train encountered a stretch of track on the northbound main at Peculiar that had a snow drift approx. ninety (90') feet long and was estimated to be nine 9 scale feet deep. The rotary handled this drift with ease.
After tying up for the day, everyone on the crew commented on how well RP01 had preformed. It had exceeded all of our expatiations.
Another fun day was had by the crew that received the 9am call on the BC & S RR.
The pictures were taken by Chester Mott, Pat Mc Carthy and Bob Miller.
Submitted by Dave Gibson,03-09-09