The On-Line Magazine of Rideable Model Railroading

  NUMBER 129


© March 30, 2009   

 ©Discover Live Steam. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed without written permission.


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Building the 2nd Generation Wedge Snow Plow

Written by Laurence Johnson
photos by Laurence Johnson

During the Civil War era, railroads made some of their own rolling stock, among which were wedge snow plows, and it is my understanding the second model used the same design as the first: take a gondola car and cut one end down and make the wedge plow on it.

The gon cars then were wood with a steel reinforcement framework. That was my first step! Wanting to have a heavy car, I elected to use some donated 3” C-channel I had on hand to make the base frame and I made the rest of the frame with 1” steel square tubing and with 1/2” and 1/4” angle iron bracing leaving enough room for the 3/4 thick side planks. I topped it all with 1-1/2” angle iron.

I welded up 16 gage pre cut sheets to form the wedge of the plow and 18 gage for the vertical spreader portion; tacking it to angle iron on the underside and then full seam welding the edges. In the process I experienced another senior moment and welded the sides on upside down.  The sides were a simple fix and piece together; after welding and grinding no one will see it once sand blasted and covered with paint.

The ladders were made using 1/8” and 1/4” rod with steps at 3/4” spacing.

Here is the jig that I used to fabricate the ladders (above left). Just a piece of wood with groves cut into it using the table saw. By varying the width of the cut I have control over the alignment of the thin to thick diameter rods.

This (above center) shows the steps I followed to construct the coupler pocket: cut out a portion of the C-channel, cut it down to the proper height, weld angle iron and plate steel to the 1 x 2 rectangular steel tubing, grind down the welds in the back and slide everything together doing most of the welding from the back and out of sight.

Son Paul came over to help out: here dressing the welds to improve the eye candy of the plow (above right). He also was a big help with the sand blasting and painting.

I finished this plow last spring, too late for snow tests but got a call from the president of the Prairie State Railroad Club in the late fall enquiring about the plow so I took it over to them to give it a tryout. The car weighs in around 200 to 250 pounds with the front being lighter than the rear.

They took it out and plowed the club track, usually moving aside a foot of show with occasional drifts of 18 inches (top of plow). The plow moves snow! They now know they need two pushers to get any speed over 1 mph; and have asked me to add a headlight for late afternoon work — which I’ll do this next summer. I will also add weight to the vertical portion of the plow at that time.

I used my own “simple trucks” which are quite heavy.

This was a fun project and I’m looking forward to plowing my home track next winter.


Written by Laurence Johnson
photos by Laurence Johnson


HEY, Check out Laurence
Johnson's CDs filled
with cool blueprints:

CAD Drawings for the
Live Steam Hobby vol. 1

CAD Drawings for the
Live Steam Hobby vol. 2



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