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Barber-Greene Snow Melters

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  • Member since
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  • From: A Comfy Cave, New Zealand
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Barber-Greene Snow Melters
Posted by "JaBear" on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 11:10 PM
Gidday ffolkes, I’ve been looking at the Barber Greene Snow Melter’s which appear to have been produced, in small numbers after World War 2. 1946 and 1949 are two dates that I’ve found.
I’m not helped either in that photos of the right-hand side of the Snow Melter’s appear to be rare.
CN BG by Bear, on Flickr
NYC sm by Bear, on Flickr
Enough babbling. What I’m trying to figure out is how the “flails” and the conveyor belts were driven?
 I’ve found information that states, “Snow is scooped up by the loader powered by a 52-horsepower gasoline motor, moved by two continuous belt conveyors…” and from another source, “…using a mechanical loading mechanism which lifted the snow…”
It would appear, from the photos that the mechanism was not belt driven, and from the orientation of the 52 hp motor, not directly driven by a drive shaft.
By the size of the motor housing, I can’t imagine it also containing an electrical generator large enough to power electric motors driving both the “flail” and the conveyors, But I’ve been known to be wrong, very occasionally!!!Wink
As the “wings” appear to be adjusted by hydraulic rams, was the contraption driven by hydraulics?
The Bears brain cell has been working overtime, and is seeking some assistance/ thoughts / help/ clarification.
Thanks, and Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by Track fiddler on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 12:03 AM

So way before my time Bear but so fascinatingly interesting.  As I gathered, these things were rare and the company also made asphalt machines.

I am definitely no authority figure for your post but what I gathered is steam was harnessed from the locomotive and ran through coils in the tanker melting the snow down.  Information wasn't very clear so I have no idea how the front apparatus operated from the gas powered engine you stated.

I was very interested in your post.  My research findings were pretty vague.

Thanks for posting.  I've never seen a contraption like that.







  • Member since
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  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 11:15 AM

That is quite a contraption.  Oh to see one -- better yet, to HEAR one - in operation!  Especially if pushed by a steam locomotive.

Barber Greene made a lot of highway maintenace and paving vehicles and equipment and I have to think that this rail device was an effort to parlay existing tooling for their street snow conveyor to a new market.  Internet search shows New Haven and UP had this too.  

You've probably seen the rather grainy photo of the other side of one of these beasts, on the New Haven.  

There is a wheeled mechanism above the motor and right under the logo Barber Greene.  There is a tube of some sort from engine to mechanism. 

In that light I have found online old Barber Greene ads for their highway snow conveyors that mention a "hydraulically controlled" snow loader.  But that does not necessarily tell us how the conveyor was powered.  I'd guess electric.

The Simmons Boardman 1970 Track Cyclopedia has a section on snow removal but by the 1970s things had changed quite a bit - for one thing railroads were relying more on rubber tired MOW and not just rail.  But they do say "Conveyer type snow loaders are self propelled mobile units equipped either as a crawler-tractor or rubber tired vehicle.  They are used to move into areas of a yard or terminal where snow has been pushed in windrows by bulldozers or graders, and then to collect the snow by special feeders onto a conveyor belt driven by the vehicle's engine.  The head or discharge end of the conveyor boom continuously unloads the snow into a dump truck or empty gondola, as the situation may warrant."

That alas does not get us closer to answering your question.  But the answer may come from trying to research more into their 1940s street version of the machine.


Dave Nelson

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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 11:46 AM

I can't say for sure, but it looks to me that there's an enclosed housing just aft of the gasoline-powered engine, and my guess is that it's a housing for the belt- or chain-drive for the conveyor.
There's also a chance that the wing blades are air-operated, supplied by the locomotive.

Here's an old Akane USRA 2-10-2, modified to match pretty-closely the ten that the CNR bought, second-hand, from the B&A when the latter received their order of Berkshires. 
The CNR modified them, and used some, if not all, in service with the snow loaders, as necessary.  The big lagged pipe on the front of the smokebox provided steam for the snow melters.  Here's a photo of one of the real ones...

...and the model under construction...

...and in-service...

Note that the steam supply comes directly from the steam dome.

I had thought about building a model of the snow loader, too, but already have too many other projects on my to-do list.




  • Member since
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Posted by "JaBear" on Saturday, April 11, 2020 5:53 AM
Mr.TF, the New Haven retired their three snow melters in 1958, and the two Union Pacific ones were retired in 1968, so unless you’re a really young Chap, not way before your time.Smile, Wink & Grin
Unfortunately, when my old computer died, I lost the web addresses for all the information I had slowly accumulated on railroad snow melters so I’m unable to share the links. However, as I had been burnt once before when a link no longer worked as the web page was no longer available, I’ve “copied and pasted” any research material, in jpeg form, so didn’t actually lose anything regarding the snow melters.
An article from the February 1946 “Central Headlight” gives a reasonably good overview of the two New York Central machines, how they operate, and the capacity of the two tanks on the melter unit, which, after one false start where I didn’t use US gallons,( Bang Head)  gave me the tanks dimensions which look about right on my HO scale drawing if I use a Tichy 52’ 6” GSC flat car as a starting point. By using known dimensions such as the truck axle centres and the photos which have people in them to give scale, I’m reasonably confident that I can come up with a drawing which if not 95% accurate will look “Good enough”
Dave, I’ve blown up and squinted long and hard at that New Haven photo and another couple that were taken from the same angle, and keep on coming up with a headache, (Ick!Ick! ) though armed with your interpretation of what you can make out, will try again. I have taken aboard your suggestion of researching Barber Greene machines from the 40’s, et voila, from November 1948…
1948 by Bear, on Flickr
… and along with another from October 1949, firmly establishes, at least to me, that Barber Greene used chain drive in that period. (There was a mention in another document that they started using hydraulic drive in the mid 50s).
I also came up with these two little gems…
Wayne, those two air tanks (approximate capacity 16300 cu in, if I’ve done my sums right) were staring me in the face and all I could do was “DUH”!! (Bang HeadBang Head) Air operated rams for the “wings” makes perfect sense, at operating speeds of 2 to 6 mph, it certainly doesn’t need all that capacity for just braking.  I’ll also have another squint at the chain drive housing. I’ve also “Borrowed” your locomotive modification photos, if I’m going to have a crack at making an HO scale version, I’ll need to modify a locomotive to power it.
In reality I could build one of the Union Pacific Barber Greene’s with the mechanism all closed in, but that would be cheating IMO…
UP by Bear, on Flickr
… or this Canadian Pacific monstrosity, though I’d be worried that the HO scale “ironmongery” on the front would keep falling off. by Bear, on Flickr
Thanks, Gentlemen, for your much-appreciated contributions.Thumbs UpThumbs Up
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, April 11, 2020 1:21 PM

 You second picture in the first post clearly shows the chain guard between the engine and the belt - it goes up from the right side of the engine to the belt right by the right side support tower.

 The rest is almost certainly air operated, henct the two big air tanks in front of the engine. Those wouldn't be fuel tanks, there's a bigger diameter drum right next to the engine that is the fuel tank. The piping on the left side of the long narrow tanks also is in the style used for air tanks, not CNG or hydraulics.



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