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TROLLEY SNOW SWEEPERS

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TROLLEY SNOW SWEEPERS
Posted by nhrand on Sunday, January 31, 2021 10:45 AM

SWEEPERS

      In the old days, a major piece of equipment used on city trolley lines to fight snow was the sweeper.  They were box motors with a round bristle brush 3 -4 feet in diameter the width of the car that was rotated by a motor.  The brooms were located at each end of the car.  My question is -- how did the rotating brush clear snow ??  Did they sweep snow aside like a plow or did they brush it under the car or brush it in front of the car ?  If they worked like a plow, why rotate the broom ?  But if they swept the snow it would seem that would not clear the snow from the tracks.  Which way did the brush turn -- back toward the car or away from the car ?   Do any transit lines use sweepers today ??

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, January 31, 2021 12:15 PM

The point of the sweeper was that it worked effectively to clear snow from hard irregular surfaces, flangeways in girder rail, switch pointwork in the pavement, etc. before it could ice or pack.  Plows would be noisier if they contacted the surface; ineffective for those purposes if they did not.  Flangers of the usual type would not be easy to make effective, quiet, and durable all at the same time, and leaving them down prone to catastrophe.  I would expect you'd operate sweepers early and often during a storm so the buildup between passes was not severe, or plow and then sweep in deep or wet accumulation.

Note that on most cars the broom is angled, so the net effect is as with an angle plow.  To my knowledge the rotation was always 'away' from the car.

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Posted by chatanuga on Sunday, January 31, 2021 5:41 PM

Here are views of sweepers when I visited the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in 2018 and 2019.

At about 0:39:17

At about 0:18:30

Kevin

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Posted by JPS1 on Sunday, January 31, 2021 6:46 PM

Overmod
 You'd operate sweepers early and often during a storm so the buildup between passes was not severe, or plow and then sweep in deep or wet accumulation.

Note that on most cars the broom is angled, so the net effect is as with an angle plow.  To my knowledge the rotation was always 'away' from the car. 

 

I grew up Altoona, PA during the 40s and 50s.  I recall seeing the sweeper for the Altoona and Logan Valley Electric Railway work a few times.  As you have noted, the rotation was away from the car; it blew the snow off to the right-hand side of the trolley tracks.  Sometimes right into the pathway of traffic. 

My recollection was they waited until it had stopped snowing, but it was a long time ago.  I may not remember it accurately.  

I rode the street car to junior high school and most of high school.  It sure beat a school bus!

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, January 31, 2021 7:12 PM

Toronto had the sweepers but they are long gone. I wonder, wouldn't the snow contain gravel, pieces of ice, horse manure and so forth? Wouldn't that cause damage to buildings and parked cars as well as bombarding pedestrians? 

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, February 1, 2021 4:10 AM

The spray did not travel very far, and solid objects fell off close to the tracks and were not projected.

Still, while Manhattan, The Bronx, and Westchester lines used mostly sweepers, Brooklyn relied mainly on plows.

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Posted by JPS1 on Monday, February 1, 2021 9:12 AM

54light15
 Toronto had the sweepers but they are long gone. I wonder, wouldn't the snow contain gravel, pieces of ice, horse manure and so forth? Wouldn't that cause damage to buildings and parked cars as well as bombarding pedestrians?

Most of the streetcar tracks in Altoona ran in the middle of the roadway.  The sweepers would push the snow into the right-hand lane.  I never heard of any cars being damaged.  But in the 1950s we did not have so many lawyers urging people to sue everyone under the sun.   
 
I rode the Eldorado line from 58th street to 17th street when going to junior and senior high school.  It went past the car barn; I recall seeing the sweeper parked alongside of the carbarn. 
 
Going on to downtown, the line ran past the PRR Test Plant and over the 17th Street Bridge, from where one could see Alto Tower.  Initially the line ran through the downtown loop and went back to Eldorado.  Near the end of operations, it was combined with the Juniata line.
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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, February 1, 2021 9:51 PM

Sweeping the 161st Street Crosstown near Yankee Stadium:

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 3:34 AM

The location of the photos of the previous post has been corrected, and here is another Third Avenue Transit sweeper on Bronx Park West:

 

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 7:58 AM

Note the canvass covers over the brroms, this was meant to prevent projectiles. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, February 4, 2021 3:19 PM

Brooklyn did have some sweepers in addition to plows

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