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Western Railroad Discussion > Want to ride an SP Rotary? Special Event at WP Museum

Date: 03/12/19 08:45
Want to ride an SP Rotary? Special Event at WP Museum
Author: zephyrus


Experience an operating ROTARY SNOWPLOW as it works through Sierra snow!

The Western Pacific Railroad Museum will be running historic Rotary Snowplow Southern Pacific MW208 on Friday, March 22, 2019! This is a rare chance to ride in and be up close with a working rotary.The FIRST RUN of the day will be clearing snow from the WPRM trackage. This is a VERY LIMITED event with 6 seats available in the rotary cab, 4 seats available in Southern Pacific GP9 2873, which will power the train, and 4 seats in the cupola of our DRGW caboose. 10 positions are available for photography.

The FIRST RUN will depart at 11 AM.The 6 seats inside the working rotary are being auctioned off on eBay. The first auction opened this morning at 1 AM, with each additional seat going on auction at 30 minute intervals. eBay links can be found here: https://www.wplives.org/news_items/Rotary_Run_2019.html

The other tickets are available first come, first serve on EventBright

After the first run, general admission will open at 12 noon for 50 persons to join the first runners in getting up close with the rotary as it makes additional runs around the museum. These tickets are also on EventBright

After 12 noon, locomotive cab and caboose rides will be available. Rotary cab rides for these later runs will be $20 per ride. Also there will be opportunities to tour the rotary. The event ends at 4:00 PM.

For more information, links to eBay and EventBright, and conditions, go to https://www.wplives.org/news_items/Rotary_Run_2019.html

- FRRS Life, Family Life and Sustaining members get 15% off on EventBright tickets ONLY. Not applicable to eBay Rotary cab rides. Enter promo code FRRS2019SL.
As weather is unpredictable, we cannot guarantee snow levels.  We expect about 2-3 feet of snow on the south side of our balloon track, enough to put on quite a show. The rest of the track currently has about 1 ft of snow on it, but some will likely melt off.  However, if weather does not cooperate and this event is cancelled before the day of the Rotary Run, all monies will be refunded.
- All proceeds go to benefit the preservation work of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

Photos by Greg Elems showing operation for a film crew in 2017.


Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/19 09:54 by zephyrus.

Date: 03/12/19 08:55
History of SP MW208
Author: zephyrus

History of Southern Pacific Rotary Snowplow MW208
Builder:   American Locomotive Co. - Brooks Works
Built:   September, 1927
Serial number:  67429
Original cost:   $16,641.00 (approximately $235,000 in 2017 dollars)
Operating weight:   263,800 lbs (132 tons)

SP MW208, built as a steam powered plow in 1927, is a design based on the most common and successful style of rotary plow, the so-called Leslie Patent plows, developed by Canadian Orange Jull in 1883. First manufactured by the Leslie Brothers Machine Company, just after the turn of the century the rights for their design were sold to the American Locomotive Company.  While other designs were also built, those created by Leslie and ALCo were by far the most numerous and successful.  They were even copied by other companies and continue in use today.  In a Leslie style plow, the large cutting disk at the front of the unit is rapidly spun by a large motor in the carbody. It “chews” its way into the snow and ice, braking it up and blowing it out the chutes at the top of the rotary opening, ejecting it far from the tracks.  Many plows feature extendable wings that funnel more snow into the mouth and clear a wider path.  SP MW208 lacks these extended wings and was keep as a straight wing plow for tight clearances.

Beginning in the late 1950s, the Southern Pacific began converting its steam powered rotaries into electrically powered units, installing large electric motors in the carbody and providing power using an old streamlined style freight locomotive that was permanently assigned to each plow.  In this new service, these old locomotives became known as “Snails”. Unable to move itself, each plow/snail combination would be pushed by several locomotives. SP MW208 was the last of the company’s rotaries to be converted to diesel, losing its boilers in 1970.

SP MW208 (then numbered 7208) was one of the rotary snowplows involved in the rescue of the trapped City of San Francisco passenger train in January, 1952. Part of a two plow set that worked down Donner Pass from the SP terminal at Norden, California, the 7208 was caught in a snowslide along with the second plow and the steam locomotive pushing them toward the train. Later, a second, larger avalanche hit and this huge machine and its tender turned over, killing engineer Rolland “Rolly” Raymond who was outside near the tender.  Another SP worker, Jay Gold, died of a heart attack due to the stress of his efforts, but they were the only casualties of the incident.  

For a variety of reasons, MW208 was loaned to other railroads in the late 1960s and early 70s, including 10 days in northern Arizona on the Santa Fe Railway in December 1967 and some use on the McCloud River Railway.  After it was rebuilt to diesel power, the 208 was the last rotary to work on the Western Pacific Railroad, having been leased from the SP in 1974.

The MW208 was donated to the FRRS by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Footage of SP MW208 on ABC10 television HERE.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/19 21:53 by zephyrus.

Date: 03/12/19 13:00
Re: History of SP MW208
Author: Kimball

It looks to me like maybe the links connecting the blades make it automatically adjust for CW or CCW rotation.  Is that true?

Date: 03/15/19 01:32
Re: History of SP MW208
Author: Tonyk375

The "Blade" of a rotary was called the plow wheel  by Leslie and Alco.  This style of plow wheel was called the Scoop style. The knives, as they were called by Leslie and Alco would automatically adjust for the direction of the wheel.  They were linked in pairs so one would open to cut snow and the other would close to reduce drag.  Many railroads wanted a more aggressive plow wheel and would removed sets of the knives, or all the knives and add ice cutters.

Date: 03/15/19 08:17
Re: History of SP MW208
Author: sixaxlecentury

I wish I could attend! I love that you guys re auctining the rides.   

One question though..... Why are you guys not using a photo 208 as your action photo on the flyer?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/19 08:20 by sixaxlecentury.

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