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Railroaders' Nostalgia > I made next to last call for the Conrail rotary to work snow.


Date: 01/30/20 14:02
I made next to last call for the Conrail rotary to work snow.
Author: PlyWoody

I took the photo while the Conrail rotary was changing a crew.  This rotary was purchased by the Rome, Watertown & Odgensburg RR next after the first Denver, South Park & Pacific RR rotary, and built by  Leslie Bros. Manf Co. #27.  It was received in January 1887.  Later by merge it became New York Central & Hudson River, then New York Central System #X-659, then Penn Central #69921, and Conrail #64599.    It is now stored on a short line at Hamburg, NY.

I have memories of setting up the movement of this rotary when the blizzard was forecast to hit in early Feb. 1977.  We knew it was going to be a high wind off the frozen lake, snow off the ice and a very cold storm, and while working Supervisor of Train Operation Dispatcher desk, I talked to the Division Engineer and Chief Regional Engineer in New Haven (who later advanced me to his office) about getting the rotary out of Rochester and moving it to Buffalo. All agreed even before any snow was falling at Buffalo, but soon came a call from Rochester that it had cast iron wheels and someone question that would be a AAR violation.  We asked if Rochester had wheels that could be used for replacement and they said yes, and Philadelphia agreed to okay the replacement of wheels. It now has 33" roller bearing wheels within rare Fox trucks.  And they are new wheels sitting at Hamburg, NY.

Few know outside of the mechanical department that the ICC has no authority to inspect M of W equipment because that does not carry interstate commerce.  The SAA never gave them authority over any cars except interstate movement cars that carry commerce, or is mixed up with general freight. As proof to this is the fact that up to 1977 the NYC and Hudson River, and the NYC had no problem with the cast iron wheels and they were still on the rotary snow plow.  It was the oldest unit on Conrail, and the oldest Leslie still in operation.  Years prior it had rebuilt with 3 traction motors and was plugged into a the unit behind.  This is why the FRA does not have jurisdiction over the boilers of any work equipment.  The ICC cannot/did not look at steam rotaries, steam pile drivers, steam wreck derricks, steam work cranes, steam snow melter or any private railroad equipment.   

The FRA does not have authority to even respond to any question about the rotary.  AND on common carrier railroads, none of these steam work equipment came under any state boiler inspection rules as they were under Federal, and Federal had no authority to review the equipment.  Occasionally, some state boiler inspection slip were obtained, but the equipment moved all over, crossing state lines at various times.  And some states like New Mexico have no state boiler laws or inspectors.  The state all relied on the management of the companies and usually all were covered by Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Company. The equipment does not conduct interstate commerce.  Note that the ICC means Interstate, not Intrastate.

They replaced the wheel in only a few hours and it got to Buffalo just as the snow hit.  I was heading to the office from a short hospital stop at that time and the whiteout completely stopped me dead.  Finally in some snow breaks I got near housing on city streets and could craw down between parked cars to under the big depot.  It was not long before an eastbound called in from Corfu that he was in 4 feet of snow in a drift and the snow that pushed up behind the first unit and broke the air hose connection, train was in emergency, and they did not have a shovel and could not pump up and move the train.  They had 3 units so I told a dispatcher to tell them to cut air at head of 3rd unit and set up a rear unit for lead, and use it to pump up the train line.  The Dispatcher did not relay that suggestion as he was working on getting light units from Rochester to come in on the rear of the train.  But we had already straight lined the railroad through Batavia and no one was near those crossovers to get the units on the rear.  The train was quickly snowed under. Than an eastbound right next to the dead train reported they were in emergency as snow broke the air lines.  In storms like that the car department usually ties wires around the glad hands on all power units so the hoses cannot come apart.  It was a week later we got the railroad open using a caravan of twelve 12 cubic yard buckets loaders after they had finished clearing the entire Frontier yard.  That eastbound was declared a hot shot and sent out of Buffalo just as we had a eastbound RH snow plow ready on the lead to make that move, but the hot shot was advanced into the blizzard.  We lost the railroad for that one mistake and that plow could have rescue the WB crew.

This rotary was last used by Conrail in 1984 of which I have no records or information of where it worked around the snow belt near Buffalo or Cleveland.

Photo of roller bearing in Fox trucks link:    http://crcyc.railfan.net/mow/snow/cr64599d.jpg


 



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/11/20 05:26 by PlyWoody.




Date: 01/30/20 14:45
Re: I made next to last call for the Conrail rotary to work snow.
Author: Waybiller

Fantastic story and photographs!



Date: 01/30/20 18:31
Re: I made next to last call for the Conrail rotary to work snow.
Author: sixaxlecentury

Great story, thank for sharing.  

For what its worth, those are not technically Fox trucks.  Those are Leslie/Alco Rotary Trucks.   Unsprung, solid plate sideframe trucks.    Fox trucks use large coil springs.  



Date: 01/30/20 18:35
Re: I made next to last call for the Conrail rotary to work snow.
Author: dan

where is the unit today?



Date: 01/30/20 19:47
Re: I made next to last call for the Conrail rotary to work snow.
Author: PCCRNSEngr

Remember that storm as well. I was on a Corning to Dewitt train and after leaving Geneva northbound on the Corning Secondary the sky was getting darker. After passing "CP WD" where we go from single track to track 5 & 6 (Tk 5 heads you towards Buffalo and 6 heads you to Syracuse) the sky was black and started to get snow. Coming into "CP 12" on an Approach signal it was getting tough to see. When I stopped at the home signal at "CP 12" I could see the signal but no indication as it was just heavy snow falling. I had the Buffalo East End Dispatcher let me know when I had an indication. When he gave the okay the only way to see the indication was to look out the side window when we passed it  Running down the Mainline you had to look straight up to see the signals. 

Upon arrival at Dewitt we were third out and the MofW had to clean switches for each train arriving. Got to the Rodeway Inn and even the CR Amtrak crew from Buffalo was there as their return train was terminated at Syracuse. The Conductor said he had nothing with him for a layover. The next day the Superintendent okayed that the company will pay for meals for the crews that were stuck.
Was on the first Westbound train out of Dewitt as the Mainline was open as far as Lyons. Heading south on the Corning Secondary from Lyons did hit a few drifts but nothing that compaired up around Batavia.  

What a difference the sound level is when a unit is snow packed.  Some where I do have a shot of the rotary at Corning on its return trip home from the last overhaul at Altoona.
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/31/20 04:23 by PCCRNSEngr.



Date: 01/31/20 04:07
Re: I made next to last call for the Conrail rotary to work snow.
Author: PlyWoody

dan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> where is the unit today?

Last line of the first paragraph, please, read it again.



Date: 01/31/20 04:56
Re: I made next to last call for the Conrail rotary to work snow.
Author: glendale

dan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> where is the unit today?

Here are some pictures:

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rspicture.aspx?id=84285



Date: 02/15/20 17:05
Re: I made next to last call for the Conrail rotary to work snow.
Author: ALCO630

PlyWoody Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> dan Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > where is the unit today?
>
> Last line of the first paragraph, please, read it
> again.

Buffalo Southern?

Posted from iPhone

Doug Wetherhold
Macungie, PA



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