CNR 3737 :: Snow melter fittings

CNR 3737 - Prototype Photo

I’ve been thinking about the snow melter equipment on my CNR 2-8-2 project ever since I installed the big wrapped pipe for it last week. I know that this pipe supplied steam to equipment that melted the snow and ice out of switches in yards. But beyond that, the photo of 3737 that inspired this build (shown above) doesn’t really make the fittings clear to me.

So, I did some research with the aid of Canadian National Steam! – the the excellent series of books by Donald R. McQueen, published a few years ago. In one of these, I found a photo of CNR 2-10-2 4033 with a much clearer photo of the snow melting equipment – a portion of which is shown here:

CNR 4033 snow melter detail

I’ve highlighted three important points with white arrows. First, there’s are two shut off valves on this pipe – one near each end of the pipe. Second, the front end of the pipe appears to be fitted with the same sort of steam line connection that’s used on passenger cars for steam heating.

With this information, I look another look at my subject photo and things became more clear:

CNR 3737 snow melter (detail)

First, now that I know what to look for, it’s easy to spot the wheel on the shut off valve just ahead of the steam dome. And while I cannot see the second shut off valve, at the front end of the pipe, I will assume it’s there and model one accordingly. Perhaps it’s hiding behind the handrail in this photo.

Finally, while I had spotted the steam line connection back at the start of the project, I didn’t know if there was anything more to the system at this end of the pipe: now, I know that this is all I have to model.

Precision Scale offers valves in a number of pipe diameters, including ones cored for these wrapped pipes. So I’ll be placing an order for those soon. And BTS makes the passenger car steam line connectors, which will work fine for this application. I’m already building the shopping lists…

8 thoughts on “CNR 3737 :: Snow melter fittings

  1. Is it safe to assume some sort of hose and wand were attached to the steam fitting to allow the workers to melt the snow?

    • Hi Bruce:

      I think the equipment is much larger than that. The first volume of Canadian National Steam! has a brief (one paragraph) note about snow melting gear on page 189. It says a number of 2-10-2 locomotives were equipped with attachments for Barber Snow Melters and Snow Loaders for use in the MontrĂ©al area, where there was no room to pile plowed snow. (It doesn’t mention 2-8-2s, but I have the photographic evidence.)

      I Googled the Barber gear, and they’re actually huge pieces of equipment. They have a snow blower-like front end that loads snow onto a conveyor and dumps it into a large tank. I think the steam locomotive provides steam to melt the snow in the tank.

      Here’s a photo I found online of a snow melter and loader on the New Haven Railroad. Note that in addition to the steam locomotive, there’s a diesel in this work train. I guess if you use the diesel to move the consist, you can devote more of the steam locomotive to melting snow:

      NH Snow Melter

      (The City of Toronto used to have similar snow-melters for clearing downtown streets – back before we decided that pouring tank loads of brine down the storm sewers might be awful for the environment…)


  2. As if you need another project, that snow melter would make a really interesting unique model. Probably wouldn’t ever see service on the Port Rowan railroad, but it would add nicely to the traveling steam locomotive.


  3. The interesting part of having to actually model a real thing as close as possible is that you start to learn about the purpose and history of everything you encounter. The end results is no longer a somewhat interesting model but an object that got a life of itself.

    • You’re absolutely right, Matthieu.
      I had the same experience when I took some steam locomotive firing courses. Sounds made by DCC decoders are no longer random events triggered by a Function button: they are related, in my mind, to actions in the cab.

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