B.C. railway uses a surplus B-52 bomber engine to clear snow from tracks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. railway uses a surplus B-52 bomber engine to clear snow from tracks

CN Rail uses two jet-powered snow blowers when conditions get really bad. The units burn through 1,500 gallons of fuel in an eight-hour shift.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Chris Mayhew
February 11, 2021 - 7:30 AM

The use of jet-powered snow removal equipment in B.C. apparently didn't end with an experimental plow developed by the province’s transport ministry years ago.

The ministry experimented with a jet-powered snow plow for B.C. highways in the 1960s, using a Pratt & Whitney 320 horsepower jet engine.

While that machine quickly was scrapped for being a tad unstable, it was out-done by CN Railways.

Chris Mayhew used to worked for the company as a mechanic and he recalls working on that railway's jet-powered snow blower.

That unit is powered by a surplus jet engine out of a B-52 bomber.

According to Boeing, the Pratt & Whitney turbo fan engine could produce up to 17,000 pounds of thrust.

Mayhew says the railway has two units that are still in use today.

“They are especially useful for clearing snow out from around switches," he says. "Problem is, they blow everything — plates, spikes, even ties — when not used in the proper fashion.”

Mayhew believes they were built in British Columbia.

“They were supposed to run at 15 per cent maximum thrust, but hey, there’s always someone pushing the envelope. All I can say is that it was a blast to fire these up and test them out. The sound. The smell of jet fuel. Being right beside it, there was nothing like it,” he says.

The unit pictured above is parked under the Port Mann bridge in Vancouver. Mayhew says it burns about 1,500 gallons in a single eight-hour shift.


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