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Thread: Working SP Rotary Snow Plow

  1. #1
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    Default Working SP Rotary Snow Plow

    I have always loved videos of rotary snow plows clearing the mainline over Donner Pass and other snowbound areas of the Pacific Northwest, throwing plumes of white to the side as they tunnel through large drifts. I found a YouTube video (https://youtu.be/2cpsiuh7kuU) showing a very nice build of a working rotary plow using a Tichy Trains kit, so wanted to try my hand at one. Turns out that this would be the most complex animation project I have tried to date.

    The motor used in the video was a Maxon with some form of reduction gearing, but I also wanted to add DCC control and working lights and hoped that I could get the DCC decoder to slow the motor down sufficiently. I purchased a Kato coreless motor (the one used for the FEF), and a Digitrax DZ126 miniature decoder (Photo 4). I cut a short section of brass tubing to serve as the axle for the rotary blade (Photo 1) and used a MotoTool to cut a groove for the Kato motor's plastic shaft head (Photo 5). The motor mounts were constructed from styrene and glued to the floor of the plow cab (Photos 2 and 3). The motor is held tight by the mounts but can be removed if necessary for troubleshooting. The windows were covered with Woodland Scenics light block plastic film so that trackside railfans can't see the non-prototypical mess of wires inside.

    I mounted an Evan Designs warm white pico LED for the headlight (Photos 7 and 10) and an inexpensive surface mount LED in the body, each programmed to a different function on the decoder. All of the wiring does fit in the plow body (just barely - Photo 8) but I have left the wires purposely long to make it easier if I need to do any troubleshooting. Once complete, I may cut them shorter and re-solder them.

    The plow blade spins, although way too fast (video), so I need to work to reduce the friction between the sides of the blade and the housing around it, as right now it stalls at slower speeds. I can then program the motor control on the decoder for a much slower maximum speed. Hopefully that will work. Otherwise I will probably replace it with the Maxon motor.

    Next step is to complete my revision of a Bachmann coal tender, from which I have removed the coal load to convert to an oil tender and repainted in SP dark gray [most of the SP rotaries that I can find photos of were a kind of grimy black with Tuscan red rotary blades, but I like SP Lark dark gray better (so much for staying true-to-prototype). I can pretend that they were originally painted gray but got blackened over time ]. I next need to find the best way to reliably transfer track power from the tender wheels to the plow decoder (either via the tender drawbar or directly wired). I am just hoping that the centrifugal force generated by the spinning blade doesn't derail the car when I actually mount some trucks on it and set it on the track! Another good reason to work to slow it down.

    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Soooo cool nice work.

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    Very nice. The rubbing of the sides means there's play in the mechanism or the center point of the blades is not correct. Could you add some small ball bearing? Another alternative is to chuck the blade disk on a lathe and slighttly cut the out of round disk?

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    Extremely cool! I'd be tempted to set up a test track with some baby powder...

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    Very nice, I also have the snow plow and it is pretty small, Great work with electronics.
    "It's not whats best......It's whats best for you"

    Gary

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    I had an article in RMC a few years back about doing the ATSF 199361 plow in N scale, using the Dimitrains rotary blade, modified shroud, and hacking up a Bachmann tender.

    I put an inexpensive 3V gearhead drive in it and a dropping resistor, that got the blade speed down to crawling when I wanted it. This video is OLD, when the only thing I had that would shoot video was a digital camera, but it proves the point it spun. I had an old Minitrix driveshaft and bearings that I mounted the blade on.

    https://youtu.be/SQ6mvomN31o

    Those little gearhead motors from Gizmoszone and others are only in the $20 range, I think the one I used was 25:1, 100-ohm resistor in series to control it.

    Because I started (as ATSF did) with a six-axle tender, I put Kato RSC2 trucks under it for pickup, so while it's not self-powered, it's rock-solid in the electrical pickup side. I converted the chute to an on-off switch to run it off of track power.
    Randgust N scale kits web page at www.randgust.com

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    Thanks, Scotian_Huntress. That video was my motivation for doing this project in the first place. I just wanted to also add DCC, but still need to slow the motor down. It may be that gear motors have more torque at slower speeds than this Kato motor has, so I need to see if I can get the shaft lined up perfectly and any friction source removed. The Kato motor without anything attached turns slowly at speed 1 or 2.

    Thanks, Randgust, as well. More ideas for me to try.

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