Ice Cutters and Flangers

J.M. Graham

I had flanges built in our own black smith shop then maintained by track department at Truckee [and placed] outside of the pilot of the locomotive. The plates were [?]. For the ice cutters I used 2 plates, plain of iron, about 16" by 20" & 3 " thick, some which had been lying beside the track for months with no mark on them so we picked them up. These were set at the same angle & slope of pilot with guides and rods leading to the cab of the engine so the raising & lowering could be controlled by engineer.

This was done somewhat in opposition to objections by master mechanic Stevens to placing any such appliance ahead of the engine. We used this 2 or 3 years before I fortunately caught Fillmore at Truckee. J. A. Fillmore was land [sic] Supt . of Sac division & M. W. Cooley master mechanic. They were at Truckee together & I induced them to make a demonstration trip on the locomotive which I had had rigged with a flange for fighting the snow in traveling over the Mts. east of the summit between tunnel 13 & Truckee where it is so much colder & where it is much colder it found its greatest use because snow compressed by snow plow along the rail like so much rock, interferes seriously with operation of trains. About 1873 when I had charge of track maintenance of Central Pacific I found that with the work of 150 men they were not able to clear with pick the ice one foot along the rails between Truckee and tunnel 13, shovel some 7 miles one day.

This induced me to put a flanger on work engine which we kept in constant use in Truckee & vicinity. We used it 2 or 3 winters. The flanger did more than the 150 men.

The efficiency of this flanger was proved there & resulted in equipment of 2 locomotives by gen. master mechanic at Sacto. with a small flanger behind drive wheels. These were never used beyond their trial trip in frozen snow because inefficient. The next step was to get an order from master car builder Ben Welch to build under direction of track dept. a flanger on a flat car. Photos at Sacto. taken of it. It was constructed so a flanger had to be raised & lowered by hand, 2 men riding a car to operate it by levers.

Pencil drawings were drawn by myself illustrating how this was to be done. I also bent a sheet of paper to the shape which the mold board should be made. I insisted that this mold board of flanger should be of such great strength that it would clear its way through road crossing plank, guard rails, etc without danger to the flanger. On this trial trip I rode with it from Truckee to Reno,. The snow was such great depth it needed flanging all that distance. Andy Hare was roadmaster & rode with me. The road crossing plank next the rails had been ordered cut but in one case thru some misunderstanding this was not done. We discovered this as the flanger ripped it out, the pieces thrown as high as a telegraph pole wires.

No damage to the flangers & we scarcely felt the shock. One important thing along the track pedestrians had to be taken care of by lifting flanger as we passed them.

Note by LDF: Typed as on original with only minor corrections or additions. Very poor original.


Courtesy of the Lynn D. Farrar Collection.

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