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Discussion Starter #1
Relocating the USA Trains SD40 Snow Plow for Added Clearance

I am sure a long time ago when USA Trains first introduced their SD40-2 diesel loco (for simplicity, hence referred to as SD40) many folks discovered its snow plow was in jeopardy of busting off during train operation on an outdoor layout. So this is probably old news to most, but I thought I would comment about my experience with it at this time.

I have a USA Trains Southern Pacific SD40. With the snow plow attached as factory intended to the loco's pilot, it operated OK on my flat underhouse layout, but when the loco was on the outdoor layout, the plow broke off, the loco ran over it and derailed!

Appropriately, the SD40-2 DIESEL LOCOMOTIVE OWNERS MANUAL does include a warning about the snow plow with respect to operation on "inclines" (more particularly, at transitional increase in grade).

I chose to relocate the plow by raising it up 0.1 inch to obtain a clearance of about 0.2 inch above the railhead. This provided good clearance on my outdoor layout.

(Note that I use Kadee couplers as shown)



The plow comes with a "knock out" that I use with slight modification since I mount Kadee couplers higher up in the pilot.
To install the plow as factory intended, its back side mounting prongs just press fit into corresponding holes on the loco's pilot. Since my plow had broken prongs, I used 2 small screws to mount it with the plow now having two new holes located below its broken prongs, thus, raising it up.



Note that the USA Trains manual instructions indicate you can trim off the bottom of the plow for more clearance, but this weakens it, particularly if using the plow without knock out as you must with the factory coupler assembly. I did not use the USAT factory coupler assembly that sits way low to the railhead, so It may be when using the plow without its knock out, what's left of the small plastic connecting strip at the bottom would be so thin (flimsy) or it would have to be removed entirely.

The illustration below includes example prototype SP locos that have different type plows and coupler lift bars (aka, cut levers) along with what I did to the USA Trains SD40.



For more detail, see vignette (article) hosted for by Greg E. on his Web site, Title:
USA Trains SD40 Snow Plow Relocation for Pragmatic Layout Operation

-Ted
 

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Hmmm...My AristoCraft SD45 seems to be unhappy with that same piece of snow plow. When I get it up on the test track this winter for its annual check-up, I'll have to measure the rail clearance and see if it needs "adjustment". Thanks for the research, Ted.

JackM
 

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Ted,

I think that if you hadn't pointed it out I wouldn't have ever noticed that the plow theoretically interferes with the lever.

It looks good and now runs well, too. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Aristo SD45 does not come from factory with Snow Plow

Jack,

My SD45s are not factory equipped with a snow plow; they just have a pilot with foot platforms and other details. An example Aristo ATSF "Kodachrome" is shown below.



Shown below is a close up. Note the pilot has very good clearance from the railhead.



For problematic operation with this much pilot clearance from the railhead, layout track work would have to be grossly bad, particularly when you consider the far better truck pivot location of the Aristo 3 axle truck when compared to that of a USA Trains 3 axle truck. This can be critical for transitions on inclines where the Aristo truck mounting is favorably offset toward the end of the loco, whist the USAT truck is just the opposite being offset toward the center of the loco.

-Ted
 

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Yup. Went down to the basement to check. Sure enough, my SD45 is similar to your SD45. It's my USAT 70MAC with the knock-out knocked out. I will compare clearances with your SD40's plow once the snow flies, although I think its the handling by the 1:1 scale giant that makes it pop out more than anything. Not having mounted any Kadee in the front end of the 70MAC yet, I've been reluctant to do anything to keep that piece permanently in place.

JackM

(I spent a lot of time trying to stuff a Kadee R/C coupler into the front of the 70MAC. My conclusion is that it can't be done without something really ugly happening.)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
USA Trains SD70 & Kadees

Jack,

The USAT SD70 snow plow has a lot more clearance from the railhead than the SD40. It was not a problem on my layout.

As to Kadees, I did not try or use the RC version coupler on the SD70, but I did install a medium offset coupler using the Kadee box - but installed with my own method to make the box swing side to side. (This is the only offset type Kadee used in my entire roster of about 400 items - all others have Kadee centersets.)

See vignette hosted for me by Greg E on his Web site, Title: USAT SD70MAC experiences.


-Ted
 
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