The Flanger Cab Ride

The Flanger Cab Ride                 

BA Productions/ Donner Rails

Format: DVD

Length: 2 Hours

Time Period: 2004

Sources: Multiple Cameras

MSRP: 24.95

Donner Pass is legendary for the amount of annual snowfall. Railroad technology has advanced over many decades of snow removal there. This unique ride aboard a Union Pacific snow service locomotive is an experience!


A specially equipped EMD GP38-2 locomotive is on the point. Union Pacific #580 is an ex: Southern Pacific diesel, with UP reporting marks, patched on. An additional GP38 and the flanger itself constitute our snow removal train.

1At first glance, the flanger seems like a high riding caboose. There are special blades mounted underneath, are what clears the snow from the rails. Experienced ‘ Snow Service’ railroad personnel get the job accomplished. Day or night, the tracks must be kept clear. Communication with the flanger gets the blade faced properly. Also, the blade must be raised at turnouts.

4The specially equipped GP38 has some custom additions, designed for snow removal. There are circular, porthole style windows. These are adopted from ocean going ships. They turn at high speed, keeping the glass clear. Surprisingly, the main camera has a view through the engineers window! The viewpoint remains a clean one.

6bbAn icebreaker can be raised to break overhead ice in tunnels and snowsheds. The icebreaker can be easily seen on the exterior shots. Windshield screens can be present.


Multiple cameras have been employed to give a variety of views. There are numerous scenery shots, which are spectacular. Some rearward facing looks at the flanger throwing the snow are great. You can get a sense of the elevations, when that snow is going over the side.

5Audio is all natural, environmental sounds. Most of the time, we are inside the cab of the GP38. The engineer and the normal operating sounds are heard. Radio traffic, automated hotbox detectors, and some talk among the crew.  Outside shots can include the flanger noises, as it plows snow. Yes, the airhorn is heard.

mapThere is a unique chapter menu. It is arranged to look like a route map. The towns and points of interest are clickable. The map also runs both: eastbound and westbound.

emi2The roundtrip is Truckee to Emigrant Gap and return. The Donner Pass area highlights are included. Tunnel 41, Donner Lake, Soda Springs, and Norden are a few.

t41On screen graphics have more information. Besides the locations, tunnel length, speed limits and elevations are offered.

bnThis is a fascinating opportunity to sit in the engineer’s chair. You can even see most of the signal aspects, as they appear to the crew. Some opposing UP freights are met. One freight, gets a special look, from aboard the snow train.

580At 2 hours, this is a long player. The route is thoroughly covered. Filmed in daylight, the scope of the operation can be felt. The flanger will constantly patrol the line during snowfall.

6There is some narration at the start of the program. Once we get aboard the locomotive, it is non-narrated. The engineer talks enough to keep us apprised of what is happening. An example is when he discusses the signal aspects that the train is running under.

By the way, most of what I have written about snow service, was learned from watching other BA Productions programs. Took time to explain a few things that are not addressed within this show. If this type of video is appealing, check their other releases The Spreader Part One is worth a look. All of the BA Productions are scheduled for reviews on ATVR. Some previews are at the end of this disc.

ddaThis cab ride is a memorable one. It does run long. That length can be good, for those that desire a complete roundtrip. Others can use the menu to bounce around the program. You can even opt for the eastbound or westbound trip.

This program will appeal to the serious railfan. Southern Pacific and Union Pacific fans, will  get an extra kick out of seeing their railroad fighting snow.

An enjoyable train video to have in the collection.

Rating: 4 Stars


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