A snow plow fitted with a Pratt and Whitney ST6A turbine turboprop engine removes snow from the Kootenay Pass on Highway 3 between Creston and Salmo in the mid-1960s. (BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure photo)

A snow plow fitted with a Pratt and Whitney ST6A turbine turboprop engine removes snow from the Kootenay Pass on Highway 3 between Creston and Salmo in the mid-1960s. (BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure photo)

Jet-powered snow plow once deployed on B.C. highways

Powerful truck was fitted with a Pratt and Whitney ST6A turbine turboprop engine

It might sound like a harebrained Homer Simpson creation, but a jet-powered snow plow once existed and was temporarily put to work on B.C. highways.

According to a bit of local highways maintenance history, recently re-shared by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on its Facebook page, in the early 1960s, the province experimentally fitted a 285-lb ST6A turbine turboprop engine, manufactured by Pratt and Whitney Canada, into a snow plow. The result was a 31,100-lb (unloaded) truck that ran on diesel (but could also run on furnace oil and gasoline), and put out 320 horsepower.

By comparison, the typical truck used weighed 2,000 lbs and put out 250 horsepower.

Read more: Snapshot: Avalanche rolls over snowshed tunnel on Highway 1 east of Revelstoke

Read more: AIM Roads responds to abuse of staff, public frustrations in Okanagan-Shuswap

The jet-powered plow could go 0-50 km/h in 10 seconds without gear changes, and come to a complete stop from that speed in five seconds. According to the ministry, it could also climb 16 kilometers of six per cent grade while keeping a constant speed of 65 km/h – all under actual working conditions.

While powerful and good for long, straight stretches, the vehicle didn’t handle well on tight curves or easily go around obstacles. It also burned through a lot more fuel than the typical diesel-powered truck. These factors lead the province to discontinue the vehicle’s use a few years after its debut on B.C. highways.

Asked what became of the plow, the ministry suggested it may have been dismantled and used for parts in other machines.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Snow

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Delta’s COVID-19 numbers continue to climb

Total number of cases in Fraser Health increased by 206 from Feb. 21-27

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson and Trevor Linden’s Club 16 partner Carl Ulmer are pushing for gym memberships and services to become tax deductible. (Contributed photo)
Semiahmoo Peninsula fitness pros leading charge on tax-deductible gym memberships

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson pitched idea to deputy prime minister

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey man found guilty in 2018 murder of his wife

Rizig Bona’s next court date is today

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Hope’s station house, moved from its original location along the railroad to 111 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Citizens file B.C. Ombudsperson complaint against Hope Council in Station House fracas

Demolition contract has been awarded, completed by April 30

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

The centre and left lanes just west of the Brunette Exit were blocked westbound on the Trans Canada Highway the morning of Friday, March, 5, 2021. (Drive BC)
UPDATE: Vehicle incident westbound Highway 1 in Coquitlam cleared

Earlier the centre and left lanes were blocked in the area

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Most Read