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A flanger is a railroad car that clears the space between the rails, generally of ice and snow. If the debris on the tracks is allowed to build up, it can seriously impede the train motion or even derail it.
The flanger blades are lowered below the head of the rail. There are two different blades that go up and down; one blade throws the debris to the right, the other blade throws it to the left.
To avoid damaging the Flanger blades, the operator must raise them when the flanger car approaches a railroad switch or grade crossing. In regions where flangers are often used, signs are posted alongside the tracks to alert the operators to raise the blade.
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