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Snowmaking fan guns

VTKilarney

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I see all sorts of hype over the HKD fan guns for snowmaking.

When I was a wee lad, I recall seeing fan guns while learning to ski at Powder Ridge. These things looked ancient even back then.

So why the hype all of the sudden? Are the HKD fan guns actually something new, or is it just that fan guns are coming back in vogue? I'm assuming that the technology has improved, but why did fan guns go away in the first place if they are truly superior? Is it because they are more expensive?
 

thetrailboss

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FWIW when I hear HKD I don't think fan guns. HKD makes the tower guns that are like a head mounted on a boom. When I think fan gun I think of a Pole Cat or SMI model that is like a cannon.
 

VTKilarney

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My bad. I was thinking of Pole Cat. HKD has a better search optimization team, since they came up first on Google!

So the proper question would have been: Why are Pole Cat fan guns the new rage when fan guns existed decades ago?
 

skiur

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Fan guns produce there own air so they do not need to be hooked to a compresor . They cover a wide area so I think they are best for covering base areas and large intersections and the like. They are also automated so you can mount one on a pole and run it from a desk. From there you can change direction and amount of water/air. They also seem to be the quietest guns out there.
 

VTKilarney

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Fan guns produce there own air so they do not need to be hooked to a compresor . They cover a wide area so I think they are best for covering base areas and large intersections and the like. They are also automated so you can mount one on a pole and run it from a desk. From there you can change direction and amount of water/air. They also seem to be the quietest guns out there.
So why did they fall out of favor years ago?
 

ScottySkis

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Cost of money gas is high now. they make great powder base. Hunter in the Catskills devolped them.
 

VTKilarney

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To what extent is snowmaking limited by the availability of water? I was always under the impression that, with snowmaking ponds, ski areas had all of the water that they needed. I've read a couple of things lately that suggest otherwise - that some ski areas really need to manage when they make snow since they have a limited amount of water available during the winter. Do they not overbuild their pond capacity?
 

yeggous

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To what extent is snowmaking limited by the availability of water? I was always under the impression that, with snowmaking ponds, ski areas had all of the water that they needed. I've read a couple of things lately that suggest otherwise - that some ski areas really need to manage when they make snow since they have a limited amount of water available during the winter. Do they not overbuild their pond capacity?

Some ski areas are very bound by water capacity. I know that both Wildcat and Crotched fall into this category. In the case of Crotched the pond only holds enough water to cover half of the mountain. After that they perversely start praying for rain.

Other areas can pump from rivers or other larger bodies of water to refill their ponds.


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Puck it

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I would love to see Cannon permanently mount one on a long at the top of the links. And run all the time.
 

mbedle

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They absolutely have to manage water use. In the east, there are restriction on water withdrawal permits and out west they have to deal with water rights. Think of it this way, they just can't terminate a stream at a snow making pond (in other words, capture its entire flow volume), there has to be continuous outfall from the pond. But there is also the cost issue with making snow, make to much (like this year at some places) and you overspent.
 

SIKSKIER

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Cannon is lucky and one of the very few to have an unlimited water supply right at its feet.Echo lake is spring fed and its water level never varies.I would imagine doubleling its outake may change that but I've never seen its level any different any time of the year.
 

mbedle

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As far as old fan guns used in the 70's and 80's, I think they required an external compressed air source. Modern fan guns have a built in air compressor (albeit at a much less CFM).
 

drjeff

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Fan guns have a few pros and cons (same thing for "traditional" air/water guns

For Fan guns, the pro's are they can make very high quality snow, and depending on the size of the fan in the gun disperse that snow a great distance away from the gun itself, so that can be a big plus on a wider trail. Additionally, since they do have their own onboard electric compressor, they don't need compressed air to be delivered via a pipe up from the snowmaking plant at the mountain. The cost of diesel fuel that powers most air compressors that non fan gun snow making requires can be a large expense in the over all snowmaking expense. On the con side, if not permanently mounted on a tower, they are more cumbersome to move around the mountain, and more importantly they require a dedicated electrical source, so power lines and outlets need to be run along the trails that a ski area wants to use fan guns on. The fan gun itself also has a much higher cost (typically in the 25-30k range or more for fully automated ones) than an air water gun (often far less than 5k depending on the mounting option of choice)

Both fan guns and air/water guns can make snow of equally high quality, and both can also make a large volume of snow (if you're running say 100 gallons of water a minute through both a fan gun and an air/water gun you're going to end up with pretty similar volumes of snow produced in the same conditions.

The trend with air/water guns though has been to use less compressed air (typically the expense part of the snowmaking equation) through what are called "low-e" type guns. While more cost efficient, one thing that typcially happens with a low-e air/water gun is the throw distance of the snow being made from the gun isn't as great as with either a "high-e" air/water gun or a fan gun, so often more grooming work is needed to spread the snow around a trail when low-e guns are used.

The reality is with any snowmaking system is that there are limiting factors. For fan guns, that limiting factor is how much water can be pumped through the system? For air/water systems it's often a combo of both how much water can be pumped through the system and also how much compressed air is available? There are conditions for an air/water system where the air is the limiting variable (typically in "marginal" snowmaking conditions often experienced in early season times) and also where the amount of water being pumped is the limiting factor (often in very cold conditions)
 

Newpylong

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The two big players in Fan Gun tech around here were Hedco and Lenko. Hedcos were big at Brodie Mountain in MA and Lenkos were big at Jiminy Peak.

Infact, that's all Brodie used for the last 20 years of operation even though all the trails that had snowmaking had air lines.

They weren't enormously popular back then due to their initial cost and the fact that fuel was so cheap. Also, they were all sled mounted, so for mountains with large acreage this was impractical.

SMI has greatly simplified the units, reducing maintenance costs and complexity, and with higher fuel prices some mountains rather eat the cost of power instead of diesel. Also, they don't need to maintain the air lines... or it leaves them more air for the trails not suited for fan guns.
 

Savemeasammy

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Reading this thread has me looking forward to Oct/Nov...


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