Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

1800's rail joiners

2910 views
9 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September, 2009
  • From: Sunny West Coast of Florida
  • 448 posts
1800's rail joiners
Posted by IRB Souther Engineer on Tuesday, September 06, 2011 6:07 PM

Does anyone know what rail joiners looked like in the 1800s or more specifically in the 1880s?

  • Member since
    October, 2008
  • From: Calgary
  • 925 posts
Posted by cx500 on Tuesday, September 06, 2011 7:03 PM

I have seen rail dating back to the 1880s still in service, and the joint bars were basically the same as you find today.  But over the years there have been various attempts to reinvent the joint bar so there can be detail variations on the theme.  In particular, a number of designs of angle bars extended beyond the base of rail, with notches for the spikes.  I think the theory was they would act as rail anchors.  Some even dipped down between the ties for the same purpose.  In practice it was more likely to cause one end of the tie to shift in the gravel ballast.

Some joints use 6 bolts but my guess is that shorter 4-hole joint bars would be the norm in the 1880s.  Steel was expensive, labor was cheap in that era.

As is the case today, each railroad (and Chief Engineer)  tended to have its own particular preferences when it came to track construction.

John

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 7,479 posts
Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, September 06, 2011 8:18 PM

Really, really, really early rail used connectors that looked like really short rail joiners from a model railroad.

Rail 90 lb or less used joint bars that ere "angle bars'.  They were shaped like an angle with holes in them and the covered the base of the rail.

Rail larger than 90 lb tended to have "modern" design joint bars that cover just the web of the rail.

Dave H. Modeling the P&R and W&N 1900-1905, Iron men and wooden cars

  • Member since
    February, 2007
  • From: Northview, Missouri
  • 330 posts
Posted by JamesP on Tuesday, September 06, 2011 9:17 PM

The guys pretty well covered it; the only exception that comes to my mind is the Denver, South Park and Pacific's use of Fisher Rail Joints.  I can't find a picture online, but there is one in Mallory Hope Ferrell's superb book, "The South Park Line."  It was basically a cast iron plate with lips to hold the base of the rails in line.  It used a wedge shaped clamp with a bolt to hold down the ends of the rails, and spikes driven through holes in the ends to help fasten it all to the spikes.  The advantage was that drilling holes for joint bars wasn't needed... since this predated powerdrills, these holes had to be drilled manually with special drills made just for drilling rail (take a look HERE and HERE for a picture & info of an 1890 Buda drill).  I suspect that the Fisher didn't maintain joint alignment as well as a standard joint bar.

 - James

  • Member since
    March, 2009
  • From: Qu├ębec City
  • 380 posts
Posted by Sailormatlac on Thursday, September 08, 2011 10:36 PM

Very interesting drill. It's quite amazing how much time it needed to drill a single hole. Remember me when we tapped maple trees with a manual drill few years ago...

 

Matt

Proudly modelling the Quebec Railway Light & Power Co since 1997.

http://www.hedley-junction.blogspot.com

http://www.harlem-station.blogspot.com

  • Member since
    September, 2009
  • From: Sunny West Coast of Florida
  • 448 posts
Posted by IRB Souther Engineer on Friday, September 09, 2011 6:16 PM

I neglected to mention that I was wondering about narrow gauge rail joints...Is there much difference?

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • 5,194 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, September 11, 2011 11:23 AM

I can't say for sure that these haven't been updated since the track was first layed, but they look pretty much like any others.

 

Ties, however, appear to have been optional:

 

Wayne

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 2,299 posts
Posted by Dave-the-Train on Saturday, September 24, 2011 9:20 AM

While devices like the Fisher Rail joint were tried in various places/countries everyon pretty soon learnt that what became pretty much the universal basic design of railbar/fishplate worked best.  Putting the joint on a tie was anticipated to overcome the problem of rail ends dropping but it just did not work.  Everbody went back to joining between ties pretty fast.  I think that joining on a tie made the joint too inflexible.

Somewhere in the piles I have numerous drawings for different RR companies's rail sections and fishplate designs.  The only real difference from one plate design to another is conforming to the rail section and the number of holes provided.

Here's a question - given the issues of drilling rail before more modern equipment came along - were rails sent out from the mill with the holes already in them'?

Narrow Gauge fishplates are the same as Std Gauge - in fact some later NG rail would be heavier section than earlier Std Gauge rail - which could still be in use in some backwaters...

Something that most companies did (according to the diagrams from US journals and cyclopedias of 1890-1910 (ish))  was to vary the tie spacing.  Ties near the joints were closer together to provide added support around the joint.

Quite a lot of lines experimented with alternating the joints one side to the other.  This also didn't work and gave an even worse ride than bad side-by-side joints.

Dave's second picture is nice.  It shows a fishplate made for two different rail weights and profiles.  I'm wondering what you call these plates?

Cool

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: US
  • 1,449 posts
Posted by wp8thsub on Saturday, September 24, 2011 12:40 PM

Dave-the-Train

Dave's second picture is nice.  It shows a fishplate made for two different rail weights and profiles.  I'm wondering what you call these plates?

Compromise joint bar?  http://www.harmersteel.com/catalog/track-tools-accessories/compromise-joints-insulated-joint-bars/

Rob Spangler

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Western, MA
  • 5,227 posts
Posted by richg1998 on Saturday, September 24, 2011 2:18 PM

Wood bars were used by some roads during the Civil War. I have seen some photos of them in a couple books about Civil War Railroading.

RIch

Failure is not an option. It comes bundled with Windows.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook

Loading...