The sectional form of railway bars are now for the most part much alike; and similar to that previously described as appertaining to the South-Eastern line: the variations consisting only in some slight differences in the proportions or curves. The only marked distinction which has fallen under our observation is the form employed on the Great Western, the London and Brighton, and a few other lines. This form may be described as a regular four-sided prism with a flange on two opposite sides for bolting it down to the sleepers or other supports; an illustration of which is afforded by the following cut, which is explanatory of the permanent way of the Brighton and Hastings Railway.
The marginal figure represents the rail in section; it is drawn to a scale of four inches to the foot, from which it appears by calculation to weigh about 80lbs. per yard: affording that degree of strength and stability which the present experience of railway engineers has dictated the necessity of. There is considerable stiffness in this configuration. Over the flanges it is fully six inches wide, and affords thereby a very useful bearing surface on the ballast, on which it is supported, except at the sleepers, which are imbedded in the ballast. There are no longitudinal bearings to the rails or sleepers, but simply a series of transverse sleepers b c at the usual distance of three feet apart. There are two sorts of sleepers used, joint sleepers c and intermediate sleepers b; the former are Baltic deals 8 feet long, 4 1/2 inches thick, and 14 inches wide; the latter 8 feet long, 4 1/2 inches thick, and 9 1/2 wide. On the two joint sleepers only where the ends of the rails a a are brought together, there are put what are called chairs d d, consisting merely of a square niece of thick sheet iron turned up at the edges thus
Into these chairs the ends of the rails are put, and spikes driven through all three; namely, the flanges of the rail, the "chair," and the joint sleeper. Between every two joint sleepers there are usually three intermediate sleepers b, and to these the rail is fastened by a half-headed spike (shown at e)not through holes made in the flanges, but so that the overhanging half-head shall just clip over the edges of the flanges. How such a structure can be expected to last for a month, under the ordinary strains and concussions of railway traffic, is to us a matter of surprise.
Orsi's Patent Chairs and Sleepers - Mr. Orsi's patented improvements in sleepers and blocks for supporting the rails consist in forming the sleepers of metal, imbedded in cement or other plastic material, so as to defend the metal from the action of the air and moisture; and afford a large bearing surface. Fig. 1 represents perspectively a cast-iron chair to which is cast on the under side a pair of lugs, having a large rectangular aperture in each, through which is passed a bar, and fastened thereto by the two pins shown. The bar is a substitute for an ordinary transverse sleeper, and the two chairs are thus fixed at the required gauge apart with great facility and truth, and possess great firmness and durability. After the chairs and bars have been thus united they are to be imbedded in a bituminous cement up to the lower side of the chairs. In the annexed Fig. 2 one of a pair of chairs is shown so imbedded in cement; the other chair of the pair being supposed to be connected with it on the left hand side; the union being effected by what may be termed a metallic sleeper, rendered indestructible by its bituminous encasement.
Sleepers or blocks formed of cement, carrying the chairs so braced together, are intended to be placed transversly at suitable distances apart, along the line of the intended railway; and when they are firmly secured to the ground, the rails are to be fixed to the chairs in the ordinary way.
In the following engraving is represented one of Mr. Orsi's chairs, which is cast in one piece with the winged and other projections shown. This is subsequently to be imbedded in asphalte or other cement, so as to form a block or sleeper with a broad incorrodible base. The cement in a fluid state is poured claims made in the specification, which are expressed as follow.
into a mould containing the metallic chair and its support, and hardens as it cools into a solid mass. The subjoined figure shows one of the patentee's chairs imbedded in a block of cement, and of the shape indicated. These examples of Mr. Orsi's invention will suffice to give an idea of the modifications which it is susceptible of when taken in conjunction with the following summary of his
"Firstly, constructing the sleepers of bars or rods of metal, which are passed through the under part of the railway chairs, and are imbedded in cement, so as to form blocks, having broad surfaces at bottom; and also the peculiar construction of chair for embracing or holding the bars or rods, as above described and shown in the drawing. Secondly, imbedding in cement blocks of wood braced by transverse tension rods, so as to form sleepers, upon which the ordinary chairs for railways may be fixed by bolts, screws or nails. Thirdly, fixing chairs for railways in blocks of cement to form sleepers, by imbedding projections or wings at the lower parts of such chairs in the plastic material, connecting two such blocks or sleepers together by transverse rods, attached to the metal chairs. And lastly, constructing longitudinal sleepers for railways by means of stout planks of wood, combined with iron bars or rods, placed side by side, and imbedded in cement so as to form a continuous block, upon which the rails may be fastened down, without employing chairs."