To avoid the impediment that is likely to occur occasionally from snow or ice upon railways, Mr. Grime, of Bury, has proposed, under a patent right, dated the 21st February, 1831, to dissolve the same by making the rails hollow, and causing hot water, steam, or hot air, to pass through them, so as to keep them at a temperature above the freezing point. For this purpose boilers are to be erected by the side of the railroad, at distances of two or three miles from each other. One of these boilers being supplied with water, and heat applied, the water is forced, by the pressure of steam on its surface, through a pipe communicating with the hollow rail, and reaching nearly to the bottom of the boiler, and along the railway, till it ceases to give out a sufficient quantity of heat to melt the snow or ice which may lodge on the rails, when the water is received into another boiler by means of a feeding vessel placed over it. This feeding vessel is connected with the boiler by two pipes, - the one descending from its bottom to very nearly the bottom of the boiler, to form a water communication, and the other from its top to the top of the boiler, to form a steam communication.

Each of these communications is provided with a stop-cock and levers, both of which, as well as one from a cock on the pipe which supplies the feeding vessel, are connected with a float in the boiler, by means of a wire passing through a stuffing-box, in a manner similar to that in Eng. Ency. Vol. I. p. 216, where the float descends by the escape of water through the exit pipe into the rails: the steam and water communication from the feeding vessel to the boiler are thereby opened, while the supply pipe to the feeding vessel is closed, when the water contained therein is forced, by the pressure of steam on its surface, into the boiler, till the float is elevated so as to close the communication between the feeding vessel and the boiler, and to open that between it and the hollow rails, for the admission of a fresh supply of cooled water.

It is stated in the specification, that instead of the hollow rails, hot water pipes may be laid along the line of road, in contact with rails of the usual construction. The lengths of hollow rail are connected together by pieces of copper pipes fitting accurately into the ends of the pieces of hollow rails, which they unite, leaving a space between them sufficient to allow of their expansion by the increased temperature.

For the purpose of cleansing the rails from snow, grease, or sand, while the engine is travelling thereon, Mr. Melling applies small jet pipes, which hang immediately over the centre of each rail, and through these pipes, by means of a swivel cock, connected with the boiler, either steam, or hot water and steam, may be at any time blown, so as to make the rails perfectly clear and dry, which (in snowy or frosty weather, or at the station ends of the rails, where they are always greasy) will be found to prevent the slipping effect of the wheels; especially when used in combination with the patentee's improved mode of coupling, described at page 452.