It has been observed that the deflection of the railway bars, by heavy carriages passing over them, absorbs a considerable portion of the tractive force; besides producing, by their vibratory action, an earlier destruction of the stationary, as well as the locomotive mechanism. To provide a remedy for these apparent defects of the ordinary system, Mr. John Reynolds, of Neath, proposed to give to the rails, bars, or plates, an equal support in every part of their length, so that they shall not be susceptible of sensible depression or deflection; and this he proposed to effect by two methods, for which he obtained a patent on the 5th May, 1835. The first is by cast-iron bearers laid and joined end to end, and in such manner as to be incapable of vertical or lateral movement, independently of those next adjoining to it. The rails, bars, or plates, over which the carriage-wheels are intended to run, may be either cast on and with the bearers, or they may be separate. The second method is by bearers formed by blocks of natural or artificial stone, joined end to end, and bedded in the roadway, and secured in such manner together, that they can only move in concert.
A great variety of forms of rails, founded upon the basis of construction just mentioned, have been made by Mr. Reynolds: it will only be in our power to notice here two or three of them. The annexed figure shows a vertical section of one of the most approved forms, in which the ballasting that it is imbedded in, shown at a a, is of less depth than the bottom of the stone sleepers generally used, and of considerably less depth than the bottom of the excavation and ballasting on the London and Birmingham railway.
The form of the bearing rail for the carriage wheels is shown at b, and that of the hollow support and lateral inclined plates at c c. They are fastened end to end by means of "snugs," or projecting pieces cast to them, of such forms that, when placed in juxtaposition, a key or wedge driven into an aperture formed by their union, which holds them firmly together. The blocks of natural or artificial stone are to be joined by the various modes known to masons, and too well understood to need explanation. The annexed section represents another of the numerous designs given by the patentee: w represents a wrought-iron rail, resting upon and fastened to a sill of timber t, enclosed between the bearing plates g g, which, together with the fin d, are imbedded in the ballasting.
The advantages contemplated by the patentee are - 1, a great saving in excavation and ballasting; 2, a saving of the cost of materials and laying down; 3, in maintenance of way or permanence of work; 4, saving the repairs of engines. Some rails on this construction are laid down experimentally on the Liverpool. and Manchester line, and apparently stand the test very satisfactorily.