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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Is this a small section of Trench Railway?


Terry Carter

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I was visiting Delville Wood Cemetery, and found this piece of metal in the field next to it. Would it be a small section of trench railway track? An offcut maybe during construction.

Terry

post-66-1235550706.jpg

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It looks fairly sustantial Terry...a light railway perhaps?

regards

Tom

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Could they have also used lengths of rail for supporting dug outs ?

Peter

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I've seen farmers use lumps of rail as tie on weights to keep tarpaulins and the like down.

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It looks like a make up piece to allow for curves etc. A fish plate would go across the two main rails with this sandwiched in between.

Roop

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It looks like a make up piece to allow for curves etc. A fish plate would go across the two main rails with this sandwiched in between.

Roop

Can't see how that works - what does it sit on - an extra sleeper? Other wise trains passing over it would tend to force it down and create a gap

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Remember there was a civilian railway in this area both pre and post-war. It disappeared c.1950s and was of a 'light railway' gauge. The nearest station was the other side of Waterlot Farm. A lot of track sections were salvaged by farmers in the 50s, so I am told.

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Having been a regular volunteer on the Puffing Billy preserved steam railway in Melbourne, Australia,

firstly, Centurion's doubt is valid. Rails were bent, not "jointed" to make a curve. A small piece of rail would make the track dangerous. The sideway forces on a curve are very substantial.

secondly, it is light rail but it is in very good condition. When considering some of the shrapnel pieces found out in the battlefields, this rail is too good.

I reckon it is an off-cut from a post WW1 piece of rail.

Peter

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I'm with the post war theory an off cut parhaps, not enough rust for me!

Regards

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The make up piece goes in the straight section before or beyond the curve, curves are jointed as the rail lengths are too short for one singular piece.

There are many examples of WW1 rail used for fence posts in similar condition.

 

Roop

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The make up piece goes in the straight section before or beyond the curve, curves are jointed as the rail lengths are too short for one singular piece.

My question still stands - how was it supported?

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Fishplates go between the sleepers not on the sleepers.

Roop

No but the track RESTS on sleepers, the short insert would be supported only by the fish plate upon which considerable leverage would be exerted by any train

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Centurion, here is an example of a short section in situ. Does the subject of this thread have to have been used in this form, though? Is there any reason it couldn't have been cut from a longer length of redundant track at almost any time between 1900 and now? There were a lot of French narrow-gauge lines that were closed in the 1960s that could have provided the source.

Keith

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Well the hole is in the right place........tho' it does look a bit rough!! <_<

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I have spent some time trying to locate and match the famous photo of the German OP in Trones Wood. (a copy is in the Michelin Somme guidebook amongst others)

A sticking point has always been the small rail track in the foreground.

I discovered recently that this was simply a temporary light rail put down to carry materials for the 1920s re-construction of the permanent rail which goes, or went, through Bernafay Wood. It then transpired that these temporary rails were quite commonly used during the reconstruction period.

I now presume that the rails one sees for fence posts etc are as likely reconstruction era as battle era.

AT least I found the OP remnants I was looking for.

Regards Peter

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French railways were I beleive metre guage whereas the sample shown appears lighter than metre guage and more than probably of WW1 origin.

A fish plate is not just a flat plate, it forms around the track and thus prevents flex and is capable of taking the weight of one axle at a time as the train passes. Yes, the rail rests on the sleeper but the fishplate does not generally as it would be proud on the underside.

Roop

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A fish plate is not just a flat plate, it forms around the track and thus prevents flex and is capable of taking the weight of one axle at a time as the train passes. Yes, the rail rests on the sleeper but the fishplate does not generally as it would be proud on the underside.

Sorry, Roop, but you're dead wrong. A railway fish-plate fits within the narrow part of the cross-section of the rail, not around it. Fish-plates for roadway supports in mines often do grip the whole side of the RSJ - hence the name wrap-arounds - but railway fishplates cannot in order to allow the passage of the wheel-flanges. You're right that fish-plates are generally away from sleepers but I would say that's got more to do with the ease of fastening the rail onto the sleepers, either with chairs or spikes/clips, than anything else.

Keith

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I've seen the pic and accept that that is what it was. I am still puzzled though. What was the point of it? Why could the two rails not be butted together?

The only thing that springs to mind is where there is a complex track layout - a marshalling yard, perhaps - and something hasn't quite lined up, either during installation or, more likely IMO, after some sections have been removed or replaced. It's bad workmanship, for sure. Just look at the wear at the joint from the additional flexure caused by the fish-plates not having enough rail length to grip.

Keith

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The only thing that springs to mind is where there is a complex track layout - a marshalling yard, perhaps - and something hasn't quite lined up, either during installation or, more likely IMO, after some sections have been removed or replaced. It's bad workmanship, for sure. Just look at the wear at the joint from the additional flexure caused by the fish-plates not having enough rail length to grip.

Keith

Plus the danger of buckling in hot weather

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That's just bizarre, Roop! All the more so because there's a conventional fish-plate on the other rail. I wonder if it was an experimental one because it doesn't look forged, as they usually are. Stiffening a joint can be counter-productive as the stresses can be thrown elsewhere, leading to a fracture where there's never been a problem before.

Keith - definitely puzzled!

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