All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

The Museum

Museum Treasures

Keith Collier - Different Size Rails

Keith Collier speaks of the different size rails

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Length: 2:34 Min
File Size: 9.8 MB

These are different gauges of tracks that were used on the Newfoundland Railway from 1881 right up to the closure in 1988. And what these are is cross sections of the different rails. It shows you the different sizes. So this is 35 lb rail, this was used when the railway was first constructed in 1881-1882. This is what the original contract called for. And what 35lbs refers to - it means 35 every linear- linear yard of rail - it's about that much - would weigh 35lbs.

This rail never got very far across the Island; it only got as far as... ahh... Whitbourne and Harbour Grace, which is when construction in the first phase stopped. In 1898... ahh... the contract that Reid had won then after finishing the railway - the contract... umm... provided that he would upgrade the railway to this. This is a 50lb per linear yard rail. And this was the rail that was in use from that time up until the mid 1920s. It was really worn out and needed to be replaced by the end of the First World War. During that time the tracks already had heavy use and it was in dire need of upgrades and repairs. But because of budgetary reasons this 50lb rail... umm... remained on the lines until 1925. In 1925 they started to replace it with 70lb rail, and took 4 years to finish replacing all the rails in Newfoundland with 70 lb rail. But this became the main rail that stayed on the line right up until the beginning of the dieselization period in the 1950s.

So when they started bringing in the diesel engines and traffic, and weights on the tracks increase a lot, they started upgrading to the 85 lb rail. And that stayed in use until 1970 or thereabouts. When they finally upgraded to the last section of rail that was used on the Newfoundland Railway which is the 100 lb rail. It's this big guy right here. And they started using it around that time - was - because at that time the railways in Canada started upgrading to 131lb rail and started discarding or not needing as much 100lb rail, so we took a lot of the extra rail that - that - wasn't used.

So this track gauge indicator is actually a cross section of the rail. You can see, this is a section of railway track right here - the single rail. This is a piece as if it was sliced off at one of the ends. So you see the cross section is about the same. This is a 100 lbs rail, this one right here, - and - and what that means is 1 linear yard of this rail would weight 100 lbs.