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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 6

I Construction During The Settlement Years

II The Use Of Timber As A Structural Material

III Structural Steel

IV Concrete Technology

V Housing

VI Industrialised Pre-cast Concrete Housing

VII Ports And Harbours

VIII Roads

IX Heavy Foundations

X Bridges

XI Sewerage

XII Water Engineering

XIII Railways
i Factors Impeding Developments
ii Railway Sleepers
iii Rail Tracks
iv Some Interesting Railway Projects
v Tarcoola-Alice Springs Railway
vi The Conversion to Standard Gauge
vii Railways in the Pilbara
viii Railways in the Coal Fields of Queensland
ix The Melbourne Underground Railway Loop

XIV Major Buildings

XV Airports

XVI Thermal Power Stations

XVII Materials Handling

XVIII Oil Industry

XIX The Snowy Mountains Scheme

XX The Sydney Opera House

XXI The Sydney Harbour Bridge

XXII Hamersley Iron

XXIII North West Shelf

Sources and References


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Rail Tracks

The early track construction during the period 1850-1915 followed very closely technology developed in Europe, with bulb head rails and cast-iron chairs being imported from England. Chairs were fixed to timber sleepers by the traditional hand-driven spikes into hand augured holds, with rails being jointed by using fish-plates and bolts. The first significant changes came with the advent of steel rails produced by BHP in the early part of this century and the change-over from bolted to all welded joints to meet the urgent needs of the Second World War. Flash butt technology was employed in the assembly heads to assemble strings of approximately 400 metres in length.

Field joints were effected by the Thermit welding process. With the development of the Hamersley Iron project in 1965 (see p. 429), and other heavy haul projects, the economics of haul became vital to the commercial success of those projects. This led to an almost microscopic examination of every aspect of the problem, with particular emphasis on track. The thorough investigations which were undertaken did not provide any really new technology but rather clever modifications and adaptions of existing technology. These developments included careful alignment, precise geometry, the use of heavy rails, prestressed concrete sleepers, sophisticated fasteners and strict supervision of quality and placing of ballast.

People in Bright Sparcs - Connell, J. W.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 376, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher