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

Chapter 7

I The First 100 Years 1788-1888

II Railways
i Location of the Railway
ii Track
iii Bridging and Tunnelling
iv Dams for Engine Water
v Locomotives and Rolling Stock
vi Signalling and Telecommunications
vii 1900/1988-The New Century
viii The Garratt Locomotive
ix Steam Locomotive Practice
x Motor Railcars
xi Signalling
xii Electric Tramways
xiii Electric Railways - Direct Current
xiv Electric Railways - 25 kV ac
xv Diesel Traction
xvi Alignment and Track
xvii Operations

III Motorised Vehicles

IV Aviation

V Modern Shipping

VI Innovative Small Craft

VII Conclusion

VIII Acknowledgements

IX Contributors



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The track of the earliest Australian steam railways used English style bullhead rail, cast iron chairs and local timber sleepers. The system produced a durable but expensive track and was soon superseded by flat bottom Vignoles rail, spiked directly to adzed sleepers. This remained the standard construction for over a century and can still be seen today. Rails, originally of wrought iron, were made of steel as soon as it became reliable and available. While some iron rails were rolled at Lithgow in the 1870s steel rails were not rolled here until the birth of the Australian steel industry in the present century (1915). Sleepers were cut from a plentiful supply of local hard-wood timber but were untreated for preservation, even though this technology existed in England.

Pressures to maximise the miles of railway access to improve upon the traditional horse and bullock drawn vehicles over earth roads led to a high degree of skill in the design and construction of railways for low axleloads (6-10 tonnes). The track consisted of light flat bottom rails, hardwood sleepers at maximum spacing, and thin (if any) layers of rock, gravel, or sand ballast on minimum formation and earthworks. In Queensland, much of S.A., W.A., and Tasmania, the line was also of narrow (1067 mm) gauge. This was the minimum standard 'pioneer' railway that opened much of Australia up to settlement -a railway that was evolutionary and adaptive. In its basic technology, however, it was no different in its essentials from similar railways in many other countries, and was still substantially built from imported materials.

People in Bright Sparcs - Macfarlane, Ian B.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 462, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher