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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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Dams for Engine Water

One genuine innovation by Australian railway civil engineers around the end of the century was in the unlikely area of dam construction. A shortage of water generally, combined with irregular rainfall and the thirst for water of saturated-steam engines working heavy trains on the mountainous main western line, led the N.S.W. Railways engineers far deeper into the water supply business than their colleagues on most railways. The impervious Hawkesbury sandstone of the Blue Mountains and the resulting high rate of run off required several creeks to be dammed near the edges of the ridge to collect water in the upland swamps. Indeed for many years, small settlements along the line spoke of being on the 'railway' and not the 'town' supply.

As well as dams of conventional mass concrete construction, a number of dams were built by railway engineers to an economic thin wall curved arch design in heights of typically 5 m, but including one 20 m high and only 3 m thick at the base. When these dams were described in a published paper, they were roundly condemned by contemporary British dam engineers as dangerously under designed. None has failed, however, in some 90 years and most of these dams are still in use.[5]

Even if a dam had failed, the absence of a downstream population in the deep, rugged, heavily timbered valleys below the populated ridge along which the railway ran, meant that only reputations and the Treasury would have suffered. It was a minimum risk solution.

People in Bright Sparcs - Macfarlane, Ian B.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 463 - 464, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher