Saturday 27 February 2021

Track Works 1:1 Scale #2

Building one's own track naturally makes one curious as to how it was done on real narrow gauge industrial railways. In my last post about real narrow gauge industrial railway track building, I mentioned that the majority of Danish narrow gauge industrial railways saw very limited track works once built. One particular type of industrial railway in contrast, saw repeated laying, dismantling and relaying on a very large scale. In fact the whole rationale behind this type of railway was its ease of constant relaying. The marl transporting lines were supplying the chalk rich marl to farmers' fields in large parts of Denmark between the beginning of the 20th century until the 1930's. The marl was spread on the fields to improve the soil's productive qualities for farming.

Track laying with the help of (the so far) only known narrow gauge track building machine in Denmark. Timeframe probably 1928-1932. The loco is O&K 6283/1913 with 750 mm gauge known as 'The Flying Dutchman'. Thanks to Danish industrial loco expert Bent Hansen for identifying the loco. Image: Jerslev Sogns Lokalhistoriske Forening, B607.

Rather than rely on manual labour for the constant moving of track panels, one marl company used a specially designed and built tracklaying device to ease the burden for the track workers. The above image is the only known photograph of the device. The contraption is obviously based on a long, turning steel profile mounted in a 'turret' on a small wagon or a pair of skip frames. It's equipped with a counter weight to enable a track panel to be picked up with chains from behind the device, swung to the side and propelled forward along the profile, reaching in front of the track. Working from this principle the device could lay as well as pick up track panels, making the process of reaching the farmers' field with the marl much easier than with a purely manual handling of the track panels.

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