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British Industrial History

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Engineers and Mechanics Encyclopedia 1839: Railways: Thomas Parkins

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Thomas Parkins, of Dudley, has had a patent for a similar object to the foregoing, which is dated the 3d of December, 1835. It consists in forming continuous sleepers of vitrified earth (burnt clay), which the patentee states are as hard and durable as granite, and impervious to the weather.

Fig. 1 gives a cross section of Mr. Parkins's railway, and Fig. 2 a side elevation of a portion of it. The vitrified blocks or sleepers are shown at a-a-a; each sleeper is thirteen inches at the base, five at the top, twelve deep, and nine long, and locks into the other, thus forming a continuous mass along the whole line of road. The joining is effected by a projecting tongue b, which fits into a corresponding recess made in each block. A groove c is moulded longitudinally in the top of the sleepers, into which the rib of a wooden hearer d (four inches at the base, four deep, two wide at the top, and twelve feet or more long) is placed; and is bedded upon patent felt; on this wooden bearer is fixed an iron bar e-e, for the wheels of the carriages to run open; this bar or rail being also bedded upon felt.

Mr. Parkins gives the preference to the arrangement described; but he proposes, in certain cases, to dispense with the wooden bearers d-d and to place iron rails of the ordinary kind at once into the groove c.

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