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Office of the Western Rail Road Company,
Boston, January 1st, 1838.
THOMAS B. WALES Esq. PRESIDENT OF THE
The Board of Directors having "ordered that the Engineers be instructed to furnish plans of the styles of Superstructure, with estimates cf the expense thereof" we have the honor, accordingly, to submit the following Report.
The superstructure, or rail-way, constructed as it may be in either mode we shall describe, may be considered as a frame work placed upon the road bed; the stability, and durability of which, will, of course, depend on its foundations, and the nature of the materials composing the railway.
The foundations we shall suppose to be, as they would be, alike in either case-their principal object being the equable support of the frame-work, and its protection from the influence of frost-to guard against the effect of which, in our latitude, it would be necessary, wherever the natural soil was the least argillaceous, or such as would retain and collect moisture, to excavate the road bed to the depth of say 2 feet (below which the frost would very seldom penetrate) and to consolidate thereon, in lieu of the material excavated, sand, or pure gravel-or in lieu of either to construct masonry for the support of the sleepers or cross ties. Experience has shown that the better plan is to depend on sand, or gravel, rather than broken stone, or rubble masonry. It is much cheaper, generally, and in all cases equally efficient.
The foundations being alike, however the rail-way may be constructed, their cost will not enter into a comparative estimate. The actual cost of preparing them would of course depend on the character of the ground traversed by the Rail-Road-for instance, in excavations through rock, or soil other than clay, the sleepers would be laid immedi
ately on the road bed; or in other words, where sufficient protection was already afforded against the effects of frost, from the favorable character of the road bed, we should not of course, resort to artificial foundations.
We shall suppose, however, in order not to be disappointed in the actual cost, that throughout the whole distance, artificial foundations shall be necessary. The cost then for excavating say 8 feet wide, and 3 feet deep; for procuring and depositing the suitable material, may, we think, then be safely assumed at $2346.66 per mile, per single track, and to this, if we add the cost of longitudinal sills of pine, hemlock, or such other timber, as may be most conveniently procured, the object and utility of which would be equably to sustain the rail-way, especially on embankments, and to facilitate the re-adjustment of the rails, when they shall have been deranged from the settling of the road bed or other causes; we must add for this item, say, $646.80 per mile and the total cost of the foundations would be $2993.46 per mile.
We have said that the rail-way, or superstructure, may be regarded as a frame work, composed of the rails proper, tied together, at intervals, by the sleepers, or cross-ties, and as variously practised, the weight, form, and consequent strength of these Rails, determine the intervals at which they are tied, or supported. For instance the common flat bar, or rail, of ordinary dimensions, requires a continuous support, and is laid upon string pieces of wood or stone, and these stringers are tied together (in order that they may not spread or lose their parallelism) at intervals, dependant on the dimensions and strength of the stone or wood of which they are composed.
This, however, is so poor a substitute for the several descriptions of rail way, which you are accustomed to see in this section of the country, and as we think, by unanimous consent, so unsuitable to your purposes, that we hardly think it necessary to dwell longer on it, than merely to state, that inferior as it is, the only saving in first cost (ultimately it is more expensive) would be in the diminished cost of the rail itself, and which would probably amount to about $2500 per mile-that is supposing the rail to consist of the flat bar, and the wooden string piece. The defects of this mode of construction are obvious.
Many modifications of the iron edge-rail might be enumerated, but as on a careful comparison of all of them, and after much reflection, aided by our own experience, and that of others, we are not enabled to improve on the T. rail, such as has been adopted on the Boston and Providence Rail Road-the Taunton Rail Road-the Stonington Rail Road and lastly on the second track of the Lowell Rail Road; we shall submit to you estimates of cost, on the supposition of its use. The construction of these several Rail Roads, vary essentially in no particular, save that on the Boston and Lowell Rail Road stone sleepers have been substituted for the wooden sleepers, which from necessity were elsewhere adopted. The eventual saving, we doubt not, will prove the exercise of a wise economy in imitating the example of the Lowell Rail Road where stone can be procured at a reasonable cost. We submit, however, the two following estimates.
1. Cost of a single track of Rail way, of a similar construction with the Stonington Rail Road, (which differs from the Boston and Providence Rail Road in its continuous longitudinal sills) the weight of the rail being 55 lbs. per lineal yard, or 86.42 tons per mile, to wit,
2. 1760 sleepers 7 feet long × 8 inches thick, 3. 704 cast iron chairs (or splicing plates) 10 lbs., 352.00
4. 9,152 spikes at 8 cts. per pound,
5. 86 tons of iron rails at $60 per ton,
To this must be added, the cost of transporting the materials, an estimate of which cannot, at this time, be made with accuracy. It will be perceived, however, that it will not affect the comparative cost materially. Our own impression is, that in the above estimate we shall be found to have amply provided for all expenses; that is, that the cost of foundations will be so much less than stated, (because they will by no means be required throughout the whole distance) that the surplus will suffice for all contingencies.
2. Cost of a single track of rail-way per mile, similar to the second track of the Boston and Lowell Rail Road, and based upon the actual cost experienced on that Road.
1. Foundations, (the longitudinal sill was omitted on the Lowell Road,) its cost is $646.80 per mile, and is herein included,
2. 1760 stone sleepers, viz. 352 for the joints, at $2.50 each,
1408 for the intermediate ties, at $1.50 2112.00 3. Fitting and moving sleepers at 50 cts.,
4. Spikes as before,
5. Iron rails as before,
6. Laying rails at $4 per rod,
A similar remark may be made respecting the item of transportation, which has in this case also been omitted. It would be enhanced because of the greater weight of the materials,and we are much inclined to think, that the difference in cost per mile between the two modes would vary but little from the sum of $4,000.
Detailed statements and specifications will be prepared and furnished whenever the Board shall require them, on which would be based the contracts for rails, and other materials.
Respectfully submitted by
WM. GIBBS MCNEILL,