Rail length?

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Gandy Dancer
In the old days, rail sections were 39 feet long, right? (Remember, so they could ride on the 40' flat cars of that era?)

So, on narrow gauge lines, was that lighter weight rail also typically in 39' lengths?

Thanks. Bret


Fleeing from Al
In the days of narrow gauge construction, the standard rail length for both narrow and standard gauge rail was 30 feet, mainly because rolling mills couldn't produce rail longer than that that were metallurgically sound. After WWII, steel technology improved considerably and 45' and the 60' foot jointed rail was standard. About the only time you see 39' foot rail sections is when they are cut up for relays so they can be transported on a standard 40' MOW flat car. 50' and 60' flat cars were developed to carry the newer, longer, jointed rail sections.


Gandy Dancer

I have some rail that went through a (prototype) fire, and needed to cut these scraps to the proper length. They will be laying in the rail yard, having been gathered up after a (modeled) forest fire.
What narrow gauge line are you modeling?

The D&RGW did not have too many freight cars over 30' in length in use on the narrow gauge. So your 39' rail would hang over a bit.

Of course there were cars longer then 30' in use, but this was more common in later years and by that time all of the original rail had already been laid.


Gandy Dancer
It's a free-lance model. (Thanks, I've been waiting for someone to ask.) Here is the company's history:

Messrs. Stephens & Wilbanks had begun hauling limestone out of the Texas hills by means of mule-drawn wagons riding on iron rail just after the War for States’ Rights. It was determined that the operation could be conducted in a more efficient manner utilizing steam power. Our company’s first locomotive (No. 1) was manufactured by a concern out of Paterson, New Jersey; Grant Locomotive Works. It proved to be very un-reliable, despite the multifarious ministrations of our very proficient negro mechanic, Josiah. The necessity of constant parts was a drain on meager profits, and fate stepped in when the boiler blew up on January 7, 1930 (during the Great Depression, seemingly a most inopportune time, indeed). The ensuing fire destroyed a good portion of our facilities, yet there were no injuries.

The county jail trustee who was working for the firm at the time of the fire was summoned by inquest, but no charges were brought up against him.

Financial times being what they were, and the demand for lime products nearly constant, we were able to purchase our current locomotive in the spring of 1930 from the Texas & St. Louis R. R. out of Tyler, Texas, on highly favorable terms. It is unknown if they bought her new, or if she was obtained by them second-hand. Re-numbered as No. 2, she was originally manufactured just before the turn of the 20th century, in 1899 to be exact, by the H. K. Porter Company of Pittsburgh, Penna. She has served us well, requiring no major repairs or refurbishments, and is most simple to light the fire when her services are required.

Our ‘ore’ cars came from the Texas Mexican Railway, who was, in mid-1902, converting their trackage from narrow to standard gauge. The car we used for our popular summertime passenger outings to the Springs, was another victim of the big fire.

Our shop-built tender allows all-day operation of the locomotive, whereas, in the past, numerous trips back to the stone processing plant were required to service the needs of the engine.

The conversion of limestone into quick lime, for the manufacture of cement, was dis-continued in 1935. The cost of firewood for the kiln became prohibitive as the marketability of those lime products declined.

We continue to provide slab limestone for grave monuments, and stone for building edifices. Although not our primary business, we also supply crushed limestone for roadways.

Please- no one take offense at the language in the narrative. It was (supposedly) written in 1940. I can't emphasize enough that there is no derision intended.
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