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History of Southern Railways - Redbridge sleeper works

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From:  “History of the Southern Railway”, by  C.F. Dendy Marshall, first published 1936

Pages 582-584

The sleeper creosoting and chairing works, also a new switch and crossing shop, are situated at Redbridge, immediately west of Southampton. They not only have railway communication, but are on the river Test and, therefore, the untreated sleepers and timber can reach the depot by water. That facility, further, provides a tidal log-pond of an area of 5 acres, and a wharf frontage of 900 feet. The area of land occupied is about 22 acres, and there are over 4 miles of sidings of standard gauge, and 500 yards of industrial line of 2 feet 6 gauge. The creosoting depot was founded in 1884 and has recently been modernised and enlarged. The switch and crossing shop and foundry was erected in 1924-25.

There are three underground concrete tanks for creosote: No. 1 storage tank holds 40,000 gallons; No. 2 working tank has a capacity of 13,000; and No. 3 reserve tank holds 40,000 gallons. The creosote is heated to a temperature of 130 degrees by steam supplied by two locomotive-type boilers. There are two steel creosoting cylinders, of 7 feet diameter and 75 feet in length, each holding 464 sleepers of standard size with a working pressure of 200lb. per square inch. The sleepers are under pressure for about two hours and absorb, normally, 10 lb. of creosote per cubic foot. The miniature trucks, carrying the sleepers, are hauled into the cylinders by electrically-operated capstans. After the sleepers are in position in the creosoting cylinder, a vacuum is created by an electrically-driven vacuum pump, and a supply of creosote is thus drawn into the cylinder from the working tank. Then the creosote is forced into the sleepers by an electrically-driven three-throw pump. When the work is completed the creosote that has not been impregnated is drained back into the tank, and, the stop valve having been closed, the vacuum pump is again started so that a vacuum may be created in order to clear the sleepers of any extraneous oil.

It may be mentioned that before sleepers are treated, they are adzed, bored and sawn to length to receive the chairs by a machine with a capacity of 1,000 sleepers a day. When creosoting is completed the trucks are drawn out of the cylinder by another capstan, and unloaded in the chairing shed. There are two electrically-driven chairing machines which insert the three chair screws and automatically elevate the chaired sleeper so that it is passed on to a standard railway wagon, ready for dispatch.

Switch and crossing chairs, together with blocks, brackets, etc., for crossings are cast in the foundry, where there are two cupolas, capable of turning out 30 tons per week. There is a fine equipment of saw-mill machinery, which can deal with logs up to 36 inches diameter and 50 feet long.

The standard rail at present in use on the Southern Railway was adopted in 1923; being the ‘British Standard Bull-head rail’. 95 lb. per yard, 60 feet long. Fish-plates weigh 32 lb. per pair; chairs 46 lb. each. The keys are of teak.

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