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Bullhead Rail


Ian J.

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After having a look at the Bluebell Extension thread and noticing that the slideshow linked to showed trackwork being laid using flatbottom rail and pandrol clips (by hand!) it reminded me of a question that popped into my head a while ago but never got round to asking: Is bullhead rail still made anywhere? I was wondering where the heritage railways would get hold of new bullhead rail if they needed it, bearing in mind that it's been out of use on the mainline for yonks...

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I Dont think that bullhead rail was ever used anywhere but here and Ireland, and I very much doubt that any has been made for many many years. I know when routes like the Penistone line have sections relaid they use good second hand bullhead. Saying that, theres no reason why a new batch couldn't be rolled...for a price!

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I Dont think that bullhead rail was ever used anywhere but here and Ireland, and I very much doubt that any has been made for many many years.

 

When I was on the P-Way contract at Scunthorpe steelworks we had new BH rail in the yard! It is still made, can't remember where, as it's still needed for maintenance. At Bridlington, for example, the station is still predominately BH. There was a pair of IBJ's in the four foot which were new BH.

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When I was on the P-Way contract at Scunthorpe steelworks we had new BH rail in the yard! It is still made, can't remember where, as it's still needed for maintenance. At Bridlington, for example, the station is still predominately BH. There was a pair of IBJ's in the four foot which were new BH.

 

 

This photo (not mine) would suggest that it's still being produced:

 

http://paulbigland.fotopic.net/p57987614.html

Well I'll be shot at dawn! to quote me long departed Grandad!

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There is still some on the section of Thameslink between St Pancras and Kentish Town. Given the frequency of its closure for buckets and spades - sorry, engineering work - one might have thought it would have been replaced ages ago.

 

Chris

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There's some sections of the underground recently relaid with bullhead rail. I assume they don't have enough time/money on overnight/weekend possessions to relay the tunnel sections with flat bottom rail

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Bull head is certainly still being rolled and is advertised by several vendors. A considerable amount of the sidings at Plymouth (North Road) have been relaid in new BH recently.

 

The reason the preservation movement is using second hand FB is becaus it is "second hand" and therefore cheaper, the markets still rule!

 

Wally

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Somewhere makes a batch of Bullhead rail once a year, it used to be Workington but I think the production transferred elsewhere when it closed. I'm darned if I can remember where though!

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Somewhere makes a batch of Bullhead rail once a year, it used to be Workington but I think the production transferred elsewhere when it closed. I'm darned if I can remember where though!

 

I have a feeling its Scunthorpe - 'CORUS MSM' is the Medium Section Mill at Scunthorpe and FB rail from there bears the same markings.

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Bullhead rail was certainly produced on the continent. In late Victorian times the London Brighton & South Coast Railway obtained a significant amount of it from, I believe, Krupps of Gernmany, much to the annoyance of British suppliers. Apart from having the name being formed on the side, this rail was very distinctive as the rolling process gave it a number of raised lines on the web, which can be seeen in many LBSC photos.

I also always understood that bullhead rail was preferred by the Underground in their tunnels because it was easier to work with, as once the keys were removed from the chairs, the rail could be quickly lifted and replaced, whereas the removal and replacement of clips would have taken much longer, but this may be my own personal urban myth.

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I also always understood that bullhead rail was preferred by the Underground in their tunnels because it was easier to work with, as once the keys were removed from the chairs, the rail could be quickly lifted and replaced, whereas the removal and replacement of clips would have taken much longer, but this may be my own personal urban myth.

 

That could well be true. Possesion times are very, very short on the Underground which could influence things. Also, assuming standard 60ft panels of 24 sleepers per length for now with bullhead on one leg you have 24 keys, whereas with flatbottom you'll have 48 clips and 48 biscuits (insulators) which isn't a vast amount of difference in terms of time and manpower but when time is tight it could be significant enough to lead to BH being favoured.

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Conversely except on tight radii flatbottom rail just drops onto the baseplates, where bullhead needs to be wiggled into the chair jaws.

 

It does but even FB may need barring into positon and then will need setters as well as pullers whereas once BH in its chairs it just about there.

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I Dont think that bullhead rail was ever used anywhere but here and Ireland, and I very much doubt that any has been made for many many years.
Au contraire. Bullhead known as double champignon was very widely used in France and several other countries. In France there's still quite a lot around on lesser used lines and I think it's still used in India.

 

The SABA group who have preserved part of the metre gauge Blanc Argent railway in central France have stated their intention to keep with this type of track in order to preserve its herritage though the rest of the line which is operated by SNCF is gradually being relaid with Vignoles i.e. FB rail.

 

If you watch the film "The Train" which was filmed on closed branch lines south of Rouen you will see demonstrations by Burt Lancaster of how to sabotage both types of track using simple hand tools.

 

If you happen to need some BH rail the Ningbo Sun-Max Industry Develop Co., Ltd. Ningbo, Zhejiang, China will be very happy to quote you for either BS or Indian standard with a minimum 300 tonne order and I think someone should tell RFF the French version of Network Rail that BH rail is still being made. They've been having problems with welds breaking after splicing in short lengths of recycled BH rail to repair broken rails.

 

French modellers often use SMP 00 gauge BH track for steam era lines as it's spot on for HO.

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There's some sections of the underground recently relaid with bullhead rail. I assume they don't have enough time/money on overnight/weekend possessions to relay the tunnel sections with flat bottom rail

 

LT didn't use anything but BH rail until fairly recently.

 

David

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Scunthorpe is now I believe3 the only rail mill left in the UK. They built a new plant there to take over fromn Workington when it closed and it rolls all sorts of sections. It even rolled 1000 tons of tram rail for the projected Merseyside system but the last Givernment pulled the plug and I believe it's still sitting there.

 

I also hear tell that Workington rolled a small batch of narrow gauge rail for the ratty just before it shut as they ahd the right rolls there.

 

I seem to recall hearing that new Bullhead is still preferred for tight radius curves as it's easier to bend.

 

Jamie

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AFAIK LU still use bullhead rail when replacing tube tunnel sections for the reasons given above.

 

The KESR use b/h in station areas for the heritage appearance, and f/b on new plain line as it's cheaper than b/h. As someone above said, the meercat rules.

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Scunthorpe is now I believe3 the only rail mill left in the UK. They built a new plant there to take over fromn Workington when it closed and it rolls all sorts of sections. It even rolled 1000 tons of tram rail for the projected Merseyside system but the last Givernment pulled the plug and I believe it's still sitting there.

 

No it's not. I know exactly where it is but I'm not saying on a public forum - my previous employer bought and paid for it having secured the p-way side of the contract before it was cancelled.

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I Dont think that bullhead rail was ever used anywhere but here and Ireland, and I very much doubt that any has been made for many many years. I know when routes like the Penistone line have sections relaid they use good second hand bullhead. Saying that, theres no reason why a new batch couldn't be rolled...for a price!

The Cantabrian Broad Gauge was laid in chaired bullhead nigh on 150 years ago here in NZ - there were sidings still laid in remaining rail on 3'6 until relatively recently. As the contractor sourced much of his stock etc from Oz then it was probably used there as well.

 

Kev

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No it's not. I know exactly where it is but I'm not saying on a public forum - my previous employer bought and paid for it having secured the p-way side of the contract before it was cancelled.

 

 

That's good to hear. I just hope that a UK based tram project gets the go ahead soon and it can be used.

 

Jamie

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That's good to hear. I just hope that a UK based tram project gets the go ahead soon and it can be used.

 

Hopefully it will get used but the way the accountants and commercial have got hold of the company it wouldn't surprise me if it doesn't get just weighed in. It would be a shame because when I last saw it it was all in pretty good nick.

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