Reply to Mr. Swinyard’s reports on the Prince Edward Island Railway

I just found a copy of John Boyd’s April 19th, 1875 reply (report) to the Swinyard report on the PEI Railway. I figured I’d open this blog post to make some notes from the article for future reference. First here’s the link:

Early on in the report there is some really interesting back-and-forth about the cost of the railway. The contract was to build a railway for five thousand pounds per mile. It’s interesting to note that they quote the dollar equivalent for this amount and they approximate it at sixteen thousand dollars. When I first started buying British model railway bits from England I used to estimate the cost of my purchases by multiplying the list price (invariably from some advert in Railway Modeller magazine) by two-point-two. Given the rate of exchange the Government was using to convert the cost of building the railway it seems little changed in the hundred odd years between the Island and it’s railway and the railway I was building too.

There is some neat discussion regarding curves on the line. In this the author quotes some curve radii from other railways. It’s interesting to compare these actual curves to what we use on our model railways (e.g. In HO scale that Harmony curve works out to about forty-two inches, neat considering that was the prototype’s gauge):

The limits adopted on other lines of the same class, have not been exceeded or even arrived at. The Australian railways have curves of 330 feet radius and grades of 132 feet per mile; the Norwegian Railways, curves of 750 feet radius, and grades of 115 feet per mile; the Ontario Railways, curves of 400 feet radius, and grades of 105 feet per mile; and the South American Railways, curves of 187 and 235 feet radius, and grades of 169 feet per mile, Gradients of 70 and 75 feet per mile are not uncommon in the neighboring Provinces.

On the P. E. Island Railway, the steepest gradient is 66 feet per mile, with the exception of one near Souris of 74 feet per mile, and the radius of the sharpest curve 604 feet, with the exception of one curve of 300 feet radius at Harmony, and one of 573 feet radius near Charlottetown The exceptional curve and gradient on the Eastern Extension are necessitated by the natural formation, and are unavoidable.

Ties (sleepers) were laid on the railway between 2,200 and 2,500 per mile. This amount includes an allowance for sidings, etc. but could provide a useful detail when handlaying track. I like to design templates for my trackwork and I’ll take this into account.

On ballast the author notes that the average roadbed was nine feet wide (eight feet at top and ten at the base).

Thers’s a neat discussion regarding siding at stations:

At the Way Stations there are 17 through sidings, 14 of which will hold 16 cars each, or two ordinary trains, and three of which will hold eight cars each. Several of these have a blind siding: which will hold two or three cars in addition. There are also 47 spur sidings at Flag Stations, each capable of holding four freight cars. This is at the rate of one siding for every three miles of the line. The average distance between the stations where trains can pass, is 9-1/2 miles.

If I remember correctly Allan Graham counted about that many flag stations (47) so it would be fair to assume that one of these sidings was built at every station. Considering my interest in Midgell these past few days this is neat stuff and it’s likely that this siding was in fact there and used for loading mussel mud, etc.

The closing pages of the Report deal with the rolling stock. At the time of writing the railway was relying on the British engines entirely and there is some neat discussion regarding the renovation of these engines to help them better handle the trackwork. There’s also some really notes on how the freight and passenger cars were constructed. This stuff will be great background when selecting rolling stock for my model layout (when and if I ever get there…) One really neat detail from these notes is in regard the sheathing on the box cars. Apparently they were sheathing them horizontally. I can’t imagine what that must have looked like and I’ll have to sketch one “just to see”. Neat eh?!

I’ve never had the chance to read something like Mr. Boyd’s report and it’s really interesting stuff. I highly recommend it. From the same website I’ve also found Mr. Swinyard’s report and I’m really looking forward to reading it next.



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