Fishplate Evolutionary History

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Fishplate Evolutionary History

Fishplate, also named splice bar or rail joint bar, is a metal bar that is bolted to connect the ends of two rails to join them together in a track. The name is derived from fish, a wooden bar with a curved profile applied to strengthen a ship's mast.

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At the early stage of railway track construction, tracks didn’t connect each other together through the above method. They connect together through a method of scarf joint. Scarf joint is a method of joining two rails end to end in woodworking or metalworking. The scarf joint is used as joint material can’t be available in the length required. It is a choose for other joints such as butt joint or the splice joint and is often favored over these in joinery.

Today’s fishplate was invented by William Adams in May 1842, because he was dissatisfied with the scarf joints. He realized that forming the scarf joint, the rail was halved in thickness at its ends, but the stress was greatest there. Fishplate was first applied in 1844, but only as a wedge between the adjoining rails. Adams and Robert Richardson patented the invention in 1847. Till in 1849 James Samuel, the engineer of the ECR designed today’s fishplates which were bolted to rails.

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