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Grantham Canal - bits of rusty metal and other interesting stuff.

Discussion in 'Everything else Heritage' started by baldbof, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. baldbof

    baldbof Member

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    I uncovered this item today whilst I was helping on a canal lock restoration project. The on-site archeologist got so excited he nearly wet himself. He reckons its a piece of very early railway track , and who am I to disagree. Whatdaya think?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Sheff

    Sheff Part of the furniture

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    Looks like a firebar to me.
     
  3. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    Yes, definitely an old firebar. A piece of "fishbelly" rail, whilst similar, would have a more regular arc to the "belly" , a broadened running surface along the top and broader, flatter lugs on the ends.
     
  4. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    Which Canal?
    What railway might have been nearby?
     
  5. Steve B

    Steve B Active Member

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    If it is a firebar is it certain it came from a railway loco? There have been steam driven narrowboats. I can't quite work out how long it is from the picture - corrugated steel cladding come in different sizes.

    Steve B
     
  6. baldbof

    baldbof Member

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    Grantham Canal. There's the trackbed of a mineral railway nearby which served local ironstone quarries. The canal was built by William Jessop and the archaeologist reckoned that there is a link between Jessop and "fishbelly" rails. The railway apparently came along quite a while after the canal was built in the 1790s. I must admit that the thought of it being a firebar never entered our minds. Do you think it could be used to start a locomotive restoration project? ;)

    We measured it at 2 foot 10 inches.
     
  7. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    Yep, I'd bet a bag of ash & clinker that's a firebar as well!
    It appears from the photo to have a spacer lump at about the mid-point which a rail wouldn't, but is needed by a firebar to prevent them bending and distorting.

    Is it from a railway loco?
    Who knows, similar firebars are found in boilers from stationary engines (pumping station nearby?), traction engines/steam rollers, portable engines, and who knows possibly even a canal boat!

    ...any sign of burning and wear to the top surface, or is it a spare?
     
  8. baldbof

    baldbof Member

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    Here's a couple of more photos which appear to show that spacer lump from a different angle. I don't know whether or not it has any burning damage, but the top surface did appear to be relatively smooth and I think that gave the archaeologist the idea it was an early rail section. If it is a firebar, I can let the archaeologist know (discreetly of course) that tell him to "Calm down dear, it's only a firebar". Thanks guys for your expert analysis.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  9. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    Yep, shows up quite clearly there - you've got y'self a nice classic firebar, not much signs of burning or wear on it either.

    Not exactly the clearest of views, but here's one of my manky ones, although this has three "spacers" rather than just one centre one.
    [​IMG]

    ...and pictured earlier in the year is the SVR's strategic firebar reserve collection:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture

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    If, it does end up to be a fire bar, how did it end up in, or near a canal? wer most were built by hand ? were steam cranes around at the time if it was found at the bottom of a lock, then one possibility would of course be a damaged one being thrown in, or if un used one fell off a truck holding spare parts , your discovery may well create more questions than it answers .
     
  11. Footbridge

    Footbridge Member

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    Youngsters chuck all sorts of things into canals, they like to see who can make the biggest splash. Shopping trollies, bikes, dead dogs, firebars ;)
    I maybe speaking from experiences of 50 years ago :Angelic:
     
  12. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    Possible that a second use as a ballast weight may be considered.
     
  13. baldbof

    baldbof Member

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    The item was in the undergrowth between the trackbed of an old mineral railway and the canal. We were clearing a bit of ground around the site fence. I think it does pose a few more questions. Is the item specific to a particular loco type or is a standard size (2' 10" long)? - I believe Robinson O4s were used at some time on that line. As posted earlier, it seems to be lacking in burn marks or other signs of wear - so, was it ever fitted to a loco or did it fall off a loco? There was a loco derailed further along the track not long before the line closed, could it belong to that loco? Is it a relic of the Belvoir Castle railway?- that line ran from the canal close to where this item was found.

    One of the local farmers worked on the canal when he was a lad and is a font of local knowledge. I'll be seeing him at the weekend when the Canal Society has its Open Day and I shall ask him - it will definitely be a "pull up a sandbag" moment so I'll take my sarnies. :D The excited archaeologist said he was calling in one of his colleagues who specialises in railway archaeology to have a look it although he did warn that two archaeologists would probably result in three opinions.

    Whatever it turns out to be, its been lying around a long time - the canal closed in 1932(ish) and I believe the railway closed around the 1960s. I'm back on site at the weekend so there may be some answers.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  14. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    Firebars, usually broken but sometimes whole, are often to be found near or under trackbeds, especially where ash ballast was used in the past. This was sourced from loco depots and all manner of engine shed junk was thrown out with it. I have found firing shovels, coal hammers, lamp glasses, firebars, etc. when poking around trackbeds. Sadly though, no nameplates;).

    As to what got thrown into canals, the best I've heard is the 16 ton steel mineral wagon that was found in the Bridgewater Canal near Manchester and is now preserved at the Astley Green Colliery Museum.
     
  15. baldbof

    baldbof Member

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    Thanks for that, that makes it clearer to understand. We'll find out what's been chucked into the lock when we get round to de-watering the lock chamber in due course; we've still got a bit of "de-structuring"- the engineer's word for knocking it down - to do as well as sealing the temporary dams before the water and 80 years worth of sludge is removed.
     
  16. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Well-Known Member

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    Italian Art Thieves
     
  17. ilvaporista

    ilvaporista Part of the furniture

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    Once you find out what it is from I can see a new build project coming on, complete with original parts..
     
  18. Ken_R

    Ken_R New Member

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    Don't get too far ahead of oneself. It would need a livery choice and a Facebook page beforehand.:)
     
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  19. baldbof

    baldbof Member

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    I'm beginning to get the feeling that my next day on-site will be spent grubbing through the undergrowth looking for more bits to make up a parts-kit. ;)
     
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  20. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    It would be nice to see some photos of your project if possible?
     

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