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Deutsches Technikmuseum - May

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Exhibit of the Month May 2013

Photo: The tool is screwed onto a piece of rail. The iron bottom part encloses the flat rail foot, the gold-like top part from brass encloses the railhead. For measuring its buttons can be lowered onto defined points of the railhead.

Railway safety provided by nine buttons © SDTB / C. Kirchner

Rail Profile Gauge, around 1890

The "Objects of the Month" in 2013 were all procured in 1983, the museum’s first year. We are showing with this the spectrum of our early collections. A few days after the opening in December 1983, this rail profile gauge came to the museum.

At first glance, this tool with its spider-like form seems like an extra from a science fiction film. But this has nothing to do with "high-tech" from the future, but with an apparatus based on simple mechanical principles. The 19th-century testing device for the rail profile of railway tracks was used to ensure the safety of railway lines over a long period of time.

The railway is a composite machine made of track and train. Although they are made of iron, over the years, these elements are subjected to considerable wear and tear. Thus, the deterioration has to be monitored. The "Dorpmüller Rail Measurement Apparatus", equipped with a writing device, has been used since 1880 to inspect the track position (Engine House 1, on Track 13). It measures the track gauge and the camber of the two rails.

In contrast, the deterioration of the railhead of the normal "Vignole rail" could be determined with a rail profile gauge, as displayed here. The form of the flat-bottom rail with narrow web has prevailed around the world. For measuring, the tool was spanned under the rail foot. Afterwards, nine buttons could be lowered onto defined points on the railhead. From the deviation of the values from the desired set point, the level of wear and tear emerged. If the values were too high, the rails had to be replaced.

The 6.4-kg precision instrument exhibited as "Object of the Month" in May was supplied by Starke & Kammerer, a Viennese company founded in 1866, which also built levelling and astronomical instruments.

Inventar-Nr. 1/1983/0263