THE number of ties required annually for renewals and new track by the railroads of the United States is estimated at 154,000,000, which, at an average cost of 50 cents apiece, represents the enormous sum of $77,000,000. Less than half of these, an ever-lessening supply, are hard wood. Soft wood ties become unfit for service from decay, ,chiefly of the fibers under the rail, where the wood is cut and injured by the rough nail spikes with the continual up and down play of the rail and spike. When we remember that any loosening of the spikes, with consequent spreading of the rails, is liable to lead to most serious accidents and loss of, life, the importance of the problem of thoroughly securing the rails to the ties becomes obvious. Screw spikes. have been introduced with much advantage in place of nail spikes. In the first place, the screw, in entering the wood, does not injure it to the same extent as the nail spike; secondly, an item of no small importance, a screw spike has about four times the holding power of a nail spike, as indicated diagrammatically in one of our illustrations. This greatly lessens rail movement with the resultant loosening of the spike and laying open of a cavity in the wood, into which rain and moisture penetrate. One of the principal obstacles which have hitherto stood in the way of general adoption of screw spikes in this country, has been the expense of putting them in by hand labor and with primitive tools. But this obstacle is one which can be and has been removed. Our half-tone illustration and one of the line drawings iIlUstrate a self"prope\.led gasoline motor car whkh is in service boring ties and inserting screw spikes by mechanical power. This not only reduces the cost of spiking to a mInimum, but also greatly expedites the operation of track laying and re-spiking. The motor car is provided with cranes at the drilling end, which hold the drills when not in operation. At the spike-driving end similar cranes are provided, which hold up the spike drivers at all times. These cranes not only take up the whole of the weight of the instrument, but also the torsional thrust, so that the operator is merely required t9 exert a down ward pressure on the tool, to keep the spike driver from slipping off the head of the spike, and to move the driver from. other. The spherical bulb near the bottom of the instrument, seen on the right-hand side of the line drawing, is a friction clutch adjusted to slip when the spike has been screwed in to the desired degree of firmness. Without this friction clutch the engine would be stalled or the head of the spike twisted off. The spike driver is connected to the motor by a telescoping shaft of such length that three ties can be reached without moving the car. The work of boring the holes is effected ten times more rapidly with this equipment than by hand, and requires less skill, and of course much less effort. The cost of labor also is greatly reduced. The car is kept on the track throughout and is advanced just as fast as the spikes are screwed into place. When not in use the drill and extension shaft are hung in the hook of the crane. The modern standard track laid with this gasoline motor car consists of 110 pound rails, earried on tie plates and fastened by means of screw spikes to treated ties. The gasoline engine is sufficiently powerful to haul when necessary two or three cars loaded with section men and their supplies, such as jacks, claw bars, lining bars, shovels, ties and rails. A specially designed friction clutch in the connection between the engine and the propelling gear of the car makes it possible to start a heavy load from a standstill without stalling the engine. The clutch may, of course, be thrown· out entirely when the car is standing still and the engine is being used for spike driving. There is no doubt that the car will find many other appHcations beside that for which it is specifically designed. If run in conjunction with a small auxiliary air comp,iessor or electric generator, it will be handy for operating rivetting hammers or similar tools at a distance. It might be used for spraying paint or mixing concrete. By adding a suitable blade attachment the car may be turned into a mowing machine for cutting grass and weeds from the right of -way, or it may be used to operate mechankal tamping bars which are being developed in connection with this outfit. . One of the valuable features of the car is its great simplicity. A lever in the hands of the operator controls the motion forward or backward. The throttle and spark control levers are on the seat just behind the operator's right knee, while a lever under his foot operates the brake. At the back of the seat is a gasoline sUP'ly tank which holds a sufficient quantity of the oil for ten hours' continuous operation. The motor is arranged crosswise, a position which is said to provide a maximum cooling effect during motion. The car has started without difficulty on a heavy grade and a 23 degree curve with all the men on board who could get a foothold. The Kubus of Sumatra P ROF. W. VOLZ, of Breslau University, h as pubIished in Peterm ann s Mitteil ungen a pap er o n the Kubus, who live in the interior forests of Sumatra, and, owing to their complete isolation by several natural barriers, apPear to be a typical example of an absolutely primitive race. The life of the Kubus is comparable to that of the anthropoid apes (g i b baD s), which inhabit the same forests; they appear to be at the lowest stage of e con 0 m i c development-the gathering stage - having not yet become hun tel's. Prof. Volz believes that they totally lack religious conceptions.
This article was originally published with the title "Spike Driving by Motor Truck" in Scientific American 105, 21, 454 (November 1911)