Steel / Timber sandwich Buffer Beams

Discussion in 'Talk' started by Osgood, 14 November 2018.

  1. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    In the world of 12" to the foot, could anyone recommend a suitable timber for use as a packer between steel buffer beams?
    It should impart some cushioning effect so perhaps not too hard, but needs to be durable.
    What remains of the original appears to be fairly soft.
    The steel plates are 10" deep and the timber 5" in thickness.


    Last edited: 14 November 2018
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  2. 3 LINK

    3 LINK Western Thunderer

    Maybe a second hand good quality sleeper could be used? Just a thought..

    adrian likes this.
  3. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

    From an old chippy's point of view good old oak would be ideal, it will last for ever..........longer than us at any rate !

  4. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    Mmm, I think I’d be scouring the architectural reclaim yards for a suitable chunk of something aged and tough. I’d be thinking oak, but maybe too hard. What about pitch-pine? It doesn’t want to be crushable.

    Sleepers tend to be coated in horrible tarry stuff, full of nails, and maybe have shakes, so probably not my first thought given that whatever it is will need to be sawn / drilled / bored to suit.

    Conjecture is free. Hope it’s helpful
  5. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    Foreign sleepers are much tougher than our own sleepers but I have discounted them through need to machine to size with gloop and embedded ballast bits.

    Wondered about pitch pine - a friend cut up some huge ancient pitch pine harbour wall baulks (around 18" square) for floor boards for a customer - the smell was divine!! Flippin' expensive wood though - job to find in this size.

    Oak would be fine and not too costly but the bolts through each beam would need protection. On the other hand they would see me out I guess....
    Also I can't really see any timber needing to do much in the way of cushioning - it won't be banging coal wagons around at high speed!
    I think I'd be more concerned about softwood rotting up before the warranty expires.
    Perhaps the red wood they make truck floors with - Keruing? Whilst not cheap it is really tough.

    Just trying to think what they might have used back in 1934.....

  6. Overseer

    Overseer Western Thunderer

    Oak is the most likely to have been used and is probably the best option. Make sure it, and any steel in contact with it, are well primed and painted before assembly. Jarrah would also be good but may only be available as secondhand sleepers. I would avoid softwood in this situation as dry rot is likely. For the Fowler the timber probably doesn't need to be in a single piece the full length of the buffer beam.
  7. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    Thanks Fraser. Yes the tannin is wicked when in contact with steel.
  8. Ian@StEnochs

    Ian@StEnochs Western Thunderer


    I have just made a pair of wooden buffer beams for the loco I am building just now, a James Stirling 2-4-0 of 1868. The information I have is that the wood used on the original was Oak flitched on both sides with wrought iron plates, 1/4” thick, secured with coach bolts. Given the date of construction it was probably home grown but nowadays American oak is more easily sourced.

    For the miniature I used Boxwood salvaged from a broken carpenters rule with nickel silver for the flitch plates.

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  9. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

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  10. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    Thanks guys. Looks like oak it is then. Tomorrow takes me on a seasoned oak hunt!
  11. Peter Cross

    Peter Cross Western Thunderer

    Where about a in the country are you. When used to use a place near Honiton. They were very good to deal with.
  12. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

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  13. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    Peter - up a little and about as far over as you can get!

    Thanks Colin - but there's something special about timber that you know has been dragged out by a Matador :thumbs: . But they are great value and quality - especially for treated structural softwood (beat the big builders merchants).

    I was going for some redwood in two planks glued together until I saw this (well, and the quote) - I will not condone truck abuse

    Redwood truck abuse.png

    The boys at my local yard reckon they have some reasonably well seasoned oak so I'm taking a chance it won't shrink too much smiley sweat.gif
    Last edited: 15 November 2018
  14. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

    I'd like to see his technique for negotiating roundabouts ! :D
  15. Dan Randall

    Dan Randall Western Thunderer

    Truck driver - "Is there a problem Officer?"

    Policeman - "Can I see your Log Book please Sir?"


    Last edited: 15 November 2018
  16. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

    ......and of coarse he'll 'ave been stopped on the main trunk route.
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  17. GrahamMc

    GrahamMc Active Member

    It might be worth talking to your suppliers about larch. It could be a lot less expensive and it can be almost as hard as oak. Here's a quote from Wikipedia.
    'Larch wood is valued for its tough, waterproof and durable qualities. Top quality knot-free timber is in great demand for building yachts and other small boats, for exterior cladding of buildings, and interior paneling.'
    Osgood likes this.
  18. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    Well as it happens Graham, they did mention larch as being a cheaper option. But I didn't pick up on it - more through lack of knowledge.
    They're going to be having a rummage around for something well seasoned (not easy above 4" thick) so I'll talk to them about larch.

  19. fenman

    fenman Active Member

    Must be balsa wood on the lorry.
    Osgood likes this.
  20. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    Well the oak turned out to be not seasoned well enough when they cut into it - same with the larch :rolleyes:
    So ended up using 2 thinner planks of sapele for each beam that has proved quite stable - kind of club sandwich buffer beam construction?

    Anyway, its all done now banana.gif and soon to have some trial runs:

    News from MSLR - Mid-Suffolk Light Railway Museum

    P.S. If all goes well the Fowler can be seen working at the Middy's Diesel Day on Sun 30th June.
    Last edited: 2 June 2019
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