Cast Welding Rails, 1896

The Falk Manufacturing Co Produced 60,000 Cast Welded Joints in 1896

The Falk Manufacturing Company in St Louis produced 60,000 cast welded joints, as shown in the following publication: 


The Cast Welded Joint

Remarkable Progress of This Great Track Saver 100,000 Joints Already Down

60,000 Laid in 1896 — Rail Life Doubled.

The Street Railway Review, Vol.6, No 10, 15 October 1896, p. 643.[1]

When the Falk Manufacturing Company, of Milwaukee, started on its first contract for cast welding rail joints, at St. Louis, the ‘Review’ was not only the first to illustrate and describe the new invention, but was the first by many months to pronounce it a great success and the most important advance in track work in many years. That was in the fall of 1894, and subsequent events have more than proved the truth of our prophesy.


In spite of the extreme reluctance of managers to spend money the past two years, the record of the cast-weld is remarkable. This year (i.e. in 1896) 60,000 joints have been cast, which brings the total up to over 100,000.


The work in 1896 is divided as follows: 


  • At Minneapolis about 12,000 joints, part on old track, balance new. The Twin City road is cast welding all its new track as fast as laid, and old tracks will be welded next season.
  • On the Chicago City Railway 18,000 joints were cast of which two-thirds were on old track. The Cottage Grove cable line work is interesting. Part of the iron had been in constant use for 10 years, including the severe World's Fair service. It was decided to pull up the rails and buy new, when Superintendent Bowen concluded to try a few lengths with cast-weld. The result was so surprisingly satisfactory that the entire division of 9 miles was so jointed and the track, which is now as smooth as a floor, bids fair to last another decade.
  • In Washington 3,ooo joints on old track of 7-inch girder used on cable service of the Capital Traction Company for over 8 years.
  • In St. Louis 3,500 joints on very badly worn track of the Missouri R. R.; 2.500 on old track of the St. Louis & Suburban, and 2,000 on an exceedingly bad track of the Lindell, consisting of 52-pound rail on ties spaced to 4 feet. The track as now cast-welded is in excellent condition. 
  • In Brooklyn, 3,000 joints for the Brooklyn City & Newtown, on the DeKalb avenue line, 5-inch girder — the worst track the company had, and 5,000 for the Brooklyn Heights. 2,000 of which were on new 9-inch girder.
  • At Providence, the order called for 1,000 joints on the old Providence girder, but results were so good the order was increased to 6,000, and more will be laid next year.
  • As a result of this work, the Winchester Avenue Railway, of New Haven, has put in 3,000 joints and ordered 5,000 more.
  • At Memphis the work was begun in January on a small contract, but one machine is still there at work, and has put in to date 6,000 joints on old and new girder and T rails.
  • In Milwaukee. Manager Wyman made some very severe tests which resulted in 4,000 joints, half new and half old track. He is highly pleased with the work.
The work on old rail commands special attention. As every manager knows to his sorrow, in nine cases out of ten, rail that is pronounced ready to scrap is still good except at the joints. By the welding process its life is doubled and often without lifting the iron. The method is to raise the rail ends to a proper height, by jacks or otherwise, shim the butts up, and then cast weld them. The top of the joint is then ground down, leaving a smooth unbroken surface on a level with the rest of the rail.
During the year the question of conductivity of the cast joint was raised and severe tests made, especially in Milwaukee and St. Louis. The results showed conclusively the joint by reason of its increased area furnishes greater conductivity than the rail section itself.
One test was made at Milwaukee by the railway people, who took an old joint, which with the two short pieces of 58-pound Illinois Steel girder rail weighed altogether only 90 pounds. The joint was one of the first made, much inferior to the joint now cast, and had lain in a scrap heap exposed to the weather three years. This joint. 13 inches in length, was connected up one inch from each end of joint and the entire output of generator, 720 amperes, passed through it with a drop of only .05 volts.
The same length of a 61-strand 1,000,000 circular mil cable was then given a similar test and showed a drop of .035 volt. Another test of equal length of a joint and rail section, both taken from same rail in track, showed decidedly in favor of the conductivity of the joint over that of the rail.
The cast weld is already attracting attention abroad, and M. Abdank, the celebrated French engineer, has ordered a complete welding outfit, which, as soon as received, will be used in Lyons, France, where there are 210 miles, which will be cast-jointed. Several other large European roads are also negotiating for the system.
The executive staff of the Falk Company is a strong one, including Herman W. Falk. the Milwaukee millionaire as president; Otto H. Falk, first vice-president; A. Hoffman, the inventor, second vice-president, and Clement C. Smith, as general superintendent. The secretary, E. A. Wurster. also performs the duties of general manager, and to his executive ability and energy, is due to a large degree, the success which has attended the introduction of this radically new and valuable improvement.



  1. The Cast Welded Joint. Remarkable Progress of This Great Track Saver 100,000 Joints Already Down 60,000 Laid in 1896 — Rail Life Doubled.The Street Railway Review, Vol.6, No 10, 15 October 1896, p. 643