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Railway Torpedoes—Inert Replicas

The railway track and rail bed maintenance crews often do their work in locations where the track is a blind curve behind them or ahead of them. Railway torpedoes were a British invention in the mid-1800s designed as a warning device to the engineer in the locomotive engine that there was some hazard ahead, and to the work crew that a train would very soon be coming at speed around the curve—and they better get off the tracks quickly.

Railway torpedoes were called railway detonators in England and other European countries, and torpedoes in the United States and Canada. They are still used in France but have become obsolete in most other countries, having been replaced by cell phones and other electronic communication devices.

The torpedoes used in most of Europe and in North America were bright red, flattened thin lead tubes, wrapped in paper with a large DANGER EXPLOSIVE warning, printed in black. British torpedoes had a chevron (V V V V) imprint in white on a black background. Torpedoes in Belgium were round, truncated dome shaped.

The pyrotechnic mixture inside, as used in most countries was usually potassium chlorate, sulphur, a neutralizing agent to prevent acidity, and sand or grit, in an adhesive binder. It was all sealed by a red paper wrapper covering the lead tube. Two long, thin, soft lead strips projected from opposite sides of the tube. The torpedo was laid along the steel track rail, and the lead strips were bent down each side of the rail and folded under.

Some of the most recent torpedoes have been made of red plastic, with a bright yellow warning label.

These devices are still occasionally encountered by children, who play with them and strike them with rocks. This can lead to them losing fingers or being blinded by flying fragments.

Police are often called to dispose of old, deteriorated railway torpedoes, so inert training aids are essential to familiarize them with the appearance and hazards pertaining to these pyrotechnic/explosive devices.

Securesearch manufactures several inert torpedo replicas, accurately representing the different types that may be encountered. TRAIN SAFE!

Railway Torpedoes—Inert Replicas

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Inert Railway Torpedos

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