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RyPN Briefs September 15, 2009
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Book Review: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads
Volume 2 - Bridges

Written By: Douglas van Veelen

This volume is companion to Volume 1, previously reviewed here. Like Volume 1, it is self published and bound with a plastic comb between clear acetate covers. 203 pages, with many illustrations, diagrams, tables, etc. Building on college level computer programming in engineeering stress analysis in the late '70's early '80's, Doug has developed a program by which structural analysis of railway bridges can be calculated. A CD is included in the back cover, which will aid in computing the stresses in bridges or other large structures.

The book presupposes a working knowledge of advanced mathematics such as trigonometry. Calculus is not required, although derivations are required for the analytical work through algebra and trigonometry.

Confused? Me too......but for us hands-on guys, there is a rule of thumb that we can use with good, reliable results.

Doug organized his book progressively, such that terms and concepts are presented, then joined in application, which helps in comprehension a great deal. Once structural analysis topics such as stresses , reactions and failure modes are covered, examples of calculations from structures Doug built or engineered tie it all together in very practical ways.

Like the engineering he describes in Volume 1, everything in Volume 2 can be applied from Nn2 scale up to 12" to the foot with similar results.

This book seems more technical from my perspective than volume 1 which might have more to do with my experience than with his authorship. I'm less than comfortable with advanced math and truly lost in programming. I'm convinced that those with greater familiarity with those subjects will find it most helpful when designing a bridge, truss or crane. Meanwhile, I'm sticking to the rule of thumb.

Order from Doug's Railroad Shop, 1513 Thornhill Ct, Dunwoody, GA 30338-4226 or www.dougsrrshop.com.