Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bailey Bridges - General

Photo of Merudu Bailey Bridge by Daniel Yiek (Sarikei Time Capsule)

Bailey Bridge

Malaysian Soldiers building a Bailey Bridge in Perak during a recent flood. Took them just a few hours to complete it.(Malay Mail)

I am going to have a great goal from now on ...or a personal photographic and blogging cyber-expedition - writing about as many Bailey bridges in Sarawak as possible. Today there are 366 Bailey Bridges in Sarawak. That's a worthy topic to write about.

The Bailey bridge is a portable pre-fabricated truss bridge, designed for use by military engineering units to bridge up to 60 m (200 ft) gaps. Requiring no special tools or heavy equipment for construction, the bridge elements are small enough to be carried in trucks. The bridge is so strong that it can carry tanks. Since the Second World War it has been considered a great example of military engineering.

Donald Bailey was a civil servant in the British War Office who tinkered with model bridges as a hobby. Still unimpressed his chiefs, who saw some merit in the design and had construction started at a slow rate. The bridge was taken into service by the Corps of Royal Engineers and first used in Italy in 1943. A number of bridges were available by 1944 for D-Day, when production was ramped up. The US also licensed the design and started rapid construction for their own use. Bailey was later knighted for his invention, which continues to be widely produced and used today.

The basic bridge consists of three main parts. The "floor" of the bridge consists of a number of 19 ft (5.8 m) wide transoms that run across the bridge, with 10 ft long stringers running between them on the bottom, forming a square. The bridge's strength is provided by the panels on the sides, which are 10 ft (3 m) long cross-braced rectangles. These are placed standing upright above the stringers, and clamps run from the stringers to the panels to hold them together. Ribands are placed on top of the completed structural frame, and wood planking is placed on top of the ribands to provide a roadbed. Later in the war, these wooden panels were replaced by steel, which was more resistant to the damage caused by tank treads.

Each unit constructed in this fashion creates a single 10 ft (3 m) long section of bridge, with a 12 ft (4 m) wide roadbed. After one section is complete it is typically pushed forward over rollers on the bridgehead, and another section built behind it. The two are then connected together with pins pounded into holes in the corners of the panels.

For added strength several panels (and transoms) can be bolted on either side of the bridge, up to three. Another solution is to stack the panels vertically. With three panels across and two high, the Bailey Bridge can support tanks over a 200 ft (60 m) span.

A useful feature of the Bailey bridge is its ability to be "launched" from one side of a gap. In this system the frontmost portion of the bridge is angled up with wedges into a launching nose and most of the bridge is left without the roadbed and ribands. The bridge is placed on rollers and simply pushed across the gap, using manpower or a truck or tracked vehicle, at which point the roller is removed (with the help of jacks) and the ribands and roadbed installed, along with any additional panels and transoms that might be needed.

Sources : Wikipedia®

I would be most grateful if you could send me photos of your favourite Bailey Bridge i.e. if you could spare the time via In this way we could all together pay tribute to our JKR or PWD for their endeavours in the past two generations.

5 memories:

Daniel Yiek said...

Never knew that such bridges have a name "Bailey"!

Keep up the good work!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

For me the term "Bailey Bridges" has always been floating around in Sibu since I was small. May be it was because my father was very specific when he explained things to us kids. I still remember how much we as kids laughed when he told us not to "slurp" our soup....from that time onwards we paid much attention to verbs....( Foochow and English)
Knowledge is for sharing.

bliss said...

Ooooo. my family and I never think of bridges like you do!! This is really interesting for Sarawak. But not many of us appreciate all those bridges enough I think!!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Thanks for dropping by. I have always been fascinated by bridges so it is even more fascinating to write about them now especially those with good history behind them.
Bridges also have very significant literary references and humane elements.

Patita said...

It is the first time I heard about this kind of bridge. I live close to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and the bridge between Puerto Vallarta and Bahia de Banderas (where we live) collapsed. President Calderon is sending a Bailey Bridge to help to connect both towns since the bridge is the only way to go to or come from Puerto Vallarta. Tons of workers, tourists, and people in general couldn't make it to Bahia de Banderas nor Puerto Vallarta today. I can wait to see that bridge!!!


web statistics