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Illustration of a Jim crow from A Textbook on Civil Engineering — International Correspondence Schools published in 1899 by the Colliery Engineer Company.

A jim crow is a tool for bending rails, consisting of a U-shaped or V-shaped armature with a hefty screw rod in its axis. Deluxe models are outfitted with rollers for continuous bending.[1][failed verification] Terry Pratchett uses this term in his novel Raising Steam.[2]


Railway rails are quite flexible and bend easily to radii of 400m or more. The jim crow is needed to bend rails to tighter radii, especially near the ends.


  1. ^ "KALGOORLIE-PORT AUGUSTA RAILWAY". The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950). Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 5 January 1916. p. 4 Edition: THIRD EDITION. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  2. ^ Pratchett, Terry (7 November 2013). Raising Steam. Doubleday. pp. 345, 348. ISBN 978-0-85752-227-6. Retrieved 14 June 2016.

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