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Timber.

— It is, however, to the timber that this species owes its high reputation.


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In regions of low rainfall, and in the tropics generally, it is considered to be of very little value. For example, in the far west of New South Wales, it is considered to be useless for structural purposes. Its average height is 30 to 40 feet, and diameter 1 to 2 feet. Locally it is not considered of much use, except for firewood. But the limbs and branches make excellent charcoal. A charcoal-burner " prefers it to any other wood for the purpose, " while a local blacksmith pronounces the product " excellent. " Some specimens of this charcoal were sent to the Technological Museum, and it is well-burnt, clean, and in every respect a good article. Mr. Robert Lucas, in giving evidence before the Victorian Royal Commission on Vegetable Products, states that, in his estimation, this species yields the best charcoal in Victoria for blacksmiths' purposes.

Speaking of Western Australia, the late Dr. A. Morrison wrote to me: "It is singular that in the Murchison district and the North-west (within the tropics) E. rostrata is considered the poorest timber of those that grow there."

This simply bears out a point to which I have often drawn attention — that so much depends on the district from which you obtain a timber. Just as a certain species of tree may produce a valuable timber in one locality, and an inferior one in another, so conversely we must not be surprised if a timber that we think poorly of may be very highly esteemed somewhere else. A tree may have an optimum as regards its timber in one district and not in another. Consideration of this point may prevent hasty judgments.

In my "Useful Native Plants of Australia" (1889) I wrote as follows:—

This timber is highly valued for strength and durability, especially for piles and posts in damp ground; it is used also for ship-building, railway sleepers, bridges, wharves, and numerous other purposes. This timber is exceedingly hard when dry, and therefore most difficult to work; this limits its use for furniture.

A drawback to this valuable timber is its liability to shell off, which limits its use for flooring, but it is an excellent girder wood.

In the durability of its timber, perhaps, it has only a rival in E. marginata (Jarrah), of Western Australia, resisting Teredo, Chelura, and Termites. When properly seasoned it is well adapted. for heavy deck-framing, the beams and knees of vessels, and for planking above high-water mark. In Victoria it has been much used for railway sleepers, and various articles of furniture (Woolls), wheelwrights' work (especially felloes), engine buffers, &c. It should be steamed before it is worked for curving. The specific gravity ranges from .858 to 1.005, or from 53 1/2 to 62 1/2 lb. per cubic, foot. A ton of the dry wood has yielded as much as 4 lb. of pearlash, or 2 1/2 lb. of pure potash. (Mueller.) The air-dried wood of this species contained, according to one experiment, 4.38 per cent. of kino-tannin, and 16.62 per cent. of kino-red; the latter (allied to Phlobaphene) is soluble in alcohol, but not in water; the large percentage of these two substances in E. rostrata is only rivalled, as far as known, by that of the hardest kind of Jarrah (E. marginata) (Mueller). In Southern New South Wales it is invariably chosen for house blocks, and preferred for posts, &c., on account of its durability in damp ground. It is also used for slabs, rails, and wheelwrights' work.

A sample of this timber, sent from Victoria to the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, was tested by Mr. Allen Ransome, who reported: "The sample sleeper sent for trial, though a hard specimen, was readily adzed and bored, and a plank passed through the planing machine gave fair results."

Some Victorian specimens were examined for tensile strength by Mr. F. A. Campbell (Proc. R. S. Victoria, 1879). His results are 14,000 to 21,500, 16,200, and 15,700 lb. per square inch. "The last specimen was at a disadvantage, not being hung perfectly straight. They all broke with a long fracture."




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Later on I wrote:— "The characteristics of Red Gum are its red colour, its strength and durability, resistance to fungus diseases, white ants, teredo, &c. In common with many of its congeners, it is very hard to work up when dry. A drawback to this admittedly valuable timber is some tendency to shell off, which limits its use for such purposes as flooring and decking.

Its durability causes it to be largely used for posts and piles in damp ground. It is largely employed in Victoria for railway sleepers, for which purpose it is undoubtedly valuable, though inferior to ironbark. It is an excellent girder-wood. It is a good timber for wood-paving, though inferior to some others by reason of its tendency to warp and shrink during the process of seasoning."

It is an excellent wood for lasting in water.

Mr. J. Stead Parry says:—

Red gum is recognised as one of the best Australian hardwoods, being heavy, hard, and extremely durable, either above or under ground, or under water. The Government of Victoria use it very extensively in the construction of bridges, Piers, jetties, and weirs; and for railway sleepers and other purposes. It is also used in the deep quartz mines of Victoria, and in building steamers and barges.

Much of it has a handsome grain and takes a good polish; it has about the same specific gravity as English oak. Red gum is one of the best white-ant resistant woods in this district, where these insects are very destructive; and it is largely used for studs and joists and house blocks. Some millions of feet are now being used in Melbourne and suburbs for street paving blocks.

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