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 Post subject: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 7:16 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:05 pm
Posts: 114
For those of you involved in ROW work, can someone point me to a comprehensive cost-benefit study or article that might have been completed on wood ties vs. plastic ties; spike vs. screws, etc for older jointed rail of various sizes? I've search but can't find one.

I am hoping that someone has done research on this subject.

Thanks.

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Jim Lundquist, Director of Museum Services
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum
Campo, CA (San Diego County)


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:59 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
Over the years, there have been several presentations at AREMA on the subject, and most of the Class 1 railroads have also done studies. However, few are very public.

The basics are:
[1] Screws work better than cut spikes on plastic/composite ties. Plates need to be securely fastened to not create plate cut.
[2] Plastic/composite ties work well in very wet locations where wooden ties would decompose faster than normal. This includes under grade crossings. They also handle certain chemical and product spills better on loading/unloading tracks.
[3] Plastic/composite ties are generally more expensive than timber ties, and tend to flex more. They also have a problem with splitting along seams and not holding well to the center steel core when used.
[4] Timber is easier to handle in most cases, especially with the ability to use normal cut spikes.
[5] Like concrete, plastic/composite have not been the answer to everything once promised.
[6] It generally gets down to what the local cost of ties are. Most large railroads tried a number of plastic/composite ties and have since moved away from them except for special use and locations.

The most public reports are probably through AREMA, but membership is probably required for most conference reports.

Bart


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:22 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:02 am
Posts: 5
We have had great success with steel ties. We have a horseshoe curve where in the past, brand new wood ties would only hold gauge for a year before they needed regaged. We install the steel ties, and haven't touched them in over 4 years.


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:10 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
I am also a fan of steel ties. The major issue with them is that most are manufactured for a specific rail base size, meaning changing rail sizes often means changing the ties also.

Steel holds gage better, is lower so adds clearance under bridges and tunnels, and can be bent back or easily recycled when damaged. Major issues include insulating for signals and the need for better ballast as the steel ties just crush softer ballast.

Steel ties can be mixed with wood to add gage strengthening. However, the mix of tamping needs between steel and wood can be an issue. Plastics/composites can also be mixed with wood, but there have been some reports of wood ties cracking due to the flexing of the plastics/composites. There is also the issue of fasteners wearing faster where there is a difference in toe strength.

Concrete ties don't mix well and crack and break quickly when mixed with other tie types.

Bart


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:03 pm 

Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 9:33 am
Posts: 93
We have had many plastic/composite ties put in the Air Force railroad I currently run. They used regular spikes with tie plates. After 6 years they look brand new, and several were placed in an area that previously had a bad problem with spikes loosening out of wood ties. We have had none do that, all spikes are as tight as the day they put them in. They are spaced out with wood in between. I haven't seen any wood tie degration near the plastic ties. We run about 600 cars a year at 30mph, jointed 115lb rail. Tamping is the same for them and the wood.

As for cost, the plastic ties cost about 2 to 2.2 times the cost of a wood tie. If you count the cost of tie installation, and the longevity of plastic ties, it becomes a no brainer. I am sold on them personally.

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Adam McDowell
Shaw Air Force Base Rail Operations
General Manager- Mechanical, Foxville and Northern Railroad


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:00 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:05 pm
Posts: 114
Thank you for this information.

Our railroad uses a natural DG ballast, light traffic, usually light rain, no freezing or snow. It sounds like steel wouldn't work due to the DG uses. Plastic ties at 2 time plus to purchase might make them out of financial reach, unless they would last 150 years or more.

What is the consensus of spikes vs screws?

Thanks.

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Jim Lundquist, Director of Museum Services
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum
Campo, CA (San Diego County)


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:14 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:05 pm
Posts: 663
Location: MA
I find nylon rope to be good as it doesn't leave any chafing or rope burns and you can get it in pink which adds to the.... Oh wait we are talking about railroad tracks.


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:06 am 

Joined: Sun May 12, 2013 2:46 pm
Posts: 144
Steel ties are a bad idea if used in a heavy traffic curve . That's what the Proviso Yard Roadmaster discovered several weeks after having his men install them in the Harbor Hill wye connecting the CNW/UP with the Indiana Harbor Belt Railway . He replaced every 5th wood tie with a steel one , thinking this would eliminate us haveing to go regauge the curve every 2 or 3 weeks like we always done . The wye had always needed attention to keep it in gauge because of rail wear, not cause of tie weakness. The whole wye was not only doubled spiked but also had adjustable gauge rods every 5th tie , that way we could unspike , tighten up the gauge rods , plug the spike holes and respike it back to gauge again while still under traffic . When the call on the radio came telling everyone to head on up to Harbor Hill for regauging , I went the other direction to avoid what I knew was coming . You Can't Adjust Gauge with Steel Ties! The wye was now Out OF Service for about 6 hours while we dragged 800' of welded rail up to the Hill to totally replace the outside rail just because of someones Bad Idea .


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:01 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:26 pm
Posts: 44
In regards to screws, I believe they were the cause of the oil train derailment in the Columbia River gorge. They broke off inside the ties and thus could not be easily discovered. I don't know if they were corroded or simply didn't have the tensile strength. Sometimes the old technology is hard to beat.

Tom


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2010 6:22 pm
Posts: 173
Bartman-TN wrote:
I am also a fan of steel ties. The major issue with them is that most are manufactured for a specific rail base size, meaning changing rail sizes often means changing the ties also.

Steel holds gage better, is lower so adds clearance under bridges and tunnels, and can be bent back or easily recycled when damaged. Major issues include insulating for signals and the need for better ballast as the steel ties just crush softer ballast.

Steel ties can be mixed with wood to add gage strengthening. However, the mix of tamping needs between steel and wood can be an issue. Plastics/composites can also be mixed with wood, but there have been some reports of wood ties cracking due to the flexing of the plastics/composites. There is also the issue of fasteners wearing faster where there is a difference in toe strength.

Concrete ties don't mix well and crack and break quickly when mixed with other tie types.

Bart


I believe the City of Austin (Texas) has plenty of experience dealing with a nightmare of (unnecessary) steel ties shorting out the signals on both crossings and block signals. I think it cost them close to $5,000,000 before all was said and done!

CD


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:46 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
If you buy the wrong type of steel ties, or don't know how to use them, you will have trouble. However, there are thousands of miles of railroads built with them with no problems. The key is experience. There are steel ties built with insulation in them for signals, or fastener systems that do the same thing. If you don't use them right, there will be problems. Incorrect ballast can also be a problem. Rail wear can be an issue unless you buy the correct types or fastenings that allow gage adjustment. However, like any piece of track, improperly installed or used materials will give you problems. Installed correctly by people who understand and know how to use them, materials will generally work well and last.

Bart


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 Post subject: Re: various ties and hold-downs
PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:42 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1047
Location: Youngstown, OH
The Ffffestiniog has installed plastic ties (I mean sleepers) on the Cob. I'm quite jealous of their track maintenance equipment!

https://youtu.be/NMvLyEuaPR8?t=12m12s

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Rick Rowlands
Steel Industry Preservationist, Narrow Gauge Railroader and ALCOhaulic


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