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 Post subject: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2019 5:34 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
Posts: 288
Going past a RR maintenance yard today and spied a large pile of used cement ties. Most looked OK to my eye. My mind flooded with all sorts of dumb questions.
I thought these things lasted forever, no?
Apparently the railroad can't just dump them on the grade like wood ties.
Looked online and indeed did find re-sellers letting them go for as little as 50 cents a shot.
Are they reusable by museums?
And if so would you even want to?


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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2019 5:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
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Location: Southern California
I would think that reuse in a railroad environment would depend on the weight(s) of the rail that the tie was designed to accept.

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Brian Norden


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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2019 7:11 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
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Location: New Franklin, OH
Brian Norden wrote:
I would think that reuse in a railroad environment would depend on the weight(s) of the rail that the tie was designed to accept.

I checked into concrete ties on a lark. I think the smallest rail they’re made for is 115#/5.5” base. At 600 lbs. apiece, they’d be pretty tough for most of us to handle. For a new track, I’d guess they’d work well. As individual tie replacements, I think they’d be quite the PITA to deal with. You have to wonder why there’s a pile of used ones....

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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2019 8:38 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
The mounts, plates, or attachment points for the rail are built into these ties. If they start to fail or wear out, the tie is worthless, even if the body of the tie is still solid.

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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2019 8:57 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 532
Used concrete ties are good for parking lot dividers, retaining walls, and ATV traps.


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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2019 10:06 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2490
Location: Northern Illinois
I always thought used concrete ties would be useful for track that was to be buried in pavement; either display or shop building floors or street trackage. For this use rail attachment could be marginal and incorrect rail base width could be remedied by shimming; after the pavement is in place it will hold the gauge. The advantage is never having to tear up the floor because the ties rotted out.

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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:48 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 742
Location: Warren, PA
On concrete-embedded track, the material of choice is a steel tie, sometimes on a wider center, surrounded by rebar. Sometimes cheaper than wood.

I've had several projects where we've looked at concrete ties, and two things immediately surface - cost, and the fact that they are much 'stiffer' than a wood tie, so you can't use a conventional mainline tie interspersed with wood particularly on lighter rail like 90. There is a smaller, lighter, industrial version that is 'supposed' to work without causing rail damage when interspersed with wood, but getting field test results is hard.

Amtrak had a huge order in 2008 that was found to be faulty on the concrete, and it's hard to say where those ended up, so I'd consider this deal right up there with a cheap used car from Louisiana or Houston after hurricane season. Unless you can track history (and most concrete ties do actually have a lot number) and confirm the rail dimension it was designed for then stay away.


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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:27 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:58 am
Posts: 64
Randy Gustafson wrote:
Amtrak had a huge order in 2008 that was found to be faulty on the concrete, and it's hard to say where those ended up, so I'd consider this deal right up there with a cheap used car from Louisiana or Houston after hurricane season. Unless you can track history (and most concrete ties do actually have a lot number) and confirm the rail dimension it was designed for then stay away.



There were more years of defective concrete ties than just 2008, and more railroads than Amtrak getting them. Amtrak had and has a concrete tie crushing operation in their Bear Delaware facility which sends the components for recycling. You can see the area in Google satellite pictures.

BTW, leaving wood ties to rot on the right of way can lead to creosote environmental enforcement issues, not to mention fire events.

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:48 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:50 pm
Posts: 474
Concrete ties that have "failed" in use on transit or public passenger agencies would be probably just fine for a museum wanting to build cheap display track. Agreed that there is no good way to use them for tie replacement purposes in wood tie track.

Most of the concrete tie failures on Amtrak and MBTA had to do with microfracturing of the concrete after the ties had been in service. For hauling the public at high speeds? Not good. For museum trackage, just right, if you can get your hands on them.

Rob Gardner


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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 2:19 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 968
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Used cement ties are useful for plinth or storage purposes. Old Pueblo Trolley has some panel track that our Tucson, Cornelia and Gila Bend boxcar and the reefers that we use for storage sit on. Those were donated by Union Pacific for that exact purpose.

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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:50 pm 

Joined: Sun May 12, 2013 2:46 pm
Posts: 217
Hey Buzz,

My UP Engineering Field Handbook states minimum depth of ballast below bottom of concrete ties is 12" . Minimum width of ballast shoulder is 18". Fouled ballast must not be pulled back into the track bed .Any poor drainage must be remedied by French drains, trench drains or lateral pipes to allow trapped water to exit the track bed . What this is saying is concrete ties can't tolerate water and dirt/mud. It destroys the pads between the rail and plate/chairs with it's abrasiveness . The tie will start to pump up and down , breaking the chairs out of the concrete , splitting the tie crosswise , lengthwise or both . We are talking about millions of tons per year of traffic. I've seen were 2 concrete ties in 70 MPH territory ( Sterling Illinois to be exact) were starting to show cracks around the chairs on the same side . 14 hours later in the same spot ,8 concrete ties all on the same end were destroyed . I was going about 18 MPH over that location when my locomotive crane violently swayed . The train ahead of me had been traveling at 50 MPH and said nothing about it. The track inspector right behind me took the track out of service. This became a typical event on main track #1 of UP's ex-CNW Geneva Sub within a year of concrete tie installation. Drainage and fouled ballast was not properly addressed in all locations leading to continuing failures today. Wood ties can take a lot of pounding and sharp heavy shocks , concrete ties can't. When 1 or 2 concrete ties fail , their neighbors rapidly follow suit. It's like a zipper. As wood ties deteriorate , the track speed is reduced proportionately over time i.e. days, weeks , months, etc. When concrete ties deteriorate , it's only a matter of hours from acceptable 70 MPH track to Out Of Service . Jointed track will also damage concrete ties.
I've never reinstalled a used concrete tie in my career nor do I know anyone that has .
Some narrow gauge heritage lines in England have made concrete ties themselves. I don't know how they are faring though.


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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:06 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 968
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Dennis Storzek wrote:
I always thought used concrete ties would be useful for track that was to be buried in pavement; either display or shop building floors or street trackage. For this use rail attachment could be marginal and incorrect rail base width could be remedied by shimming; after the pavement is in place it will hold the gauge. The advantage is never having to tear up the floor because the ties rotted out.


Rail that is laid in the street doesn't require a tie. When the track is laid, the rail is set on blocks and set for elevation. The only thing that maintains the gauge is a tie rod, using nuts and bolts. Once the concrete sets, it will hold the gauge. Steel members may be required where special trackwork is involved-primarily switches.

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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:09 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1726
Location: Southern California
Alan Walker wrote:
Rail that is laid in the street doesn't require a tie. When the track is laid, the rail is set on blocks and set for elevation. The only thing that maintains the gauge is a tie rod, using nuts and bolts. Once the concrete sets, it will hold the gauge. Steel members may be required where special trackwork is involved-primarily switches.
That construction method has been used since sometime in the 1920s; but not all street railways at that time used it. However, it is used for at least some of today's light rail installations.

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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:24 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2490
Location: Northern Illinois
Alan Walker wrote:

Rail that is laid in the street doesn't require a tie. When the track is laid, the rail is set on blocks and set for elevation. The only thing that maintains the gauge is a tie rod, using nuts and bolts. Once the concrete sets, it will hold the gauge. Steel members may be required where special trackwork is involved-primarily switches.


Very true, but two comments:

Using a concrete tie gives you the blocks and tie rods all in one assembly. If the ties can be had cheap or for free, what's not to like? If the pavement is going to pour under the rail and be the structural support for the rail, you may only need a tie every five or ten feet.

The above construction is excellent for a street, or a shop floor with integral jacking pads, but it's going to use a LOT of concrete, since it's going to need to be at least 12" or 15" thick. The typical railway museum is going to blanch at the cost, and in reality, for a finished floor for a display hall, it is overkill. A 6" floor is only going to be an inch below the tops of the ties, assuming 80# rail. Building conventional track construction with concrete ties means never having the rail punch through the floor because the ties are failing.

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 Post subject: Re: Used Cement Ties?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2019 7:13 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:57 pm
Posts: 78
I have experience of using second hand concrete ties/sleepers in England; quite a lot of heritage railways now use them if they have gone over to flatbottom rail. The second hand quality is usually quite good and they seem to last indefinitely. The most common type is the F27 pre-stressed sleeper which weighs around 1/4 ton (perhaps a bit more) and uses pandrol e shaped clips; the critical thing is that the central bar on the e slots into a lug cast into the sleeper; if that is ok and the sleeper isn't cracked then it won't matter if it is a bit chipped at the edges. Once upon a time they were often given away, alas those days are generally gone, more like around £15 plus transport now.

The operating spec will be a line speed up to 25 mph and no more, axle load usually up to about 16-20 tons depending on the line concerned.

Occasionally in industrial private sidings we used to come across Ministry of Defence pattern mild steel reinforced sleepers made in WWII when there was a shortage of timber. Not really a good idea, they break their backs if centrebound, but even when cracked they will hold gauge in a siding.

Make sure you understand the track system thoroughly and tool up with whatever special tackle is required, they are an absolute pain to shift manually; to move an F27 requires 8 men with proper concrete sleeper tongs. The various clips and pads will add quite a cost to the sleepers themselves if you have not got them.

We made a "spider" - a lifting beam with eight chain legs dangling down in four pairs each about 2'7" apart and an e clip at the end of each one, that slots through the lug and so the frame lifts four sleepers and sets them down at the right spacing for British track. We also got hold of "panlifters", which were a godsend, a sort of L shaped crowbar which slots in the lug and bears on the foot of the rail to give the leverage to pull the rail up tight so that one of the clips will go in and hold the rail while you put the other one in, either with a big hammer or more properly with a hook on a long bar called a panpuller.

If you tried to lift the sleeper with a plain crowbar the weight would probably just force the bar down into loose ballast.

I know of at least one NG line which uses properly engineered NG concrete sleepers, these are Royal Navy surplus from 2' 6" ammunition depot railways.


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