Tie Life?

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Tie Life?

Postby KSmitty » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:49 pm

Was reading an old topic in the FEC forum, that concrete ties from 1966 were still in good condition on the FEC main in 2010. Which suggests with easy weather, proper maintenance and a good concrete mix can last nearly 50 years. Of course there are plenty of examples of concrete ties failing much sooner than that, especially in the Northeast where it seems numerous commuter railroads have had their share of trouble getting good ties.

Anyway, out of curiosity, whats the average lifespan of a treated wooden tie?

Further, are there advantages, besides lifespan, that make concrete more appealing?
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Re: Tie Life?

Postby Watchman318 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:26 pm

KSmitty wrote:Anyway, out of curiosity, whats the average lifespan of a treated wooden tie?
"What is the annual replacement rate of crossties in the United States for the last ten years?
2.5-3.0%. This translates to an average life in track of between 33 and 50 years." (<http://www.rta.org/faqs-main>)

I've seen some with date nails that indicated they had been around awhile, but looked to be in pretty good shape, at least to my non-expert eyes. I've seen some others that made me ask if there should be an "18" in front of the "64" or whatever was on the nail. :wink:
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Re: Tie Life?

Postby Passenger » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:46 am

According to that website a sizable fraction of the installations are "second hand wood ties".

How does that work?

Thank you.
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Re: Tie Life?

Postby BR&P » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:03 am

Relay ties are ones which have previously been used. Sometimes they are removed due to track removal or relocation. Or maybe a given section of track is being converted to concrete ties. The usable wood ties are re-installed where needed, often on branch lines or sidings. Also, a Class I railroad may remove wood ties from a busy mainline which they don't want but to a shortline they may be just fine.

The biggest factor in wood tie life is drainage. Properly drained track will have tie lifespans far longer than track which sits in mud or crud.
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Re: Tie Life?

Postby KSmitty » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:52 pm

Thanks for the information guys.

To follow up on what BR&P said, relay ties are also often "plugged" using an oak plug insert thats fed into the hole from the first spike. This lets them respike and get a good hold.
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Re: Tie Life?

Postby BR&P » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:19 pm

KSmitty wrote:To follow up on what BR&P said, relay ties are also often "plugged" using an oak plug insert thats fed into the hole from the first spike. This lets them respike and get a good hold.


Yup. And another strategy often used is to just turn them over. Granted, the unplugged holes DO offer a path for moisture and insects, but if you're going to be putting in 2,000 relay ties, and each one has 4, 6 or more spike holes, that's a LOT of tie plugs and time and labor to pound them all in.
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Re: Tie Life?

Postby JWilson » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:13 pm

Reusing old ties in place can be much cheaper than replacing them with new ties, but they will have a much shorter useful life than a new tie would have had. Either way the old tie has to be unspiked, removed, a tie (either new or old) inserted, spiked and tamped. If the old tie is reused, a few cents and seconds are spent installing plugs but otherwise the entire cost of a new tie, its storage and handling (i.e. gondola/truck to materials yard, yard to tie cart) and the cost of the money tied up while it sits waiting to be used is saved. Of course, it's also not cheap to have the Tie & Timber Gang come back sooner than would have been necessary had they installed new ties in the first place.
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