Find a date on railroad tie plates?

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Find a date on railroad tie plates?

Postby NYCUticaSyracuse81 » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:31 pm

Is there a way to date RR tie plates? I found two different types of plates while hiking the West Shore this week. The plates are smaller in size than those that are used by operational railroads today. On the rail side, the plates have only a single vertical ridge, not two. Notice that the surface on one of the plates is flat, while the other has three horizontal ridges. The latter also has a number of ridges on the underside, while the flat surface plate only has two on the each side of the bottom. This is the first that I've seen a tie plate with multiple ridges, which leads me to believe that it may be very old. Is it possible that it dates to the construction of the West Shore?

Thanks, NYC81
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W.S. Tie Plate 2.jpg
W.S Tie Plate 1.jpg
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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby RussNelson » Sat Oct 25, 2014 9:26 am

I've seen tie plates with ridges like that underneath rail that dates from the late 1880's. Have never seen them underneath newer rail. I think the "ridges" idea was not a good one, because they seem to cut deeply into the tie. I speculate that the ridges are there to hold the tie plate in position.
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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby boblenon » Sat Oct 25, 2014 9:55 am

That second one is defiantly NYC Dudley, based on the shaping of the top-side shoulder. Can't tell/know if that's for 127lbs or 80 or some such. If it was the main probably 127; but I'm not sure if the 127 had similar hardware; and I know the 80lb looks like that (If the hole on the shoulder is off-set its for a tie at a joint-bar). Could figure out based on the distance between the holes, which would tell you the width of the base of the rail. The ridges, or cleats, on the bottom were to get "pounded" into the tie to hold the plate to it; reducing the side-to-side motion that the spikes would otherwise be exposed to. The problem being that you were "damaging" the tie, and possibly shortening it's life; and a pain to get set by hand.

The double-shoulder and canting on more modern tie plates is a function of the evolution of rail, speed and weight.
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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby NYCUticaSyracuse81 » Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:31 am

boblenon wrote:That second one is defiantly NYC Dudley, based on the shaping of the top-side shoulder. Can't tell/know if that's for 127lbs or 80 or some such. If it was the main probably 127; but I'm not sure if the 127 had similar hardware; and I know the 80lb looks like that (If the hole on the shoulder is off-set its for a tie at a joint-bar). Could figure out based on the distance between the holes, which would tell you the width of the base of the rail. The ridges, or cleats, on the bottom were to get "pounded" into the tie to hold the plate to it; reducing the side-to-side motion that the spikes would otherwise be exposed to. The problem being that you were "damaging" the tie, and possibly shortening it's life; and a pain to get set by hand.

The double-shoulder and canting on more modern tie plates is a function of the evolution of rail, speed and weight.



Cool! Thanks for the info guys. Here's a better look at the plate with the ridges after it had been cleaned. The other two items are insulating blocks from the Oneida Railway Company's Third Rail Interurban. One is pre-patent, the other is patented Dec. 1908
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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby RussNelson » Sat Oct 25, 2014 1:08 pm

Yeah, John says that there have been, and remain, countless insulating blocks remaining from the Third Rail System. They were worthless to the scrappers, so they dropped them in place. Early on they had a shortage of ceramic insulators, so they made some out of wood. And ... John HAS ONE!! It's pretty awesome. It's in good enough shape that you can see how it was cut to approximate the shape of the ceramic.
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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby MACTRAXX » Sat Oct 25, 2014 2:57 pm

Everyone: Yes-RR Tie Plates can sometime be dated - and the manufacturer identified...

Those third rail insulators and plates look very interesting...

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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby NYCUticaSyracuse81 » Sat Oct 25, 2014 4:28 pm

RussNelson wrote:Yeah, John says that there have been, and remain, countless insulating blocks remaining from the Third Rail System. They were worthless to the scrappers, so they dropped them in place. Early on they had a shortage of ceramic insulators, so they made some out of wood. And ... John HAS ONE!! It's pretty awesome. It's in good enough shape that you can see how it was cut to approximate the shape of the ceramic.



In my opinion, Taibi's Oneida Railway Company book is one of, if not his best. I've searched for wood insulating blocks, but it seems like they were more of an improvision, rather than something that was produced in place of the ceramic insulators. It is doubtful that I will ever find one. I've hiked and searched a good deal of the W.S. between Utica & Syracuse, and haven't found much other than a few tie plates, one railroad spike, a few cobalt blue glass telegraph insulators, and about a dozen or more block insulators that were in tact. Taibi states, that the one pictured in the book is the only one that has ever been found. What I'd really like to find are the smaller insulating blocks. These were used at the locations where the tracks approached grade crossings, and the third rail tapered so the shoe could catch the rail after crossing roads on the other side. I'm sure there are still a lot of remains to be found, but it's difficult to search in many places due to heavy overgrowth, and leaf coverage. I did manage to find 4 rails, yes rails, while hiking a small section in Oneida the other day.
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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby NYCUticaSyracuse81 » Sat Oct 25, 2014 4:30 pm

MACTRAXX wrote:Everyone: Yes-RR Tie Plates can sometime be dated - and the manufacturer identified...

Those third rail insulators and plates look very interesting...

MACTRAXX


Thanks! So, is there a way for me to determine the date of this particular tie plate?
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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby BR&P » Sun Oct 26, 2014 5:38 pm

I doubt you could date that accurately, the plates were made over a fairly long time but there was just no need to date them. The "vertical ridge" on the top is known as a shoulder, and plates are known as either single- or double-shoulder. The distance from the shoulder of OP's plate to the inside of the closest spike hole could help determine what size rail it was made for, as progressively heavier rail usually had a wider base.

PS - being an admitted wise-guy, it took a lot for me not to answer the question asked in the title with something like "I never tried, I prefer women myself" :wink:
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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby tree68 » Sun Oct 26, 2014 8:42 pm

BR&P wrote:PS - being an admitted wise-guy, it took a lot for me not to answer the question asked in the title with something like "I never tried, I prefer women myself" :wink:

That's all right. I was going to say something like "you can, but where would you take them..."

I think the best you will be able to do with the dates will be a general range based on when that type may have been manufactured and when they were likely installed on that railroad. Even if a date was somehow placed on them (stamping or cast in), after this amount of time, it is probably undecipherable (is that a word?).
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Re: Is It Possible To Date RR Tie Plates?

Postby scharnhorst » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:55 pm

tree68 wrote:
BR&P wrote:PS - being an admitted wise-guy, it took a lot for me not to answer the question asked in the title with something like "I never tried, I prefer women myself" :wink:

That's all right. I was going to say something like "you can, but where would you take them..."

I think the best you will be able to do with the dates will be a general range based on when that type may have been manufactured and when they were likely installed on that railroad. Even if a date was somehow placed on them (stamping or cast in), after this amount of time, it is probably undecipherable (is that a word?).


I wonder if a metallurgy carbon test could be done in a Lab they could or might give an approx. date of when it was cast and metal alloys used? anyone one in foundry lab could do the test.
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Re: Find a date on railroad tie plates?

Postby SST » Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:57 am

Here is an interesting plate. Never seen one like this before. I found it along the Buffalo and Cohocton ROW.

Image
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Re: Find a date on railroad tie plates?

Postby cjvrr » Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:17 pm

That tie plate is for use in a switch where the tie plates on the diverging rail would be too close together to be separated. So they would use one large plate for both rails.
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Re: Find a date on railroad tie plates?

Postby Allen Hazen » Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:47 pm

Do any old cross-ties still have date nails in them, r have they all been pulled by collectors? The date of the tie would give SOME evidence as to the epoch of the tie plate.
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Re: Find a date on railroad tie plates?

Postby scharnhorst » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:01 pm

Allen Hazen wrote:Do any old cross-ties still have date nails in them, r have they all been pulled by collectors? The date of the tie would give SOME evidence as to the epoch of the tie plate.


They don't use Date Nails anymore. But i'll step out on a limb to say that it is possible to still find Date nails on abandoned ROWs and or in old Ties. I have pulled date nails out of old ties on the old Lehigh Valley ROW that went from Auburn, NY down to Moravia, NY dating back to 1917. and I have also pulled date nails on some of the old NYNH&H ROW's in Quinnabog, CT / MA with the dates ranging from 1931-1937. But there is also a stumble here some Railroads also used Date Nails with Letters on them the letter would I.D. what the tie was made of for example A: for Ash, O: for Oak and so on.

I would not trust the dates on a Date nail as a good leader as some Railroads reuse the ties if there still in good enough shape.
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