Rail Cutter?

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Rail Cutter?
Posted by locoi1sa on Monday, June 21, 2010 7:41 PM

 Hi guys.

 Would this hammer really be used as a rail cutter? You sure wouldn't get a clean cut!

http://prr.railfan.net/standards/standards.cgi?plan=77270-C

  What exactly was this used for? I just can't see cutting rail to length with something like this.

     Pete

 I pray every day I break even, Cause I can really use the money!

 I started with nothing and still have most of it left!

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Posted by edblysard on Monday, June 21, 2010 8:41 PM

Yes, it is a rail cutter, used to rough cut rail to length.

Keep in mind that back in the day there were no rail saws like we have today.

Rail was rough cut to length in the field and the rough cut end dressed with files.

Imagine having to bore joint bar holes by hand, as well as rough cut rail to length by hand, section crews earned every dime they made.

It was used by itself, swung like a spike awl, or placed where the cut was wanted, and then struck on the blunt end with a sledge.

23 17 46 11

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, June 21, 2010 11:34 PM

Thank you Mr. Swamp Snowman...

Now you start to get the picture of why railroaders get VERY concerned about tiny nicks in the rail, hate anything with cat-tracks and flip out over lowboy semi trucks getting hung up at crossings. 

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 9:01 AM

Works pretty much on the same principle as a glass cutter - 'score' the head of the rail with the cutter to cause a 'stress concentration' there to start the break/ cut, and maybe the web and the base, too, to control the break line there as well.  Prop the rail at the cut line over something solid to serve as a fulcrum, and whack the 'free end' with a heavy hammer, and you should get a pretty clean cut . . . Whistling  They probably worked pretty well back in the day of comparatively brittle and light 60 to 85 and maybe 100 lb. rails - note that the linked plan is dated May 1920, last revised Jan. 1931 - but I sure wouldn't want to try to cut/ break one of today's tough and tempered 141-RE rails with one !

Where I used to work there was usually 1 or 2 around in each tool truck and trailer, but I don't believe I ever saw one used.  We had enough rail saws - first the gas-engine powered reciprocating hacksaw type, then the gas-powered abrasive wheel type - that there was no need to get the old rail cutters out.  Especially since each crew also had a 'hot saw' with them - the oxygen-acetylene cutting torch outfit.  (I know, I know - those are not to be used on main line rails, and often not on industrial tracks either - but sometimes an expedient was needed in an 'emergency' situation to patch the tracks together after a derailment, or pending more permanent repairs, etc.  Also, such things as the middle 'hold-down' rails under the Hayes bumpers,and the last rail of a track - how those were cut to length really didn't matter, since they would never carry a wheel load.)

I just happen to now be working on a couple of projects with those guys.  If I remember it, I'll ask them to bring one out someday, and when we have a 'down' moment of some kind we'll see if we can still get it to 'work' - or not . . . Smile,Wink, & Grin

- Paul North. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 11:26 AM

locoi1sa

 Hi guys.

 Would this hammer really be used as a rail cutter? You sure wouldn't get a clean cut!

http://prr.railfan.net/standards/standards.cgi?plan=77270-C

  What exactly was this used for? I just can't see cutting rail to length with something like this.

     Pete

What I found interesting were the specifications written on the right hand side of the drawing.

         

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Posted by THE.RR on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 1:28 PM

locoi1sa

 Hi guys.

 Would this hammer really be used as a rail cutter? You sure wouldn't get a clean cut!

http://prr.railfan.net/standards/standards.cgi?plan=77270-C

  What exactly was this used for? I just can't see cutting rail to length with something like this.

     Pete

That's back when men were strong, labor was cheap, and the 12 hour day was standard.

Phil

Timber Head Eastern Railroad "THE Railroad Through the Sierras"

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 2:12 PM

Also known as a 'rail chisel'.   

BaltACD
  What I found interesting were the specifications written on the right hand side of the drawing. 

Glad you mentioned that - I forgot to.  Yes - I especially liked these:

2.  Bought them in lots of 500 at a time !  Who else but the Pennsy could use so many ?

8. 'Redressing' - very detailed specifications/ description for heating, reworking, and annealing/ tempering, etc. 

9.  Manufacturer agrees to replace any that fail -for free, whether or not they have been redressed, as long as any such redressing conforms to the specs above.  Of course, the guys on the railroad always followed those specs to the letter, and never failed to redress the tool exactly as specified, and surely kept detailed records to that effect - how cold the manufacturer ever prove otherwise ?  That provision sure seems like a 'blank check' on the manufacturer's bank account to me . . . Whistling 

- Paul North.  

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 2:39 PM

Further on thise - I note that the specs for the PRR's Rail Cutter mention that the test rails should have a Brinell Hardness Number of about 260.  However, I believe - but am not certain - that current rails have a BHN in the 340 range, so that today's rails are considerably harder and tougher now.

From this webpage - http://cprr.org/Museum/Caliron/ = Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum - California Iron from the G. J. Graves Collection, under the heading of Rail Chisels from the WPRR, SP Co., and CPRR, about 3/4 of the way down, which includes some photos 

"The unmarked Central Pacific rusted rail chisel (right) is very close in shape to a spike hammer. Marked Southern Pacific (middle) and Western Pacific Railroad (left) rail chisels are also shown. These chisels are used to cut the rail to the desired length. One hit the chisel with a sledge, all around the rail, cutting into it 1/4 inch or so. Then the worker would jam a steel rod into the cut, and bang on it until the rail broke."

Also from the same website, but at -

http://cprr.org/Museum/Ephemera/RIC_64_Rail_at_Colfax.html 

under CPRR of Cal. “RIC 64” 50-Pound “Pear” Yard/Siding Rail, Colfax, California is this, which includes a photo:

"In the illustration above the end on view (top left) shows an uneven joint face which is most likely the result of the original length being cut on site with a rail chisel when the rail was laid. The recently saw cut end (top right) clearly shows the distinctive "pear" shape of this early iron rail."

From NTSB Letter of Safety Recommendation Nos. R-85-1 through -3, dated February 20, 1985, to Missouri Pacific Railroad, regarding the November 12, 1983 derailment of Amtrak train No. 23, The Eagle, due to a rail being cut with a torch, etc., in about the middle of page 3 of 4, at - http://www.ntsb.gov/recs/letters/1985/R85_1_3.pdf

"All of the railroads that have responded indicate that they have rules and procedures in effect which stipulate that rail cutting with a saw or rail chisel is the preferred method."  [emphasis added - PDN]

- Paul North. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by locoi1sa on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 4:25 PM

   Thank you guys.

 We use old rail for grizzly bars over our feed hoppers but we don't run trains on them just rock. I never tried to score and snap it. The torch is fast and clean. Maybe when I get some time I will try the score and snap method on some of the old rail we have in the stock rack. Those MW guys worked their butts off back then. Guys now a days can not work like some of us old timers.  When we do a steel change in a crusher out comes the 20 lb. hammers. Most of the time it is swung like a base ball bat and I can get a good 9 or 10 reps before I need a break. Some of these young guys can't hit what their swinging at and snapping handles and ricocheting off other parts. It appears swinging the big hammer is becoming a lost art.

  That is a great site. The PRR had standards for everything. Even brooms.

     Thanks again.

    Pete

 I pray every day I break even, Cause I can really use the money!

 I started with nothing and still have most of it left!

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Posted by bubbajustin on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 5:59 PM

 

THE.RR

locoi1sa

 Hi guys.

 Would this hammer really be used as a rail cutter? You sure wouldn't get a clean cut!

http://prr.railfan.net/standards/standards.cgi?plan=77270-C

  What exactly was this used for? I just can't see cutting rail to length with something like this.

     Pete

That's back when men were strong, labor was cheap, and the 12 hour day was standard.

Phil

Brings to mind the song "Daddy Was a Railroad Man"Headphones

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