Lightest rail still in use?

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Lightest rail still in use?
Posted by IslandMan on Wednesday, August 02, 2017 6:57 AM

One of the other recent topics under 'General Discussion" is a question about the weight of rail used on US main lines.

This topic concerns lines and rails at the other end of the spectrum.

I have a copy of "American Shortline Railway Guide", 4th edition, published 1990.  Amongst other things the book gives the rail weight in use on each of the shortlines. A number of lines used very light rail - in some cases just 60 pounds per yard.  Is any of this featherweight stuff still in use?  What is the lightest rail in use on active shortlines today?

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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, August 02, 2017 9:25 AM

It's probably back east and somewhere in the  30-40 Lb jointed range in a little used backtrack.

In Colorado, SLC still has mostly OH 54# rail in its main track in daily service with some rediculously heavy 4 bay hopper cars running over it. Track maintenance forces can be seen patrolling ahead of and behind train movements looking for broken rails. The rail was laid second-hand in 1913 and has been in continuous use ever since. The railroad has been independent since Day1, but it was built by D&RG people (deRemer & McMurtrie) to a D&RG standard. Because of the few curves, few bridges, simple turnouts and long tangents, the 54# rail and the railroad have managed to survive.(with the help of this forum's Randy Stahl and dedicated others)

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 daveklepper on Wednesday, August 02, 2017 9:50 AM

I suspect that even lighter T-rail may be found on the private right-of-way section of San Francisco's "J-Church" light rail line, formerly a streetcar line.  As far as I know this track was not rebuilt when the J was rerouted from the Market Street surface tracks to the Muni-Metro subway and Boeing LRV's replaced the PCC's.  I will try and find out more.  (The Boeing LRV's were troublesome and were replaced by Breda LRV's which are now also up for replacement.)

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Posted by IslandMan on Thursday, August 03, 2017 8:12 AM

mudchicken

It's probably back east and somewhere in the  30-40 Lb jointed range in a little used backtrack.

In Colorado, SLC still has mostly OH 54# rail in its main track in daily service with some rediculously heavy 4 bay hopper cars running over it. Track maintenance forces can be seen patrolling ahead of and behind train movements looking for broken rails. The rail was laid second-hand in 1913 and has been in continuous use ever since. The railroad has been independent since Day1, but it was built by D&RG people (deRemer & McMurtrie) to a D&RG standard. Because of the few curves, few bridges, simple turnouts and long tangents, the 54# rail and the railroad have managed to survive.(with the help of this forum's Randy Stahl and dedicated others)

 

 

Thanks for the info. 

The rail used by SLC must be one of the most long-lived and cost-effective industrial plant items in existence! I was going to write that the steel used to make the rail must have been of excellent quality, but I suppose a sort of Darwinian selection mechanism would have weeded out any defective rail more than a century ago, leaving the good stuff to be reused on the SLC.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, August 03, 2017 8:31 AM

IslandMan
 
mudchicken

It's probably back east and somewhere in the  30-40 Lb jointed range in a little used backtrack.

In Colorado, SLC still has mostly OH 54# rail in its main track in daily service with some rediculously heavy 4 bay hopper cars running over it. Track maintenance forces can be seen patrolling ahead of and behind train movements looking for broken rails. The rail was laid second-hand in 1913 and has been in continuous use ever since. The railroad has been independent since Day1, but it was built by D&RG people (deRemer & McMurtrie) to a D&RG standard. Because of the few curves, few bridges, simple turnouts and long tangents, the 54# rail and the railroad have managed to survive.(with the help of this forum's Randy Stahl and dedicated others) 

Thanks for the info. 

The rail used by SLC must be one of the most long-lived and cost-effective industrial plant items in existence! I was going to write that the steel used to make the rail must have been of excellent quality, but I suppose a sort of Darwinian selection mechanism would have weeded out any defective rail more than a century ago, leaving the good stuff to be reused on the SLC.

         

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Thursday, August 03, 2017 11:14 AM

80Lb rail on some yard tracks and sidings in Vermont

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Posted by mudchicken on Friday, August 04, 2017 5:20 PM

If you want to read more about the San Luis Central, watch out for CRRM's Colorado Rail Annual #32 which all details on three railroads out on the flat half of Colorado that most folks tend to forget about.

More in the "little books" department then all the rehashed ad-nauseum "bright shiny things" above-the-rail books (except for spectacular failures).

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 SD70M-2Dude on Saturday, August 05, 2017 1:19 AM

mudchicken

54# rail

And I thought the 60 lb still found on a couple lines around here was light.  Eek!

Kudos to Mr. Stahl et al for their excellent work.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by IslandMan on Saturday, August 05, 2017 6:01 AM

Incidentally, what weight of rail was used on everybody's favorite high-speed line, the Maumee and Western?

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Saturday, August 05, 2017 8:09 AM

IslandMan
mudchicken

It's probably back east and somewhere in the  30-40 Lb jointed range in a little used backtrack.

In Colorado, SLC still has mostly OH 54# rail in its main track in daily service with some rediculously heavy 4 bay hopper cars running over it. Track maintenance forces can be seen patrolling ahead of and behind train movements looking for broken rails. The rail was laid second-hand in 1913 and has been in continuous use ever since. The railroad has been independent since Day1, but it was built by D&RG people (deRemer & McMurtrie) to a D&RG standard. Because of the few curves, few bridges, simple turnouts and long tangents, the 54# rail and the railroad have managed to survive.(with the help of this forum's Randy Stahl and dedicated others) 

Thanks for the info. 

The rail used by SLC must be one of the most long-lived and cost-effective industrial plant items in existence! I was going to write that the steel used to make the rail must have been of excellent quality, but I suppose a sort of Darwinian selection mechanism would have weeded out any defective rail more than a century ago, leaving the good stuff to be reused on the SLC.

The related issue: When such a rare rail does break, what does the railroad then use for a replacement ? (let alone a switch point, frog, or other specialized components)  Most such lines have a few pieces which a prudent track foreman stashed away, and may have salvaged a few more when some side tracks were removed.  But sooner or later, that supply will be gone, and will then compel an upgrading of some kind.    

Which leads to another question: Upgrade to what, to be reasonably compatible ?  The 54 lb. isn't going to be directly connected to 115 RE (a reasonable choice for that kind of line) - so some compromise joints or compromise rails will be needed, which will be special in their own right . . .     

- PDN. 

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Posted by mudchicken on Sunday, August 06, 2017 11:28 AM

A sea of angle bars.

US-160 crosses their connection to the world. CDOT widened and replaced the wye crossing recently. IIRC That was  SLRG/85-115-136(slab track x-ing)-115-90 (Wye Switch)-75-54....into the Monte Vista Yard.

Finding field and gage side (L&R) step joints has to be a MAJOR headache as well.

Just like the nightmare that was the CMR&W between StL and KC, trying to standardize an upgrade on a nightmare budget on a spot SH rail market can be a struggle.

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 Sunday, August 06, 2017 3:08 PM

Always good to hear from someone who's 'been there and done that', and has good stories as well ! Thumbs Up 

And then there was the time I had to go from 100 ASCE to 155 PS and back for a section of track in a coal thaw shed in a power plant.  Also at the same plant, from the 100 ASCE to 132 RE (as I recall - maybe it was also to the 155 PS) for better support & less motion at the parallel 'open' joints - no joint bars, just a gap - as the track ended on the edge of the pit for a rotary car dumper.  But I digress - this belongs over on the concurrent "heaviest rail" thread.    

- PDN. 

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, August 07, 2017 12:02 AM

Almost all is poorly surfaced, no ties,

IslandMan

Incidentally, what weight of rail was used on everybody's favorite high-speed line, the Maumee and Western?

 

very tired 90# with a few short stretches of 132. All jointed.

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 M636C on Monday, August 07, 2017 1:11 AM

In 1972 I was called out to a derailment on the now-closed line from Rockhampton (Queensland) to the beach resort of Yeppoon.

I think the occasional rail motor ran on the line providing passenger and parcels service, while the main traffic in season was boxes of pineapples and indeed it was such a train theat had derailed.

The locomotive was an English Electric 1620 class weighting all of 61.5 long tons with a full fuel tank giving an axle load of 10.25 long tons. The civil engineers argued long and hard about the last 0.25 long tons per axle but the locomotive manufacturers felt they needed it. The first batch of earlier 1600 class units had aluminium hood doors and aluminium handrails and were still a bit overweight. I think these were rated at all of 862 BHP.

It was one of the locomotive axles that had derailed at a completely vertical break in the rail. Looking at the rail, my recollection was that it read "Carnegie Ironworks 1885 45 lb/yard".

There was some discussion about whether the rail was intended to meet ten ton axleloads when new and what the effect of nearly ninety years of service (this was in 1972) had been. No defect was found with the locomotive.

On the other side of the country, Goldsworthy Mining had a nearly square crossing with Mt Newman Mining just out of Port Hedland, Western Australia. Goldsworthy used 94 lb/yd and Newman used 132lb/yd. Apparently the though of a single joint bar was too much, so a short length of Japanese 119 lb/yd, almost certaily provided by Hamersley Iron, some 150 miles to the West had been inserted with matching compromise joint bars so the change was acheived in two stages.

Peter

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Monday, August 07, 2017 9:00 PM

Often there's a requirement that not more than a 1" difference in rail height may occur within a single compromise joint (or similar).

 

- PDN.  

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, August 07, 2017 10:07 PM

Paul_D_North_Jr

Often there's a requirement that not more than a 1" difference in rail height may occur within a single compromise joint (or similar).

 

- PDN.  

 

Sure didn't happen with the 155/90 step welds at Norwood, OH

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 Readingfan2124 on Monday, August 07, 2017 10:52 PM

The 15" gauge Laurel Run Railroad near Reading, PA continues operating since 1948.  It uses 12# rail.  Most recent rail was laid 2 years ago (purchased new about 20 years ago).  Still available from most rail suppliers (if in stock, if not they will roll it provided you order at least the minimum tonnage).  Splice bars & spikes are also available.  Rail suppliers will also fabricate switch points & frogs as needed.

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Posted by IslandMan on Friday, August 11, 2017 11:06 AM

A slight tangent (an appropriate term perhaps for a discussion about track!):

New rail is usually installed on high tonnage/high speed tracks then when part worn, used for relay rail on lighter trafficked lines. Finally, when worn out, it is melted down for scrap.

I wonder if there is scope for re-rolling life-expired rail rather than melting it down. Old rail can be rolled into new products (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2a1fvnUpvw for an example of this), giving energy savings compared to starting from scratch with molten steel.

For rail, it would presumably only be possible to produce lighter rail than the worn rail feedstock as rolling reduces the cross-section of the material fed into the rollers. There are a number of markets however such as light rail and underground mining where lighter rails are used so it might be worthwhile to explore remanufacturing rail.

 

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Posted by RME on Friday, August 11, 2017 11:22 AM

I would strongly advise that no such effort be made.  In my opinion there is too much possibility that there are defects in both the head and web that would not be closed or 'healed' by re-rolling, particularly if any foreign matter has gotten into them.  Someone like Buslist will have a much more encyclopedic knowledge of the prospective problems with rail shape and form involved here.  Both longitudinal and transverse defects would constitute stress raisers that might easily be more pronounced after the stress of rolling even net of subsequent 'annealing.'

It is possible that some form of continuous NDT could be built and operated to determine what is 'safe' material for this rerolling, or that some analogue to rail grinding could be used to remove or dress affected regions.  All the costs to build and maintain this would, essentially, have to be charged to the account(s) for re-rolled vs. other reused rails.  I don't see much point in this; this PDF reference, although a bit old, says that the wear limit is determined more by fracture potential than railhead profile, and I would expect much of the older idea of 'relaying' worn rail simply because nominal loads are expected to be lower may be decidedly false economy.

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Posted by cx500 on Friday, August 11, 2017 3:52 PM

IslandMan

......

New rail is usually installed on high tonnage/high speed tracks then when part worn, used for relay rail on lighter trafficked lines. Finally, when worn out, it is melted down for scrap.

........

 

That is not my experience.  The ideal is to leave it in place on the high tonnage line until it is completely worn out and consigned to scrap.  I'm not sure if even transposing rail is still commonly done.  Cascading does indeed happen, but that is when the rail is upgraded on a major line.  Upgrade from 115# rail to 136# rail, and there will be a lot of the lighter rail (especially from tangents) still good enough to, in turn, be used to replace some 80# branchline.

If the rail has deteriorated enough that it is no longer dependable on the main line, it will not be safe on the secondary line either.  The cost of a relay program even with "free" material is significant enough that there needs to be a really strong reason. 

Very occasionally a need to upgrade some turkey trail that is about to get busy may be used to justify what you suggest.  Combining that with a wish list (not immediate need) for heavier rail on a main line might make the pair of projects economically attractive enough to pass the number crunchers. 

Upgrading does not even necessarily mean heavier rail.  A more modern 115# section can be preferable to an obsolete 130# section due to improved geometry, steel composition and mill process quality.

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