Threaded Spikes

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Threaded Spikes
Posted by Convicted One on Sunday, December 03, 2017 5:18 PM

Reviewing vintage 1949 issues of Trains magazine recently, I came upon an advertisement (promotion really) by Erie railroad patting themselves on the back for innovation, for developing the threaded rail spike. Copy of ad below.

 

I don't believe I've ever seen anything similar, yet on the surface bthis seems like a great idea. Why did this not catch on?

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Monday, December 04, 2017 9:29 AM

Convicted One
I don't believe I've ever seen anything similar, yet on the surface bthis seems like a great idea. Why did this not catch on?

They are used. They are going bythe name lag screw. There was a thread about a UP oil train derailment in Oregon. It seemed to be caused by broken lag screws:

http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/111/t/256871.aspx?page=1

Ordinary spikes can come loose but is easily detectable. Lag screws seem to break instead of coming loose which didn't get detected in Oregon.

In 1949 the German Railway had more than 20 years exprience with this kind of rail fastener. It was first used in Oberbau K in 1926: http://www.geralds-bahnseiten.de/k-obau.gif

Regards, Volker

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, December 04, 2017 10:41 AM

Lag screws have been around forever. The struggle has been and still is standardization. (some of the other replacements for cut spikes did not fare so well - there still is plenty of bizarre stuff out there)

If you don't have the proper tools distributed around the railroad, you can't remove the thing and you can't set new ones (counterproductive). Power hand tools have really only taken off in the past 30 years, especially the portable non-pneumatic stuff. keeping things simple is easier said than accomplished.

...and then there is the issue of unit cost. Track departments might like to use something a little more advanced with a long term advantage, which costs $$$ that the shiny toys and wasteful operating bubbas think ought to be spent on them. Those lag screws don't work with many tie plates, so the associated costs just cascade on down the line.

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 CandOforprogress2 on Monday, December 04, 2017 10:57 AM

Seen them only on Switches

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Posted by Norm48327 on Monday, December 04, 2017 12:08 PM

MC,

Is metalurgy in play here? Could those lag screws have been manufatrured of materials subject to corrosion or of lesser strength than necessary?

Just a dumb question on my part but would have barbed square spikes prevented them from coming loose? I would think the ties wold prevent them from doing so.

Norm


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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 04, 2017 12:24 PM

We covered the Pandrol fixation disaster at some length in previous threads.  You will note that the Erie system differs in a couple of key respects: (1) the screw fixes the rail base directly, rather than holding down a plate that easily slides when clamping tension is lost; and (2) there is a LONG-TRAVEL clamping washer holding effective tension on the system in a way that compensated for considerable loosening of the threaded fit.

I saw this system in use at Glen Rock and Radburn on the ex-Erie main lines in the mid-70s, by which time the screw fixation was often paired with spiking in the same tie plate.  I did not see whether it was easier for maintenance gangs to use the appropriate pneumatic wrenches to tighten things up ... but suspected even then that automated equipment could more easily deal with spike pulling and tie plugging than with automated location and screw extraction, washer application and checking, etc. in those pre-pervasive-computing days.   You would not have wanted to tighten any number of those things with a glorified street wrench manually vs. using a spike maul or speeder-mounted hammers...

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Posted by IslandMan on Monday, December 04, 2017 2:14 PM
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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Monday, December 04, 2017 2:45 PM

Pandrol rail clips?

 

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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Monday, December 04, 2017 3:06 PM

Those look like a carpenter's bench hold-down clamps.

Semper Vaporo

Pkgs.

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, December 04, 2017 4:16 PM

Again, there is all kinds of stuff out there in test sections (ATSF had several sections going on the northern transcon between La Junta and Trinidad.) Most failed and the local track forces dealt with the odball stuff as best they could. weierdest thing I remember were the "W" staples north of Earl, CO that wound up having to be cut out with a torch (The application and removal tools were worse than the product itself)

Norm: metallurgy has everything to do with anything with a screw thread (brittle vs elastic for openers)...Screw lugs found themselves in plenty of open deck bridges and vanished from curve installations quickly (usually torched in the name of time that the DS was never willing to give up.)

There are fastener tests to failure/destruction going at TTC in Pueblo in the FAST/HAL loops right now. Many a promising idea turned out to be a cruel hoax once put under the watchfull eyes of the test track or in Class 1 test sections. Wish I could remember what "mumbletypegs" ( proper name) were really called. They looked like little cast Rooks (chess pieces) - Still have unpleasant memories of those stupid things and the havoc the caused with production gangs and broken tie plates. 
 
The double elastic spikes and the single elastic spikes shown above were a PITA and came out worse than conventional cut spikes in the end. (can't print here what most trackmen thought of them)Ick!Ick!Ick!
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 Convicted One on Monday, December 04, 2017 4:33 PM

Thanks to all who replied.   I guess if one calls them "lag bolts" they do suddenly start to look a whole lot less alien. Embarrassed

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, December 04, 2017 4:42 PM

mudchicken

Again, there is all kinds of stuff out there in test sections (ATSF had several sections going on the northern transcon between La Junta and Trinidad.) Most failed and the local track forces dealt with the odball stuff as best they could. weierdest thing I remember were the "W" staples north of Earl, CO that wound up having to be cut out with a torch (The application and removal tools were worse than the product itself)

Norm: metallurgy has everything to do with anything with a screw thread (brittle vs elastic for openers)...Screw lugs found themselves in plenty of open deck bridges and vanished from curve installations quickly (usually torched in the name of time that the DS was never willing to give up.)

There are fastener tests to failure/destruction going at TTC in Pueblo in the FAST/HAL loops right now. Many a promising idea turned out to be a cruel hoax once put under the watchfull eyes of the test track or in Class 1 test sections. Wish I could remember what "mumbletypegs" ( proper name) were really called. They looked like little cast Rooks (chess pieces) - Still have unpleasant memories of those stupid things and the havoc the caused with production gangs and broken tie plates. 
 
The double elastic spikes and the single elastic spikes shown above were a PITA and came out worse than conventional cut spikes in the end. (can't print here what most trackmen thought of them)Ick!Ick!Ick!
 

MC, please do NOT print your thoughts on those things; I would miss your posts.Smile

Johnny

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, December 04, 2017 5:02 PM

Many of the 'great ideas' for tack laying tend to overlook one aspect of track maintenance - what goes into the track structure, at some point in time must be removed from the track structure - quickly and economically.  Track and everything that is used to hold it in place all have to be replaced - either at the end of the life cycle or when damaged.  Not all track work is reapired with 'production level' gangs - most repairs are made with local track forces, which now a days is nominally a Track Supervisor (aka Roadmaster) and the 8 to 10 trackmen that report to him for the maintenance of his 50 to 100 mile segment of the railroad.  Local track force are equipped with a basic level of tools and equipment, if special equipment is necessary to handle track appliances then it must be secured at whatever the additional equipment costs.

         

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Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, December 04, 2017 5:54 PM

Johnny (Deggesty) wrote the following post [in part]:

MC[mudchicken], please do NOT print your thoughts on those things; I would miss your posts.Smile   

Johnny, one thing [most appreciated !] by MC's posts...

You know exactly how the "...hog ate the turnip..." there is no mistaking his practical experience or advice.Bow.   One of the very things that makes thie Forum so readable; is the number of practically experienced posters here, who have the hands on experience, in the topics discussed here; and are willing to answer the questions post here by those whose knowledge is more observational, and bound by curiosity. My 2 Cents

 

 

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Monday, December 04, 2017 8:58 PM

Sometimes called "screw spikes" around here (mid-Atlantic states).

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Monday, December 04, 2017 9:24 PM

BaltACD
Not all track work is repaired with 'production level' gangs...

Yet the interesting thing to me is that when the full mechanical track equipment is in use, the cut spike is the easiest to deal with going in and coming out, or so it would seem.  Looking at some tie replacement videos sure leads to that conclusion.

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Posted by Norm48327 on Monday, December 04, 2017 9:26 PM

Sam,

Having known a now retired track foreman for several years he did give me a bit of an education/insight regarding MOW problems they encounter. He was very knowledgable and could spot something wrong long before others could. Based on my experience working on small airplanes and being able to see problems prior to them causing problems I had to admire the man for his abilities.

I also have to admire MC for the factual information he provides. His experience in railroading and surveying far surpass anything I learned in my short lived career as a land title examiner.

MC's ducks are well lined up.

Quack quack, waddle waddle. LOL.

Norm


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Posted by cx500 on Monday, December 04, 2017 9:57 PM

Of course, one very important factor in how the spike holds is not the design of the spike but the condition of the tie.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 04, 2017 10:15 PM

Norm48327
MC's ducks are well lined up.

Dux in aro!

 

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Posted by Norm48327 on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 7:46 AM

Overmod,

Cool video. On a route I regularlly drive the owner of a pond in front of his house runs a pump 24/7/365 to keep it's waters clear in months that algae could be a problem and to keep it from freezing over in winter. I'm not sure if the guy just loves ducks or if one of them occasionally finds itself in the oven.Wink

I sure would hate to be paying his electric bill.

Norm


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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 9:58 AM

ChuckCobleigh
Yet the interesting thing to me is that when the full mechanical track equipment is in use, the cut spike is the easiest to deal with going in and coming out, or so it would seem. Looking at some tie replacement videos sure leads to that conclusion.

What you see as advantage in maintenance I see as shortcoming in operation. Over the time spikes can be worked out of the tie by train movement. I've seen many spikes having no contact with rip plate or rail.

The difficulties with lag screw in the USA astonish me. As said before the above linked Oberbau K is over 90 years old. After WWII it was adjusted to higher loads, higher speeds and higher dynamic forces as Oberbau KS: http://www.holzschwellenoberbau.de/files/layout/fotos/image001.png

It is still used in Europe mostly with elastomer rail pad up to 155 mph and 33 tons. https://www.vossloh.com/01_product_finder/VFS/System-KS-24/Vos_Produktbroschuere_KS-24_EN.pdf
There is a lot of experience with this kind of rail fastener of my side of the great pond.
Regards, Volker

 

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 10:00 AM

Overmod

 

 
Norm48327
MC's ducks are well lined up.

 

Dux in aro!

 

 

Ahh! A bit more showy than the Peabody Hotel ducks in Memphis. Many, many people gather to watch them come into the lobby in the morning when they have come down from their house on the hotel roof and again when they leave their pool to go back up to their house. 

Johnny

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 10:25 AM

I'd mention that a friend is raising a duck as a pet (but that would be off-topic).  She named it "Chicken."

Imagine if the hubby calls home and asks what's for supper, and she replies, "chicken..."

But I digress...

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Posted by mudchicken on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 10:36 AM

Volker: The economics reporting and scale of plant between the two sides of the pond is the biggest driver of the differences on preference of track fastener.

(Your so-called "profitable" railroad operations would be seriously in the red here.)

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 Overmod on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 12:43 PM

tree68
Imagine if the hubby calls home and asks what's for supper, and she replies, "chicken..."

And I suppose serves it with the leg sticking up...

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Posted by Norm48327 on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 1:40 PM

Probably a dumb question but directed to Mud Chicken because he seems to have the most experience regarding it.

Have barbed square spikes have been tried? It would seem they would resist loosining more than flat sided spikes simply becasuse they get a better grip on the ties.

Norm


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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 1:55 PM

I'm not an engineer but I would think that barbed spikes would also be a bear to remove when replacing ties or rails.  They would also be expensive to produce.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 2:22 PM

mudchicken
(Your so-called "profitable" railroad operations would be seriously in the red here.)

DB (Deutsche Bahn/German Railway Company) was a state-run company until 1994 when it went public but remained 100% government owned. Profit was never the primary goal before. DB always had to deliver services for the public and that remained after 1994.

So yes DB would not survive in the USA but is that a measure? We at least have a functioning passenger railway system. I prefer it this way.

Spikes were judged not safe enough for the faster getting trains so Oberbau K was introduced gradually starting in 1926. It helped that economics wasn’t the primary concern.

What I didn’t understand after the Mosier, OR was that UP gave the impression being surprised that lag screws would break. There were reports from Canada in 2014 and Germany 2014 and 2009. In all these cases the reasons were negligent maintenance and fatigue of material.
Regards, Volker
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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 3:59 PM

If I recall correctly, the Germans understood the need for full elastic rail suspension before the use of screw fixation (and the almost essential use of elastomer pad and long-travel washer that makes it work correctly).  The early sprung track had insufficient damping at critical speeds, though...

Mosier was not 'negligent maintenance' nearly as much as a reflection of a fundamentally flawed fixation-system design, something I still find it surprising that degree'd engineers would design.  We discussed this and the earlier (dissimilar in significant ways) Canadian case in older threads.

I would be highly interested to see technical discussion of the two German cases you mention, even if I have to translate it from Deutsch myself.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 05, 2017 4:43 PM

VOLKER LANDWEHR
What I didn’t understand after the Mosier, OR was that UP gave the impression being surprised that lag screws would break. There were reports from Canada in 2014 and Germany 2014 and 2009. In all these cases the reasons were negligent maintenance and fatigue of material.
Regards, Volker

So - what would non-negligent maintenance look like?  Applying torque to each lag screw fastener to a specified value and see that the lag screw doesn't run away because of a broken shaft or stripped threads in the wood or lag screw.  That is a lot of fasteners to be tested on a periodic basis.

         

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