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Wiggle room

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  • Member since
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  • From: S.E. South Dakota
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Wiggle room
Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, December 3, 2021 7:20 AM
A question about track movement-
Our rail spur is about 14 years old. It’s flat as a pancake and the last 1000’ of it is straight. This spur sees about 25 cars a year of traffic. I notice that the track is visibly wavey from side to side. It’s nothing that would affect the performance of the track, but it’s visible to the eye. What causes this?

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by adkrr64 on Friday, December 3, 2021 7:39 AM

Freeze/ thaw cycles for sure, and how much movement will be greatly dependent on the type of subgrade (if any) under the track. I doubt there is any kind of substantive foundation placed under a typical siding track. Also, if there is movement over the track when the subsoil is soft and wet, the loaded cars and locomotives will push the track structure down into the soil, which can then cause water/ soil to be pumped out from under the structure. Over time, with enough traffic, even at slow speed, I imagine it would create the effect you are seeing.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, December 3, 2021 8:44 AM

You would be surprised to see how much 'random' motion there can be in soil and subsoil.  There are whole built neighborhoods in northwest Louisiana where the streets crack and buckle and nearly every house has repeated slab-cracking issues.

Were your ties just laid on some kind of prepared subgrade or ballast?  Even without moving soil, that might facilitate lateral wibble, especially if some moron over applied anchors "to keep the rail from moving".  If you see little vertical rail distortion I'd suspect inadequate lateral restraint...

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Posted by mudchicken on Saturday, December 4, 2021 9:11 AM

(1) Rail Anchors, some more effective than others ... If you have rail something less than 112/115#, they do not rail anchors for thos size rails anymore (haven't for over 40 years) - the friction use by the anchors to hold the rails in place around the ties decreases over time.

(2) Tie Condition (starting to see skew ties out there)

(3) Friction in the tie plates (assume the track was built with used OTM and the tie plates are not all the same, even for the same weight of rail)

(4) Early BN era industrial track standards and requirements.

(I hope your outfit has at least an annual inspection of the track by a qualifed contractor - so many don't and the outcome is predictable and not cheap)

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 Murphy Siding on Thursday, December 9, 2021 11:12 AM

I had some time to look into some of the details of the spur. That's interesting as it's outside my area of expertise by a long shot!

The spur is into an industrial area. We are at the end. There are lots for sale along the spur. The idea being that the spur will generate lot sales to customers who need a rail connection. In 14 years, that has been one customer-us.

The rail is 115# rail, dated 2007. That's the year the spur was put in.

The ties are all near perfect, so maybe they were new in 2007 as well.

The tie plates all have dates on them. That was an eye opener. The dates ranged from 1968 back to 1950! To be fair, I suppose it's pretty hard to wear one of those out.

How do you find a qualified track contractor to inspect the spur? Would it be someone connected to the contractor that built it?

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, December 9, 2021 5:14 PM

Murphy Siding
How do you find a qualified track contractor to inspect the spur? Would it be someone connected to the contractor that built it?

That might be a start.  Search for railroad maintenance companies - you'll find the usual big players like Harsco, R.J.Corman, Loram, etc, and a number of smaller companies as well.  

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, December 9, 2021 6:57 PM

tree68

 

Murphy Siding
How do you find a qualified track contractor to inspect the spur? Would it be someone connected to the contractor that built it?

 

That might be a start.  Search for railroad maintenance companies - you'll find the usual big players like Harsco, R.J.Corman, Loram, etc, and a number of smaller companies as well.  

 

(1) The railroads (BNSF in your case) have lists of qualified contractors (and ones that have been blacklisted). Biggest is not necesssarilly best. Local is not always best. Look at who is a member of NRCA. Who has a history / some longevity.

(2) Be careful, some of the less ethical out there are just using the inspector to solicit work, much of which may not be required.

(3) At least you meet the 112#/115 # standard and won't have to upsize. Becoming common to see Cls. 1's refuse to serve or operate over un-maintained track with lighter weights of rail.  The agri-dummies don't want to spend a dime and then get cut-off entirely, usually after doing severe damage to the existing track without thinking of the consequences.

(4) Hope the developer is still obligated in sharing the O&M costs of the track and has not vanished in the night. When new rail customer shows up in those situations, things get bizzare. (study your contract carefully) ... One of the real frauds in the commercial real estate world is the guarantees and claims of rail service capabilities for a given site. (from your earlier posts, issues regarding long shoves and no run-around track could get dumped in your lap if new rail customer appears, even if you are "grandfathered-in") 

(5) Track is a dynamic structure. Hot-Cold and traffic cycles demand at least some minimum attention. (and the FRA and the State RR Agency will come after the track owner, not the serving railroad if things get out of hand. Not uncommon for a railroad to drop a dime on a bad actor these days - starting with walkway, vegitation and clearance issues.)

The outfits Tree listed often won't touch small industry work. They aren't set-up for it.

 
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 diningcar on Thursday, December 9, 2021 7:54 PM

Mudchicken has been there, done that. His advice should be heeded.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Thursday, December 9, 2021 8:59 PM

The truth is being spoken here.  When my boss's father started up the SIT yard for the company.  He went to the BNSF and asked politely for all the minimum requirements he had to meet to be able to get this going.  Then built the yard to exceed those standards.  Instead of jointed rail which is all they required at 115 pounds he had welded rail at 136 pounds installed plus keeps some in the area for spare.  No relay ties or other stuff was used he required all new stuff to be used.  Was it more expensive than what it needed to be heck yes it was however we have never had a derailed car in the yard either.  When we approached NS they refused to allow us to do what we wanted.  Sure enough those tracks have had 4 cars do standing derailments do to the track work being sub standard and NS refusing to allow us to rebuild to our standards.  

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, December 9, 2021 9:36 PM

mudchicken
The outfits Tree listed often won't touch small industry work. They aren't set-up for it.

Good point.

Asking BNSF for a reference is even better.  I can imagine there are those who would provide a laundry list of work that just "needs" to be done.

Bottom line is that there are outfits who will do the inspections.

 

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
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Posted by SALfan1 on Tuesday, December 14, 2021 9:54 PM

Overmod

You would be surprised to see how much 'random' motion there can be in soil and subsoil.  There are whole built neighborhoods in northwest Louisiana where the streets crack and buckle and nearly every house has repeated slab-cracking issues.

Were your ties just laid on some kind of prepared subgrade or ballast?  Even without moving soil, that might facilitate lateral wibble, especially if some moron over applied anchors "to keep the rail from moving".  If you see little vertical rail distortion I'd suspect inadequate lateral restraint...

 

The soil in NW Louisiana sounds like the Yazoo clay under central Mississippi. There's a whole cottage industry (called mudjackers) who will fix house foundations. The concrete slabs in the Interstates were constantly heaving in random ways; driving my small import pickup at the speed limit threatened to make my internal organs change places with one another. 

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