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RE: Timber retaining wall (railroad tie)

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Don't expect 30 years of useful service.  About 10 years is more likely.
I live on a creek and we leveled the back yard and added more than 300
l.f. of 4 ft. high railroad tie retaining walls and planter walls along
the perimeter in 1989.  By 2000, many of the ties had deteriorated.
Now, most of them are shot.  It isn't our winters, which are more
conceptual than real.  Some of it is rot, but most of it is termites.
These were high quality timbers that were loaded with creosote.  I guess
the bugs simply looked at that as a challenge.

If you must use railroad ties, use precast concrete ties or the newer
ones made from recycled plastic.

Wood + Soil = Trouble


Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
Dallas, Texas 

-----Original Message-----
From: Gary L. Hodgson and Assoc. [mailto:ghodgson(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2006 6:44 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Timber retaining wall (railroad tie)

Brian, I built a small series of railroad tie walls in my back yard for
my wife's flower beds-height of 12-18". That was in 1976 and now they
are falling apart due to rotting, so expect 30 years life at most for
your wall.  Of course, our winters may make the situation worse.

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