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Re: railroad ties - strength

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On 12/29/06, Christopher Wright <chrisw(--nospam--at)> wrote:

On Dec 29, 2006, at 6:32 AM, Jim Getaz wrote:

> The ties I see taken up from the railroads around here (I cross six
> sets of track in a 2¼ mile commute) might be good as landscape timbers
> but I would not build with them. The railroad pretty well wears them
> out.
Even as landscape timbers, you may have pollution issues from
preservatives leaching out. They should never be burned in fireplaces
or wood stoves.
Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)   | this distance" (last words of Gen.
.......................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania

In the late 70's & early 80's my brother in law was in the "used RR tie" business.   His company bid on contracts to remove the replaced ties from the RR right of ways.   The RR company would either selective remove or remove in mass ties & just dump them along the tracks.

They'd gather them up, grade them & sell.

Some of the ties were a mess....splits, cracks...basically unusable these were the cheapest...often times people would buy these & chain saw them up & use the good sections as vertical members in some sort of landscaping  scheme

of couse this was all done in the days when people still thought that creosote  was  pretty much  stable in the timbers or if not,  that leaching wasn't a big deal, now we know better

My sister  used them for a raised bed garden back then even though I commented "that doesn't sound like a good idea"...they were cheap &  thus the attraction

The grading system (the little I can recall)   topped out with "re-lays"....ties good enough to re-lay, ie use again

so the strength of the ties is highly dependent on the "grade" being nearly as good as new, lower grade not so good.

but a RR tie would have to be pretty messed up to have strength less than a 2x8

Creosote (a coal tar product) is nasty stuff, I  used it about 25 years ago for some wood preservation apps & even tiny drops flicked onto my arms from the brush burned like crazy