Your RR grading methods??

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Your RR grading methods??

Post by rkcarguy » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:36 pm

Simple question for everyone, what is your method for grading your RR's right of way?

Weed cloth?
Gravel type and size?
What kind of environment?
Tie type?

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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by jcbrock » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:12 pm

St Croix RR, western WI:

No cloth, 3/8 + under crushed limestone with fines, sandy soil that freezes solid all winter and thaws in spring with summer deluges (1" an hour), ties are treated wood (pole plant was doing them gratis) going to plastic.
John Brock

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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by Erskine Tramway » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:17 pm

rkcarguy wrote:Simple question for everyone, what is your method for grading your RR's right of way?

Weed cloth?
Gravel type and size?
What kind of environment?
Tie type?
Hi RK.........

I use heavy duty weed fabric, four-feet wide. I cover that with an inch and a half deep layer of 'base course' or fines. On top of that, I have a layer of 3/4" washed, crushed, stone about three-feet wide. I lay the ties on that, then raise them about an inch and fill with more 3/4". The weather around here is mostly dry, though we can get gully washers in summer and lots of snow in winter. I'm using treated 2x4's 18" long, lying on their 'wide' surface on my 7-1/2" gauge track.
6-23-17 new ballast.jpg
6-28-17 new end of track.jpg
Former Locomotive Engineer and Designer, Sandley Light Railway Equipment Works, Inc. and Riverside & Great Northern Railway 1962-77
BN RR Locomotive Engineer 1977-2014, Retired

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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by makinsmoke » Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:50 pm

Weed barrier can work for a backyard railroad.
Not very efficient for a large railroad.

The C&IG has begun plate compacting the base material for any new and most rebuilds. It provides a pretamped base layer that won't settle over time as the material compacts.
We've even starting using the mirror to grade the base. Level as much as possible at that layer helps reduce magnitudes of problems later.

Next a layer of ballast. Local sourced gravel, I want to say 3/4" but I know I've seen a car load or two of 1/2" with fines. Lay the track on that layer. Ballast. Level and grade using the mirror and hand tamp. Them machine tamp. The one we use is a vibrator with fingers which reach into the ballast between the ties and inside and outside the rail. Final adjustments with the mirror then install pins every ten feet in the center of a wood tie. Pins are usually rebar 12-18" long. Make sure no ballast remains on top of the ties or over the ends.

Run trains across to test. And enjoy!

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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by Bruce_Mowbray » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:49 pm

On my home railroad:
Northeastern PA
Snow, rain, dry, heat, cold, we get it all
Clay/loam soil
Remove grass/organic matter 3' wide
Level and grade as close as possible
Vibratory plate tamp to hard feel. (no footprint left when walked on)
Hi density weed barrier mainly to keep the clay/mud from pushing up into ballast and prevent ballast sinking into mud/clay
#2 crushed stone 3-4" deep
Plate tamp. This provides a rock hard base with excellent drainage with big footprint
#2b crushed stone 3-4" deep
Final grade and plate tamp. Adding or removing where necessary
Lay predrilled and slotted 2"x2" plastic ties with screws pre-started
Insert aluminum rails and screw down leaving enough slack for rail to expand and contract
Fill over rails with #2b crushed stone
Sweep both directions with heavy duty highway broom and spread ballast
Hand tamp with 'T' bar tamper
Check grade and cross level
Add more stone and tamp where necessary
Test ride
PS. Roundup once a month is still necessary even with weed barrier
Bruce Mowbray
Springville & Southern RR
TMB Manufacturing & Locomotive Works

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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by DRS_RR » Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:11 pm

Bruce, glad to hear I'm not the only one that has to spray roundup I thought I was doing something wrong.

On something completely unrelated, you use to have a web page for your you have that up anymore?


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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:40 pm

Yep, weed control will be one of the big-time maintenance things you will have to deal with every year. We typically spray the Mid-South track about 3 times per year. 1st spray is in early April. Second one is usually around end of June or first of July. Third one usually around the first of September. We probably should spray more often, but the first spraying takes care of the weeds before our early May meet, and the tracks still look pretty good for our Early June run day. The mid-summer spray down usually happens because the track is starting to look shabby in places, and it will kill the weeds good and have the track in good shape for our early August evening/night run. Then the final spray about 3 weeks before our late-September fall meet. After that, the frost will take care of any weeds until April rolls around and the whole thing starts again. If we wanted it to stay really nice looking at all times, like I would if it was at my house, then it probably should be sprayed about 4 times.

Once upon a time, on some of the sections of track, plastic barrier was put down, then was graveled over, then track laid and ballasted over that. It did not help the weeds at at all, and just made a mess when we had to dig out and replace that section 15 or so years later. If your track is not higher than the surrounding ground, the rain will silt in your gravel and cause all kinds of tie rot and weed problems, just like if you did nothing to it at all.

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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by rkcarguy » Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:21 pm

It rains pretty bad here probably 4+ months of the year, so I see the weed cloth as a necessity to keep the soil from eating the ballast and am familiar with the fact that it doesn't actually keep the weeds down that well. I did find them easier to remove however as their roots didn't go through the weed cloth. I know the last driveway I did, the cloth pulled back from the end of the driveway when I covered it with with gravel, and that small area ate rock over the years while the rest did not. I'm thinking I've got to have my RR grade raised, with as wet as it is, or I will have problems.
Also important, there is cloth out there that thwarts weeds but lets air and water pass to some extent, you don't want to use plastic for the exact reason Pontiac guy stated, it will hold water and promote rot. I also had a railroad irrelevant issue where it rained super hard and washed all 12 yards of my landscaping bark down the storm drain:(

Roundup has been linked to cancer, it works good but I hate using the stuff and when I have to I wear a bunny suit and a HEPA filter.

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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by dash9 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:14 pm

Well this has nothing to do with weeds. (Or maybe it does)
Long story, Bought a farm in 1970, Wife wanted a horse so got a post hole digger and put the poles in. Took about 2 weeks was working 15 hrs a day back then. About 6 to 8 months later more than half of the posts are loose and falling over. I put them 3 ft in the ground??? Well I must have not back filled them right. So off the the locak Ford tractor dealer and I am going to get a post Tamper to drive the poles in the ground with out drilling. Talked to the old guy there the owner and he laughed at me. He said did you check the moon when you put them in. WHAT are you nuts im thinking to my self. So he goes to tell me anything you put or lay on the ground has to be put down ONLY when the moon is setting. If you put them in when the moon is rising they will all fall out over time. Ok I figured he was on heavy medication being old. he said dont buy a tamper
Just pull the post out and install them when the moon is setting. Well had to go the the book store and find out when the moon is setting ( No internet then). I did put the all in when the moon was setting and the lasted over 20 years and not one was ever loose till they started to rot and even then they were a bitch to get out.
We had a long driveway to the barn and when i git the place I put down 2B stone to keep the mud down. In about a year the stone and the dirt (MUD) could not tell the difference. Well back to the moon rising and setting. Scrapped out the stone what was left not much. Put the same amount back in 80 ton's when the moon was setting. It's still there 47 years later and it never sank in the mud again or the dirt came up and mixed with the stone.
So when I put down track this spring it will be only when the moon is setting. Fingers crossed...

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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by one_inch_railroad » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:44 pm

On my friends backyard railroad we apply the herbicide Casoron. It's a pre-emergent herbicide that you apply in the early spring before things start growing. It will also kill small stuff that hasn't really established itself. I think it works by starving the roots of water or something like that. One application is usually good for two years. Not a single weed in sight. It won't work to kill stuff that is already growing/is well established.

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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by ccvstmr » Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:03 am

One Inch...think you hit it on the head there...a pre-emergent chemical treatment. This is the preventative approach...rather than chasing your tail with repeated weed killing chemicals AFTER-THE-FACT! Understand pre-emergent chemicals aren't cheap and may take a few tries to figure out the proper dilution ratio. But it beats having a bunch of dead weed stalks laying down in the ballast.

Weed barrier seems to be a misnomer. After all, weeds grow from the top down...not the bottom up. The weed barrier prevents weeds from taking deep root and makes it easier to pull the weeds out (if you want to spend your time hunched over yanking weed stalks). However, if one is interested in keeping ballast from sinking into the earth, then yes, a barrier of some kind will help in that area.

Agree with the properly prepared sub-ballast approach to building a right of way. Coarse rock over rough graded earth. Compact the sub-ballast to try and create a "lined and leveled" right of way that track panels can be installed on directly. If you want to put down a thin layer of ballast first and contour problem, but compact...smooth, line and level before the track goes in place. After that, apply ballast, rake, broom or whatever to dress the right of way. Not much tamping needed at that point.

Don't be stingy with the ballast. It's relatively cheap. Make sure there's a wide enough ballast shoulder to prevent the track from moving side to side. Works better if track is built on "high" ties...something like 2.5"H x 1.5" W. Yes, this requires more ballast...but what's more important to you: time (physical effort) or money? Spend a few more dollars for material...or time later to dig your track back in the ballast? Think about that. Another way to prevent excessive track movement...avoid long straight track runs. In particular where there's little shade on the track. Lazy "S" curves in the track layout are better and act like springs to give the track a little room to expand/contract without buckling.

In the end, different locations and climates need different solutions for building the railroad infrastructure. What works in one place might not work else where. Above all else...just make sure there's good drainage. The water needs to be shed from the track and go...someplace. Carl B.
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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:48 am

Roundup has been linked to cancer, it works good but I hate using the stuff and when I have to I wear a bunny suit and a HEPA filter.

No, it is 'Suspected' that there is a link to cancer, and they've been trying to prove that Glyphosate causes cancer for 30 years now, and have not come up with any definite proof! The state of California has listed it as a cancer-causing agent, or at least is trying to, but they seem to list EVERYTHING as a cancer causing agent! I bought some stainless steel kitchen something not long ago and it had that meaningless label on it about 'known to the state of California to cause cancer'. What a joke.

If you have the proper license, you can add a pre-emergent like Mojave or something like that to your Glyphosate spray mix which will increase the length of time between spraying. With it in your mix, the combo will kill any green and growing vegetation and will also keep seeds from germinating for a while. A lot of this depends on what your rainfall is like as to how long it will work. I've had years when it was fairly dry and the mix would last for 3 months or more. I've had years when it just rained all the time and It would only last a couple of months. Nothing is going to work forever.

One person told me that they had an idea to sprinkle rock salt on the roadbed. A large enough concentration of that will definitely kill the weeds, but I would think it might not be so good for track, switches, etc...

I remember when clubs used to oil their roadbeds! At least we're not doing that any more. Highway Dept used to do that on dirt roads too.

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