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Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:55 pm
by cp4449
"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."

LALS used to do that, and over the years of doing it, care to know how deep the oil went? About 1/2-1". The stuff I am ripping up when we replace the 60 year old redwood ties that have been creosoted, then oiled over the years, it is hard as asphalt. Had to use a jackhammer in a couple of cases to get the roadbed cleared up for new ties. So there is some good for used motor oil....

LALS grades the route, levels the bed, tamp down with a vibrator, uses plastic ties (both 1 1/2 and 1 inch lines), and ballasts with decomposed granite, which falls off of the hill behind the site. Free ballast. We slray with Roundup with blue dye to tell where we have sprayed.

Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:59 am
by Pontiacguy1
I remember one meet at Mid-South where the 'oiling' happened a little bit too close to the spring meet! Nobody could get any traction and pull anything because there was a layer of oil on the rails everywhere. A bunch of guys got rags and gasoline and spent a couple of hours wiping down the rails, just to make it where someone could run decently. It still wasn't great, but at least the meet went on. That was back in the mid 1980's.

Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:28 am
by BobbyT
The track method we used successfully here in Florida is:

rough grade ROW
Lay down a 32" strip of 6 mil construction visqueen (construction plastic sheet)
lay 2 x 2 extruded plastic ties
attach steel rails in place with SS screws
tweak track alignment
then we add the ballast- using a loader I place ballast between the rails to a height of above 10 - 12" above the rails.
using an iron rake with the teeth facing up, I run the rake along the rails which spreads the ballast evenly.
next getting low, I eye ball the up/down alignment, taking care to lift up any low spots
next using a level across the rails, I level the track side to side (super elevating the curves) and tamp the ballast in.
I do this in 18-24" increments, slowly making my way down the track.
after leveling I use a leaf rake to dress up the ballast and finally a push broom on top of the rails to clean the rails.

The result is a super smooth and solid track that drains well. The plastic helps a lot with weed control as most weeds grow above the plastic and are easily pulled. Also it prevents the ballast from sinking into the ground.

Using this method our crew of 4 (sometimes only 3) would complete 100+ feet in a day. 2-3 putting down the plastic, ties and rail and 1 person ballasting and leveling.

Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:23 pm
by johnpenn74
Here's a picture of the forms method. Charlie Howell of Columbus, Ga pioneered this method. This construction method allows you to cut the grade a little rougher and compensate with gravel sub base. This nice part about this method is the leveling is done on the tops of the forms (like you would do if you were going to pour concrete). With the forms leveled (matched to grade etc) the gravel is tamped and scrapped to the top of the forms. When the track is built is is laid on the flat gravel without tamping or additional fitting. Lastly the top level of gravel is added (easily done since the track can be traversed at this time). Charlie's original design was based on building a bar stock rail/groovy track. Canton adopted this to standard profile rail.

Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:51 pm
by Glenn Brooks
I’ve been going back and forth on whether to lay a sub base of gravel over a prepared road bed, or prep the road bed and lay the track. Then dump gravel over the top and rake and tamp under the ties. Also debated endlessly about need for a ballast car, versus some kind of 4 wheel hopper pulled by a tractor. In the end I rented a small diesel Kubota tractor and spread the gravel over the top of rail for about half my backyard RR. Then dumped gravel piles and spread without rail in place for the other half.

Should qualify this by saying Iam having to build the rail in place, and not using track panels. To many variables and alignment problems to premake panels. Iam laying and bending 12# rail and hand driving spikes as I go, so not the typical and more convenient 7.5” layout.

However, hands down,for me, laying and preparing a gravel base first is much easier and less work. Rail laying goes much quicker also with the gravel road bed graded, raked, and compacted to elevation. Iam also having to bend the rail in place for the curves. Also found using grade stakes and a cheapo laser level helps control grade and the center line location.

I’ve posted a bunch of pictures on the park gauge page. But here’s one showing some detail of a partially completed section of road bed. This with the gravel already in place.
BTW, also discovered if you hire a teenager to help out, the work goes 3 times as fast. They work at light speed + 60 and apparently never need to stop for breaks, eat lunch, or drink water.


Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:11 am
by johnpenn74
You make a good point Glenn; some railroads actually pull off not graveling below the ties and dirt.

I have laid track at Mill Creek where we did not use any gravel between the ties and dirt. We simply cut the grade dirt and make sure the clay / dirt is flat by rolling, tamping, etc. The ties that go down are ground contact rated pressure treat or plastic. That's how you get away with out the gravel. This will work well for a several years so long as the dirt / clay base was solid. It cuts the contruction time down by about a third. The catchup is when the tracks start settling from use, erosion, seasonal effects etc. To tamp up the track, you have to tamp enough ballast under the ties where it wasn't before. A little more work sure, but it is usually located to specific curve or trouble spot. I can't say that I would do it that way, but it works works well.

The bigger problem that I really see is the lack of hydraulics (read ditching) on most grading. IMHO must grades are not cut wide enough and ditching is not cut *****below***** the gravel. A lot of people will cut the dirt and then use half of the ballast as the ditch. This is wrong by ANY railroad grading crosssection. Water is deposited on the track / ballast by rain, it will carry the dirt, organics, and debris out with it so long as it has somewhere to go. If there is no ditch relief below the gravel then the water is going to puddle next to or flow into the gravel bringing all the mud n such with it.

Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:13 pm
by rkcarguy
I think I've decided that I'm going to use pit run to fill the dips and get things nice and level, lay the weed cloth, then a thin layer of clear gravel and lay the track. Then spread more gravel between the ties and tamp as needed to adjust for settling.
It rains ALOT here so that is something I'll be paying a lot of attention to, making sure my ROW drains well. I'll be using wood ties so I think having the clear gravel under them for drainage is important. Like Glenn posted, there are some area's where you can't track panel, and sort of have to design/build your way through the trees to get the route least resistance. On my RR there will be some area's where I can get away with pre-making panels but many I won't be able to either.

Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:43 pm
by Berkman
Are the wood forms removed ? Seems like a ton of extra work building all those wood forms then leaving them under the actual track.

Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:00 am
by Glenn Brooks
Ryan, here’s the method I finally adopted to set gauge while laying track. First I bend and lay one side of the rail in a continuous long line. Then spike the rail to one side of the ties to hold the desired radius.

Then starting at one end, pull the opposite side of the rail into guage using two track gauges and a pipe clamp. Notice the ties and rail nearest to you, on the left, in the photo do not yet have spikes to hold in place. The pipe clamp pulls the loose rail tight to the proper gauge (set by the track gauges) and the previously spiked outside rail holds the desired curvature. Drive some spikes then move to the next set of ties.

The long bar hardens up the ties to drive the spikes home, where needed.

The pictures probably explains it better.

Now, if you are using pre slotted ties for groovy track, maybe you won’t have to do this. If so, you could still use panels, but,will have to beat, perhaps cut off one end and drill, to move the rail sections to where they match each other. Still doable.

Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:34 pm
by johnpenn74

The forms are set up about 100' feet at a time. The time it costs you in setting up the forms, it sames you in tamping and leveling and having the track operable. I would argue it give a much better final product. Ask the guys at Canton, they laid the bulk of the RR using the form method.

That being said, someone told me one of the South Carolina Peidmont guys was leaving his forms. Sounds a little wasteful to me.

Weed Barrier
I really don't have a lot of utilitu for weed barriers. The prototype doesn't do it. Here's another thought.... have you ever see grass or moss or weeds growing on the side of a bulding? Do you think the weeds need to actually reach the soil beneath you ties and gravel? Think about it..

Again I am not a fan of prefabbed panels on curves, I would only lay panels when the track is straight. I have never gotten curved panels to work without looseing rails and sliding and a lot of fiddling; basically building the track twice. Just roll all of your curved rail to radius ad lay it one tie in place. Assuming you pull a radius the results will be much better than trying to force a curved section.


Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:37 am
by rkcarguy
I did decide that I won't be pre-fabbing any curved sections. I think with my access to CAD and making some sheet metal fixtures and gages I could do it and get it to work, but it's my topography and tree's I have to work around that are going to somewhat define the route. I just can't see being able to toss in sections of 40' fixed radius curves and have it work for every situation.
The groovy track method is surprisingly not very flexible in a sideways fashion just with one rail in, I may have to router my ties for curves with a radius fixture and then I'll have some adjustment +/- from the base radius of 40'. The press fit is pretty tight, like all the ties will hang onto one rail if I lift it in the air. So I could make lengths of one rail attached to the ties, drop them in place, and lay the other rail to fit. It would be a bit easier on the back.
As far as the weeds are concerned, I feel the cloth is a must. I have blackberries, poison ivy, stinging nettles, and all kinds of stuff that is going to go hog wild in my ROW. My prior place had a driveway that was weed clothed and another area that wasn't, and I had to put on the bunny suit and spray $$$ worth of roundup several times a year in the one area. There is 3' wide product that is highly rated and only runs about $65 for a 300' roll, I think that is going to work great for me.

Re: Your RR grading methods??

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:00 am
by Glenn Brooks
Ryan, you might email some of the New Zealand Live steamer clubs and ask how they construct curves with groovy track. I’ve heard that’s all they use there. There must be a procedure for doing so. However, can’t help feeling it could turn into a real PITA. Just a side comment - once in a great while you can find decently good deals on used 12# rail. More rarely, 8# rail, which is around 1 1/4” or so tall and and wide. Ideal stuff for the larger gauges, if you can find it at a decent price. Lasts forever. Some of my pieces have casting marks from 1919 on the web, and look nearly new.