10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

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jmurray
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Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:15 am

10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by jmurray » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:31 am

I have done some searching on previous posts, but forgive me if this is a redundant subject.

Our Neols track crew is struggling keeping pressure treated ripped 2x4's in guage,tie twisting and drying out on our open field section of the Neols club track.

I have debated the use of plastic due to costs, however, we are tired of having to revisit the hot section of our track where the ties and we get too much sun.

I was hoping to get some feedback as to how the EP Plastic ties are performing, and the pros and cons of switching from wood to plastic, and the justification of the costs if successful.

I like the fact they are pre-guaged, and built in canted tie plates...

I also like the fact they are tapered, and open underneath to allow for holding power in the ballast..

questions for those that have had them for many years now:

1)are they holding up to the sun, and does the rail sink into the plastic when subject to high heat?
2)do the screws hold in the plastic or strip easily?
3)are you using stainless screws or are zinc still ok?
4)do they hold guage?
5)do they warp or curl?
6)do they tend to float during freeze and thaw?
7)what system of installation did you use when converting?
8)overall, do you have any maintenance or has it eliminated most of it besides reballasting..
(where does all that ballast sink to?- lol)
9)do you feel it was worth the investment?
10)If you are running steel rail, do you use the slip joiners or the bolted joiners?

any other thoughts/comments would be appreciated...as its a huge investment for a club to convert..

thank you in advance!
C&O EMD F7A 24vdc Locomotive(Tune Trains)
Chessie diesel switcher(5hp Free lance design) 0-4-0
Pine Grove Vineyards Davenport (Ride-Trains)Switcher 0-4-0
Wolf Run and Tambine Clishay 0-4-4-0(Bob Maynard design)

http://www.neols.net (NorthEastern Ohio Live Steamers)
hondavt@windstream.net

Andy R
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:18 pm
Location: So. Calif.

Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by Andy R » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:19 am

Here's a few of my observations regarding the molded ties used at Orange County Model Engineers (OCME):

1)are they holding up to the sun? Yes. Only the tops are exposed.
1a) and does the rail sink into the plastic when subject to high heat? No.
2)do the screws hold in the plastic or strip easily? The screws hold in the plastic.
3)are you using stainless screws or are zinc still ok? We use plated screws - hex head driven using battery-powered driver-drills. In a wet area it would be advisable to consider stainless. Keep the ballast below the tops of the ties.
4)do they hold gauge? Yes.
5)do they warp or curl? Not yet.
6)do they tend to float during freeze and thaw? Not a problem in sunny southern California.
7)what system of installation did you use when converting? We build panels in a jig, even for relay rails - hopefully swapped to put worn edge outside. Inserting the molded ties in-situ is not as easy as inserting plain recycled lumber ties.
8)overall, do you have any maintenance or has it eliminated most of it besides reballasting. Re-adjusting the alignment and cross-leveling has to be done at least once after construction. We use crushed rock ballast. The old track is >25 years old, so we hope that the new will last far longer.
8a) (where does all that ballast sink to?- lol) Our RR sits on a clay hill, so the ballast works its way toward China. Once it gets baked in the sun after a wet winter it seems to be stable.
9)do you feel it was worth the investment? Yes. I have been told that we pay about $1.00 for each tie.
10)If you are running steel rail, do you use the slip joiners or the bolted joiners? Slip joiners are used for both steel and aluminum rail. The new track is steel rail on the outside of curves, throughout turnouts, and both rails of the first panel beyond turnouts, and aluminum rail for everything else.

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backyardrails
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Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by backyardrails » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:19 am

I was glad to see this post. We use 1" hot roll with slotted ties and our wooden ties rot as well. I have bought some plastic ties from EP rail and hope to lay some of it on Friday. If this works out, we will be going plastic as well. And yes we get some nasty cold weather, so hope these ties will work.
Bernie Grow
Montreal Live Steamers

Pontiacguy1
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Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:15 am
Location: Tennessee, USA

Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:46 am

We've been using the plastic ties in Tennessee now for about 5 or 6 years. At first, we started using them every 3rd tie, just to make sure that the track would stay in gauge, no matter if the wood ties started to rot. Then as we got more comfortable with them, we started using them every other tie, with the wood ties really holding the track in place and helping to make it firm in the ballast. We have some sections now that are 100% plastic. We've found that with the plastic ties, the track tends to move around in the ballast a lot more and work down the hills more. What we do is put in a heavy tie every 8 or 10 feet, and then used a long piece of rebar with a washer welded onto one end. We drive that into the ground to hold the track in place, and this seems to work really good. They use a similar technique out in central Texas. They put in one treated wood tie every, at least one in each panel, and that is spiked into the ground.

So far we've had no issues with the plastic ties curling or breaking down or anything like that. We like the fact that they are pre-gauged and will hold the track in gauge all the time. That was one of the big selling points for us, and why we initially used them every 3rd tie. We just ordered more because track work is on-going and we'll probably continue to use more of these in the future. We use the stainless screws purchased from the tie manufacturer, 4 screws per tie. Yes, you can strip out the tie hole, but you can also break the head off the screw, and I've seen both things happen from trying to screw the rail down too hard. So, make sure you set your drill so that it will slip, and you won't have a problem.

We use bolted rail joiners.

cp4449
Posts: 506
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Location: Granada Hills

Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by cp4449 » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:21 pm

At LALS, bothe the small scales and the large scales use the plastic ties. Have not had problems with them at all.
C.P. Mahony
Former 1" Foreman
Los Angeles Live Steamers

Largo
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Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by Largo » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:05 am

Has anyone tried using Rumber for ties? This is a recycled plastic product made from chopped up auto/truck tires, plastic and various binders. Sounds tough as anything. If you bought some of the larger boards, it could easily be ripped into tie-sized pieces on a table saw.

http://rumber.com/

I would love to play with a piece of this stuff, but there are no distributors in New England and shipping less than a container load is cost prohibitive as it weighs a ton!

John Hasler
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Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by John Hasler » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:45 am

I use a similar product for stall mats in a horse barn, and dairy farmers use the same mats for cows. I've cut bits of it up for use in the shop for things like motor mounts. "Tough" s too weak a word for it. I'd worry about sunlight resistance, though.

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Gary Armitstead
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Location: Burbank, CA

Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by Gary Armitstead » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:05 am

Largo wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:05 am
Has anyone tried using Rumber for ties? This is a recycled plastic product made from chopped up auto/truck tires, plastic and various binders. Sounds tough as anything. If you bought some of the larger boards, it could easily be ripped into tie-sized pieces on a table saw.

http://rumber.com/

I would love to play with a piece of this stuff, but there are no distributors in New England and shipping less than a container load is cost prohibitive as it weighs a ton!
Contact Debbie at EP Accutie and talk to her about sending you a "sample pack". She sent me the sample pack when I was researching plastic ties for my small short line home RR. This was a complimentary sample pack...i.e. no cost to me :)! The pack contains four (4) molded plastic ties, 2- 12 inch pieces of West Coast aluminum rail, stainless steel screws (enough to assemble these pieces) and a couple of rail joiners. She even sent out two samples of their new plastic couplers!
Gary Armitstead
Burbank, CA
Member LALS since 1980
Member Goleta Valley Railroad Club 1980-1993

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Gary Armitstead
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Location: Burbank, CA

Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by Gary Armitstead » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:56 am

I forgot.....the sample pack also includes their plastic tie plates for use on wood ties.
Gary Armitstead
Burbank, CA
Member LALS since 1980
Member Goleta Valley Railroad Club 1980-1993

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BudBudzien
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Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by BudBudzien » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:50 am

I would like to find the source of the plastic ties that Train Mountain uses. I believe it is an extrusion of recycled plastic. The thing that appeals to me is that it is solid.
Has anybody ever used Trex or similar decking products?

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Atkinson_Railroad
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Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by Atkinson_Railroad » Mon Oct 01, 2018 11:49 pm

Twenty first century plastic railroad ties are going to outlast most metal adhered to them.
Many kinds of metal fastened to a "tie" is going to wear out. It's where most, if not all the wear takes place.
The wheels riding on the rail will wear out too.

The ties' job is to stand up to the environment... which "plastic" has proven will last for a long, long, time.

You, and I... will be dead and gone... long before the plastic disappears.

-Plastic- is a complex word meaning a multitude of opportunities and applications.

It's a fascinating subject and a material that will continue to improve despite its negative name.

John

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chiloquinruss
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Location: Chiloquin, Oregon

Re: 10 Plastic Tie performance Questions

Post by chiloquinruss » Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:15 pm

"plastic ties that Train Mountain uses" Stay tuned. TM is in the process of redoing our extruder dies that are used for making our ties. We may be in a position to have some for resale once we get the new molds. Seems that making 30 plus miles of ties wore the old molds out! :D With China no longer accepting US waste products we have no idea what the price will be, so like I said, stay tuned! Russ

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