track questions and ballast

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Harlock
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track questions and ballast

Post by Harlock » Wed May 07, 2008 2:23 pm

A local group has asked me to put together a proposal for a short loop of 7.5" track around a mini-park located on a nearby small airport. After doing some rough drawings, the total mainline trackage will be about 637 feet with a 40ft min. curve radius. This will allow us to handle most any locomotive and car out there, should they come to visit.

I am thinking that plastic ties and steel rails on ballast on our hard desert earth would be a decent way to go for minimal maintenance. There is very little rain here. If done right, do you think a once a month check and tamping would be sufficient to keep it maintained? There will be no formal club to support this track so things need to be kept simple and to a minimum, with as little maintenance as possible. Just one or two people available to help, more like a home track.

This track would not be used very often in the beginning, maybe a few times a month at most and lightly so. Eventually if a non-profit group decided to give rides to the public on a regular basis, it could see more use.

Another idea came up of using steel rail welded to steel ties, like permanent panel track. If it was bolted to a concrete path, that would maybe make sense, but if it's sitting on ballast the plastic long depth ties would probably be better, eh?

I have a question regarding ballast. What type and size of stone do you use, and has anyone calculated a rough cost per foot or per 10 feet of track? (or pounds per foot, from which a cost could be derrived from current prices...)

--Mike
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makinsmoke
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track questions and ballast

Post by makinsmoke » Wed May 07, 2008 3:41 pm

Mike, Each locale has something a little different.

In the desert with minimum shade you will probably have more expansion and chances of sun kinks than other places. Whatever way you choose be sure and leave joints loose every so often to allow for the expansion (and contraction). Aluminum expands more than steel so steel would be a plus. Aluminum is also getting as expensive or more so than steel.

Plastic ties are something that a lot of folks are going to, and if you can get them and they compare favorably with wood, why not? You will have less damage due to rot in the desert with wood than in other parts in the country, so that is maybe a wash.

You need to ensure that the undelayer is pretty stable, which I would guess it is. In that case, a minor ditching (a couple of inches) and caliche or just gravel right on the hard pan may be all you need. Be sure and prepare for the occasional flash floods and runoff and allow for drainage.

The rock I bought is called chat or something and is 3/4". Do not buy river rock as it is smooth and wil not stay in place. The stuff you want looks like it was broken up and has very rough edges.

As far as maintenance, once properly laid it wil be entirely up to the vagaries and whims of the environment as to how much you will need. Just monitor it and adjust your work schedule as necessary.

My two cents.
Brian

willy

Post by willy » Wed May 07, 2008 4:56 pm

Makin is reffering to what agrate business calls 1" minus.

I prefer some thing smaller like 1/2" minus or peastone. I also let the grass grow into it and lock it all up.

LALS uses some stuff called DG (I think it meant decompsed granite, interesting stuff, a rock crubles in your hand, compresses very nicely). Comes right off the hillside.

What you use really depends on you. I have heard of some that used concrete, yet if you get a wash out, getting your track straight will be difficult. A fellow in Canada has totally welded his track. He uses angle iron for ties and once he gets it pushed into the ground it wont go anywhere.

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Post by Curtis_F » Wed May 07, 2008 5:14 pm

Makin is reffering to what agrate business calls 1" minus.
Actually it sounds like "3/4 crushed", which is what several Grand Scale railroads use for ballast out here on the West Coast.

"Crushed" means that the rock has been broken up (crushed) and will fit through a screen mesh of it's stated size, but not through a screen mesh of the next size smaller. The jagged edges give the rock very good interlocking propertes to keep it from migrating too much, but still open enough to allow for drainage of water through the rock.

"Minus" means that the rock will fit through a screen mesh of it's stated size and has not been filtered through another screen. So a "Minus" containes crushed rock of the stated size and all sizes smaller down to dust. Once in place this stuff can setup like concrete as all the different sizes of rock can really compact and interlock together.
LALS uses some stuff called DG (I think it meant decompsed granite,..
Yep. That's what it is.
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Harlock
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Post by Harlock » Wed May 07, 2008 6:29 pm

Guys, wonderful information on the ballast...a friend had mentioned the aspect about the rough pieces locking together, so that all makes good sense.

If anyone has a clue as to how much they used for a particular amount of track, I'd love that nugget of information.
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Harlock
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Re: track questions and ballast

Post by Harlock » Wed May 07, 2008 6:33 pm

makinsmoke wrote: In the desert with minimum shade you will probably have more expansion and chances of sun kinks than other places. Whatever way you choose be sure and leave joints loose every so often to allow for the expansion (and contraction). Aluminum expands more than steel so steel would be a plus. Aluminum is also getting as expensive or more so than steel.
Yup. Plus I've heard three or four stories of aluminum track theft on this and other boards in the last few years.

An interesting thing I learned at Maricopa Live Steamers is that they completely bury their wood ties below the sandy dirt, because the sun bleaching dries out and ruins the ties faster than the earth will.

In any case I'm aiming for the plastic ties, not sure if that is so much of an issue with those.

--Mike
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bcody
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TRACK TURN RADIUS

Post by bcody » Wed May 07, 2008 8:40 pm

I would strongly suggest you increase your turn radius to 60 feet. You will find that some rod engines will not tolerate the 40 foot radius. If I tried to run my MCC GE Dash 9 there it would spread the rails. My three axle trucks have a rigid length of 23.5" and with over 400 pounds on each truck it would destroy a turn with only a 40 foot radius. Been there, done that at our track in Minden, NV. I don't run my diesel there anymore. Bill

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Bill Wilkins
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Stone

Post by Bill Wilkins » Wed May 07, 2008 9:34 pm

Here in Ohio you would go to the quarry and ask for "sixes" (for the bed) Thats the size everyone is talking about. Then for in between the ties you would want "eights", the size of the end of your little finger.

Thats how we do it here...

Bill W.

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Greg_Lewis
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Post by Greg_Lewis » Wed May 07, 2008 9:40 pm

The track that Bill mentions above is owned by Ken Schroeder and he has some sections out back that use square tubing for rails. While his environment is quite different than yours you might check with him to see how it has worked out. He welds angle iron between the rails every few feet to hold it in gauge. His contact number is listed in the club section in the back of Live Steam magazine under "Northern Nevada Live Steamers."
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Post by charlie bill » Thu May 08, 2008 9:44 am

Harlock: I believe you best bet is to use steel rail on plastic ties, having laid a bit of this track, you will have less maintaince. Any other track is a real headache.
These are just suggestions. A 75' radius, will handle any engine.
When you make your track offset your ends 12". If you have a need to, steel rail will bend about 15 degrees once the track is assembled.
Lay a heavy 8' wide plastic sheet on the ground, place track on it, then ballace. The plastic is for weed control.
If I may ask where are you located? I may be able to find out some prices which may be high and then there is the shipping.
Charlie

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Post by Curtis_F » Thu May 08, 2008 10:12 am

On a related topic, has anyone or any club experimented with anything a kin to ribbon rail?

I've seen guys to build track from Hot Rolled Bar or Tubing buy in 20' lengths to reduce the number of joints, but I haven't seen anyone weld the lengths together.


Cheers,

Curtis F.
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makinsmoke
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track questions and ballast

Post by makinsmoke » Thu May 08, 2008 10:20 am

I did leave out some roadbed work that I did here in Oklahoma as I figured he'd not have the grief I have with weeds.

I cut a couple of inches below grade with a shovel (small railroad) and laid weed barrier down, then a layer of balllast. Then I laid track panels down, then the ballast between the ties. The barrier sticks up over the height of ground level. That and the slight depression helps to keep the ballast in place. Check out Chet Peterson's road bed building directions in his Railroad Engineering book.

The weed barrier has done a decent job over five years along with a light application of Roundup. I would recommend it to anyone.

I would ask what effect the sun has on plastic ties as depending on the chemical makeup plastic can degrade quite spectacularly over time in the sun.

Brian

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