7+-NGM-logo The

7-Plus-NGM Digest October 2003

Date: Thu, 02 Oct 2003 18:45:06 -0700
From: "Daniel F. Morris"

Subject: Russ Elred's White Creek RR Pixs

I have posted today pixs from the meet held at Russ Elred's "White Creek Railroad" last friday & saturday. A good crowd showed up both days despite the cool weather & a grand time was had by all! Russ's track affords a real railroading experience along his six miles of actual trackage. Block signals control the sidings and main line for a safe operation. There's NO boredom on this track as one is kept busy interacting with other trains that are also on the railroad. Russ's track passes through woods, over bridges, trestles, and ponds along the way. It also passes around two separate lakes, a bog, and even "Three Mile Island" This track truly has character and it's large size only adds to a railroaders enjoyment. Check out Russ's web site for further information and run dates.

Live Steaming In The Pacific Northwest & More!

Dan Morris

Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 05:37:35 -1000
From: "Patrick McNally"

Subject: An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment

Hi, I'm a new member and hope to get some help in my selection of an aluminum track system for use near the ocean in Hawaii. I'm planning about 3000' feet of track, and I'm looking for a long term and low-maintenance solution even if it's more work and expense now. My equipment weight and traffic will be light so compromises are certainly possible when compared to heavily used club track.

I like the Train Mountain system on plastic ties but doubt that galvanized fasteners, tie plates, and rail joiners will hold up well enough in the salt air. My experience here is that unpainted steel with average galvanizing corrodes quite quickly, and I understand that this rate of corrosion will be accelerated if galvanized parts are put in direct contact with aluminum due to galvanic currents. Likewise, I've been told that replacing galvanized parts with stainless steel would be a problem too, and would result in aluminum being sacrificed to the stainless parts. I would appreciate hearing from anyone else operating next to the sea, and of any answers to these questions...

1. Is there an aluminum tie plate or other hold down system available? I haven't been able to find any.
2. If I can't find an aluminum tie plate, would the dado in a plastic tie be strong enough to secure the rail laterally if the fastener is offset slightly from the rail edge and used only to trap the rail into the dado? The idea would be to use a nylon washer under a large stainless steel crew head to hold the rail down, but rely solely on the sides of the dado cut into the tie to hold it laterally, thus avoiding having the stainless screw shank touch the rail edge.
3. Is aluminum hardware suitable to hold aluminum rail joiners together?
If not, would nylon shoulder washers be durable enough to use as an insulator for stainless fasteners?

Thanks for any ideas, and thanks to past contributors who have already provided so much in the archives.

Pat McNally

Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 09:57:17 -0600
From: "Lewis, Woody"

Subject: RE: An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment

Hi Patrick,

You might check with some of the live steamers in Florida... Some of those clubs are near the ocean and they have the same corrosive problems you face.

As to the tie dado slots holding the rail, YES it works and works well. The Colorado Live Steamers do this and after 4 years appears to be working quite well.

As to fish plates, I would question the strength of aluminum fish plates. Stainless would of course be stronger, but is expensive and hard to drill. PLastic insulator strips could be used between the fish plate and the rail with steel or stainless bolts.

As an alternative to aluminum rail, have you considered steel rail. Train Mountain might still be selling it. There you'd have no problem going all steel rail/fishplates/tie plates...

Good Steaming,

Woody Lewis
Colorado Springs, CO

Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 11:33:47 -0600
From: "Chuck Hoelzen"

Subject: Re: An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment

One thing to think aouut is to talk to your local boat equipment dealer. Look at anodes used on lower units for the motor.

A more reactiave anode attached every fiew hundred feet should "STOP" corosion!


Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 11:39:08 -0600
From: "Chuck Hoelzen"

Subject: OFF LIST An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment

Pat McNally,

Welcome to our list. It has been slow of late.

I am NOT near salt water but have high salt soil.

My rail system is steel. I have a web page that you may find interesting at:


Riverview & Twin Lakes RR.
Riverton Wyoming

Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2003 00:43:23 -0000
From: "chevwilliam"

Subject: Re: OFF LIST An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment

1. Aluminium (typical 6061-T651 extrusion) Rail will still corrode slowly in a salt atmosphere. you can reduce the rate by attaching renewable sacrifical anodes to to each section of rail (the connection needs to be very good/low resistance and they would need to be checked periodically to verify when you would need to renew them) .
2. Joint Bars of the same alloy may work for very light traffic/light equipment but Stainless Steel would allow heavier equipment/traffic. Insulate the different metals by inserting reinforced plastic or fiber sheet and using sleeves between screw shank and inside of hole in the rail. Stainless Steel screws and locking nuts would give a relativly low corrosion setup.
3. Dado in plastic ties, with insulating sheet wrapped under base of rail and over the top of the foot between clamping method and rail will protect against metal to metal contact at that point. you could use fiberglass washers rather than nylon (nylon generally does not like to be used unprotected outside). Perhaps you could use short pieces of Stainless to clamp under the screw in place of round washers?
4. As the rails will be insulated at the joint bars, you would need to find a way to bond rail to rail if you want signaling, but that would set up a corrosion cell again.
5. Switch frogs, points, and actuating harware may need to be made out of regular steel for operating life, you will have to keep after the corrosion but it would be relative limited in scope as there would be less total area or linear distance that would be corrosion prone.
6. Talk to a good Aircraft Mechanic who has an Inspection Authorization about the various problems with Aluminum-Stainless Steel-Steel/Iron use in a salt atmosphere for some proven methods that protect aircraft structures from rotting under the same conditions. Another source is possibly a Marine Surveyor or Marine Archetect.
7. An alternative is an active corrosion preventative system using electrical current to force the corrosion to a major sacrifical electrode that would need to be checked often, but this could also attack water, gas, and sewer piping in the area so look into it thourghly before setting up such a system.

I hope this is of help to you.

Side issue: which Island? I was in Hawaii with the Navy in 1961-1962 and got to Maui for the First Annual Liahina Whaling Days, My ship was a guest of the port. I also spent much time seeing Owahu(?) on $15.00 a week.
Best Regards,
William J. Stewart.

Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 09:49:35 -0000
From: "Ronald"

Subject: Track system

hi all out there

track system, vented a zillion times

me a german guy
born Berlin living in France now

ASKING YOU for a groovy track style

only 18 mile from the atlantic south-east of Bordeaux

ACACIA could it be used ??
they use it un-treated as sticks in the wine-yard

so treated it should work ??

Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 06:33:55 -0700
From: "R.David S. CORMIE"

Subject: RE: Track system

We are only 1 mile from the ocean and have nearly a mile on the ground and some of the track has been down for 28 years.

It works just fine.

We use a 50mm x 50mm plastic tie (recycled) 350mm long.

We did use pressure treated ties for a while and they were ok but rotted in the forest area at a 3% rate. We do live in a temperate rain forest area so you will have better luck.

Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 21:38:40 -1000
From: "Patrick McNally"

Subject: RE: An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment


Thanks to you (and William Stewart) for the idea of a sacrificial anode to protect aluminum track at my home on the ocean. I got in touch with one of Hawaii's experts in the field, and then got a confirming opinion from a second source. Unfortunately, the consensus was that this type of system won't work to protect aluminum that isn't either immersed or buried.

I'd appreciate hearing from you or anyone with details who has actually seen this work to protect track or other aluminum from corrosion in the atmosphere alone. My sources are in the business of protecting underwater and buried components, so maybe there's a method that's unknown to them.

I'm also interested in hearing from anyone who has any design details about making a tanker into a track washing system to keep salt deposits off the track. William Stewart helped me out on that one too, suggesting that my idea of spraying wouldn't be sufficient without some scrubbing action and a follow up rinse. If anyone has built something like this I'd appreciate details and a way to get pictures.


Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2003 14:30:04 -0000
From: "chevwilliam"

Subject: Re: An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment

Re: Sacrifical Anode use.

The track at LALS is, and was, ballasted with "Decomposed Granite", a soil type that is prevalent in our local area. As originally laid the base of the rail sits either directly on top of the tie or sits on a tieplate on top of the tie, and is held down by washer head screws. after ballast is applied, tamped and wet down a few times, it settles to be even with the top of the ties in between the rails. The rail base is in contact with the ballast under the rails, and the ballast line outside the rails slopes downward to exposeablut 1/8 inch of the top en dof the tie to each side. after a few years of use. the typical condition is that the blown dust and kicked ballast covers the top of the rail base along most of the trackwork, and is only removed with dilligent brushing, which is not done until maintenance is needed.
Based on my observations over time, i believe that the andodes are worth trying for your planned railroad, so perhaps a practical test should be tried as outlined in my last e-mail, with the addition of at least one test section with no connection to an anode nor to any 'protected' trackwork.
In any case please keep records of what you do and the results over time, and publish periodic reports to let the rest of us know of your experiences.

Re: Track cleaning car.

I do not have any personnal knowledge of use of one in 7.5" gauge, however, I do know that both LATL and Pacific Electric used sweeper cars and rail grinders on their lines. I am sure that other streecar or interurban lines also used such cars to maintain their lines in the face of blowing snow, sand, dirt, and the frequent starts and stops at fixed locations, which results in uneven wear to the head giving ripples in the rolling surface that required periodic dressing of the head for smooth, relativly quiet, rides.
Also, there are some rail cleaning cars sold for the miniature railway gauges to ease the porblem with dirt and oxide buildup causing intermittent electrical contact.
If you think about the problem and break it down into a sequence of processes, such as wetting, wet scrubbing, and rinses, one or more general arrangements of the necessary equipment will develop. Just in real life, you will need to deal with problems such as switches, frogs, and grade crosings, etc. in planning your equipment design.Motorized brushes rotating against the direction of movement would give quicker cleaning than those rotating with the direction of movement or unpowered. Anything tat needs to be positioned in close to the rail shold have guide wheels to keep it in allignment inspite of curves.
Water use will be relatively high, indicating that either large capacity tankage or frequeient refills would be necessary.The nozzles that wet the rail before the brushes should be set up to mist close to the rail and mutiple to get the wetting time to soak the rail surfaces. The brushes should be misted continiously when in opperation, near the point of contact with the rail such that the wetted bristles are carried into the rail immeadiatly.
Rinse wil require a higher rate of spray and mutiple applications to assure washing the loosened residue off the rail an into the ballast , howpfully away from the rail base, before drying.
Please be aware that the salts washed off the rail and onto the nearby bzallast will increase the potential for corrosion on any rail in contact with the salts coated ballast.
I hope these comments are of help in solving your problem.
Best Regards,
William J. Stewart.

Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2003 19:17:31 +0200
From: "josef wagner"

Subject: Re: An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment

hallo chuck
the easiest way to protect alu (but you need specific alloys) is anodizing.
you have to contact on this particularely problem directly the manufacturer of alu alloy first material. i do have only some specific information and experiance in aero space.
josef wagner
vienna, austria

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 18:21:53 -0600
From: "Chuck Hoelzen"

Subject: Re: Anode Aluminum Track

You don't need to have the componants in the soil. You can get an electonic corosion protection system for cars that charges the body and sends pos ions into the air. This charge will overcome the cell potential. The salt causes a electrolite that allows dissimular metals to form a battery cell voltage.

By puting a neg voltage of 1.5 to 2 volts on the rail and a pos ground rod every 200' you would overcome any corosion due to cell voltages.

Somthing called the electromotiave scale ranks the electrical reaction of metals. Alumimum is near the top but a magnesium electrode will protect Al if placed 100 to 200' along the track. The magnesium will erode and must be replaced as needed. The anode does much the same thing as the electronic corosion system for cars. The more reactiave the soil the faster the anode is used, the less reactiave conditions cause less current flow and less anode consumption.

The thing is metal WILL NOT leave a negitave charged surface in favor of a more positave one.


Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 08:01:15 -0700 (Pacific Standard Time)
From: "Boyd Butler"

Subject: Alumium Rail

What about anodizing the rail like aircraft do to protect unpainted parts? We used to paint with laquer on floats of planes, this protected them to some degree. Oh yes pardon the spelling. Unless you use steel rail I don't think that you will ever overcome the problem with corrosion. Also the makeup of the aluminum will determine how much of a corrosion problem you will have. I think that I would bite the bullet and use steel rail. Good luck Boyd Butler, member Train Mountain Railroad.

Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 11:03:06 -0400
From: "Bruce Mowbray"

Subject: Re: An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment

Here's a few things to consider.
First off, most aluminum rail is made from 6061 alloy aluminum. Even in it's bare state, it is one of the most corrosion resistant aluminum alloys. Once the outer skin of this aluminum oxidizes, it is even more protected from the elements. One way of protecting the surface of this type of aluminum in the home shop is to alodine it. This brush, wipe or sponge on coating protects aluminum from the weather and provide a good pre paint (if you wish) aluminum treatment. Available at Aircraft Spruce and Specialty for about 70 dollars per gallon. This stuff goes a long way.

Bruce Mowbray
7+" Gauge Livesteamer (and Dieseler)
Steam Preservation Specialist, Steamtown NHS

Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 07:10:19 -1000
From: "Patrick McNally"

Subject: RE: Aluminum Rail

I am very interested in the idea that steel rail will be more resistant to corrosion than aluminum 6061-T6. I greatly prefer the look of steel, and also don't much like the look of aluminum and steel together at frogs and switch points. I'd willingly pay the difference in price if it would work in my location.

I haven't been considering steel due to my experience with steel "cattle stake" fence posts (T-posts). These are reasonably heavy in construction, roughly like a 1" 3/8" bar stock joined into a "T" profile. Within 18 months these are entirely encrusted with heavy, scaly rust if located anywhere within 300 feet of the ocean. They are painted when new, but otherwise unprotected. If steel rail were to corrode at the same rate, my guess is that it would be unusable within five years, possibly as few as three.

I also had a retired carnival train for years, and almost all the steel rail that came with it is rusted out and useless even though stored (outside) several miles away from the ocean. I happened to have a few lengths of aluminum track (alloy unknown) stored with the steel rail that I bought in 1983 and it looks like new.

Of course the composition of the steel would make a difference, but I'd be very hesitant about using steel unless there were some very persuasive and on-point comparisons I could use. The Honolulu football stadium built for the Hula Bowl in the late 70's was made of steel that was supposed to rust down to an attractive finish. Ten years and tens of millions of dollars later it was totally rebuilt due to out-of-control corrosion.

It would be very good news indeed if steel would work. But my first hand experience makes me gun shy, and my 3-year old 6061 aluminum chain link fence is doing great (though it's painted). So I'm gun shy about steel, but do have an open mind.

Incidentally, I am interested in coatings and anodizing, though it seems these wont' survive on the running surface, and would eventually fail even on other surfaces. But having enough time for proper maintenance is a big issue for me, so I'm looking first at possible solutions that minimize maintenance time.

I'm a novice at this, and greatly appreciate your input and that of others willing to share their expertise.

Best regards, Pat

Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 07:26:26 -1000
From: "Patrick McNally"

Subject: RE: An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment


First, a word of thanks for your web site. I've visited it often, and have learned a great deal from your experiences. My nearest club is over 2000 miles away, so pictures and written details help a lot.

I was aware of the protective effects of the invisible aluminum oxide, but I presume this won't apply to the running surface due to abrasion from wheel treads. With salt spray settling easily on level surfaces, and with rainfall less than 10" a year in my area, I'm expecting low grade surface pitting.

I have considered anodizing and various surface treatments, but have thought that they too wouldn't protect the running surface, and would probably not be needed elsewhere on the track due to the inherent resistance of the 6061 alloy.

I'd appreciate any other thoughts you may have on the subject.

Thanks, Pat

Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 15:30:49 -0400
From: "Bruce Mowbray"

Subject: Re: An Aluminum Track System for a Marine Environment

Pat, Thanks for the compliments on my website. I hope to add more to my site once the house is completed so stay tuned for more.

I would suggest a test piece of rail be put outside to see what problems you will have. Make sure you use a piece of the actual rail you will be using. I don;t think you will find any problems with the aluminum. As far as the rail head pitting, the oxidation of aluminum takes place almost immediately. This is why aluminum is one of the more difficult to weld metals. If it is not cleaned of oxidation just prior to welding (within minutes if possible) , the oxidation prevents the metals from fusing together. Besides, only if you actually grind the rail head clean will the surface have to reoxidize. The rolling action of your wheels will not remove the surface oxidation once it has formed. Lets remember how hard aluminum oxide is. It is found in high quality sand paper and in grinding wheels. In fact, the aluminum oxide on the rail is actually harder than the surface of your wheels.
Here's a little past experience that I have had. I once belonged to the Long Island Live Steamers club. This club is located about 7 miles form the Atlantic ocean on the south shore of Long Island. In the summer, the on- shore breeze that occurs every day, is strong enough to carry the salt spray inland nearly 15 miles in some areas. While working on the track crew and getting real upclose and personal with the aluminum rail we had in use, there was never a problem with corrosion of the aluminum. Some of the rail was ten years old. What did corrode was everything that contained iron that was put in contact with the rail. All hardware had to be stainless steel or well plated to prevent galvanic action from eating away at steel. The railhead always had a good coat of oxidation on it and it never was eaten to the point of pitting. Even in the spring without having ant trains run upon the rail all winter, there was no sign of surface pitting.

Bruce Mowbray
7+" Gauge Livesteamer (and Dieseler)
Steam Preservation Specialist, Steamtown NHS

Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 18:01:42 -0400
From: RichD

Subject: Re: Aluminum Rail

2 clubs in N. Ga and S. Tn have purchased 1" 6061-T6 anodized al rail with it died dark bronze (dk brown) straight from the extruder. We own the die. The rail head will wear down to bare al, but it looks great and will last forever in this climate. Additional cost was a few pennies per ft. On the other hand some old used al rail was bought from a Fla man over 20 yrs ago and seems to be 2024 alloy. Very stiff stuff. Most definetly not 6061 type.
It was very corroded then with many visible pits. Since it now resides in N. Ga the deterioration seems to have stopped.

Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 21:01:16 -0700
From: Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Subject: Train Sounds on the Net!!!

Can any of you help my little brother with this project?
kind regards


If you know of anywhere that I could find 'The Little Train That Could" type of wave or mp3 files on the net, please let me know it has to sound like a cute small train: not a big one; it's for a children's park. They wanna play 'little train' sounds while their little train is carrying the kids around...


Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2003 15:24:14 EST
From: bgwmoxie@aol.com

Subject: Re: Track system

Has anyone in this group ever been buried with a sprig of acacia?
Bro. Sylvester

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 04:19:08 -0000
From: "Ellis Smith"

Subject: cutting recycled plastic lumber

I have found a supply of recycled plastic lumber at a very good price. A sample of 2X4 was furnished and it is same as a sample tie I have from another source.

I tried ripping the 2X4 on my Ryobi table saw with carbide blade. Very slow cutting. Tried spraying blade with silicone and no help.

Appreciate any help in how to rip 2X4 to 2X2 for ties.

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 02:43:36 -0800
From: "R.David S. CORMIE"

Subject: RE: cutting recycled plastic lumber

Just a word to the wise. Do not bother to rip 2x4's into 2x2's, they will curl and are not very dense in the center.

Our club has tried it and you can get up to an inch of offset in just 14" with just a little time in the sun.

All the strength in the plastic is in the outer surface. You can buy 2x2 ready made. They just have to be cut to length.

Speaking of cutting the things you MUST use a tough carbide blade as there can be plenty of alum. bits in the mix. You can also smell just like what was in the plastic before they made it into lumber. Veg oil, soap etc will waft up from the saw on a regular basis. This stuff will eat cheap saw blades. Myself and one other main person have cut about 15,000 ties from these and they work well.

If your local mfg does not have the 2x2 extruders then shop around for one that does.

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 07:13:57 -0600
From: "Bill Laird"

Subject: Re: cutting recycled plastic lumber


Will you please post your source for recycled plastic.


Bill Laird
General Superintendent of Operations
Wimberley, Blanco & Southern Railroad
"The Bluebonnet Route"

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 09:01:33 -0600
From: "Rick White"

Subject: Cutting Plastic Ties

Instead of ripping 2 x 4 stock down to 2 x 2 stock for ties, try using the 2 x 4 as is, standing on edge. Space the ties out a bit further because each tie will give better support. The ballast will hold better - more surface to hold onto. Riverside Livesteamers uses plastic ties of 2 x 4 stock. Others use wood 2 x 4 ties (see the WB&S links below my name). May cost more, but will give a very stable track.
And, it will save you a lot of time and blades.

Rick White

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 11:47:06 -0500
From: "Brough Turner"

Subject: Recycled plastic lumber

This may or may not be directly useful, but I spent some time shopping for 2" x 2" recylced plastic lumber in the spring and summer of 2001. I ended up buying 450 pieces, each 2" x 2" x 8', from Everlast Plastic Lumber in Hamburg Pennsylvania:


Their "mahogony" color most closely approximated the color of creosoted wood ties. The shipment weighted roughly 6000 pounds and came on three pallets. The cost for the plastic lumber was $2205 (in August 2001). Of course, at 6000 lbs, shipping is a serious issue. From Pennsylvania to a truck transfer point near my place in Massacusetts was $520. Actually getting the pallets the last 7 miles and down onto the ground was another story!

I used a carbide blade on my radial arm saw to cut the 8' pieces into 6 ties of just under 16" each. The blade is still going strong after 3000+ cuts.

- rbt

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 09:28:19 -0800 (Pacific Standard Time)
From: "Boyd Butler"

Subject: Cutting Ties

Email Train Mountain and ask them as they rip ties by the pallet load a day, several sometimes.

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 20:32:31 -0500
From: "Bruce Mowbray"

Subject: Re: cutting recycled plastic lumber

I use a 10" carbide tipped blade with no more than 20 teeth and designed for fast/rough cutting. I cut my ties to length first then rip them down the middle on my old craftsman table saw. As you probably already know, a 12 foot 2x4 weighs about 40 pounds and this gets a little heavy to handle and push through the saw.I find if you push the material through as quick as you can without stalling the saw, the plastic will not melt and stick to the blade. Make sure the blade you use is sharp. This too will prevent the plastic from heating up and sticking to the blade.

Bruce Mowbray
7+" Gauge Livesteamer (and Dieseler)
Steam Preservation Specialist, Steamtown NHS

Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 01:59:01 -0000
From: "Ellis Smith"

Subject: plastic ties

Here is a company that makes the ties with a reasonable price for seconds.



I have run into a small lumber company that has some old stock on hand and want to get rid of it and not replace. I plan to buy the lot if I can rip it.

Thanks for the suggestions on cutting. I will get a correct blade and try.

Shipping is a real problem with plastic lumber. You need to be able to drive and pick it up.

Ellis S

Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 09:46:46 EST
From: Mikado8@aol.com

Subject: Re: cutting recycled plastic lumber

I agree with you. Do not cut 2X4's into 2X2's. I'm using 2 X 2"s with no problems.

Bill C.
Beaver Creek Railway

Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 09:53:31 EST
From: Mikado8@aol.com

Subject: Re: cutting recycled plastic lumber

I have had no problems in cutting the 2X2's. It is messy and use safety glasses. I obtain mine from Canada but am thinking of USA distribution if I can get enough orders. It would then be available in the western New York area for shipment anywhere in the 48 states.

Bill C.
Beaver Creek Railway

Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 12:41:21 -0500
From: rhartsoe

Subject: Cross ties from plastic or PT lumber?

While the motor oil part may not be agreeable with some because of Eco issues, I used the following method. I have 1/10 mile of track and could not afford plastic ties.

I went to local Lowes hardware stores and started buying their "cull" 2x2's and 2x4's pressure treated. I ended up getting all the 2x2's I needed for 20 cents on the dollar. Most Lowes will give good discounts on cull to get it out of the way. A warped 2x2 cannot be sold but when cut into ties, the short lengths are straight. I cut them all the same 15" length and soaked them in used motor oil from diesel engines mixed 50/50 with kerosene which allowed the oil to soak in well. After soaking for about 3 days I would place them on a surface with plastic underneath sloped towards a 5 gallon bucket to catch any runoff. I let them spend plenty of time in the sun and rain making certain to catch the runoff and not letting it run into any streams. I predrilled them for screws which prevented cracking and used stainless steel screws with large heads. I started the outside screws before laying the ties down and when I added the track it was easy to add the inside screws and tighten down and space the ties. I installed them last year and have had very little drain off into the ballast. The soil below the ballast has stayed clear and free of oil. The ties look like real miniature creosoted ties and should last for years. I have plenty of extras made up in case I need to replace one now and then. I spaced them 3" apart and they really look to scale. In some of the curves, I used 2x4's prepared the same way turned on their edge and the ballast really holds them in place well. It is important to catch the runoff when you remove the ties from the oil. I let them drain on plastic sloped into a bucket and put it back into the soak solution. Do not contaminate the soil. A friend used an old bathtub to make a soaking vat. I used a barrell and buckets. Not plastic but they look and work great. I think I have about 15 cents each, maybe a little more in my ties. Works great on a tight budget. Now if I could just figure out how to get a deal on more track?

Robert Hartsoe
Miracle Mountain Railway

Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 18:03:51 -0500
From: mrjcad@netscape.net

Subject: RE: Cross ties from plastic or PT lumber?

Go to groovy track using steel strap on edge - costs 1/3 of profile aluminum rail. That's what I'm doing.

Laurence Johnson

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 00:53:58 -0800 (Pacific Standard Time)
From: "Boyd Butler"

Subject: Loss Of A Live Steamer

I regret to have to pass this along to those who knew him, Russ Cluff of the Great Nowhere Railroad located in Moses Lake Wa. Passed away today. He hosted a meet every year for all Live Steamers that was put on with the help of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Boyd Butler.

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 09:07:04 -0500
From: rhartsoe

Subject: Re: Digest Number 879

What are the measurements and shape and is that what it is called?
What was its original purpose and how do you fasten it to the ties?
In other words what do I ask for when I look for it?
Let us know how it does for you.

Robert Hartsoe

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 09:47:57 -0800 (Pacific Standard Time)
From: "Boyd Butler"

Subject: Track

While up at the Burnaby, if I spelled it right, track in Canada, I was shown the device they use to install the ties to the rail which is bar stock. Now if one of them could send a picture of it and a little data one can build it for about 5-10 dollars and works whither replacing ties or new track and is a one person operation.

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 10:45:55 -0800
From: Allen Lee Dobney

Subject: Re: Track

You can purchase the groovy track tool and get information on how it works at the following website......Allen


Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 08:36:39 +1300
From: "Chris Draper"

Subject: Rail Bending

I am also using a form of Groovy track. I have had a wide blade made for my radial arm saw which makes slotting the ties for the rail a breeze.

While I think about it - has anyone got a good simple, cheap way of bending rail when doing maintenance - once installed?

Chris Draper

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 11:41:49 -0800
From: Dennis Dalla-Vicenza

Subject: Re: Track

Boyd, There is a picture of it on the net @ http://pacificcoast.net/~trainman/
Go to Trackside Pictures on extreme right third and fifth pictures show it in action. VIME in Victoria have been using the "Grooved Tie" rail assembly for about 30 years and it lasts as good as any other system.
Our ground track superintendent (In lots of the pictures) has already informed the list that we are in the process of changing over to "regurgitated plastic ties" and our belief is that these will be even more successful than our preserved wooden ties were in the past.
The grooved ties are pushed onto the bar stock by a (green in our case) gizmo that looks like bent fork with a crossbar across the tines. The crossbar sits on the rails the forks go under the tie and pressure on the handle forces the ties up onto the rail.
If you scan the pictures on the pages you will see that our rail looks good and holds up under service. We are weeks away from the start of a major expansion at our track which will lengthen our run.
kind regards

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 22:53:08 -0000
From: "Tim Couling"

Subject: Athelstan - yet more photos

Evening all,

More news from Dorset, UK.

It is two months since the last build update for my 2-8-0 "Athelstan" and much has happened (but not much photographed). I have added two photos to the Athelstan file, and removed two earlier ones.

Progress since the beginning of September:

Motion painted and re-fitted
Footplate framing completed and painted
Smokebox fitted, including main steam pipe, blast pipe, blower and snifting valve.
Tender chassis welded together, tank base fitted to chassis, bogies overhauled (they were the first thing I built over 8 years ago!!)
Tender components fabricated (I produced a 1 to 1 set of drawings and had the whole lot laser cut from 3mm plate as a kit of parts)
Ashpan completed and fitted.

The photos show the loco at mid September when the motion was removed for painting and again on the 4th October when the motion was being refitted, but much of the above was yet to be commenced.

The smokebox is now bolted to the saddle and the steam and exhaust pipes run through threaded holes in the base. Apart from the chimney and painting this is now complete

Laser cutting the tender components has produced a kit of parts far more quickly than otherwise possible (5 days) and at a reasonable cost (iro GBP 200) from a local supplier.
I would recommend anyone needing components cut from sheet metal to investigate this method.
The components are cut very crisply and show no distrotion. Most of the components I ordered were in 3mm plate,however this method is possible even for items in material as thick as 12mm/0.5 inch.
With the parts I have had fabricated no further preparation is required prior to bolting or welding together and the material is ready for primer as delivered, thicker pieces will need some preparation prior to painting.
With luck the tender body will be welded up this weekend, and I'll take a photo for the album.

Apart from the tender, work between now and Christmas will focus on having the cab and footplating laser cut and welded up, hydraulic testing the boiler prior to fitting the main steam pipe, manifold and piping up. Maybe I'll be in steam by Easter next year.

Regards and good luck with your own projects.


4th October and the motion is complete on the LH side.
The RH side was finished 2 days later.
The eagle eyed will note that the eccentric is 90 degrees out of alignment - since corrected.

18th Sept: Athelstan outside with footplate framing complete and painted, front coupling attached.

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 23:15:29 -0500
From: mrjcad@netscape.net

Subject: Re: Digest Number 879

What are the measurements and shape and is that what it is called?

MOST PEOPLE IN 7 1/2 GAGE USE 3/8 X 1 OR 3/8 X 1-1/4 20' LONG STEEL; I, HOWEVER, AM USING 1/4" X 1" X 20' AS DO A FEW FOLK.

What was its original purpose


and how do you fasten it to the ties?


Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 23:23:03 -0500
From: mrjcad@netscape.net

Subject: RE: Rail Bending

I am also using a form of Groovy track. I have had a wide blade made for my radial arm saw which makes slotting the ties for the rail a breeze.


While I think about it - has anyone got a good simple, cheap way of bending rail when doing maintenance - once installed?


Laurence Johnson

Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 18:14:50 -0000
From: "fredvv44"

Subject: Re: Track

here is a web site that shows a neat machine for cutting the grooves.
scroll down the the tie section.


at www.waleswest.com we are also building groovy track. we found an old drum sanding machine that had power feed rollers. we replaced the drum with 2 dado blades and have made a tray to hold the ties. i'll post a picture in a day or so.
fred v

Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 11:22:46 EST
From: Jubilatede@aol.com

Subject: Re: Digest Number 879

Two cents worth on groovy track. Seems I remember the Cincinati (sp? there should be a few more c's.t's and i's) Cinder Sniffers has used this type of track for a long while with success. Something about it being forgiving enough so that one can run either 7 1/4" or 7 1/2'" equipment without disaster. How and why? -Ask them.

Cam Brown

Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 09:31:48 -0700
From: "Lewis, Woody"

Subject: RE: Groovy Track

Hello Live Steamers,

Is there a risk to engines with cast iron wheels when running extensively on the flat bar track of wearing grooves in the cast iron wheels? I have seen several 1870 - 1880 locomotives in Colorado that have been preserved that have well worn grooves in their drivers...

Train Mountain has started to use steel but that is actual rail with the actual rail profile which is a more "easier wearing" profile than the flat bar has...

Does anyone have any feedback (pros or cons) on flat bar wear on cast iron wheels vs. steel rail vs. aluminum rail?


Woody Lewis
Colorado Springs, CO

Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 09:18:11 -0800 (Pacific Standard Time)
From: "Boyd Butler"

Subject: Russ Clough

Russ only came to Train Mountain twice but many in the state of Washington traveled to his Great Nowhere Railroad in Moses Lake, it was not a large railroad in size but large in spirit. Every year he looked forward to them and was even planning the next one at the end, now he can join the others that have passed to the other layout in the sky.

Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 22:37:02 -0000
From: "chevwilliam"

Subject: Re: Groovy Track

Short term probably not, long term probably yes, especially if the iron wheel is low strength and not specially cast to have a chilled tire and flange, check out the speifications for a Cast iron wheel for full size railroads in an early car builder's cylcopedia.In practice full size railroads have wheel wear patterns that result in the running surface becomming smaller in radius that the outter edge of the wheel, and have inspection standards to use to say when the wear is sufficent to make continued use without returning an issue. If you have soft iron (easily machined) wheels you will have this wear, even on Aluminum rail, if you run long enough. Some people fit alloy steel tires on iron wheels, some use alloy steel wheels, and a few get "cast iron" wheels that require Carbide tooling and give off spiral blue chips when machined, but in the end they all get the same wear pattern. It just takes a different amount of running to develop.
Best REgards,
William J. Stewart.

Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 17:57:08 -0500
From: "mikell"

Subject: Re: Re: Groovy Track

If you use hot rolled steel it has a radius and lessens the wear and is cheaper to boot.


Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 23:45:09 -0800
From: Dennis Dalla-Vicenza >

Subject: Re: Re: Groovy Track

Mikell et al,
The chance of getting mill edge hot roll in the sizes we use for grooved tie rails is pretty slim. The steel is hot rolled anywhere from 6" to 106" at the mill I worked at and then slit down to 1," 1 1/4," 1 1/2" or whatever the customer ordered.
I have the feeling (and I will confirm on Sunday) that the track we put down last year at VIME is now nicely rounded. The weight of our larger locomotives and loaded passenger cars has to do something to the rail.
Most of the steel that goes into bar stock was A36 grade which makes it a "Mild steel" and likely to wear to round very quickly.
kind regards