How Do You Cut Railroad Ties?

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Hi,
I am disassembly an old retaining wall made of railroad ties. I get about 3 cuts per chain saw chain before they become uselessly dull. Forget a hand saw or axe. Is there a better way to cut those things? I have a lot more cuts to make.
Thanks, Gary
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Bandsaw would be my choice? Chop saw or table saw if you want to lift them or make stands or maybe you have stands. Recip saw with a good 6 inch blade perhaps?

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Didn't read right the first time. You are taking apart a wall so the chop saw and table saw are out. I wonder if there are carbide tipped chainsaw chains that can handle grit?? Otherwise you are stuck with a recip. saw or jigsaw maybe. I don't think circular saw can cut more than 2 or 3 inches thick can they?
Recip saw would be my weapon of choice. Blades are cheap, power is plentiful and who cares if the cuts are square...
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Can one rent a small lumber mill with band or honkin' big circular saw blades?
Here's some tips. I'd look for the biggest cutoff saw I could find and buy a carbide blade.
http://www.mytractorforum.com/showthread.php?tY153
nb
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How are they held together? Can you split them apart using a sawzall between the ties? How about a sledgehammer, jackhammer, chain and truck?
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Abby Brown wrote:

Perhaps a dumb question, but why are you cutting them? Are you reusing them for something else? Or is this just to make them easier to handle? A couple big prybars, and a couple big teenagers, should make it possible to pull them up off whatever pins are holding them together. A sawzall with metal-cutting demo blades and/or an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel, could cut the rebar or threaded rod between or above the ties, to make the lifting and prying easier.
--
aem sends....

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Years ago I built a retaining wall with railroad ties and use a chainsaw to cut them to fit. I did not have any trouble doing so.
But I have to ask. And not snicker because I have seen this happen- is it possible the chain is on backwards?
Charlie
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If he is cutting down a wall I bet he is hitting stone or grit and that is killing his blade
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wrote:

I bought a little chain saw at a yard sale. Didn't cut worth a darn. Chain on backwards. But he implies he sharpens his and it's good for 3 more cuts, No, he buys another one, but still.

I'll bet your right.
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Having used ties for fencing, walls, etc. and cutting a lot of them with a chainsaw - no the chain does not have to be backward - it will get dull in only a few cuts. Rarely will you get a "clean" tie, they have gravel, dirt etc embedded in them.
Carbide chain might work. I never tried that.
If cutting them in place in the wall, then for sure there is a lot of dirt/gravel/whatever contaminating them.
Harry K
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Two options here:
(1.) You can dig down behind the wall one layer of timber at a time so you are not getting dirt, rocks and grit into your chainsaw which is needlessly dulling your blade...
(2.) You can rent a gasoline powered cut off saw and either cut the timbers directly OR cut between the layers to remove the large spikes/nails/screws or re-bar that are holding your wall together...
~~ Evan
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Two mexicans, a crowbar, and a 6 pack of beer.
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Abby Brown wrote:

Use better chains. I use Oregon Micro-Chisel chains, and I've cut quite a few used telephone poles for retaining walls without the chains crapping out prematurely.
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Let us have a little more information. Are you pulling them down, then cutting them, or trying to cut them in place? Are you cleaning them in any way before you cut them?
If you are cutting them in place, you will dull your blade very quickly from the dirt and rocks. If you cut them without at least a hose sprayer cleaning, you will have the same problem. I know they can be a bear, but you can pull them with a big jack and a chain, or with a chain to the hitch of a truck. Notice I did not say BUMPER.
If it was me, this is what I would do. I'd get them out of the ground, either by jacking, or pulling with chain. The more you get out, and make space, the easier they are, except for the occasional hard one. I'd take my gas powered power washer, and wash them good. Then I'd cut them with a good chain saw, making sure I had it on going the right direction. I have been known to mount them backwards. They're wood, and should cut with a chain saw if clean. If you don't have a chain saw, get a reciprocal cutter, and use a long demo blade, trying to make square cuts. If you don't, use a circular saw, and you will probably have to make cuts all around, and the, it might not be enough to cut all the way through.
I have cut many with my Husqy 16" chainsaw.
It was asked before, but why are you cutting them?
Steve
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On 8/20/2010 7:51 PM, Abby Brown wrote:

get a better chain and keep it out of the dirt.
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
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The problem with cutting ties is all the embedded dirt and gravel _IN_ the ties and no, there is no practical way to clean them first.
Harry K
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Pull the mess down with log chains and tractor/truck, load on trailer and take to landfill. No need to be tidy, its a waste of time. Your project focus is not to make a neat pile of short railroad ties, it is to get rid of the things to build a better retaining wall. Wasn't that easy, now?
Joe
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Joe wrote:

It was just as unrealistic when Harry said it six hours ago. (At least you didn't say to burn it, like he did.) Unless you have a tractor with backhoe and/or front bucket to use as a crane, you're gonna have to break the thing up to get it on the trailer anyway, much less dump it at the other end. On a commercial site, they would use a small knuckle boom crane or crawler-track backhoe, and a dump truck, and make short work of it. For a DIY, there is no practical alternative to disassembly in place, unless you happen to have some Big Yellow Things out back (or at your buddy's place), and don't mind trashing the yard completely.
Yeah, I've done demo of rotted railroad tie walls- 30 years and 30 pounds ago, and it was a tedious clothes and gloves destroying PITA then. Big pry bars to seperate the ties, and something to cut the rebar with, are the low-buck solution, albeit hard on the back. That is why I recommended finding a couple of strong teenagers. Try posting a flyer at the local HS football field- their tryouts/training are starting up, and most HS boys always need cash money. Football players and big crowbars seem like a good match.
--
aem sends...

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wrote:

Pull the mess down with log chains and tractor/truck, load on trailer and take to landfill. No need to be tidy, its a waste of time. Your project focus is not to make a neat pile of short railroad ties, it is to get rid of the things to build a better retaining wall. Wasn't that easy, now?
Joe
With railroad ties at $10 per, I'd love to come over and rip and tear out this and be happy to do so, and haul it off for free. I would put it on freecycle.org, or craigslist, and find an individual like myself who would come over and solve the problem, and do all the work. And maybe even drop some cash for the rr ties.
But you're not into solving the problem, only posting adolescent prattle. If you are going to post to a home repair newsgroup, please get some real world experience.
Steve
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Not to disappoint you Stevo, but many years ago working on farms in the summer, we routinely got rid of log/railroad ties/ironwood fences with pretty simple equipment and no chain saws. The key piece of equipment was usually an old trailer with a crude hand winch. No one would consider it a one man job.
Joe
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