OT Modern railroad repairs

Railroads were being mentioned in an earlier thread. This is an interesting video showing the welding of rails and the new concrete ties.
http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/metalworking-tools/thermite-welding-railroad-track_o.aspx?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=jump&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=TOTTU_010615&day 15-01-06
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On 01/07/2015 06:07 PM, Leon wrote:

More cool machinery:
http://www.wimp.com/traintrack/
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Leon wrote:

I wonder how they allow for rail expansion on hot days.
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On 01/08/2015 8:16 AM, G. Ross wrote:

They just count on enough strength to hold 'em...I wondered about that and did some looking last time the subject came up a few months ago...
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The end of the line stretches a couple feet.
Steve
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On 01/08/2015 9:08 AM, SnA Higgins wrote:

<chuckles...>
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Yeah, thermite welding is really cool to watch. But it's usually just used for repairs. The normal way to weld rail is arc welding, a process called "flash butt welding". It takes something like a 600 amp welder to do it.
John
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He's serious - well, if he's not he should be :-)
Except the extra length goes in the middle somewhere, not at the end. There'll be places where the track has a gentle S-curve, and the track (rail, ties and all) will shift over a tad (making the S more or less curved) to accomodate the expansion and contraction.
John
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I worked on a section gang for a year(in the early 70's)then got bumped so I worked on a large rail gang for a summer until I got bumped again. We worked a branch line that used 68 and 75 pound rail. The rail had been made as early as 1890 and as late as 1905. Most of it started out as 30' long. The section gang would replace the 30' stuff with whatever we found in the lay down pile. Usually we used a couple shorter pieces cutting one of them to fit the two where the broken rail was. The ballast when the track was laid was coal cinder. You could tamp that stuff tight under the ties. Most of the track when I worked it had sod for ballast. The rail was not straight in either an up/down plane or a left/right. Those trains rocked and rolled so much that we would get up against the right of way fence when they passed. So when it got hot in the summer and you had to replace a rail, you had to swing a mall against the web to get it to pop out of place. On especially hot days the gap made by popping a rail out would shorten as much as two inches. We routinely carried a rail saw and a rail drill ( for the bolt holes to connect the angle bars) because we knew a standard size rail was not going to fit back in. Sometimes, we would all grab a handle on the rail tongs and try using the rail as a hammer against the rail in place on one side of the gap to increase the gap til the replacement would fit. We didn't like slamming one back in place because it almost always caused a sun kink. That's a condition where the rails would not be parallel, where the gage, or distance between the two would be more or less than tolerance and could promote a derailment. We'd install some anchors trying to keep the rails parallel but with just sod as ballast they pretty much went where they wanted.
Steve
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LOL. Yeah, there's nothing quite like watching a high-cube covered hopper full of plastic pellets rocking down some bad track. I recall a couple of times we went back and looked, and could see where a wheel had dropped down on the ties for a bit, until it got to a good tie that held gauge and it re-railed itself.

Today with CWR it's normal to try and install it on the hottest days, so that when the rail cools it'll be in tension. That causes fewer problems.
John
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