I would like the end result to be more like a city scape, with varying
heights etc. It's to display bonsais.
How would I go about laying the sleepers so that they are firmly set
in the ground? Would I need concrete? or just go deeper and use soil?
I doubt there's anyway to bolt them together to improve sturdiness.
so, you'd cut to different lengths. be aware that old railroad
sleepers are dipped in creasote, which can cause cancer. you don't
want to be handling them with bare hands or breathing the dust when
you cut them. they'll also gunk up & dull a saw blade real fast.
where do you live? does the ground freeze?
if you live in an area where the ground freezes & you want to keep
the posts upright, you need to sink them below the frostline (4
feet in my area, which is New England).
if the ground doesn't freeze, i'd set them in a 2-3 foot deep
trench & backfill with sand or gravel for drainage. the life
expectancy is propably about 10 years for used sleepers before they
rot too badly... maybe less since you're cutting them & placing
vertically (there's no preservative in the centers).
Everything you say is correct. But for that particular project I'd choose
cedar posts, they don't cost as much as used RR sleepers either, and even
though not treated they'll last more than 20 years. A 10" X 10' RR sleeper
can weigh 400 pounds. In cedar it'll weigh more like 80 pounds, and very
easy to work. You won't find them at your local lumber yard (I had trouble
finding a cedar post for mounting a cast iron farm bell) but finally I found
a lumber mill near Albany, NY that makes their own, very nice people,
they'll custom make any size. For short lengths (ends) they'll likely have
lots as scrap, probably give a very good price for you to take them away.
My 5"sq 10 foot post cost $16, aged to a beautiful silver grey.
yup, but finding a 10" square cedar post might be a bit hard. then
again, it's for bonsai, so 4-8" posts would probably work just fine &
give him more the effect he wants anyway. i don't know why someone
would want to pollute their garden just for an effect. creosote isn't
good in a garden.
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