Creosote and railroad ties
AIUI, creosote doesn't prevent rot, it merely deters it, that is, slows
it down or delays it (and not as well as arsenic products).
So what about railroad ties.
They seem to last for 50 or 100 years or more. Do they have to be
replaced because of rot? All of them? If not all of them, does that
mean that the creosote stopped them from rotting?
Or do they replace them all, when I'm not looking?
If they last for 100 years when used for railroad ties, how come they
don't last that long when used to support decks, etc.?
On Sunday, August 2, 2015 at 10:15:05 AM UTC-4, micky wrote:
I guess it depends on what your definition of rot is, but sure
they deteriorate over time and have to be replaced. When I was
a kid, you could walk along the Central RR of NJ tracks and pull
many spikes out with your fingers. Not that it's a good idea to
It certainly greatly increases their lifespan.
IDK when or what you're looking at. They've been using
concrete ties now for a long time. IDK if they no longer
use wood ties at all.
From what I can see, I doubt typical RR tie lasts for 100 years.
Maybe half that if they are lucky. I don't have any experience
with them used for domestic purposes, but I suspect a lot of them
are probably not new ones, but old ones that are discarded by the
RR folks. I don't know anyone selling them around here.
I think the issue with creosote was environmental, not how effective
it was. Railroad ties were on railroad property where people were not
supposed to go in the first place so they let them get away with it
longer than things people put in their yards. I have some creosote
dock posts that have been in salt water for 50 years and they may have
been discarded telephone poles at the time. They are pretty well gone
but they lasted twice as long as 2.5 CCA PT.
In alt.home.repair, on Sun, 02 Aug 2015 10:53:19 -0400,
I meant, as you probably all guessed, how come the wood used for decks
doesn't last as long as railroad ties. Not that ties are used to hold
So the answer is half-way between. They stil rot.
Just what I needed to know.
Thank you all.
P.S. I do still see wooden ties at least two of the places I go. One
is the Monocasy Battlefiled just south of Frederick Maryland, where the
railroad tracks run right through the battle area. And another is near
the Thomas Viaduct, where the famous race between a railroad engine and
a horse took place. I've been to both of these places in the last two
months and I'm 99.9% sure the ties were of wood. Some of these tracks
are used some but not very much.
They definitely wear out, I lived near tracks and the ties are periodically
On railroad tracks, they sit in a bed of rocks. Water runs right through
the rocks leaving the ties high and dry most of the time.
I had some creosote landscape ties on my property that rot out from
I've got a pressure treated 2x6 on the ground now for more than 20
years without any visible rot. The board is on edge holding back
a brick pathway.
In alt.home.repair, on Sun, 02 Aug 2015 11:38:00 -0400, Dan Espen
In another forum, someone used "deter" probably to mean stop. So I
looked up deter in dictionary.com and its first meaning is discourage...
and its second is to "prevent, check, arrest: creosote deters rot."
And it's clear to me that whoever wrote that definition of deter thought
creosote was more effectiive than it is. It doesnt' prevent rot, it
just slows it down. It delays the time when rot is a real problem.
That's the reason the people who make and advertise creosote use the
word deter and not the word stop.
My pressure treated deck lasted over 20 years, but somewhere before 30
years, the non-treated railings fell apart, the treated joists were
rotting, and some of the planks were curling, in the part not under the
2nd floor overhang. That part, almost 2 feet, is still good after a
total of 36 years. .
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