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Nick Wheeler

What steel is RR rail?

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Anybody know?

 

Cutting/grinding a couple pieces for new hot cutters, it sure is tough. Granted, it's much heavier stock than I'm used to working with on most things.

 

I remember in a discussion with Leon Kapp, him mentioning there was a time in which the Japanese were using RR rail for swords.

 

This prompted me to ASSume it might be something like 1050.

 

Thanks! :D

-Nick-

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Search the earlier post by Mike Blue, it has a good link. A 2002 patent shows .75 - .84 carbon along with si,mn,nb

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Great, thanks Tim!

 

I had tried a search, but for whatever reason didn't come up with that thread before.

 

Cool stuff.

 

Maybe I'll bang out a test camp knife out of some of it one of these days for kicks.

 

Thanks :D

-Nick-

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That steel is a high manganese steel designed to work harden along the surface over it's lifetime. Has to do with reducing the rolling resistance of the cars. Think about the amount of hammering that stuff has to take when a train passes.

 

I don't know anyone who makes any knives from it. There was some company that recycled old rail into angle iron. The carbon content is okay, I'd experiment for a few blades to see how that manganese is going to affect the heat treatment. It will likely through harden every time.

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They recycle to make angle iron which is used to make bed frames ! I tried welding it but found it needed preheat and post heat so it has a fair amount of alloying elements and has fairly high hardenability.

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This also brings to mind a few other questions. There is a section of rail road undergoing maintenance not far from where I live. I scrounged a chunk of rail to use as an anvil and works pretty good, but I also have several spikes and the steel ties ... coupler ... links ... whatever they are called. Any idea what kind of steel those and the spikes are?

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Matt, look in the archives for AREA data that I posted to this site as a reference. American Railroad Engineering Association sets the standards for steel used in all applications. Here's the short version:

 

The track spikes are not more than 1020 steel after 1898, despite the railroad industry labelling them high carbon. Before 1898 spikes were wrought iron. There is a low carbon spike that is not more than 1010. They don't come close to what knife makers consider medium or high carbon steels. If you use something like Superquench or a variant thereof, you can harden it enough to cut for a while. I wouldn't temper it and would expect eventually to sharpen through the hardened skin to a softer steel underneath.

 

The C-type clips are usually a pretty decent spring steel. Some spike plates that spikes or screws are driven through to bind rail joints to ties maybe spring steel. The new steel ties are not any special steels but I can't find any references to the actual steel ID number.

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I seem to remember Howard Clark posting a long time back that it was somewhere around 1080. I think the Japanese used to use it and I KNOW that many in China and Korea still do. It may through harden without clay, but with clay the steel seems to produce a decent hamon.

 

John Frankl

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They recycle to make angle iron which is used to make bed frames ! I tried welding it but found it needed preheat and post heat so it has a fair amount of  alloying elements and has fairly high hardenability.

26729[/snapback]

 

Finally! I have been making knives from bed rail for a couple of years and have tried to find out what they were made of. Thank you.

Garter Snake

Edited by hammerdownnow

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I feel that rails are pretty much like re-bar, with more C. You never know what you're getting. Often it seems the only spec is that it should be able to form 100% pearlite (the condition it is used in).

 

As said, can have a lot of Mn, making it dangerous for water quenching. Also, it very often has a non homogeneous structure, which one could see as either bad or rather cool, depending.

 

I think if you really have to use it, test a few pieces of what you have, and keep on using the same stuff once you know it (and hope the composition of a single section of rail doesnt change much from one end to the other)

 

These days one also gets bainitic rail steel, but thats a totally different story.

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I know this isn't rail road steel but if anyone knows ... :)

 

I found a chunk of what used to be an anchor/grounding rod from a telephone pole. Probably mild steel but just a shot in the dark to see if I could use it for something. Any guesses?

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I know this isn't rail road steel but if anyone knows ...  :)

 

I found a chunk of what used to be an anchor/grounding rod from a telephone pole.  Probably mild steel but just a shot in the dark to see if I could use it for something.  Any guesses?

26806[/snapback]

 

 

First off, it might be galvinised. So cleaning it up may be a problem. Its likely medium carbon steel. If it is to soft it wont drive in very well.

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Thanks for the info. I sure am glad I didn't just throw it in the forge if it might be galvanized. Is there a way to tell or just assume it is and go from there?

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All the modern ground rods I have ever seen was galvinized, so I would just asume that it was.

If it's gal. it will be a GREY color.

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