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The Joy of Railroad Ties


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Hello.

Just started on a dagger and a kitchen knife forged out of railroad ties. My blacksmithing teacher Burt gave the ties to me already straightened, and told me, "You have to get them really hot to move them, lots of work to forge. Good Luck!"

I took his advice, started forging at a white heat, and when I got to medium orange, it felt like it was cold. It just didn't move. So I spent the day forging at white heats and returning to the fire at orange heats. Burt was right, you have to get it HOT HOT HOT! If it's not yellow at least, its'a no move! It's hard to forge it, what kind of steel is it, anyone know? It'll make great finished knives, but it's HARD! :wacko:

anybody else forged these things? What steel might it be?

Thanks,

Merry Being,

Archie

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Are you talking about spikes or something else? Railroad ties usually refer to the 12"x12" wood timbers the rails are attached to.

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Archie, I ahve been collecting those as well. In our area they are used in place of the flat clips to hold the rails on the ties (usu. concrete ties). They are called e-clips and are used in our light rail applications and are manufactured by a company called Pandrol. I contacted them directly to ascertain their composition but was told it is a propietary blend. I was told that they start out with a 5160 blend and add to that. Hard stuff. But probably good for scrap hunting knifemakers who can figure out how to ht them. Let me know if you figure out a system,

JM

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Right now, I'm just forging them at white heats, and will HT them in oil and see if that works. It's really hard to forge (at least whatever particular blend I am hitting now is), so I'm guessing that there's a lot of alloying stuff in it, so a water quench seems a bit risky. :unsure: should hold an edge at least.

Edited by Archie Zietman
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Archie, I ahve been collecting those as well. In our area they are used in place of the flat clips to hold the rails on the ties (usu. concrete ties). They are called e-clips and are used in our light rail applications and are manufactured by a company called Pandrol. I contacted them directly to ascertain their composition but was told it is a propietary blend. I was told that they start out with a 5160 blend and add to that. Hard stuff. But probably good for scrap hunting knifemakers who can figure out how to ht them. Let me know if you figure out a system,

JM

Can you post a picture?? Spikes are all I can find in So.Ga.

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Tom, here are some pictures of e clips in place on the rail. I and my teacher found them discarded around the tracks, having been replaced. Fishplates, the huge thick steel plates underneath are fun too, I'm not sure how they'd be useful, but I have two lying around waiting for a use :lol::rolleyes:

happy hunting,

Merry Being,

Archie

P.S. the photo is one I found randomly on the internet.

edited for typos etc.

ist2_3035377_railroad_ties.jpg

Edited by Archie Zietman
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This may be of no help to you, but then again you never know.

Some types of reinforcement bar, that's rebar to me and you, will seem very hard under the hammer for the quite a few cycles. Then it will act just like regular 10 series steel. Now, you might think it's the sizes of the stock (1 1/4 -1 1/2), but it does not have this effect after I anneal a piece (before forging). I know this is not the steel your working with, but I am using it as an example of a simillar case. I could think of the reason for this, but I just woke up in front of the computer from a 30 minute nap. So give me a break. :unsure: coffee, :unsure: soda

 

I think maybe a nice normalizing and slow long annealing before you try and forge the steel would be a good idea. Even thought you don't have the composition or any proper numbers on the steel. I think some stress releaving would be in order.

 

I hope this helps.

If not, just tell me to go back to sleep. :lol:

I think I might take a walk along the tracks soon.

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I have some of them. They spark like 5160 and seems to work under the hammer in the same way.

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I have never even seen those before on the rails around here.

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I have used these before and have done HT in water. They are nasty sharp and fairly tough and yes, i did remember them being bears to forge down and straighten. They are great once you get them unknotted and straightened. I will see if I can find the kniffe I made out of the last one I found.

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So they hold an edge well? I'm making a dagger and kitchen knife from one right now. (I know, not stainless, but that's what the guy wants, not stainless) I'll make two of each blade and do a water quench, and an oil quench to compare. What temp was the water you quenched in?

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there's plenty of old railways round here...:)

Next time i find myself out and about, i'll look and see if there's many of those thingies there.

I'd hate to see them rust if i could use them..... :rolleyes:

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I don't know anything about the e-clips, but very recently I contacted a manufacturer of the flat style rail anchors (like this) to ask what kind of steel they're made from. The answer was:

 

"The current standard for rail anchors is 1040-1060 steel, depending upon manufacturer."

 

Whether he meant AISI 1040-1060, or whether he just meant "steel with 40 to 60 points carbon" (which would include many alloys), I'm not entirely sure. But I have a few anchors, and I'm going to try folding and welding a couple into camp axe heads.

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