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Date: 04/28/08 17:53
Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: RailDawg

Can anyone give me a quick lesson on how to read the numbers on a rail?

Thanks as always!

Chuck



Date: 04/28/08 18:03
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: ATSF100WEST

As a rule, left to right......

:^)

(there's one in EVERY crowd)

Bob

ATSF100WEST......Out




Date: 04/28/08 18:29
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: UPNW2-1083

ATSF100WEST Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As a rule, left to right......
>
> :^)
>
> (there's one in EVERY crowd)
>
> Bob
>
> ATSF100WEST......Out

It's Klem Kaddiddlehopper, aka Red Skelton. Of course there's probably not too many younger fans who know who he is. I was talking to my 30 something brakeman the other day about the movie, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World and all the comedian stars in it, and he hadn't heard of any of them.
I guess I'm getting old.-BMT



Date: 04/28/08 18:34
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: DNRY122

I presume you mean the numbers formed on the last run through the rolling mill. Usually there's the name of the steel mill: Bethlehem, Colorado Fuel and Iron (usually just Colorado or CF&I), Tennessee, etc. On an old branch line or siding, you might find something really exotic like Carnegie, Krupp or Oughree (from Belgium!). Next is usually the "section" or weight per yard, often with a "suffix" number indicating a variation in the dimensions of the section: 903=90 lb. per yard, variation 3. 7524, 75 lb., variation 24 (not that there are actually 24 varieties). Trying to find hardware to fit these multitudinous sections can be a real pain to railway preservation groups. On modern lines, 115 lb. is the minimum, and is often used for "light rail" electric railways. Weights go up from there, with 119 lb and 132 lb being common. I think the heaviest currently used is 141 lb. There may be initials, such as AREA (American Railway Engineers Assn) or OH (open hearth steel). Then there's the date, which lets you know how old the rail is. I have a section of "Saint Louis Steel 1883 ////" rail (no weight marking). I think the "hash marks" indicate the month rail was rolled, making it 125 years old this month! At Orange Empire we have a piece of "Krupp 1887" steel--some of this was in service on the Santa Fe San Jacinto Branch into the 1960's. The UP/SCRRA line in Azusa has a length of "Carnegie 1906" that has survived from the Pacific Electric line that opened in 1907. If rail is not too badly rusted, it can tell you a story! But--some rail just has a five to seven digit number, which probably means something if you have the right "magic decoder ring" but is quite cryptic to the casual observer.



Date: 04/28/08 18:42
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: ATSF100WEST

UPNW2-1083 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ATSF100WEST Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > As a rule, left to right......
> >
> > :^)
> >
> > (there's one in EVERY crowd)
> >
> > Bob
> >
> > ATSF100WEST......Out
>
> It's Klem Kaddiddlehopper, aka Red Skelton. Of
> course there's probably not too many younger fans
> who know who he is. I was talking to my 30
> something brakeman the other day about the movie,
> It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World and all the
> comedian stars in it, and he hadn't heard of any
> of them.
> I guess I'm getting old.-BMT

BMT-

Yeah, I was going to sign it "K.K.", but I figured WTF,WB. The youngins' here haven't a clue as to what good comedy REALLY is.

I have one for you that you'll no doubt remember. Look for it in your PM.

Bob

ATSF100WEST......Out

"Good Night and God Bless......" (Red Skelton' closing line)



Date: 04/28/08 18:50
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: gp60m122

Americans don't know good comedy ;oP



Date: 04/28/08 19:05
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: InsideObserver

The hot rolled makings will look something like this: 136 HF OH CF&I 1941 1111 E 17
Which means in this example:
136 lbs/yard - the section size of the rail
Head Free design
Open Hearth steel
Colorado Fuel & Iron
Year of maufacture
1111 = month (April)
E = rail number
17 = ingot number
This system was adopted in the 1930s or thereabouts, so rails before then aren't marked using this standard. The SP had 75 CS and 75 CS REVISED, which are both 75 lbs/yard but slightly different cross sections. The Key System used 7540, which is also 75 lbs/yard but won't match up to 75 CS or 75 CS REVISED. Rails vary in size from 25 lbs/yard to 156 (PRR--a flop because it was too "rigid"), although today there is a gap of sorts between 60 lb and 90 lb rail (i.e. 70, 75, 80, and 85 aren't rolled very much anymore). While the SP used 75 and 90 lb rail, the WP tended to use 70 and 85. 25-60 lb rails are mine and industrial service, and there are other special sections for the girder rail used in city streets for streetcars. New rail also has stamped information about cooling and heat treating. "CC" means controlled cooling. There is also a code of slash marks which are used to locate where the rail came out of the billet, but I can't find my Sperry book.



Date: 04/28/08 20:15
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: RailDawg

Wow what great answers! I really appreciate those that took the time to answer the question!

Chuck



Date: 04/28/08 21:05
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: 72368

While moving to my new home I found in a corner of the garage a piece of rail about 15 feet long marked 45 PSC 87 - which I believe is 45 lbs per yard, Pennsylvania Steel Company rolled in 1887. Anybody got a way to cut it into sample pieces??

TIOGA PASS

Hint: Don't ever move...



Date: 04/28/08 21:11
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: brianedwardss

Thanks InsideObserver, that was some great info



Date: 04/28/08 21:33
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: imrl

Today's rail, at least alot of what I see the UP putting in is now made in Nippon Japan and will say Nippon on it, along with the year made, and I believe just a numeral for the month rolled. Most of what's made today is also head hardened (HH on the side of the rail). To add a little bit more, the first number and usually about 2 letters immediately following are the rail weight and section. The previous example was 136HF, but most of what's out today is either 131RE, 133RE, 136RE, or 141RE. The play railroad I volunteer for uses 8540 and 85ASCE plus we have some 90RA and 9020. The wieght per yard can also be followed by a numeric section identifier. If you ever see some 155PS, you'll know that's some big honkin' rail that's about 8" tall and is what the Pennsylvania used on some main lines, or wherever they used it at.



Date: 04/28/08 21:55
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: SOO6617

Another common two letter code on the rail is "VT" for Vacuum Treated, the steel is poured from the ladle into the ingot mould under a vacuum to remove excess oxygen which can cause inclusions in the steel.



Date: 04/28/08 22:17
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: Evan_Werkema

Some more answers in an old thread: http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?1,1434337

"If I do, I get a whippin'...I DOOD it!"



Date: 04/28/08 22:23
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: rehunn

Damn, I'm impressed!!!



Date: 04/28/08 23:21
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: UP_Engineer2005

UPNW2-1083 Wrote:
>
> It's Klem Kaddiddlehopper, aka Red Skelton. Of
> course there's probably not too many younger fans
> who know who he is. I was talking to my 30
> something brakeman the other day about the movie,
> It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World and all the
> comedian stars in it, and he hadn't heard of any
> of them.
> I guess I'm getting old.-BMT

There are some people in their 30's like myself who's heard of Red Skelton. I've seen some of his old shows and he was hilarious. Me personally I'm a bigger fan of the 3 Stooges, but Red is good.

Doug Wooten
UP Engineer
Kingwood, TX MP 21.5 UP's Lufkin Sub.



Date: 04/29/08 07:08
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: CimaScrambler

Here is the oldest one in my collection, from a pile of rail at the reconstructed Alpine Tunnel Station, Denver South Park & Pacific Railroad.

Kit Courter
Torrance, CA
LunarLight Photography




Date: 04/29/08 14:16
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: rresor

A bit more about rail weight. On older rail you might see a weight that's four digits, such as 9020 or 9040. This refers to the type of section. On older rail this might be:

RA American Railway Association "A" section (ARA-A)
RB American Railway Association "B" section (ARA-B)
ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) this is "9020" rail

Various railroads had their own sections.

PS = Pennsylvania section
LV = Lehigh Valley section
LVM = Lehigh Valley modified

There are others. You might see "TR" on former CB&Q routes (don't know what it stands for) or "DY" rail on former NYC (Dudley section, named for their chief engineer). The "HF" mentioned earlier is "head free", a type of section in which the joint bars do not contact the head of the rail.

But all of this rail is OLD, mostly pre World War II.

Since 1965 or so, most sections have been AREA (American Railway Engineering Association), stamped on the rail as "RE". The only exception I can think of is 122 CB, which Chessie System bought for a few years in the 1960s and 1970s. It's mostly gone from track.

Post 1945, you'll find the following sections:

100 RE
100 PS (Pennsylvania section)
112 RE (up to about 1955)
115 RE (post 1945)
119 RE (LIRR and Metro-North in New York, and a few other places)
131 RE
132 RE
133 RE (UP got this declared an RE section, and used it exclusively until the 1990s)
136 RE (standard section during 1980s and 1990s)
141 RE (this is becoming the new mainline standard section)
152 PS
155 PS

In the last decade, about all that was rolled was 115RE, 132RE, and 141RE. Virtually nothing else (some 100 RB was rolled for New York's subway system and SEPTA's).

Other markings, as discussed above, include the year and month rolled and the manufacturer. These days there are only two rolling mills left in North America: Bethlehem at Steelton, and CF&I (or whatever it's called this week) in Pueblo, CO.

The "OH" designation means "open hearth" (a process for making steel). This was used up until WW II, but isn't any longer. Virtually all rail will be "CC" (control-cooled) or VT (vacuum treated), a method of cooling that reduces the development of rail flaws. Any other two-letter codes usually refer to a hardening process used on curve rail and turnout rails (HT = fully heat treated, HH = head hardened. There may be a few others).

Since all modern rail is continuously cast, the ingot markings are no longer needed.



Date: 04/29/08 14:33
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: wa4umr




Date: 04/30/08 14:20
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: bnsftrucker

72368 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> While moving to my new home I found in a corner of
> the garage a piece of rail about 15 feet long
> marked 45 PSC 87 - which I believe is 45 lbs per
> yard, Pennsylvania Steel Company rolled in 1887.
> Anybody got a way to cut it into sample pieces??
>
> TIOGA PASS
>
> Hint: Don't ever move...

Railsaw, or a stationary bandsaw.



Date: 04/30/08 14:26
Re: Reading the numbers on a rail
Author: bnsftrucker

Out here on the BNSF, we have 115lb,132lb, and 136 lb rails for mainline, on all of the relays we lay new 136lb steel on tangent trac, on the curves we lay new 141lb steel in the curves only.
In the yard tracks, we install the used 115lb, and 132lb steel ribbons, sometimes we use new 136lb steel for yard tracks too.



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