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Western Railroad Discussion > Rail and rail##


Date: 11/05/03 06:35
Rail and rail##
Author: Ditchlite

A thread below talks about anchors and spikes etc...

I used to work for UP MOW, and it's been awhile, but I think we used 132# rail. Here's the question- or I thought this to be the case--

Different railroads used different poundage in rail, as to identify who's it is. Even if the size was 1 pound different. Geez, I hope I don't come across like a crackhead, but that does make sense. For instance in a place like Tehachapi, where there are two owners, you might have 132 or 133 pound rail. Again, if I am wrong on this, feel free to laugh, but maybe I'm not. Of course, the rail was interchangeable..
Maybe someone in the MOW field today can elaborate..Don't start laughing just yet... I do know certain railroads used different ballast depths! See, it is possible..

Dean



Date: 11/05/03 07:42
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: hepkema

It's not always "corporate identity" that had some RR's using different weights of rail. It was sometimes just the preference of some Chief Engineer somewhere--either that or just what mill turned out what rail. On the WP, we used identical 136# rail right along with the SP as our heaviest rail. The UP at the time was laying a lot of 133# while the SP had 132# on a lot of secondary mains. The difference between those was that the SP's had a taper in the shape of the head, which made for the difference. Out west today, both the BNSF and the UP have pretty much made 131# rail standard--not that they don't still drop in some 136 once in awhile.
I have my BNSF design standards manual open next to me at work right now. The rail cross sections list out to 6 pages. The rail weights and distinct variations of each are as follows:
136# (3)
132# (4)
131# (4)
130# (2)
129# (1)
119# (1)
115# (6)
112# (9)
110# (6)
100# (9)
90# (10)
85# (16)
80# (6)--Includes 4 distinct types used just by the old GN.
77-1/2# (1)
76# (1)
75# (14)
72# (2)
70# (7)
68# (2)
67# (4)
66-1/2# (1)
66# (5)
65# (6)
63# (1)
61-1/2# (1)
60# (11)

Today, both BNSF and UP prefer to use 131# rail on everything--including spur tracks. Just in case anybody is curious, the tallest 136# rail is 7-5/16" high while all 60# is 4-1/4". Some differences are as miniscule as a 1/64" difference in the dimension of the web, head, or base. The chart lists 32 different dimensions in the cross section, so there's a lot of room for variation. Sometimes, it just depended on which mill rolled the stuff.

rh
Spokane



Date: 11/05/03 07:47
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: MTMEngineer

Each set of rolls in each mill has a unique configuration, and is identified uniquely. Mill A might make a 132 lb rail with its rolls and Mill B make a 133 lb rail with its rolls. Because they are slightly different they may or may not be interchangeable. Mill C might make another 132 lb rail that will not interchange with Mill A's 132 lb rail without compromise bars, but will require compromise bars to mate with Mill B's 133 lb.

At one time major railroads owned their own rolls at the mills, and at that time each railroad did indeed have its own rail, but this is no longer the case, I believe. Today, it depends more upon who made the rail.

Numbers or letters marked on the rail, following the weight, indicate the cross section. Some examples, just looking at 90 lb cross sections.

AREA (American Railway Engineering Association) had two 90# configurations that were not interchangable. 90RA-A, also called 9020, 90RA, and 902; and 90RA-B, also called 9030, 90RB, and 905.

ATSF 90# rail from Carnegie Steel, Illinois Steel, or Inland Steel was 9021, from Bethlehem Steel was 90SF, and from CF&I Steel was 903. Though rolled by different mills, they were all the same rail.

UP's 90# rail was 9023 and 901.

GN used 9024, also called 90-GN, and used 9034, also called 904. These two 90 lb rails on the same railroad were not interchangeable.

NP used 9010.





Date: 11/05/03 08:40
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: Railbaron

While the SP used 136# rail as its standard on the mainline, UP has now come along with 141# head-hardened rail for curves and 136# rail for tangent track. Until recently UP used 133# rail for all mainline use, this according to a rail supervisor I spoke with recently.



Date: 11/05/03 10:02
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: spnudge

All I know, is the rail can be "Read" if you know what to look for. The weight is just what the railroad wants to use, where. It will tell you when it was made, the weight by the yard, by what company (CF&I= Colorado Fuel and Iron), what way (OH=Open Hearth Furnace, etc. There is information on both sides of the rail web. "Hash" marks can be broken down to why, when, where and by who and who it was rolled for.

Nudge



Date: 11/05/03 10:20
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: dkpark

Re: rail mills

Note that there are only two domestic suppliers of rail in this country, Pennylvania Steel Technologies in Steelton, PA, a subisidiary of the former Bethlehem Steel Co., and Rocky Mountain Steel Mills in Pueblo, CO. The UP, among others, also buys premium head hardened rail from Nippon Steel in Japan. To my knowledge, the following are the RE sections currently being rolled:

115 lb.
119 lb.
132 lb.
133 lb.
136 lb.
141 lb.

The UP was the primary buyer of 133 lb. rail, but as has been pointed out is now specifying 136 lb. and 141 lb. rail. I recently noted all-new 141 lb. rail from Nippon at Hermosa, WY on all three tracks.



Date: 11/05/03 10:20
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: dkpark

Re: rail mills

Note that there are only two domestic suppliers of rail in this country, Pennylvania Steel Technologies in Steelton, PA, a subisidiary of the former Bethlehem Steel Co., and Rocky Mountain Steel Mills in Pueblo, CO. The UP, among others, also buys premium head hardened rail from Nippon Steel in Japan. To my knowledge, the following are the RE sections currently being rolled:

115 lb.
119 lb.
132 lb.
133 lb.
136 lb.
141 lb.

The UP was the primary buyer of 133 lb. rail, but as has been pointed out is now specifying 136 lb. and 141 lb. rail. I recently noted all-new 141 lb. rail from Nippon at Hermosa, WY on all three tracks.



Date: 11/05/03 11:19
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: skinnytree

Interesting discussion of rail weight and it helps fill in some details for my research. The research had to do with the book, "Train Watching in the Tehachapi Pass." Just before the book was published, UP was finishing up its track renewal through the pass and I got to talk to the people doing the work. They were laying down 141# rail. The year before, they had done some replacement work with 133#. So, there is a bit of a mix with 133 and 141. BTW, a lot of the rail on the spurs in the pass date to the 1920s. Some pictures of the older rail can be seen at http://www.heritagewestbooks.com/twtpcloserlook.html.



Date: 11/05/03 14:36
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: galenadiv

Just a couple of clarifications.

The statement about two rail suppliers in the U.S. is iffy. Bethlehem Steel's bankruptcy put the future of PST in doubt. Right now, no one knows for sure if they will continue in the rail market.

A company called Steel Dynamics is building a new facility in northeastern Indiana not far from Ft. Wayne. They plan to roll rail, possibly as early as 2004.

Carnegie Steel, Illinois Steel eventually became U.S. Steel South Works. The older names were long gone when I worked at South Works during my college years in the early 1960s, so a rail with Carnegie Steel, Illinois Steel has really been out there a long, long time.



Date: 11/05/03 16:45
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: nitewatchman

Comments on a couple of comments.

There are 2-1/2 rail mill currently in the US, RMSM (Rocky Mountain Steel Mill, formerly CF&I), ISG (International Steel Group, formerly PST, earlier Bethelhem) and Steel Dynamics. I say 1/2 because SD has rolled test runs of 136# 300-326Bhn rail this summer for process control and setup.

The number of the rail is the weight in pounds per yard and defines the general size. Most common rail size in the US today is 136RE which has a 10" head radius. 136-4, 136-8 and 136-14 are also around with the second number being the head radius.

132#, 136#, 140# and 141# have the same "fishing" or web profile and use the same joint bars, stock rail braces and filler blocks in frogs. 133# has a different fishing and uses a compromise bar or Transition Rail (more later).

132# Rail is 7-1/8" tall, 6" base and 2.964" head @ gage line
133# Rail is 7-1/16" tall, 6" base and 2.886" head @ gage line
136# Rail is 7-5/16" tall, 6" base and 2.938" head @ gage line
140# Rail is 7-5/16" tall, 6" base and 2.875" head @ gage line
141# Rail is 7-7/16" tall, 6" base and 2.886" head @ gage line

Rail is rolled in several grades but only one alloy with varing carbon in the US (several alloys in Europe and Japan).
Grades are: Standard Carbon 300 Bhn Min. - 0.8% Carbon - Rolling Marks - None
Intermediate Hardness 326 Bhn Min. - 0.8% Carbon - Rolling Marks - IH
Fully Heat Treated 352 Bhn Min. - 0.8% Carbon - Rolling Marks - FHT
Head Hardened 370 Bhn Min. - 0.8% Carbon - Rolling Marks - DHH, THH, AH, HH
HyperEutetic 410 Bhn Min. - 0.9% Carbon - Rolling Marks - HE
High Carbon Pearlitic 410 Bhn Mim. - 0.9% Carbon - Rolling Marks - HCP

Raising the hardness from 300Bhn to 410Bhn and regular grinding of the rail head will result in the rail lasting up to 8 times longer.

Rail continously operates at stresses above its Yeild and Tensile strength. The contact patch between the wheel and rail is elliptical in shape and about the size of a dime. The stress in the rail head material for a 39,000# wheel load is 650,000 PSI (yeild is 110,000 and tensile is 170,000) and the highest stress level is 1/4" below the surface of the head, this is why rail sometimes has head shells.

The "Hash Marks" date the rolling of the rail. The web has a raised "Brand" rolled into it every 14' that includes the manufacturer, the section size, the method of Hydrogen Control (CC,VT), the year of manufacturer and the month of rolling. The number of hash marks correspond to the calendar month (7 marks = July). The opposite of the rail has a number stamped or indented into the web which makes each rail unique.

There are 25 or so common rail section used in the US and Canada. Eventually these sections come together and just like different size pipes they need adapters to join up. Traditionally, compromise bars have been used to line up the top of the rail head and the gage line but these bars are prone to break. For the last ten years our company has made Transition Rails for this purpose. These are rails with one profile on one end and a different profile on the other end. For example a 40' rail might be 141# New on one end an morph to 132# with 1/4" head wear on the other end or a 26' rail might be 136# with 1/4" wear on one end and 115# new on the other end. These rails are welded into track and the result is seamless track with no joint bars.

nitewatchman



Date: 11/05/03 18:01
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: GE13031

MTMEngineer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> AREA (American Railway Engineering Association)
> had two 90# configurations that were not
> interchangable. 90RA-A, also called 9020, 90RA,
> and 902; and 90RA-B, also called 9030, 90RB, and
> 905.

90RA and 90RB are sure different ...the head on 90RB is almost twice as thick. In the good
old daze WLE laid a lot of 90RB on their mainline including the branches to Lake Erie because
of the heavy (for those days) loading. They ran their heaviest locomotives on this section
day in and day out ... of course it required perfection as far as rail and bed maintenance.
Also interesting to note that they did it with cinder ballast.



Date: 11/05/03 18:13
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: sdrake

At one time, the Pennsylvania Railroad used 155 lb rail on some of their mainlines but the 141 lb heat treated rail is probably more durable. A little extra hardness will go a long way in preventing the head of the rail from mushrooming over.



Date: 11/05/03 18:16
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: GE13031

galenadiv Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Carnegie Steel, Illinois Steel eventually became
> U.S. Steel South Works. The older names were long
> gone when I worked at South Works during my
> college years in the early 1960s, so a rail with
> Carnegie Steel, Illinois Steel has really been out
> there a long, long time.

I watched them cutup the never turned on Rail Mill at South Works ...One BOP Shop, One Caster and one Rail Mill built for the forcasted rail boom, and never used .... oh well it's only money.
Interesting historic fact ...The Steel Mill at Lorain, OH was built in 1895 to roll streetcar rail, branched out into pipe, was taken over by USS but still rolled rail until 1948 in a special division that used the Illinois-Carnegie name. The main line of the L&WV RR in Lorain County, OH today retains its 90RB rail rolled in Lorain, OH in 1936 ... and it's holding up quite well.





Date: 11/05/03 19:06
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: nitewatchman

155# Rail is 8" tall, base is 6-3/4", head is 3" and web is 3/4"

There is still some of this stuff around, mostly laying beside the roadbed. It is so big that there is no mistaking it from a distance. The metallurgy of rail steels in the day of this rail wasn't compariable to rails today which approach bearing quality steels for cleanliness and quality and it was not heat treated so for abrasion and general wear it doesn't compare to well with modern rail. BUT where it really did perfrom was in it beam strength! Its ability to span the crib between the ties.

This rail was able to handle the heaviest loads the Pennsy could throw at it both in shear weight and the brutal unbalanced dynamic loads from large side rods and counterweighted drivers. These dynamic loads are not seen with diesel engines.

nitewatchman



Date: 11/05/03 20:26
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: MTMEngineer

nitewatchman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 155# Rail is 8" tall, base is 6-3/4", head is 3"
> and web is 3/4"
>
<SNIP>
> This rail was able to handle the heaviest loads
> the Pennsy could throw at it both in shear weight
> and the brutal unbalanced dynamic loads from large
> side rods and counterweighted drivers. These
> dynamic loads are not seen with diesel engines.
>
> nitewatchman


The only other railroad to use this rail was the DM&IR for their Yellowstone powered ore trains.



Date: 11/05/03 21:04
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: markgillings

nitewatchman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The "Hash Marks" date the rolling of the rail.
> The web has a raised "Brand" rolled into it every
> 14' that includes the manufacturer, the section
> size, the method of Hydrogen Control (CC,VT),

Great stuff here, nitewatchman! Can you elaborate on the hydrogen control process and what it does to the steel? In my neck of the woods, CC is "standard" and VT is "premium."

> For the last ten years our
> company has made Transition Rails for this
> purpose. These are rails with one profile on one
> end and a different profile on the other end. For
> example a 40' rail might be 141# New on one end an
> morph to 132# with 1/4" head wear on the other end
> or a 26' rail might be 136# with 1/4" wear on one
> end and 115# new on the other end.

May I ask where you work? We use 136/132 and 136/115 rails pretty extensively. Regarding the 136/132, how is it made? I've always had an image of a stick of 136# rail that is just milled down to 132# 1/4 loss.



Date: 11/06/03 04:55
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: GE13031

markgillings Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Great stuff here, nitewatchman! Can you
> elaborate on the hydrogen control process and what
> it does to the steel? In my neck of the woods, CC
> is "standard" and VT is "premium."
>

VT=vacuum degassed ...hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen are removed by putting the steel ladle under a vacuum. Hydrogen in steel causes internal cracking leading to early failure. Prior to vacuum degassing the product had to be held at ~1500F for 24 to 48 hours in a slo cool furnace to allow the hydrogen to work its way out of the steel ... iffy with no guarantees except by 100% sonic testing.



Date: 11/06/03 10:27
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: timz

> Carnegie Steel, Illinois Steel eventually became
> U.S. Steel South Works. The older names were long
> gone when I worked at South Works during my
> college years in the early 1960s, so a rail with
> Carnegie Steel, Illinois Steel has really been out
> there a long, long time.

"Illinois" on the rail web has been used more recently than that, hasn't it?



Date: 11/06/03 21:07
Re: Rail and rail##
Author: nitewatchman

Atomic Hydrogen gas is extremely soluable in molten steel and unfortunately sources of hydrogen are every where, it comes from miosture, oils , coal and coke, etc. The hydrogen enters the steel and as the steel solidifies it migrates to the interstitual spaces between grains and in phase changes. As the temperature drops to normal cool levels the gas pressure increases to incredible levels and increases the strain in the grain structure of the the steel. When additional stress is applied the steel tends to crack.

This is the problem with using a low hydrogen welding rod such as an E7018 which has not been baked out. The moisture in the flux disassociates in the arc to free hydrogen and oxygen. The silicon in the flux captures the oxygen as slag but the hydrogen is absorbed straight into weld bead or worse into the heat affected zone under the bead and the weld cracks as it cools.

Since this problem gets worse as the carbon level increases, rail is particularly prone to this problem. The orginal method for removing the carbon was to place the rail ingots in large soaking pits and allowed to cool slowly over a period of time. This allowed the hydrogen to slowly diffuse out of the steel by passing through the metal. At room temperature hydrogen at 4300 psi will leak through 1/2" of solid steel at a rate of .5cc/square centimeter per hour, amazing when you stop to think about it. This method of hydrogen control is referred to as "Control Cooled" and the rail web is marked "CC".

The current method of choice is vacuum degassing and the rail web is marked "VT". In this process after the steel has been melted and the alloy adjusted, the metal is tapped into a large ladle and covered with a layer of molten slag. The slag is used to reduce oxidation and insulate the melt preventing heat loss. The ladle is moved into a large tank and the tank is capped with a tight fitting cover. A vacuum generated by large steam jets is then applied to the tank causing the metal to boil as gases are forced from the melt. Initally the boil is so severe that the metal can boil up two or more feet and spill over the lip of the ladle. The operator must watch very closly and modulate the vaccum to prevent the boil over. The vacuum is gradually increased until after about 1/2 hour the melt no longer boils and the pressure is about 1 torr or essentially 0 psi. The steel at this point is essentially gas free and the agitation of the boiling action has aided any impurities to float out of the metal. The alloy is now sampled again and the alloy receives its final adjustment and is moved to the continous caster for pouring.


Second question - if you are using Transition Rails they are almost certainly ours, I work for VAE Nortrak. You guess is correct for, a 136/132 1/4" Loss rail the head is milled down from one profile to the other. We do most of these rails in Birmingham, Alabama and they are machined on a CNC Planer. This machine has produced an average of 100 of these rails a week continously for the past 10 years, a large percentage of these have been used on the BNSF.

The 136/115 Forged Transition Rail is a little more complicated. Here the end of the 136# rail has its base heated and forged up to decrease the height of the rail to match the 115#. Since the head is also more narrow it is forged sideways to line up the gage lines. The forged 136# rail is Flash Butt Welded to the 115# rail. After the weld is cleaned up and ground, the weld is inspected using UltraSonics and it's ready for track. These are made in lots of combinations like 136/115, 132/115, 136/133, 136/122CB,115/200,115/90RA,115/90RB, 115/85. 110/85, 141/132, 141/133, 141/115, etc.

This is one of our most sucessful products.

nitewatchman




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