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Western Railroad Discussion > Rail Labeling Question

Date: 07/05/02 15:09
Rail Labeling Question
Author: Lackawanna484

Can anyone point me toward a source for decoding the info on a rail?

The manu is usually pretty clear (Bethlehem Steel, etc), and the date is probably the rolling date, but how about the six or eight vertical sticks? I assume they refer to the weight (how do you translate?).

Some rails have a specific weight (136) which I assume is pounds per yard when rolled. I don't think I've seen a 136 and the sticks on the same rail.

How long is a typical piece of jointed rail? I thought it was 41 feet, but some pieces look a lot shorter.

Thanks for any help

Date: 07/05/02 15:30
Re: Rail Labeling Question
Author: jimlundquist55

the "stickers are months -

six sticks - June

Date: 07/05/02 16:40
Re: Rail Labeling Question
Author: danco

> How long is a typical piece of jointed rail? I thought it was
> 41 feet, but some pieces look a lot shorter.

The standard was 39 feet, so it would fit on a 40-foot car.


Date: 07/05/02 16:52
Re: Rail Labeling Question
Author: CNMark

As was mentioned, standard length for jointed rail was 39 feet. Nowadays, standard length is 82 feet, milled to fit on an 85 foot flatcar. Of course, CWR is made up of these 82 foot lengths, welded together in a welding plant (CN's is in Winnipeg) into 1400 foot lengths, then welded or cut in the field to fit the distance required. Lengths of jointed rail shorter than 39 feet are cut to fit the location, and bolt holes are drilled in them on site.


Date: 07/05/02 18:30
Re: Rail Labeling Question
Author: Edwardjb

How many manufacturers of rail were there? I suppose there is a publication on rail.

Date: 07/05/02 18:41
Author: Lackawanna484

for all the answers


Date: 07/06/02 02:40
Author: Andy2472

To add a little controversy to the discussion, it was my understanding that the \\\\\\"sticks\\\\\\" were the \\\\\\"heat no. that the rail was rolled out of. Rail manufacturers were; CF&I Colorado Fuel & Iron, Bethlehem, some Japanese mills, and some German mills. Don\\\\\'t have a clue who is still in business rolling rail. Andy 2472

Date: 07/06/02 04:42
Author: dkpark

Currently there are two mills rolling rail in the United States, Pennsylvania Steel Technologies (Bethlehem) in Steelton, PA and the Oregon Steel (ex-CF&I) subsidiary in Pueblo, CO.

On one side of the rail, the markins are the weight (i.e. 1360), the section (RE), CC for control ccoled, the mill, the year rolled and the hash marks for the month rolled.

On the other side are the heat number, the rail number, the steel grade and the ingot number

The common weights are 115, 119, 133, 136 and 141 pounds per yard.

Hope this helps.

Don Park

Date: 07/06/02 05:29
Author: ge13031

Are definitely the month produced. Heat numbers consist of furnace number and sequence number. Furnace numbers are assigned by company.

Date: 07/06/02 18:52
Re:More Rail
Author: mediumclear

Especially on older rail, the weight per yard is often not stated "115 lb" but is coded as "11523", the 115 being the weight and the 23 being the section designation. Section is the cross-sectional shape of the rail and, in the case of "23", is code for RE which is often stated elsewhere in the rolling marks and means AREA for American Railway Engineering Association. Most US rail is now RE.

Older rail, however, can be a host of different sections. I have data on at least 15 different sections for 100lb rail alone. One of the reasons for this is that each railroad's chief engineer had his own idea on how rail should be shaped and so specified his own section when purchasing rail. And, importantly, even tho two rails are both the same weight, if the sections are not also the same, the hardware will not interchange between them--joint bars especially!

Virtually all NYC rail was rolled to a Dudley "DY" section which was their chief engineer's last name for many years. It was always rolled with an abnormally wide head, a wide base, and relatively thin head vertically.

On the other hand, PRR rail was first "PR" section and then later "PS". It was characterized by a narrow base, narrow head, and very thick vertical distance in the head. 100PS was also so short that it could easily be mistaken for 80RA rail.

Interurban and rapid transit companies also had their own sections for whatever their peculiar requirements were perceived to be.

One of the more unusual and relatively common rail sections in use today is the 122CB section which is used all over the CSX system. This rail was imported and has an unusual curved concave top surface on the base from the web out to the outer end. I don't know of any other road that used it.

As for rail length, rail over 100lb/yd was generally made in 39ft lengths until recently, and rail 100lbs and less was generally 33ft. You can't necessarily depend on this tho, because rail that has been relaid will often have 1.5 ft cropped off each end to eliminate joint batter and cracks around the bolt holes.

Actually, the science and engineering that has gone into rail over the years makes a fascinating study. There have been some ugly mistakes--the PR section mentioned above had such a short fishing distance that the narrow joint bars broke all the time. The PS section was only a little better!

Date: 07/07/02 10:41
Re:More Rail
Author: Lackawanna484

fascinating! and thanks for the comments from everybody

Could you point me toward more research on the individual railroad requirements?


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