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Steam & Excursion > Is the term "Dress the track" understood?


Date: 02/09/20 13:10
Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: PlyWoody

Recently some new narrow gauge track construction has developed very quickly, Como for example, and I wonder if these new builder understand the above term.  Ridgway is another example of a newly built line.  Lets talk below the railhead.



Date: 02/09/20 13:19
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: ChrisCampi

Not familiar with the ROW your referring too, but "Dress the Track"  to me would be lined, leveled and properly ballasted.



Date: 02/09/20 13:40
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: LarryDoyle

ChrisCampi Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Not familiar with the ROW your referring too, but
> "Dress the Track"  to me would be lined, leveled
> and properly ballasted.

Yes, and the term has been around for a long time.  It appears in my 1903 trackwork manual.

-LD



Date: 02/09/20 13:45
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: PlyWoody

Larry, I don't believe you given a correct answer.  "It appears in my 1903 trackwork manual "  What does it start with?
Folks building the WW&F need not give the answer away.



Date: 02/09/20 13:59
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: LarryDoyle

PlyWoody Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Larry, I don't believe you given a correct
> answer.  "It appears in my 1903 trackwork manual
> "  What does it start with?
> Folks building the WW&F need not give the answer
> away.

Yes, the 1903 manual concurs with "lined, leveled and properly ballasted", but not using those exact words.  (A 1,196 page manual).

-LD



Date: 02/09/20 14:43
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: PlyWoody

What is the first measurement and procedure when you build new track?



Date: 02/09/20 14:55
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: PlyWoody

We already have 150 follower so I should not drag out the answer, as by now if other really know they would have joined in.

“Dress the track” means that every tie end is exactly the same distance away from the rail and the other side of the track has various end of tie in a raggedy line.  On double track the dress side is always the outer side of both tracks.  On single track it would normally be the engineer side of the favored direction of that railroad.  It could be either side as determined by the construction engineer.  Which side are the favored station platforms?
When building track the dress side field spike is the first to be driven into any tie in advance of any rail put on that tie.  The spike hole should be pre drilled at half the size of the spike being used.  If spike is a half inch pointed spike the drill should be no larger than ¼” so not to destroy the holding value for that spike. 

The location of that hole is 28 ¼”(SG, 18”NG) plus 1/2 of the head width plus one half of the base of rail width plus one half of the spike width, from the average center of your wooden tie.   The hole should be drilled on the right side from center and the next tie drilled on the left side of the center of the tie.  This drill pattern gives you a X cross line drawn over the spike head that cross in the center of the track.  This prevents the picket fence pattern that is known for letting a fence fall down.  The X spike pattern locks the rails to prevent staggered movement.

The first spike must always be preset into the drill hole before the rail is laid on the ties, and then that rail is lined with lining bars up against the spikes.  When the rail is tight against the spike, the gage spike is driven diagonally to hook the rail.  That is the line rail and before the second rail is laid on the ties, uses linging bars or other methods to line your track straight to where you want it before the weight of the second rail is on the ties.  It is much easier to adjust your track to new positions when only one rail is on the ties.

Now install the gage rail, and using two gauge tools, one a tie distance ahead of tie being spiked and one tool behind the tie you are spiking with someone using the lining bar to keep the pressure on the rail against the gauge tool, and drive both spikes opposite the ones on the line rail.  Both inner spikes should be on the same half of the tie. Spike the gage rail in a continuous one direction and if you have two set of spiking groups, the first does every other tie and the second follows by spiking the empty tie to speed things up. 

A spike is to never be driven to touch or hit the base of the rail, as there is a requirement that 1/16” to 1/32” gap be between the head of spike and base of rail.  If spike touches the rail it could pull the tie when the rail expands and contracts every day.  Rail anchors are used to prevent rails from traveling, not a locking spike.  If track is built with a air gun hammer, the sound changes when you are very near the rail, and you must immediately stop the hammer and not make that last hit.  If driving by hand, stop before spike contacts and never over hit the spike and bend the head.  That is a terrible error, and spike should be pulled and scrapped. 
  
This kind of dressed track will look good and last 50 years or longer.
 



Date: 02/09/20 15:23
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: SeaboardMan

woah! Thanks for the great lesson.



Date: 02/09/20 15:42
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: callum_out

Very nice dissertation and I'm sure at the rate of pay on the track crews (Como/Ridgway) you mention they will be dutifully impressed.

Out 



Date: 02/09/20 15:51
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: rrman6

Your first two sentences of the next to last paragraph...about the 1/16 to 1/32" clearance of spike head to rail base.  Who is going to gauge this gap precisely?
Many years ago, before the the advent of motorized track equipment, I recall seeing on the Rock Island's Golden State Line's track, occassional spikes with a slight bend and shank wear between the head's underside and the shank.  This was naturally not from overdriving of the spike, but lateral pressure applied to the spike by the rail base.  I'm curious, would this problem be created by the drivers of steam locomotives oscillating their lateral thrust from their alternating piston driving and/or, from other means?



Date: 02/09/20 16:04
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: ChrisCampi

Are tie plates being used in this scenario?

PlyWoody Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> We already have 150 follower so I should not drag
> out the answer, as by now if other really know
> they would have joined in.
>
> “Dress the track” means that every tie end is
> exactly the same distance away from the rail and
> the other side of the track has various end of tie
> in a raggedy line.  On double track the dress
> side is always the outer side of both tracks.  On
> single track it would normally be the engineer
> side of the favored direction of that railroad. 
> It could be either side as determined by the
> construction engineer.  Which side are the
> favored station platforms?
> When building track the dress side field spike is
> the first to be driven into any tie in advance of
> any rail put on that tie.  The spike hole should
> be pre drilled at half the size of the spike being
> used.  If spike is a half inch pointed spike the
> drill should be no larger than ¼” so not to
> destroy the holding value for that spike. 
>
> The location of that hole is 28 ¼”(SG, 18”NG)
> plus 1/2 of the head width plus one half of the
> base of rail width plus one half of the spike
> width, from the average center of your wooden tie.
>   The hole should be drilled on the right side
> from center and the next tie drilled on the left
> side of the center of the tie.  This drill
> pattern gives you a X cross line drawn over the
> spike head that cross in the center of the
> track.  This prevents the picket fence pattern
> that is known for letting a fence fall down.  The
> X spike pattern locks the rails to prevent
> staggered movement.
>
> The first spike must always be preset into the
> drill hole before the rail is laid on the ties,
> and then that rail is lined with lining bars up
> against the spikes.  When the rail is tight
> against the spike, the gage spike is driven
> diagonally to hook the rail.  That is the line
> rail and before the second rail is laid on the
> ties, uses linging bars or other methods to line
> your track straight to where you want it before
> the weight of the second rail is on the ties.  It
> is much easier to adjust your track to new
> positions when only one rail is on the ties.
>
> Now install the gage rail, and using two gauge
> tools, one a tie distance ahead of tie being
> spiked and one tool behind the tie you are spiking
> with someone using the lining bar to keep the
> pressure on the rail against the gauge tool, and
> drive both spikes opposite the ones on the line
> rail.  Both inner spikes should be on the same
> half of the tie. Spike the gage rail in a
> continuous one direction and if you have two set
> of spiking groups, the first does every other tie
> and the second follows by spiking the empty tie to
> speed things up. 
>
> A spike is to never be driven to touch or hit the
> base of the rail, as there is a requirement that
> 1/16” to 1/32” gap be between the head of
> spike and base of rail.  If spike touches the
> rail it could pull the tie when the rail expands
> and contracts every day.  Rail anchors are used
> to prevent rails from traveling, not a locking
> spike.  If track is built with a air gun hammer,
> the sound changes when you are very near the rail,
> and you must immediately stop the hammer and not
> make that last hit.  If driving by hand, stop
> before spike contacts and never over hit the spike
> and bend the head.  That is a terrible error, and
> spike should be pulled and scrapped. 
>   
> This kind of dressed track will look good and last
> 50 years or longer.
>  



Date: 02/09/20 20:31
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: PlyWoody

All of the procedures in the above discussion are exactly the same if using tie plates.  Double shoulder plates are recommended.  In this case, you have the location for the first spike in the plate hole which is pre drilled through that hole.  Note that when attempting to start to set that spike in the pre-drill hole, the cut-spike will try to turn account of not trying to cut the wood grain.  Put an adjustable wrench that will fit the square spike to prevent it from turning while someone using a heavy small hammer drive that spike 2” down to firmly set it.  When the other spikes are being set or driven with a spiking maul, no one should be near the spiker as a off-target hit can send a spike flying 50’ or more and do serious damage to anyone if they get hit.  Eye protection should be worn by everyone in a spiking zone, and ear protection for air driving of spikes. Every spike must be exactly vertical.

Hate to tell you this but spiking over a rail is not permitted. And hitting the rail head with a spike maul can make that a damaged rail requiring replacement, as that spike mark can become the source of reason of a rail breakage.  When building track for display usage where there will be no traffic over it, tie plates are really not necessary, and would be only for show.  If you plan to yo-yo a 4-8-4 back and forth over your track you better have double shoulder plates and add more than 4 spikes to a tie, and meet the standard plans of that railroad.

I have not seen Ridgway but they built a nice-looking track with the track dressed to the outside of their curve loop.  They used an air hammer to drive the spikes. 

When the quality control inspector come behind a tie insertion gang, they just slip a card under the head of the spike to see if there is a gap there.  The spike must not touch the base of the rail. If the QC inspector found a bent head spike or a missing or tight spike you would lose points.

To answer the other question, I think he is referring to a worn neck of the old spike.  All traffic will create movement that wears the neck of the spike near the base of rail or tie plate.  Pulling spikes is a very dangerous procedure because the neck of old spikes are very worn and the head will break off and hit you in the eye, not the face but in the eye.  I learned because in one year I had two different employees come into my office and THANKED ME for being so strict on having and using eye protection. Both of those men asked for new goggles as the spike head hit their goggles and broke the plastic, so you need not figuring what it would have done to their eyes.  I did feel proud that my safety message worked.  
 



Date: 02/10/20 07:37
Re: Is the term "Dress the track" understood?
Author: MaryMcPherson

I always thought it meant a sport coat with the railroad tie.

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions



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