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Finally Laying Rails (aka Landscaping)!

6170 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  3lphill
I've finally been able to start on a project I've been dreaming about for the past 10 years or so: a walkway/pathway alongside our home, consisting of paving stones set between real mining railroad rails & ties. I've accumulated a decent collection of real 12- & 25-pound rails, 60-inch-wide ties (sleepers), as well as rail joiners, shoulder bolts, and spikes from a 3-foot gauge mining railroad that saw heavy use in the 1920s & 30s:

For anyone interested in viewing the construction progress (it's still a ways from completion), for your viewing pleasure I've set up an online slideshow narrative, so I don't jam up anyone's download times in this thread:

Side Yard Pathway Slideshow

The area under construction now will feature a real functioning switch, recovered from a scrap pile at this abandoned mine. Much of this pathway/walkway is inspired by an 18-inch gauge ride-on railroad in Oregon,which details the construction of working switches (points):

Meadows & Lake Kathleen RR. Fascinating!

My ties are set on 18-inch centers, which allows 12-inches between the ties, just enough room for the 12-inch square paver stones to set in. I originally wanted to gauge the rails to 18-inches, as this would look a lot better on the 30-inch-wide ties (I cut each 60-inch tie in half to fit; due to the narrow width of the side yard access between my house & wall with plants, 30-inches was all I could fit in), but my lawnmower & other yard implements wouldn't fit on the walkway...SOOOO, I regauged to 24-inches at the last minute, which looks a little funky on 30-inch wide ties. Oh well, it's better than not having it at all!
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Thank you for the kind comments! I've been working on finishing the walkway over the past few days, and here are a few photos of my progress:

The large rail in front of the block wall is a piece of 45-lb rail that was used on the Arden Plaster Co rail line in the 1930s (just outside Las Vegas). I used 12-inch paver stones set between the ties/sleepers, and used my tile saw to cut them to fit in between where the turn for the driveway & garage will be. The final ties/sleepers are 4x6-inch pine beams I found at Home Depot, for a very reasonable cost...I just cut them into 36-inch long pieces to install on the pressure-treated 2x4 stringers (not shown, buried underneath). I also used a couple of 4x4 posts in between the 4x6 ties where the curve will go.

Tomorrow we're heading out to a scrap yard that supposedly has some 10-lb & 12-lb rail sections; hopefully these will be salvageable so I can use them to finish my pathway.

As for the rail bender, I had second thoughts about building one due to the astronomical price of 1-inch steel plate. SOOOOO, I am in search of more 10-lb or 12-lb rail to use to finish the pathway. I will post my results as soon as I have them!
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Posted By jimtyp on 06/19/2008 9:07 AM
Great idea Warren! Looks really good, just need RR crossing sign :) Thanks for the link on the how-to rail bender!

Thanks Jim! I thought it might be useful for others, since the next-least expensive rail bender I could find was nearly $3,000! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif These expensive rail benders use a similar concept and layout as the home-made one I linked to, but DANG, $3K??? Needless to say, the home-made option currently is the only one available to me. But with the astronomical cost of steel plate these days, I decided against building one for a one-time use (at a minimum, it would sit idle for the next 10 years until I retire anyway). If I ever have a need for one in the future, I at least have the plans on hand to build one (and the torch kit inside the garage).

So, my 25-lb rail will sit on the other side of my house in my "storage" area, along with a set of points for 25-lb rail I recovered from the same mine (buried under a rubble/rock pile).

Hmm...I never did think of a RR Crossing sign, thanks for the idea!!!
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Posted By 3lphill on 06/20/2008 10:21 AM
Instead of putting it off or building a bender, job it out. Call a random metal fab shop and ask for a recommendation. I would be surprised if it cost much more than $75.00 per bend.

Thanks for the recommendation, but I already inquired and the cost would be well over $250 total...but SUCCESS! I bought 3 12-lb rails from my trusty salvage yard, they found them when clearing out a section of the yard that was condemned for a freeway widening project...all in great shape too! They had some other pieces too: several short 10-lb sections, a 15-lb piece, and a 25-lb straight piece; but all were worn through on the tops, all the way down to & into the webbing. I got lucky!

I'll get the rails installed in the next day or two, and will post photos as soon as I'm done.
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All that is left to do is to spray some Muriatic Acid over the bright shiny bolts & washers to remove the plating and give the rusty look to match the rail. Got plenty of it since we have a pool, but I need to wait until it is not so windy out before I start messing with the acid...

Here's a link to the updated slideshow with more photos and better descriptions:
Side Yard Pathway Slideshow
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