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I'm planning to hand lay ties and track for outdoor use. I figure I can pre-build much of it indoors and then install it outside on a ladder or similar firm footing. The ties will be in direct contact with ballast and dirt and stay outdoors year 'round. Any suggestions/experiences as to what type wood and coatings to use? Any suggestions for spikes? The usual (and conflicting) requirements for low cost, high quality, long lasting, great looking, easy to build and maintain, apply. :) - - Web

P.S. I'm in the Northeast, so at various times it will freeze, thaw, sizzle in the sun, and be awash with humidity and rain.
 

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My mixture of pressure treated, redwood and cedar ties have been in for about six years. I've vet to replace any rotten ones.
I used 16 gauge finish nails for a nail gun, they are a bit of a pain to get apart, I soak them in MEK or lacquer thinner. The heads are rectangular
and hold the track very well. I do have a problem with them working up, but a tap when checking the track seats them.

Harvey Campbell
Connecticut
 

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Great. Which would you say is holding up best, and looking best? Any tips based on your experience?
 
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you could try to get Palisander (Palo Santo)
that is a greenish wood with much oils in it.
we use it here for fenceposts.
fifty-plus years without problems.
 

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Webber,

Redwood is generally accepted to survive longest, and it turns grey after short exposure outdoors. C&OCRY used to supply pre-cut redwood ties, but ran out of scrap redwood, I think. Kappler Lumber ([url]http://www.kapplerusa.com/y2k/kp-products.htm[/url]) sells ties and claims they can do them in redwood to special order (?)

Micro Engineering sells spikes in various sizes (no website? Try [url]http://www.enginetender.com/255m.htm[/url] and scroll down for G scale items.) Most folk find that stainless spikes lift out of the ties - ordinary steel rusts and grips the wood as it expands. You certainly won't be able to remove the spikes after a few years!

I found that spiking was easier with some lighter pliers - Micromark sells a pair specially Micromark Spike Insertion Plier which will reduce wear and tear on your hands. I also used a small cordless drill to pre-drill the ties for the spikes.

I gave up making my own plain track - too tedious and the Llagas Creek plastic track bases are inexpensive. ([url]http://www.llagastrack.com/[/url]) There are several threads in the archives - e.g. [url]http://archive.mylargescale.com/Forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=44764[/url]
 

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I'm using red cedar for the ties. Once cut to length I soak them in used diesel oil for several days, then set them aside to dry out. So far have done about 2000 ties that way. The diesel oil not only treats them against the wet but also turns them very dark...look just like creosoted ties. I use black steel spikes that I bought from C&OCR, was told not to use the stainless steel spikes as they won't rust into the ties and have a habit of working lose.
I build the track in the house in jigs made for both straight and curved, the curves in the two diameters I am using. When finished I can install them on the layout just like using sectional track. Haven't done any switches as of yet....but that will be soon. Can't tell you how well it lasts as it is too soon on my layout, but was told by someone who does use the diesel oil and red cedar that he has had no problems in many years, and expects many more before needing ties replaced. Anyhow...just my two cents worth.

Garry NCGRR
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi
Thanks for the responses. I read that thread before I posted my question. I thought some additional advice and experiences might surface. -- Web
 

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Being in MA I had a lot of trouples with hand laid track. At first I used pressure treated ties and steel spikes. The spikes rusted rather quickly. I then used stainless spikes but they tended to gradually work their way out of the ties.

To solve all of this I am now using a plastic wood for decks to make my ties, predrill holes for the spikes and put a drop of instant glue on the spike before insertion. To date none have come out.

For the turnouts or bridges (bridges have redwood ties) I solder a brass tie plate every foot and screw the rail down. This keeps everything in gauge.

I should also mention I use stainless steel rail.

Hope that helps

Stan Ames
http://www.tttrains.com/sjrp/
 

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Pine ties on my friends RR needed replacing after about 6 years. Track was spiked with small nails, which were popping up and working loose every winter. Any spike I used on my handlayed track always popped up and worked loose, so I gave up on that method. I use Aluminun rail for my handlaid track. I drill a hole through the foot of the rail, put a 5/8" nail through the hole and clinch the nail over on the underside of the redwood tie. This method holds permanent 20 plus years in my semiarid climate. I had to replace some redwood ties after 20 years outside. Now my preferred method is to use Aristocraft Euro style plastic ties to make my own flextrack. It is faster and I like that I can adjust the curveature when needed.

TERL
 

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when building turnouts I predrill the ties and when I'm ready to spike I mix up a batch of slow curing epoxy and dip each spike into the epoxy and push them home. Although tedious the process keeps the spikes from working loose...would work on track building also if you take the time...
 

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It's been quite a while since I have posted on LS forums. I found these threads on using wood ties very interesting. Over the winter, I have 15 - 20 feet of track ruined by deer, groundhogs, etc, and need to replace the plastic ties. I've been thinking about using wood (treated pine, cedar, or oak) as tie material, but don't know where to buy the brads and the best method to attach the wood ties to the metal rail (brass). Do you drill a hole in the rails flange What is the best material for the brads?

I find the copper wire method another thread very interesting. Is wire better than just brads? It seems like using wire for 20 feet of track would be quite tedious.

If I can get the wood ties to work on the 20 feet of track that I need to fix, I may expand this method to the rest of my layout (~250 ft).

I would appreciate the forum's remarks regarding the use (and how to attach) of wood ties to brass rails.

Thanks. http://forums.mylargescale.com/images/smilies/smiley.gif

Truman
 

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I have used wooden ties since 1978 for certain parts of my pike which are still in service although I have started on those portions a tie replacement program since 2016. My track lies on a concrete base (pre cast concrete sidewalk borders) and I use oak (10mmX10mm. oak sections bought at the hardware store) ties dreched in mixture of creosote, used crank case oil and a bit of tar paint so they stay black (otherwise they turn grey after one winter). The brass rail was clipped to these by a brass clip not manufactured any more this fitted into a slot in the tie. I had to recreosote about every two years. My climate is very humid and clayish soil (hence the concrete base) I use loose ballast which is over scale size because I cannot glue this track down. My scratch built pointwork uses the same rail and ties but I had to drill small holes in the rail base to hold it down with brass estuchion pins. This held out nicely for a few years and then the brass pins started to get pushed out by the incessant alternance between humidity (in winter) and the dryness in summer.
The track is rawl plugged with brass screws every foot or as needed.

The problem of the brass pins comming out brought about a solution which has helped me renovate my track since: I use coper wire of 1,5mm diameter which I strip and bend into a U shape sort of staple. I mark out on the new ties where to drill and then insert from the bottom of the tie these U shaped clips. These are then clipped a few mm proud of the ties and then bent over with pliers to hold the rail to the tie firmly. I did this every 4 or 5 ties and at strategic positions on my pointwork (at the frog, where the switch rails separate from the switch blades etc.) and this made my switchwork much more reliable. I then was going into modeling Pennsylvania railroad and descided to use this technique to renovate my 34 years old track by inserting a new tie between every old one, so as to make my track look more like US track which has a much tighter tie spacing. This indeed renovated my track very nicely, and should outlive me. I have done this over the last three years about 15-20' at a time each summer.

Oak which is readily available in hardware stores over here in France in 10mm X 10mm or 8mm X 9mm, which is even more to scale. Seems to last about thirty years if creosoted regularly, even in a very humid environment. The overscale ballast is because scale ballast gets blown away by the rain drops. On the outer track where I used tenmille plastic base track I have glued down scale ballast (I buy it in big bags from an aquarium supplier) but it is often invaded by moss. Since two years I have succesfully combated moss using extruded plastic (most likely PVC) boards made for easy renovation of bathrooms and also sold in hardware stores over here. It covers the track and: No more moss! It also protects the track which otherwise would be drenched all winter here.
 

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(Wow, a 9 year old thread. Still pertinent I guess - wood is still wood.)

Most of us attach our rails to the ties with spikes. Some even use prototypical tie plates. The brads are useful when you have an air gun to fire them - very much quicker than hand spiking. Don't use stainless steel - it won't rust and grab the wood and you'll end up re-inserting them every year.



http://www.microengineering.com/products_ta.htm

Do a google for "site:mylargescale.com spiking track" and you'll get a few threads where we have discussed this over the years.
 

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In the first photo you can see the track renovation going full swing on my 11ft radius curve, if you look at the inner track at the bottom of the photo you can still see some of the original French railway ties spacing and a bit higher the new more american looking tie spacing.
the other photo shows the jig I use for drilling the ties to insert the copper clips which I make. I admit that it is a bit time consuming (heck, I am retired now). But it makes sturdy reliable track. By the way steel spikes won't slip out but they will rust out and then you have to start all over.
I tried making my tie plates but it was very difficult to get an even size and hole distance and ended up being too much trouble unfortunatly.
While we are at it the portion of track in view dates back to 1978 and is still going strong. The outer track is ten mille and is a portion with glued scale ballast.
 

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I used Micro Engineering tie plates - they have code 250 and code 332 versions.




While I agree that steel spikes rust - that's the point. The rust grabs the wood and makes a very strong connection - for the first 10 years. After that, you may find the heads rust off.
 

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Thanks Peter, As I only had experience with spikes indoors, I didn't know what life span to expect with steel spikes outdoors. ten years is pretty good. I may try it someday for minor repaisrs and see. I wonder what the spike hole width is on those tie plates for code 250 rail, I might order some for futur trackwork. My rail was designed for Coarse scale O gauge and comes pretty good for scale size on French railways and lighter class one railroad track in the US.
 

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Well, I had better confess that mine didn't make it to 10 years, I don't think. After being out in Maryland humidity for 5 yrs, hurricane Isabel arrived and trashed the house and garden. I lifted the track which was all good except for UV damage on some plstic ties, and eventually sold it. I think the buyer used it for a few years.
 

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Excuse my ignorance, but, how do the tie plates work? I found the Micro Engineering spikes (1/2"), and wondered if 1/2" length was too short? Micro-mark has black nails in 3/4' length and thought they might be better than the 1/2' length (set in wood tie deeper).

I plan to rip/cut my wood ties. For code 332 brass rails (mostly AML, USA, and Aristo). What is the best size: L x W x H)? I also thought I would use pressure treated pine with creosote and/or stain/sealer. How does this treated pine compare with oak for endurance and ease of mounting the rails to the ties. I know oak is very hard whereas pine is soft much easier to hammer a nail into.

Thanks for this lead: "Do a google for "site:mylargescale.com spiking track" and you'll get a few threads where we have discussed this over the years." I definitely will search these threads.

Again, thanks to everyone for their comments. I'm sure I may have other queries as I pursue this project.
 
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