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Discussion Starter #1
I built a concrete viaduct (30' long) and attached the ties to the concrete with Gorilla Glue. I had to relay track (changing rail size) and after a year, about half the ties were secure and the other half came off.

I surmise this was due to uneven surface of tie/concrete, surface not clean enough, and not enough pressure applied to the tie during initial setup stage. IOW, due to human error.

Out of curiosity, are there any other substances out there that work for holding wood to concrete outside?


Thanks.
 

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I believe there is a type screw that will go into the concrete and you can secure the track that way. I belive Marty does something like this for his road bed. Later RJD
 

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RJD is correct--one brand is called Tap Cons (at HD), there is a similar one at Lowes--only diffence is color. The ones at HD are blue and Lowes are white. You will need a hammer drill to go into the concrete--I have a cheap Skill hammer drill that works well. I have attached wood to the walls of my concrete block garage for years with Tap Cons--and I hang some serious weight from these 2x4's!! Should work for your bridge--easy to remove if you need is a plus.

Regards,

Matt
 

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The brand name for those screws is "Tapcon". They can be had at Home Depot. They are blue in color and usually come with a drill bit sized for the screw. Its best to use a hammer drill for the pilot holes in the concrete. The only thing I can think of, as far as the Tapcons are concerned, is their size. I have used small ones on the job, but I believe they may still be a bit too large for the plastic ties. But you can check to see what smaller diameter ones are available. The other issue to be careful about is the head of the screw. If you are using a flathead screw, try not to tighten it too much, or the tie will deform. Hex head tapcons are also available. These have a flat washer like underside to their head, which will seat nicely on top of the tie. And remember to predrill clearance holes in the ties so that the screw slides through it without binding.

While Gorilla Glue may be the "Toughest Glue on Planet Earth", it will still break away from things like concrete, due to frost, or a powdery surface on the concrete that may not have seemed to be there when you first glued the item to it. Exterior construction adhesive works better, as it remains somewhat flexible. One of the best adhesives for exterior use is urethane caulking. I have used it over many years where you have to seal doors and windows to masonry. Much better than silicone. Silicone will not adhere permantly to brick or concrete. It doesn't seem to penetrate the pors in the masonry the way urethane does.
 

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As to silicon adhering to bricks, I purchased a purpose made silicon (in gray mortar color) intended just for that, and it is still holding up well having bonded a couple of loose bricks to their motor beds. That said, it may not work too well for bonding plastic ties to concrete.

-Ted
 

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Got any pictures?

This is what I do to attach my tracks to concrete road bed.




That is a plastic anchor that fits in a 1/4 inch hole

I use a hamnmer drill to drill a 1/4 inch hole.

About every three or four feet.

I take a piece of wire ( the kiind used to tie rebar together) and bend it in a loop around the screw. Some times I use twice the length so I and bend it over two ties.

In this case only one tie.

This makes it easy to take up the track if I need to for any reason.

You can get these anchors at Ace Hareware in a box that has the screws , anchors, and a drill bit. The drill bit is worthless.



 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for your very creative/useful suggestions. I do have a hammer drill I used for securing studs to my basement floor. Didn't think I'd get use of it! One BIG concern I have is that I placed 1:1 ballast sized granite into the concrete when I had it in the mold. The hammer drill might have trouble penetrating granite? Your opinion on this please! Thanks!


BTW, I have WOOD handmade ties, NOT plastic.

John, in your photo I see wire attached to embedded screw. What is the other side of the wire attached to? I'd think 2 screws on each side of the tie with copper wire would secure the tie.


I have used silicon but it seems to pull away (just my personal experience, not saying it doesn't work; I might have screwed up in applying it). The other caulk one of you mention I may try in combination with the tapcon. Mechanical joint always best.

Anyway, appreciate the tips! I know I can always come here for answers.


Here's a photo of part of the viaduct. The rust on the rails is real rust.





incidentally, mechanically fastening the ties would allow me to work in the freezing temps now, as adhesive doesn't adhese in the cold
 

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May I suggest that, if you anchor the track down, you anchor it at only one place per section of track, that being in the middle of the section. Securing the track against the wind blowing it off the general area of the roadbed is a good idea, but rigidly attaching it to a rigid structure can lead to sun kinks and tie damage (the rail can rip itself loose from an "immovable" tie).

My "roadbed" is an elevated wood structure that varies in height around 3 or 4 feet. I did attach my track down due to the fear of a very strong wind blowing the track off of it, but I knew that the sun would play havoc with it if it was rigidly attached, so I just used clear fishing line... pass the line under one rail, then between the rails pass it over two or three ties and then go under the other rail and tie the ends together under the elevated structure, leaving the string a bit loose. Passing the string over a few ties gives more spikes to grip the rail to hold the rest of the track in place, but more than 3 or 4 ties would not be any improvement as it is only the first and last ties the line is over that do the majority of the holding.

I have since decided that the wind is not something to worry about as much as I thought it would be. BUT "sun kinks" are!

Silly story time...

When I first got my Live Steam locomotive I was desperate to run it, so I found some plastic track that was cheap and quickly available. I put four 10'ft 1x6 boards on the ground in a straight line and put the track on that... gave me 40 ft to run the engine back and forth on and get my first "fix" of steam! I nailed the track to the board at each end... one nail through the end tie on the outer end of the track. The 4 boards were not nailed to each other but had some 4-ft strips of wood (2-inch baseboard) nailed on one edge and to the bottom of the board on one side like two "fingers" such that the boards locked together when the fingers interlaced, the fingers keeping the boards aligned sideways and vertically, but they could slip apart if pulled from the ends.

One cool morning, before I went to work, I looked at the track and kicked the ends of the boards to tighten together the joints. I then went to work and it was one of those days one wishes work was outside... sunny and warm, then it became one of those days I was glad my job was in an air conditioned office! When I got home that evening it was quite hot outside and as I pulled in the driveway I noticed my track had "expanded" in the heat!

I went over to it to investigate. The 40-ft of track was now in a shallow bell curve with the center over TWO FEET above the boards!!! Like a fool, I went to the center of the track and just barely touched the track with my index finger... the "hill" of track "fell over" breaking several of the track joints in the process.


My track now is all nickel-silver in two 17-ft diameter loop backs with about 50-ft of track between. It moves enough that the circle of the loop-backs can overhang the inside edge of the elevated structure in the cold and overhang the outside of the structure when the sun has been on it all day... that is a variation of the diameter of 2- to 3-inches. I left a penny's worth of distance between the rail ends when assembling the track and in the heat all that gap was filled by the expanding rail. When the temperature goes back down, the joint with the least friction comes completely apart if any sections of track get hung up on anything and do not move with the contraction.

The gist of all this is that track MUST be allowed to move or things will break. Attaching the track down in the middle of each section will allow the ends to move in and out a bit in heat changes and hopefully not shift all the track in one direction creating a large gap at one joint or walking the whole track off the roadbed.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
CT,

Quite a story! I've used brass in the past and the rails stay bent but in this case, on the curved section of viaduct especially, I'm worried the aluminum rails will want to unbend straight. So I like your idea for straight sections but in curvy sections, I may have to anchor in 2 or 3 spots per 6' length. My viaduct is both curved and straight, btw.
 

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I completely understand the desire to "nail it down", but I strongly recommend that you just let it float in the ballast. Any tie-downs MUST be "loose" to let it float. I eventually removed all by one or two of my fishing line tie-downs and mainly that was because I forgot where I had them and that is because they were loose enough to not cause problems.

Let your curves absorb the expansion and contraction and just let it float!
 

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If you are concerned about drilling into granite, don't be. A good carbide tipped masonry drill bit will walk through it, provided you have the right hammer drill. Hilti was one of the first, if not the first, to have the percussion and speed actions correct. I had a Hilti saleman come out to the jobsite where I was fastening a multitude of oak boards to a concrete wall. I had been using a Milwaukee hammer drill, and going through drill bits like there was no tomorrow. We were only drilling 1/4" holes, but the concrete was very hard. He handed me the Hilti drill with their bit in it, and the first hole I drilled it felt like I was drilling soft wood. That was over twenty years ago. Since then, Bosch, Metabo, DeWalt, Porter Cable, etc. have made drills with the same drilling action and speed. I guess Hilti's patent ran out?

Anyway, getting back to your task, I would say, looking at the photograph of your viaduct, that unless you take it slow, you could run the risk of knocking some of those stones loose. Don't force the drill. Let it get a bite first. Then you can apply slight pressure to finish the hole.

I remembered another method we used once in awhile when we didn't have any masonry anchors. We would drill a 3/16" diameter hole through the wood to be anchored, and keep drilling down into the concrete. Then take a piece of tie wire, bend it in half and stick it into the hole in the wood and down into the hole in the concrete. Next we would take a 16 penny nail and drive it through the wood and down into the concrete. There was no way that was comming loose. And it saved the boss alot of money on anchors.
 

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I have code 250 aluminum rail mounted in hollow plastic ties by Micro Engineering laying on concrete roadbed. When we discovered that the expansion and contraction of the rail would cause the track to wander on and off the roadbed, it was obvious that some form of securement was needed. Our first attempt was Liquid Nails. That lasted about 2 months as the hollow ties did not bond well to the plastic and the LN popped right off the concrete. That brought us to the conclusio nthat we needed ties with a full-bodied bottom side so wood ties were decided upon. Our first attempt at securing these wood ties was Loctite Power Grab caulk-type adhesive as advertised on TV. Don't believe all the ads on TV. After securing about 100 ties to the concrete roadbed, spiking was begun. It became obvious after the first few ties popped off the concrete that the Loctite product was inferior to the need. Testing of several glues was then conducted and the overall winner was Elmer's Nano-High Performance Glue. This glue has been holding wood ties in place on the concrete roadbed through scorching summer sun (105-110 deg.) and freezing (28 deg) winters for two years now. Not one tie has separated from the concrete. Elmer's Nano-High Performance Glue is my candidate for your solution.

If you have long straight runs of track, be sure to allow for a lot of expansion and contraction with the aluminum rail. It will not, however, try to straighten out on the curves if you've used a rail bender to pre-form the radius of the rail.

Bob F.
 

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You only need to screw one side. The stiffness of the wire will hold it in place. Next time your in home depot go over to where they have the re bar cut in different lengths. You will find a coil of black wire. Feel how stiff the wire is.

Once the anchor screw is in place I take a long nose pliers and bend the wire over the tie

If you look carefully in the first picture you can see a small flat piece where I grabbed the wire with the pliers.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks, seems wide range of choices.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm. After reading the track warnings of movement, I have to say that in areas OFF the viaduct, I have sunk ties into concrete about halfway. They've been in place and held for about 2 years and the area is mostly in shade. So those sections of track won't have wiggle room. I haven't yet detected movement of the rails. Here's a photo during construction.

Most of the concrete (4" thick) is raised about an inch above the ground (but is getting ballasted to make it look more even at ground level). This view shows a more raised area where the ground sloped away.

If things don't work out, just lesson learned. Doesn't make me mad or anything. Just fascinating to me. I enjoy working outside so nothing peeves me. The area you see on the plain wall has since gotten a nice greenish mossy aged look to it as if it's been there a thousand years. At worst, the ties can be pried out and floating track above if that becomes necessary.

 
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