How to make Railroad ties last longer?

   / How to make Railroad ties last longer? #11  
RR ties are made out of a wide variety of different species of trees, which is why there is such a huge variation in how long they last. A tie that is made out of white oak or western larch is going to last decades longer than one made out of tulip or ponderosa pine. The challenge is, it's difficult to tell what kind of wood you're getting when you're buying them unless you're able to cut into them to see the grain. Even then, you have to know what you're looking for. Best bet, for a person who can't cut into the ties and/or who isn't familiar with what the different types of wood look like is to try to find the heaviest ties in the stack. The heavier they are, the more likely it is that they're made of one of the more rot resistant species of wood. It's not a guarantee, especially if the ties are full of water, but it gives you a better chance.
 
   / How to make Railroad ties last longer?
  • Thread Starter
#12  
I was afraid you guys were going to say gravel backfill.
 
   / How to make Railroad ties last longer? #13  
I did roofing felt backfilled with gravel arrange so the gravel extended to daylight under the bottom tie.

I did not do anything on one end where the tie disappears into the earthen bank and termites got in the end and hollowed out those ties.

The outside with heavy tar untouched… just lost the inside over 20 years of 3 pieces.
 
   / How to make Railroad ties last longer? #14  
My business replaced scads of rotted ties in condo complexes. sometimes several hundred on one job. My retirement home needed a retaining wall so I made my own ties out of concrete so that I never have to replace any in the future.
 
   / How to make Railroad ties last longer? #15  
Many of the RR ties I've seen are already used. So, half worn out already. One may be able to get new ones if one can find them, but they'll be much more expensive.

I prefer concrete retaining wall bricks with a slight offset to them.
 
   / How to make Railroad ties last longer? #16  
I laid many RR ties down to terrace the dog pen so the slope would hold pea gravel. That was 23 yrs ago and they are still solid but we live in the mostly dry SW
 
   / How to make Railroad ties last longer?
  • Thread Starter
#17  
I laid many RR ties down to terrace the dog pen so the slope would hold pea gravel. That was 23 yrs ago and they are still solid but we live in the mostly dry SW
Yeah, I think you and the other fella that lives in CA has a much different situation than I do in the quite moist SE. I am torn! I know the gravel is the right thing to do but it is not really in my timeframe. I am trying to get this area backfilled before the rains come Friday and next week. But I think I can make it happen. Thanks for the advice!
 
   / How to make Railroad ties last longer? #18  
Worse case is it won't last as long but it could very well be long enough.

It's hard to come by ties now as considered toxic and known the state to cause cancer...

Can't get rid of them at the county dump anymore either.

I've got 25 I selected when a private rail line was being removed... contractor was thrilled to get rid of them...
 
   / How to make Railroad ties last longer? #19  
Yeah, I think you and the other fella that lives in CA has a much different situation than I do in the quite moist SE. I am torn! I know the gravel is the right thing to do but it is not really in my timeframe. I am trying to get this area backfilled before the rains come Friday and next week. But I think I can make it happen. Thanks for the advice!
I would be careful with any vapor barrier as it can work both ways. Meaning if water got into the ties it won't let it out. So given you have the ties, no gravel, and no long term needs, I say just go with what you have.
 
   / How to make Railroad ties last longer? #20  
Yeah, I think you and the other fella that lives in CA has a much different situation than I do in the quite moist SE. I am torn! I know the gravel is the right thing to do but it is not really in my timeframe. I am trying to get this area backfilled before the rains come Friday and next week. But I think I can make it happen. Thanks for the advice!
How high are you going to make the wall?
 
 
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