• Tie Plate question-size matters

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by SST
Over the years I have collected tie plates and spikes from row's where I thought the area would be destroyed and artifacts lost forever. I had assumed that tie plates were of standard size and weight. I've been corrected. Most of the plates that I have are picked from the NYC West Shore line near Genesee St[33]. After I found out that the Gardenville line was ripped up recently, I walked the line. They stripped that last remaining section pretty good leaving almost nothing behind.

But fear not, I found 1 tie plate, sevearl spikes, clips and nuts and bolts in reasonable condition. I had considered leaving them there but with that construction company there and it's expansion, I took them before they were lost.

Anyways, yesterday, I was using the plates to hold down my boat cover in the gusty winds. At one point I picked them both up at the sametime and suddenly realized that they were different. Check out the picture. The larger plate is from the West Shore line and the smaller plate is from the Gardenville line. I assume that the smaller plate meant a smaller rail.

  by Cactus Jack
Tie plates are generally made specifically for one type and size of rail, although there are exceptions. At a minimum the plate has to match the base and cant of the rail.

The bigger plate you have is a double shoulder plate (two lips that straddle the base of the rail). The inside measurement would yield the base size of the rail. Being on the Westshore it is probably relating back to a Dudley size of rail either 105# or 127#. 105# would be a 5-1/2 inch base and 127# would be a 6-1/4" base. Could also be some type of "RE" sized rail too.

The smaller plate is a much smaller size of rail. You can faintly see the base pattern in the rust and is a modified plate with elongated holes. Cascaded down for some sort of light siding by the looks.

The function of the plate is to spread the weight of the rail on the tie in order to support and secure the rail and to limit the transmission of loaded weight (train) from damaging the tie. Hence the larger the rail size the larger the tie plate. A double shoulder plate has better securement of the rail base and is generally standard on larger rail sizes, areas of curvature or higher speeds.

Rail also has a cant factor when mounted on the plate and either the plate or the rail will be canted. A 130PS section cannot use a 130RE section plate for example.

It is very, very important with railroad track to match all OTM (other track material - bolts, washers, nuts, plates, joint bars). Bolt sizes, lock washers, joint bars (including bar drilling pattern) and composition bars are very important and need to be the right size. One shoe does not fit all, although there can be some interchangeability at times.
  by SST
After reading the reply above, I was wondering if maybe the smaller plate from the Gardenville line was used on a classification track instead of a mainline or thru track. I make the assumption that the mainline track would get heavier usage as compared to a siding so maybe they cut down on the size. Just a guess.
  by Freddy
Plate on the left is a single shoulder plate for what looks to be 85 or 100 pound rail. For 85 you'd set your spikes in the hole closet to the base of the rail. For 100 pound you'd set them to the
outermost hole. Unloaded my share of all sizes from high sided gons. Everybody should have the pleasure of that, before they die.
  by Cactus Jack
I suspect indeed that the smaller plate was on some sort of yard trackage or lower density track.

If you can, measure the inside distance between the lips on the bigger plate and the distance between the lip and rust mark denoting the rail base on the smaller plate and lets see what we can determine.
  by n2xjk
Most every railroad/trolley museum will have palates of miscellaneous donated OTM, some plates fitting the rail on hand, some not. And we've got sticks of rail with no OTM to go with it. Some of our double-shouldered plates actually have the rail size they match stamped on the field side, i.e. "105D". I can't make out all the numbers on your plate, but it looks more like a part number, not rail size.
  by O-6-O
The larger plate might be used under a joint bar or a switch complex.
  by Cactus Jack
the larger plate is not a turnout plate, it is a normal track plate.

joint plates are not normally different than regular plates
  by n2xjk
Depends which kind of fish plates you have. Our 80 Dudley and 105 Dudley has angle bars which splay out wider than the width of the base of the rail. Needs long plates with a set of holes inside the shoulder.
  by Cactus Jack
as I said, ... "normally" but also one has to take that as a matter of time . ... normally now vs. normally in 1950.

We called those splayed joint bars toe bars and the flat ones toeless.

By the time you get into bigger rail sizes bars are mostly flat (toeless)

Those toe bars were tough as it was difficult to work around the toes to get securement and also to keep the joint doing its expanding and contracting properly.

Most jobs I have speced out in recent years I have replaced the toe bars with toeless and any single shoulder plates with double shoulder. If money is short, which many times it is, then doulbe shoulders go into heavier curve areas.

The Dudley section of rail is very good; at least in the 105# and 127# I have worked with. Only caveat is that you don't want to transpose curve worn Dudley as it tends to get verticle head splits (vhs). I think NYC directed about 1957 to cease that practice but the legacy has lived on (Sperry hits).
  by BR&P
What is a "switch complex"?

The larger size of the double shoulder plate is indicative of its application for larger rail, and has nothing to do with a turnout. The distance between the shoulders is intended to correspond with the width of the base of the rail, as Cactus Jack stated in the second post.
  by scharnhorst
I have a good friend of mine who works at Frazer & Jones in Solvay, NY in the Lab and he told me that they have a huge contract to make railroad tie plates. I believe that the contract is supposed to last them some where between 5 to 10 years? I asked if he know what Railroad put in the order and was told that he did not know. He did how ever tell me that the order was vary specific each plate had to be X number of inches long, wide and thick and had to be at a specific weight or else they would be rejected. When I see him next I'll inquire on what he knows of the order and as to many they are making a day there.
  by Gadfly
Freddy wrote:Plate on the left is a single shoulder plate for what looks to be 85 or 100 pound rail. For 85 you'd set your spikes in the hole closet to the base of the rail. For 100 pound you'd set them to the
outermost hole. Unloaded my share of all sizes from high sided gons. Everybody should have the pleasure of that, before they die.

Well, I had the "pleasure"! ....if you can call it that! Ninety five degree heat down inside a hi-side gon. Whew! If was raining, we didn't unload. Company feared an accident. We also had "package switches" which consisted of plates, clips, switch points and all the OTM to "build" a turn-out-----all banded together. These we got out with an electric crane. Sometimes, when we lifted the pallet, the banding would bust, scattering parts all over everywhere! :( I can still hear the Groundman yelling to Bob, the crane operator, "LOWER YER HEAD, BOB!". We had "spring frogs" on SR, and these came back for rebuild. They were stacked outside the Blacksmith shop 3 wide and 6 high. When we got caught up on our shipping materials to Track Gangs, we'd hear the Foreman say the dreaded words, " FROG PILE AFTER LUNCH, BOYS!!!" Then, cold or hot, we climbed to the top of the frog pile to tear down frogs. A Blacksmith/Welder would burn the nuts off the side, and we would hold a spike maul in the bolt hole for the Groundman to strike with an 8 lb sledge. It fairly KILLED my back to stand up there, crouched into position for "Ham", the Groundman to strike the "punch", or maul. The "good" part was when we separated out all the recycled parts, we could make rest time (about 30 minutes) waiting for the Welder to burn off the nuts of the next layer down. We got filthy dirty out there in the Track material yard. And talk about SWEAT! That would either make a man of you or kill ya, I'll tell you! Betcha a many a rail buff would quickly get disolutioned when he had to do that kind of work instead of drooling over trains, LOL! There's no "romance of the rails" about THAT! Just plain filthy, sweaty, HOT, dirty WORK! :)

  by Raquel
I need a picture or profile of a 130PS tie plate if anyone has available. Thanks