• Markings on the side of rail?

  • General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment
General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment

Moderator: John_Perkowski

  by FarmallBob
dbier wrote:.....I can't imagine these rails have been in use that many years and still look to be in good shape....
The CSX Westshore main - at least the 10+ miles from Brighton thru its western end near Churchville - is laid almost entirely of 127 lb rail dated 1945. This is a heavily-used "main" track - it sees a dozen or more trains daily:


This rail has been in place a good 20 years at least. Uncertain whether the previous stick rail was field welded, or if it was lifted and replaced with factory-welded relay rail. Here's a typical weld:



Incidentally also, most of the Rochester & Southern main in Chili (formerly the B&O Rochester Branch, originally the BR&P) is laid with rail dating between 1918 and 1925. It was field-welded into CWR perhaps 10 years ago. This too is heavily used; it sees several trains daily.

  by ChiefTroll
It's a plant (factory) weld. You can tell by the close shearing of the upset metal around the weld. The rail section is 127 Dudley - 127-22 is the symbol used by Illinois Steel and other USS mills for that section. If it was 127-23 it would be "Dudley Modified" section, which was a later improvement on the section, around 1948. Bethlehem mills would mark them as 127DY or 127DYM respectively. I'm aware of only three railroads in North America that bought new 127 Dudley rail - New York Central and its subsidiaries (P&LE, etc.), Kansas City Southern, and Napierville Junction. If anyone knows of another railroad, I would like to hear of it. By the way, the NJ rail (for a D&H subsidiary in Canada) was rolled by Algoma Steel in 1927. It was probably an addition to an order rolled for the NYC's Canada Southern between Windsor and Fort Erie, Ontario. The D&H proper in the US had no 127 DY rail.

"OH" means "Open Hearth Steel." On the other side should be a "hot stamp" with the characters stamped into the web, probably beginning with "CC" for Control Cooled, then a series of letters for the heat number, ingot, bloom and rail number. That comprises a unique serial number for the rail.

I can't tell the month of the rail next to the weld, because the month code has been cropped off. It is common but far from universal for a series of rails in the same string to have common dates. When the jointed rail is taken up, they try to match ends together in the car so as to match wear patterns on the head. That doesn't always work, and some juggling and grinding is done at the welding plant. The most important point is to match the contour of the gauge corner of the two rails at a weld. When welded relayer rail is unloaded it's important to make sure that the two strings have their gauge sides correctly oriented.

Gordon Davids
  by FarmallBob
Gordon - Interesting....thanks for the explanation!
ChiefTroll wrote:It's a plant (factory) weld. You can tell by the close shearing of the upset metal around the weld.

Makes sense! The welds are so neatly done they are difficult to spot.
On the other side should be a "hot stamp" with the characters stamped into the web, probably beginning with "CC" for Control Cooled, then a series of letters for the heat number, ingot, bloom and rail number. That comprises a unique serial number for the rail.
That's exactly how the opposite (gage) sides of both rails are marked.

  by roadster
Just one further tidbit of RR practices regarding installing CWR. It is not uncommon for a carrier to remove older lighter rail and reuse it on a line that sees less traffic than the main lines. CSX over the past 3 years as picked up a lot of used rail they had replaced on the mains across NYS and relayed them on most sidings across the state. I was assigned to a rail train a couple years ago, dropping CWR on the St. Lawrence sub., that I had picked up a week before along the mains near Canastota, after the rail gang had done their job. It's not a stretch to believe that Conrail utilized the same practice when the West Shore was redone in the late '80's, I believe. While it does see it's share of traffic, it does not have the frequency as either mains 1 or 2. When Conrail rationalized and removed track 3 from the famous Horseshoe Curve in Penn.. Track 3 had the most recently installed CWR, which I'm sure was the reason they took it and relayed it else where.
  by lvrr325
IIRC there is rail in the Solvay Hill yard for the Auburn Road main track that is supposed to have been picked up off either the LV or EL (I forget which now). The Erie main had a lot of really heavy (155-lb) rail that got re-used in a bunch of places as Conrail removed or single-tracked parts of the EL main lines.
  by Cactus Jack
I don't ever remember EL having 155# rail.

There was alot of ex LV 136# that went on the market for relay in the late 1970's and PRR had some heavy 152 / 155 rail.

And I never realized KCS used the Dudley section. I always thought Dudley was a good rail section.
  by ChiefTroll
Right, Doug. The 155 PS rail came from PRR. Penn Central didn't buy any after they adopted 132 RE as the heavy section. The only other (non-PRR) property that I know used 152 and 155 PS rail was the Bessemer and Lake Erie, though some of it might have been used on other US Steel roads. Any 155 lb rail on Erie Lackawanna track was laid by Conrail after April 1, 1976. 152 and 155 PS rail had a problem, in that it was actually heavy and rigid. If a low joint developed due to rail end batter or poor ties or ballast, with lighter rail sections you could raise the joint and tamp it, and the rail would sort of straighten up (one hoped.) With 155 lb rail, if you jacked the joint, all of both rails would come up and the rail never wanted to bend back to its proper shape.

I saw a lot of confusion on Conrail and successors over 136 lb rail. There were several different 136 lb sections on the Lehigh 'Valley, dating back to the 1930's. There are several different 136 lb sections based on AREMA recommendations that also fit 132 RE joint bars. 132 RE, 136 RE and 136-10 rails have the same fishing dimensions (fishing refers to the points of contact between the bars and the rail). 136-10 is 136 RE with a 10-inch radius crown on the running surface.

136 NYC and the 136 LV sections are all entirely different from the RE family. They caused all sorts of problems with matching rail sections and compromise joints (joints used to join rail of one section to rail with a different section).

By the way, 127 Dudley was a pretty good section for the New York Central, which used it successfully for high speed service on gradual curves. It is a high, thin section (7 inches high) and relatively stiff. The Dudley Modified section improved it mainly by using a wider radius head-web fillet to avoid cracks that led to head-web separations. The 127 DY and DYM head is a bit narrower than some other common sections, so that provides less metal for loss by curve wear. The web is also narrow, and more susceptible to bolt hole cracks. The standard joints in 127 DYM moved the bolt pattern back into the rail by one-half inch, and that reduced the incidence of cracks in the No. 1 bolt hole.

I suspect that the 127 DY rail on the KCS might have been owing to influence by Leonor F. Loree, who was concurrently Chairman of the KCS and President of the D&H in the 1920's and '30's. Even though the D&H didn't use it, as I mentioned earlier the NJ did, so maybe Loree latched onto some U.S. orders for NYC and picked it up for a bulk price. I remember Tom Carter, when he was President of the KCS, telling me that he was happy to have bought some very good 127 DY relayer rail that came from the Cleveland Union Terminal, around 1978. CUT never saw any heavy wheel loads, so the rail was almost as good as new.

  by Cactus Jack

Thanks for the info and background.

Always educational,

  by charlie6017
Chief Troll,

I know the PRR used heave rail universally, as they had many lines with ore/coal/mineral traffic--I was
wondering if any of that 155 lb rail may have come from the Elmira Branch if you happened to know?

  by ChiefTroll
Charlie -

I don't know where it would have come from, but I don't think it would have been typical PRR practice to have used 152 or 155 lb rail anywhere on the Northern Central except maybe around Enola and Harrisburg. The typical rail section on a line with heavy mineral traffic at moderate speeds would have been 130 PS, maximum. 130 PS was another source of confusion, because it is nothing like 130 RE.

There was usually no connection between the source and use of relayer rail (fit rail in PRR terminology). The rail was released from track and sent to the welding plant. Most Conrail welding was done at Lucknow, near Harrisburg. It didn't make any difference where it came from. Once it left the plant in a rail train it went to wherever it was needed. I doubt that any records survive, if they were ever kept, on the disposition of fit rail from first to final installation on Penn Central and Conrail.

- Gordon
  by tree68
At one point about ten years ago, there was CWR just north of Evans Mills that was clearly made from welded-together 39 footers - the bolt holes weren't cropped off before the welding was done.

The Adirondack Scenic has some 115 (?) pound rail dating to the '20s, IIRC. In fact, most of the line is laid with it. And there is every possibility that said rail is re-lay from elsewhere on the Central.
  by charlie6017
Thanks Mr. Davids, I appreciate the detailed response. And thanks for the great education on
this entire topic!

  by Cactus Jack

The ex NYC RR ADK Division (Now Adirondack Scenic) was (is) almost exclusively 105 Dudley. The line from Saranac Lake to Placid (old D&H portion) is 90ASCE, I think.

  by dbier
I'm glad I "reopened" this long ago dormant thread!
  by Matt Langworthy
Cactus Jack wrote:I don't ever remember EL having 155# rail.
Correct. The heaviest rail on EL at the time of the merger was 132 lb. I've never read or heard of them purchasing anything heavier than that between 1960 and C-Day.