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Where do you find railroad spikes?


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#1 David Dix

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 09:28 PM

Another newbie question: Where can I get cheap/free railroad spikes. I saw some videos of people making tomahawks, tongs, and other things out of them. When the railroad workers change out the railroad ties what do they do with the old spikes?

#2 FireCat

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 11:35 PM

Most of the times you can find them next to old tracks...mind you that picking this up in some areas is considered stealing.......my advice is find out were any old/abandoned track lines are..or find a track crew and ask if they have any to spare. I have done this a few times, keep in mind i tell tem what i am going to do with them and have made a point of having a few other items i have made with me to show/trade for them..BBQ steak turners make a great item to trade it seems. I happened to luck out and have another dad in my sons cub scouts that is a foreman on a track repair crew and gets me spike,plates and peices of track on a regular basis. Also if you do find a track crew ask them if they have a scrap bin/pile localy that you can look thru..you would be amazed at the goodies i have found.....happy hunting and good luck.

#3 BIGGUNDOCTOR

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 11:37 PM

The RR sends them to scrap yards. Search RR spike on the forum, and you will get what you need. The main thing is that if you get caught collecting "old spikes" along the tracks, you could be charged with anything from theft to terrorism. The RR owns the right of way along the tracks, and everything on it. If ya see a crew ask them for some. I have a couple of 5gal buckets full that we got for free.
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#4 David Dix

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 08:59 AM

I need to find a railroad crew near the Collinsville area.

#5 MattBower

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 09:14 AM

You can also buy 'em brand-spankin' new from McMaster-Carr and probably many other places, though that's not nearly as cheap.

#6 ThomasPowers

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 10:47 AM

First thing to realize is that RR spikes are not a great alloy for knives or hawks. You can find better alloys free as well generally in your local auto repair shop: car axles, coil springs, leaf springs, torsion bars---all are far better alloys for edge tools.

RR spikes are sort of like a dancing bear, it's not how well it dances but that it dances at all...

I probably don't use more than 1 spike a year and can buy spikes from the local scrap yard at scrap price. (I like to make spoon stakes from them)

Last Quad-State Ptree had a couple of kegs of brand new spikes that he was tailgating as he bought them from the supplier by the keg and was letting folks buy them 1 by 1 or by the keg.

Will you be at Quad-State this year? I'm driving in from New Mexico for it...
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#7 David Dix

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 06:09 PM

Okay. I suppose my new question will be: What type of steel and/or iron should I be trying to get my hands on that is free or very inexpensive (and is acquired legally), and is fairly consistent in its quality.

#8 MattBower

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 06:27 PM

It depends what you want to make. Auto springs, both coil and leaf, are pretty reliably tough, medium carbon, oil hardening steel that will make decent or better edged tools. They can have hidden flaws from their former lives as springs. But that's the breaks when you use scrounged steels.

#9 BIGGUNDOCTOR

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 11:10 PM

Search the forum for scrap steel, as this has been covered several times in the past year.

What type depends on what you want to make IE; tools , decorative elements, blades, wutchajiggers,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

A quick answer is wrecking yards, scrap yards, auto shops, auto body shops, fabrication companies, Craigslist, and more will yield scrap metals. Just keep your eyes open, and let everyone you know what you are looking for.
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#10 ThomasPowers

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 10:33 AM

If you are just starting out I would find a place that sells steel and buy a 20' section of 1/4" and 3/8" sq stock and run through that making simple projects. probably be A36 though they may call it hot rolled mild steel.

I buy mine from a windmill construction and repair place---much cheaper than the local lumber yard and often about the same price for a 20' piece as the big box stores sell a 4' piece!

Other places to look for cheap new steel is a medium sized ornamental iron place that may let you have or sell at scrap rate the drops from their production. (a small place may keep all theirs and a big place won't want to be bothered...) I used to pick up hundreds of pounds of nice new stock mainly in under 2' lengths for free from one place. I made trinkets for the office; always asked; showed up when I wouldn't interfere with work; wore proper PPE and left the scrap dumpster neater and more well stacked---they had to pay to have it collected and hauled to the scrap yard so if they could do it less frequently because I had arranged things neatly in it then we both "won". Shoot I even picked up some real wrought iron there once when they were replacing an old fence that had been messed up by a car.
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#11 Woodchuck Wrought Iron

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 12:39 AM

I have quite a large supply of real wrought iron on hand in various sizes and lengths. PM if you are in need and I can email prices.

#12 ThomasPowers

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 11:06 AM

Generally I don't start new smiths on real wrought iron or high carbon steels until they know the basics with mild steel
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