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I Forge Iron

Any Helpful Resources on how RR Track is made?


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You melt the steel and cast an ingot that is rolled into a billet that is rolled into rail.  What exactly are you hunting for Specs on the steel? On the rolling?

May I commend to your attention the rail profile wiki entry?   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_profile   (Its references and external links may prove interesting depending on what you are hunting for).

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Something specific you need to know?  There is a book put out by US Steel years ago called "The Making, Shaping, and Treating of Steel" (huge book) that covers just about all things steel and has a large section or rail making from alloys to roll forming.  If there is something specific you need, I can probably scan an appropriate section (not violating copyrights) for you.

The book sometimes shows up in used book stores and is a score when you find it--pay the price.  1046 pages of tiny print and photos with the copyright date on my 7th edition as 1957


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I scored a section. All the rave about RR Anvils and all. I never had one. I went from reading about smithing to a factory  made forge and anvil. So........ never used rail. I got this section of rail and am wondering how it's made into the shape it is and obviously what the steel chemistry is. Mine has an ultra high carbon steel wrap welded around it. Nothing I have ever seen.

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At least in 1957, the steel varied by rail weight.  Will try and put it in text form:

Weight(lbs)     70-90     91-120     121+  (weight per foot of rail profile)

Carbon           .64-.77  .67-.80      .69-.82  %

Manganese   .60-.9      .70-1.0      .70-1.0 %

Phos.             .04 max (all)

Silicon             .1-.23 (all)

I see no mention of wrapped rail so that must be a newer iteration.

Roll forming basically takes 11 roll passes--10 forming and a final sizing.  Here are the basic roll-forging passes for the usual (132#) rail to give you an idea.  SOP for the roll formers is to do this all at an angle of about 45 degrees (depending on the pass)  so when thinking about the roll former profiles, turn the profiles below askew:


Of course this is all outdated to some extent so YMMV.  

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Railroad track here comes in two forms

One they call hard headed, where have a process where the  steel varies through the rail, making it wear much less, but still being able to handle the hot conditions it runs through. Favourite of the big mining companies that run their own private tracks in Western Australia I am told. It is supposed to be secret squirel how they do it, but no doubt is just a method of applying different heat treatments to the rail profile. One would assume all these rail track anvils where people grind them flat etc, wouldn't necessarily be the best choice for this sort of rail. You may be losing the hardened surface in the process.

Second is just plain carbon steel, uniform through the profile, weldable and ductile enough not to fracture.

Suppliers web site showing the two types.


Here is an article that talks about wear on hard head V normal rail, it talks about the top steel in hard head being 1250 or 1400MPa


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