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A Question For The Railroad Men


Subdeacon Joe
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Sun kink. The rails expanded in the heat and caused what is known as a “sun kink”. That was a gnarly one and it was probably why he was moving slow. Restricted speeds due to high temperatures, in case of sun kinks. 

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That is why if you ride a train you hear "click, click, click" all the time.  There is a space between each rail segment to allow for expansion.  Sometimes if it gets too hot the rails run out of expansion space and buckle.  That's also why they put grooves in sidewalks every few feet.

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Actually the clicking is just joints. No expansion joints on railroad rails. The rail is actually stretched when installing it to accommodate the normal temperature swings. Railway engineers use average temperatures to stretch or contract the rail but its very hard to account for temperature extremes. So, sometimes when it’s too hot you get rail kinks. Sometimes in bitter cold rail will pull apart. Both conditions can be very dangerous. 

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I put a lot of dimes on railroad tracks when I was a kid and they all had expansion gaps in them.  This is from a railroad enthusiast site.

 

 

 

When people think of trains, they often think of the distinctive clickety-clack sound caused by a train as it rolls along the rails. This sound is caused by tiny gaps which are built between sections of railroad track, as people who have inspected rail tracks closely may have noted. These gaps are deliberately placed to ensure that the tracks will not buckle in extremely hot weather when the tracks expand.

Welded tracks are used for high-speed trains. Welded tracks are used for high-speed trains. 

The distinctive gap in railroad tracks hasn't always been there. Initially, designers of railroads butted the tracks right up against each other for a smooth ride. However, they noticed that in the winter, tiny gaps would form between sections of track, and in the summer, tracks would deform and buckle, increasing the risk of derailment. This is because metal contracts in response to cold, and expands in response to heat.

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Writing your comment larger doesn’t make it true. 
 

The clickety clack is from the joints in the rail where the rails are joined with joint bars. There is very little give for heat expansion or contraction.
 

I am not a railroad enthusiast. I took courses on track structure, building and maintenance with the University of Wisconsin. 
 

Not to mention 32 years experience on rail systems. ;)

Edited by Pat Riot, SASS #13748
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3 hours ago, Pulp, SASS#28319 said:

Wonder how they prevent that when they lay welded rail.  No gaps.

Read what I said above. They stretch the rail to accommodate temperature fluctuations for the average temperatures in cold and hot weather. 

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Recently saw a show on TV and one of the things they showcased was cutting and removing a small section of the rails then pulling them back together and rewelding them. They were doing this to remove a small kink in the track. 

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That's a really large buckle in the track.  I'm no train track expert but I suspected it may be a fault line shift or some jackass with a large backhoe dragged it over.  Do they have earthquakes and fault lines in that area?  Maybe jackasses with really big backhoes?

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19 minutes ago, Badlands Bob #61228 said:

That's a really large buckle in the track.  I'm no train track expert but I suspected it may be a fault line shift or some jackass with a large backhoe dragged it over.  Do they have earthquakes and fault lines in that area?  Maybe jackasses with really big backhoes?

 

Check this out. 
https://fh-sites.imgix.net/sites/2564/2020/06/23180529/nrrm-sun-kinks-photo-sheet-20.pdf

 

 

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1 hour ago, Trailrider #896 said:

I'd hate to be around anywhere if something broke in one of the rails and it let go! :o

We had a “rail break” in Charlotte. Turns out the contractor falsified docs to show they properly stressed the rail in that area. One night the temps dropped into the low 20’s and a rail snapped under tension. I wish I would have been there to hear it but one of our Signal Inspectors was about 100 yards away inspecting a grade crossing when it let go.
He said “It sounded like two barrels of a double barrel shotgun going off at the same time.”

When I got to the scene the rail had a neatly separated 10-12 inch gap in it. 
We single tracked around it for a day until the track could be restressed and rewelded. 
 

We had another about a 1/2 mile from that break a month later. Both occurred at night. Both were found before a train went over at speed. 

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4 minutes ago, Pat Riot, SASS #13748 said:

We had a “rail break” in Charlotte. Turns out the contractor falsified docs to show they properly stressed the rail in that area. One night the temps dropped into the low 20’s and a rail snapped under tension.

 

How much elongation was there before it failed?  How far each side of the fracture had to be cut back before the repair was made?

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3 hours ago, Subdeacon Joe said:

 

How much elongation was there before it failed?  How far each side of the fracture had to be cut back before the repair was made?

1. I really don’t know or don’t recall. 
 

2. If I remember right the track was X-rayed and 12’ on one end an 15-18’ on the other. 
 

Te break was so clean they thought it broke at a weld but a weld was actually 3 or 4 feet from the break. 

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3 minutes ago, Safecracker Solon 69206L said:

Hey Pat Have ever worked with the Sperry Rail Service? Is that who x-rayed?

I have. I think they did our geometry in LA and Charlotte, but I wasn’t involved in the testing they did at the time. 

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