Butt welding railroad track
The rail i have is 90LB magnetic and i have a DC welder,is there any preheating involved and what about rod selection,thanks
One of the things in my work a long time ago was the building up of of worn rails at a prominent Colorado Brewery, can't remember the details but believe information is available through the rail manufactures. Try Oregon Steel in Pueblo Colorado.
Also if memory serves correctly there are railroad associations that have this information.
I think a company called Thermite made kits to weld rails together, no preheat as I recall but used a disposable form that went around the rails then filled with witchs brew of heating and metallurgical materials, ignited with an OA torch. Lots of smoke an sparks but successfully joined 119 lb to 90 lb in heavy industrial service.
normal method. graphite side plates, biggest rod your set will handle, max amps and puddle weld, this method is normally applied to bullhead gantry tracks, on the ground, graphite mould, flowerpot and thermit NG welding powder, [alox/iron], apply magnesium ignitor, spark it up and duck, 0 to 4000 degrees in under 3 mins, plug burns out of pot [crucible] bottom and fills the mould. whala a reasonably tidy weld, continuous rail over this side of the pond is all thermit, but stick can do it but get good apron, aluminized preferably and 2 headsheilds, hot work
ps a10 degree vee end prep helps with visibility, bout 3/8 gap at root, put a graphite under
I saw a demo a few years ago at the Quad States roundup in Ohio. The folks that did the welding were a specialty company that does this on a steady basis. They did a preheat with a large weed burner type air propane torch. The mold was a disposable ceramic affair. The mix, thermite, is a blend of Iron Oxide and Aluminum dust. When heated to the ignition point, the aluminum will remove the oxygen the iron oxide in an exothermic reaction. Many thermite mixes have iron or steel distributed in them to reduce the temperature of the molten pool. Lotta grinding after the thermite weld took place.
That was a much longer process than I expected. I assume they were filling a fairly large void with molten metal.
Several years ago, on a little local spur line through town, I watched a crew using thermite to fuse large gage wire connectors to bridge across the ends of rails. With that it was just a quick flash and burn, and voila! ...it was done. So I thought that was how it was all done, kind of like a spot weld on a giant scale. More to it than I thought.
welding railroad track
It is important to remember that railroad track is made from high Manganese (about 12 to 14%) steel and is intended to work harden in use and abuse (such as rail track, switches and frogs)--All of the comments about Thermit welding are valid and accurate--it is possible to arc weld and I have done so using Eutectic 12% 5/32" high Maganese rod using AC at 150 to 180 amps (the high end is most successful to build good joint)---do not over do pre-heat!! moderate preheat (500 F or so) is great and desireable--excessive preheat is a crack generator and particularly bad in the 800 to 1200 F range.
It is very important to stop welding every 3" to 6" and, using a heavy ball pein hammer, pein the weld AND parent metal area while hot, to relieve the unavoidable and unpredictable stress concentration--when reaching end of weld be sure to not leave any unfilled arc pit--it is a sure source of cracking! The biggest source of cracks or failure is NOT the weld, but the nearby parent metal that is not fully alloyed with the filler rod--I have seen successful arc welds last for 8 or more years in heavy service.
Rail is NOT high manganese, at least not 13%. That would be what is called Hatfield steel and it is not magnetic. Hatfield steel is used in some switch poiints and diamonds but not rail. Most older rail was made from steel produced by the open hearth process and can contain higher levels of sulfu and phosphorus than seen today. This complicates the welding but I have seen it done successfully. I have also seen it break the first time a wheelset passed over. Are you expecting a train or what? The intended use might be helpful.
I am building a marine railway however,i have extra rail that i want to use for the construction of a carriage.I want to take 2 rails and place them parallel about 6 inches apart,upside down,running an axle through both of them and placing the wheel in between.I will do this on each side.Now on top i will run my h beams perpendicular to the rail and bolt it on.The rail i have left is 30 foot lengths and i want a 40 foot carriage,i will stagger the joint, bolt and weld.There will be plenty of support with wheels every 5 feet running down,i just wanted to add some weld,for ease of construction as well.
you are wrong
Rails are high manganese, and have been since US Steel took away the rail business in the US from the old German Krupp works-----many of the abandoned railways in World War 2 were pulled up to gather in tons of high maganese steel for tank armor--high carbon MEDIUM Manganese rails are used on "light rail"--such as crane tracks, in switchyard yard rails etc, but high manganese steel is used in express cross country rail systems---
Also, it is NOT Hatfield--it is HADFIELD high manganese steel--for the Englishman that invented it in 1916--
Well Bobbyjim1, I hate to recommend trespassing but for a smartass like you I will make an exception. Get yourself a magnet and check every rail you can find. For a know it all like you this is best done while straddling the rail with a train coming. The OP ALREADY said that it is not magnetic, therefore not Hatfield , Hadfield , or any other incarnation of 13% Mn steel. You will NOT find a piece of rail that is Hatfield, Hadfield, or any other Manganese steel.
Cork it up.
Last edited by tdmidget; 09-12-2010 at 10:55 PM.