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Cutting wooden railway sleepers


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#1 fluffy01016

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 20:30

I've been doing soem DIY at my new house and I've pulled up some old railway sleepers (x20) and I am hoping to burn them in my log burner. They are quite rotten and only fit for burning. They are covered in creosote and as such I am only going to burn on my closed burner. My question is how would be the best way to cut them up? I bought a Ryobi 33cc chainsaw but it blunts the chain very quickly. I've also tried a mitre saw but the blade is not big enough to cut through without turning it over. What would be my best option? A purpose made chainsaw blade perhaps??

#2 devonutopia

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 20:38

ryobi? Hmm, that might be where you're going wrong. ;) Dad's Stihl chainsaw would make mincemeat of those sleepers. ;)

#3 tony_82

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 20:41

How rotten are they? Do some manual labour and get a big axe on the go.

#4 fluffy01016

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 20:43

Not that rotten!!!! I had thought about an aftermarket chain? My friend said that Oregan make good chains and they do one for my Ryobi saw

#5 Octygone

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 20:56

Mind your chimney, those sleepers are impregnated with tar and they will burn a bit too well if you aren't careful

#6 Kandy

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 21:29

You could try using log splitters to break them down a bit before sawing into shorter lengths - then a good quality 'disposable' coarse cut hand saw will last a fair while. If they are the sort of very hard hard-wood that sinks in water & tarred & full or iron debris too - that'll blunt/clog just about anything.

#7 Captain Sisko

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 21:33

Sell them back to Network Rail!

#8 chrisw880

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 22:04

Sell them back to Network Rail!


Don't think that will work as I believe they now use concrete sleepers

#9 Scathel

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 22:18

As you said, get a decent chain, and a file - as long as there's oof in the chainsaw, a good chain makes so much difference. When the chain looks a bit blunt, fire the file in a cordless drill and that makes resharpening the chain a much quicker job.

It's also easier than you think to cut through them using a "bushman" saw - but can be very disheartening!

Just watch for splinters from that stuff; I used to use those for landscaping before they were deemed to be "soil pollutants" and be treated as "hazardous waste", and had to wear gloves after getting a few nasties in my hands.

As Ocygone said, watch for the creosote lining your chimney and turning your house into a large lantern.

Good luck!

Steve

#10 VWD

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 10:16

Don't think that will work as I believe they now use concrete sleepers


Mainly concrete - but wood still used ,and believe it or not -steel.

As for selling them to NR -way they're acting at moment -they'd expect you to deliver them , install them and then pay them for the priveledge.;)

#11 chaos306

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 11:00

I used to work on the railways installing them things, such fun.

Prob not really the best to burn with all the chemicals they've got in them.

But if you are going to cut them up, you'll need a good strong chainsaw, something like a Stihl or something. Thats all we could use cos nothing else could get through them!

Oh and yeah, they do use wood, concrete and steel sleepers, depends on the location and traffic type/amount.

#12 Auric Goldfinger

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 11:59

Don't think that will work as I believe they now use concrete sleepers


....Correct or Metal ones..........Wooden sleepers in good condition can fetch £40 upwards

#13 Auric Goldfinger

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 12:00

I used to work on the railways installing them things, such fun.

Prob not really the best to burn with all the chemicals they've got in them.

But if you are going to cut them up, you'll need a good strong chainsaw, something like a Stihl or something. Thats all we could use cos nothing else could get through them!

Oh and yeah, they do use wood, concrete and steel sleepers, depends on the location and traffic type/amount.


Are you an Ex Plate layer ??.................I am

#14 musky

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 12:45

I cut up loads to make joints in a garden with a handsaw - can't see the problem. But I would agree about being careful burning them

#15 VWD

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 12:46


But if you are going to cut them up, you'll need a good strong chainsaw, something like a Stihl or something. Thats all we could use cos nothing else could get through them!

.


Have seen someone once trying a disc cutter - lots of smoke.:rofl::rofl:

Quote:ag.morley"..........Wooden sleepers in good condition can fetch £40 upwards "

Strangely enough , only thing that hasn't been thieved past two years .Possibly don't burn too well in caravan stoves :eek:

#16 heresmo

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 16:19

Not sure what a closed burner is, but if it is one with a fairly small flue pipe, I wouldn't want the risk of them gumming the inside of the flue, plus the residue itself is presumably a fire hazard?

Can't you just have them taken away? Don't think I'd want to burn them either in a posh bit of kit, nor pay for the blades/hardware just to cut them up. That's me that is.

Mo

Edited by heresmo, 13 April 2009 - 16:21.
Edit: Blinking scan running in the background caused typed letters to dop out. Arrggh. No excuse for not previewing though.


#17 gadgetman

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 17:24

Wouldnt burn them due to the above.

Plus, they'll burn for a long time! Sell them on. Someone will want them. Our local yard merchant cant get enough to meet demand!

#18 matt@theforce

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 20:25

by the time youve cut one up you'll be warm enough and wont need to burn them :)

#19 Basil

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 07:59

chain-drill them. Then use a wedge-type chisel and a BF hammer to separate the line of drilled holes.

#20 sheep_go_baa

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 10:32

I've cut a number of sleepers using a circular saw. It takes two cuts, one on the top, turn it over and a second on the top (was the bottom). This shouldn't be too hard as as precision isn't required.

#21 heresmo

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 12:31

Incidentally, where would the acrid smoke go if in an enclosed burner if burning tar/creosote? Might need to check if you are in a smoke-free zone as I think fines can be issued(?).

Mo

#22 Firefighter56

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 00:32

How about using a bow saw, new blade should cut them.
Thats what I used a couple of years ago when I had to cut 14 to make angled raised beds for the garden.

#23 Irvtheswerv

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 08:57

I wouldn't burn them in a stove or a much wenlock type unless it's in an outbuilding. They stink when you burn them, and you'll just get tar/creosote residue mucking up the flue and it's a bugger to clean off. I reckon you need a new chainsaw if it gets blunted so quickly.

#24 musky

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 12:44

I was serious about the hand saw - that really was all I used on about 75 sleepers to make raised beds

#25 gorilla

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 14:28

What ever you do DO NOT burn them. Even if you are in a area where burning is allowed, the chemicals that are in the sleepers are considered to be highly toxic and flammable and shouldn't be burned.

You would be better getting someone to take them away for you and dispose of them properly. I know in Scotland as a business we are not allowed to burn anything now that has been "contaminated" with any petrochemical substance. We risk serious fines if we do. It is ok if it is the odd thing but it isn't accepted any more.

If we need to get rid of waste we must be a registered carrier with SEPA and also dump it at the local waste centre and provide them with all the paper work relating to the waste.

IIRC I think England & Wales were introducing something similar.

The fines for anyone caught burning contaminated waste can start around £1000 and go up to an astronomical figure.

#26 simonsheil

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 15:44

If youa re a business you are not allowed to burn rubbish full stop.

Luckily as a a mere home owner you can burn prety much what you like, although they do frown if its someone elses property.

Obviously there are one or two excpetiosn eg crematoriums, incinerators.

#27 heresmo

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 16:41

Luckily as a a mere home owner you can burn pretty much what you like....


Not round here you can't, nor have you been able to for at least 20 years that I know of.

Might be different if living in the middle of nowhere, granted.

Mo

#28 gorilla

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 18:23

If youa re a business you are not allowed to burn rubbish full stop.

Luckily as a a mere home owner you can burn prety much what you like, although they do frown if its someone elses property.

Obviously there are one or two excpetiosn eg crematoriums, incinerators.


We can burn small amounts of just timber anything else is a big no no. Also home owners in parts of Scotland can't burn anything either. The laws up here are strict and in some areas to authorities are clamping down on it.

#29 simonsheil

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 09:32

Not round here you can't, nor have you been able to for at least 20 years that I know of.

Might be different if living in the middle of nowhere, granted.

Mo


Fair point Mo, probably down to living in the countryside.

#30 heresmo

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 13:50

Since there's a gardening thread running, can I ask: if sleepers contain creosote, wouldn't it break down and leach into the soil and kill the plants? Just wondering what people buy them to use for... :confused:

Mo




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