Transportation by rail is one of the most cost effective ways of transporting heavy goods over land. It can also be used for the regular transportation of items in a much smaller scale, such as a commercial setting. For instance, there are many mines around the world that still use rail as a means of […]

railroad construction and fasteners
Transportation by rail is one of the most cost effective ways of transporting heavy goods over land. It can also be used for the regular transportation of items in a much smaller scale, such as a commercial setting. For instance, there are many mines around the world that still use rail as a means of transporting ore. This simply proves the reliability and affordability of this form of transport.

When constructing a railway line, it is normally necessary to ensure that all its components are designed to work properly. It’s important to remember that the entire weight of the train or cart together with the items being transported will essentially be focused on one small part of the rail. If any part fails, the rate of wear and tear in the system is likely to be very high. The spikes and screws are particularly important, and everything should be done to ensure that they are purpose built for the job. Some of the critical ones include:
Rail spikes
These are also known as crampons or cut spikes. They are usually large nails that are designed to have an offset head. Their main function is to join the base plates and the rails to the railroad ties.

 
Screw Spikes
These are normally very large bolts, such as Inconel lag bolts or grade 8 hex tap bolts. They are used to fix the tie plate to the rail. They are usually installed in a hole drilled within the sleeper. Though they tend to be more expensive than the rail spikes, one of the major benefits of the screw spikes is that they have a much greater fixing power and are often used in combination with spring washers. For this reason, the cost of maintaining the rails when screw spikes are used is normally much lower compared to when only the rail spikes are used.
Fang Bolts
These are also referred to as rail anchor bolts. To use them, they are usually inserted into a hole in the sleeper. They are designed to have a fanged nut which then grips the lower surface of the sleeper, ensuring that the entire assembly has no room to move. This design means that the fang bolts are more resistant to movement on the rail, which is a major concern considering that most trains weigh several tons. They are more reliable than screws and spikes, and for this reason are usually used in delicate positions such as on a switch tie plate. They are also commonly used to fix the rail on sharp turns.
Spring spikes
These are also known as elastic spikes. Their main function is to hold the rail in place, thus preventing it from tipping.
These are just a few of the commonly used fasteners in rail construction. As has been noted, each has different characteristics, and is best used in a specific point in the rail track. If you intend to construct one, therefore, you would need to realize that you can’t use one type of fastener for the entire track. This also means that you would need to consult a fastener vendor who has a wide variety of products on offer, so that you can get all you need from one source.

About the Author

Larry Melone
By Larry Melone
President

Started my career in the fastener world in 1969 at, Parker Kalon Corp. a NJ based screw manufacturer located in Clifton, NJ working in inventory control, scheduling secondary production and concluding there in purchasing. In 1971 I accepted a sales position at Star Stainless Screw Co., Totowa, NJ working in inside sales and later as an outside salesman, having a successful career at Star I had the desire with a friend to start our own fastener distribution company in 1980 named: Divspec, Kenilworth, NJ. This was a successful adventure but ended in 1985 with me starting Melfast in August 1985 and have stayed competitive and successful to date. Melfast serves the OEM market with approximately 400 accounts nationally.

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