What You Need to Know About Railroad Fasteners

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by Larry Melone President

There are few people in the world today who haven't seen a train rumbling down the tracks. Even with trains that are on the "small" side, imagine the stress that railroad components must be exposed to every single day! Add to that the fact they are also constantly exposed to the elements. That means rain, the hot, glaring sun, snow, ice, and more. The integrity of railroad fasteners must be as reliable and indestructible as possible.

Rail Fastenings

In Africa, Asia, and Europe, railway sleepers – in North America, railroad ties – use rail fastenings when rails need to be fixed. These can include the following (some or all of the parts may be used):

  • Track fasteners
  • Tie plates
  • Railroad insulators

For years, rail fasteners of varying types have been applied to this process.

Usually unnoticed by most, to assist in steering, rail vehicles have treads that slope. The slope will result in an angled contact between the wheel and the rail (on vertical rails). This can create a force that could lead to overturning.

It is of the utmost importance that all parts and components be made of durable materials that maintain their integrity and help to assure safety.

railroad fasteners Railroad Fasteners

Let's take a look at some of the fasteners that are used in railway systems.

Rail-to-Sleeper Fastenings

The abilities of rail-to-sleeper fastenings:

  • On curves, lateral steering forces
  • Maintain gauge
  • Resist the rail’s overturning force

Railway Fasteners

On rail sleepers, the simplest means of fastening are referred to as dog spikes. They are called dog spikes because, giving the impression of a dog's head, are two lugs on either side. These lugs also add in the removal of the spike, when needed. However, on rail sizes greater than 35m, they should not be applied to tracks because they can loosen.

Steel Railroad Ties and Wooden Railroad Ties

A steel pad that is frequently used in this application is referred to as a base plate or rail type plate. Between the top of the rail sleeper in the flanged T rail, they can be placed. On a rail sleeper, they do the following:

  • Hold the rail to correct gauge
  • Increase the bearing area
  • Reduce the possibility a rail bottom wearing into or pressing into the sleeper
  • Spread the heavy load

Coach Screws

Fastened to timber sleepers, certain component parts of the crossings are referred to as coach screws. Also mounted on rail sleepers, these coach screws are frequently used. Also commonly used on tracks are Pandrol clips. They minimize the risk of metal fatigue and corrosion as well as being nearly maintenance-free. Additionally, they provide a constant toe load to the rail foot.

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Steel Sleepers and Rail Fastenings

The screw spikes of rail fastenings are provided with steel sleepers. The following requirements must be met:

  • Without any distortion, they must secure and tighten the rail.
  • Onto the rail foot, they must provide proper nip force.
  • They must keep proper gauge.
  • They must locate the rails relative to the sleeper.

Railway Rail Joints

Two joint bars make up rail joints. The two ends of the rails are held together by these joints as they prevent vertical or lateral movement of rail ends. When it comes to track structures, they are considered the weakest part.

The following are the three basic rail joint types:

  • Insulated rail joints
  • Compromise rail joints
  • Standard rail joints

Always rely on a professional, reputable fastener manufacturer for your railway joints.

Melfast has fasteners of all shapes, types, sizes, etc. We have been providing excellent service for 30 years and offer our clients the option of custom packaging and custom orders. In many cases, we can offer special bulk pricing and same-day shipping. As always, we carry a satisfaction guarantee on all of our products. If you would like to know more about the fasteners that we offer, or order fasteners, contact us today.