Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Whole Lot Of Railroad Ties

We just bought a whole bunch of railroad ties.  Not the things you sometimes buy at home improvement stores, but the ones dug out from under train tracks.  I guess they have to do that from time to time to make sure they don't rot or fall apart or something.  In fact there are currently about 10 or so of them on the corner of our property where it meets the railroad right-of-way.  We will wait a year or so and then call and see if we can have them.  If they sit there long enough, you can get permission to use them.  No stealing, now.


So we went to a salvage yard and bought them.  Are you aware that each one weighs about 175 pounds?  EACH ONE??  Me, neither.


We bought 10 and then came home and dragged two off the truck.  Then we moved it forward a bit and dragged off two more.  Did I mention 175 pounds?  We used a crowbar, a pickax and a sledge hammer to position them. 


Oh, and brute strength.  Lee is the brute.  I am the minor assistance.  I used to be a lot more help.  Not so much any more.  Plus, Lee hurt his sciatic nerve recently, so we don't want to do a stupid. 


After a bit, he went and got the tractor.  He could push or drag them with the front loader and the scraper. 


We even used a hand truck when we couldn't use the tractor.


This whole project is to line the back drive.  It is a scraped dirt road/driveway and looks rough.  It also causes a lot of dirt and dust to fly into the screen porch whenever any one uses it.  I use it at least twice a day to get to the barn.  It is also the way to the fruit trees and the garden, to the entrance to the B&B and to half the farm.  So we use it a lot.  When guests drive here, they will need to drive or walk around this way to the B&B half of the house.

Each tie had to be muscled into place and then nudged a bit this way and that to get them mostly straight.  We also had to make a few cuts to make openings to the back porch


and the stairs to the lower garden. 


Have you ever cut a railroad tie?  They are soaked in creosote and become VERY hard.  We used a chainsaw.  Then had to get a new blade, all for about 4 cuts.

After those got placed, we went and bought 10 more. We dragged them off, pushed them to either side of the drive so I could use it to get to the barn and then called it a day.


Today we finished arranging them to suit us.  Funny how we get less picky as our strength leaves us.

Next half of the project is to kill all the grass and go get a couple tons of crushed rock.  There is a big scoop that will dump the rock into your truck bed.  Then all you have to do is shovel it out!  Just ton or so.  Then go back and get more.  And then do that again.  That should do it.  And it should do us in from any back breaking chores for awhile.  Or sledge hammer breaking....



  1. Can't you find someone with a dump truck to haul and dump the rock for you? It would be a whole lot easier.

    I can get you a name if you want. I'm sure James knows somebody.

  2. That is going to look great. I love following all your plans and improvements...

  3. Rebecca, before reading Anita's comment, I was thinking the same thing about the dump truck for the gravel (actually it was the first thing Pat said when I showed him this post). He also said those RR ties are Bear to work with and will last nearly forever because of the creosote treatment.