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Thread: Cutting Railroad Rail?

  1. #1
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    Question Cutting Railroad Rail?

    I would like to cut a railroad rail.

    I've got an old cutoff saw and can buy a blade for it needed.

    I've got a 10" abrasive disk on it but haven't tried to use it on the rail yet.

    Do you think I need a carbide blade or just go with the abrasive?

    Or am I way off base here?

    Thanks,

    dj

  2. #2
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    what ever you use it will be a tough go, have you thought of a large cutting head acetylene, oxygen gas?

  3. #3
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    Rail is tough, abrasive cut off wheel(s) should cut it fine if you do not have a plasma or OA torch that is.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router- Mach4 ESS

  4. #4
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    Sure have David and that is a backup method for me to try. I'm thinking a blade would be cleaner, not that it matters that much. I'm planning on making an anvil with the cutoff and it will take a lot of grinding anyway to create that.

  5. #5
    Ill be interested to see how many abrasive wheels you go thru. I think you will be better served with a horiz band saw. It will also give you a better cleaner reference surface to work off. If doing the abrasive, Id wear a good respirator.

  6. #6
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    I think the bandsaw would work best myself...Just can't justify buying one for this project....yet....I'm going to try abrasive then OA if needed first. I've seen some 10" carbide cutoff disks that claim to cut steel. Not sure I trust that idea.

  7. #7
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    You should have a steel fabricator or a steel supplier near you that sells steel bar, tube, square etc. What they would charge for a clean cut would be far less than you'd spend on abrasive wheels and aggravation, I would think

  8. #8
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    You're absolutely right. But there is little fun in that. This piece of rail is about 40" long and 6" or 7" high. Weighs a freaking ton. Big guy at the antique store picked it up and loaded it in the trunk of my Fusion. I was lucky to get it dumped out of the trunk when I got home. It will be much easier to lift it 6" onto my cutoff saw than getting it back in trunk. If I ever get about 18" of it turned into an anvil, I'll have a story to tell. It will be a blast, aggravation and all.

  9. #9
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    RR Track is not plain mild steel, if you cut with a bandsaw blade it will be an expensive job. Thats what abrasive cutoff wheels are for... steel. I have some abrasive wheels for my angle grinders, it might take several and then grinding to reshape with a standard wheel.

    https://www.spaco.org/Blacksmithing/...RailAnvils.htm
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router- Mach4 ESS

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill George View Post
    RR Track is not plain mild steel, if you cut with a bandsaw blade it will be an expensive job. Thats what abrasive cutoff wheels are for... steel. I have some abrasive wheels for my angle grinders, it might take several and then grinding to reshape with a standard wheel.

    https://www.spaco.org/Blacksmithing/...RailAnvils.htm
    Thanks much Bill, the link helps a lot.

  11. #11
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    Rail is sized based on weight per yard. Do the math and figure out how much three feet of your rail would weigh. that weight, in pounds, is the size of your rail. I would guess 110-150 pounds per yard. Then look for ARR rail with that number to get an idea . You weight will be slightly lower since the top is worn away to some extent.
    Somewhere the rail had rolled into it the maker and the weight.
    Bill D.
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 08-12-2019 at 10:01 AM.

  12. #12
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    I have a piece of heavy rail about 6" long. It was part of the debris from a switch that had been demolished. I don't know how a 6" piece figured into a switch. It has smooth flat ends. The top is rounded unevenly. It is very resistant to reshaping in any way. I use the ends more than the top.

  13. #13
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    I got a piece that is about a 18 inches long, on dirt it makes the best wheel chock. no body has motioned a plasma cutter wouldn't that be maybe the best thing to cut this stuff with?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by david privett View Post
    I got a piece that is about a 18 inches long, on dirt it makes the best wheel chock. no body has motioned a plasma cutter wouldn't that be maybe the best thing to cut this stuff with?
    I just saw this. Years ago I cut a piece of railroad rail and make a small anvil. I first tried a metal-cutting saw blade but ruined a couple of blades trying. (It was almost like the rail was hardened. Could it have been work-hardened from the wheels? Does steel even get work hardened? If hardened, could it be annealed first?)

    I ended up cutting it with an oxy-acetylene torch, using the biggest one I had. It worked but sure was a mess. The torch would not cut completely through the thick part so I had to work my way around, "gouging" out rough channels until I cut through. The problem was the torch would melt the steel fine but since it couldn't blow through the other side the gas pressure blew globs of molten steel out the top instead, towards me! It was tricky to stay out of the way. It was also the roughest, messiest cut I ever made!

    I now have a plasma torch and I'm not sure it would work any better on the thick part, at least the one I have. Mine will cut through 1/2" cleanly but easily a sloppy 1", havent tried anything thicker.. Perhaps the air pressure would blow molten steel out the front just like the oxy-acetylene torch. It would be interesting to try, to see if the plasma would blow all the way through the 2" thick part.

    JKJ

  15. #15
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    I used a diamond blade on an angle grinder.
    It's a bit of work, though.

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