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Thread: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

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    cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Hey guys, I was looking for some help in bulding an xmas present project. I need to cut an 8" railroad rail in half (two 4" sections). I am making book ends for a buddy who is a train nut. I need for the cut to be kind of smooth. I don't mind doing some grinding to finish it up. I don't have OA. I do have access to a hypertherm 30 plasma cutter. I don't know if that would do it. I was thinking of using a band saw. Does anyone have a better way of doing this? Thanks for the advice in advance

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Chop saw.
    My name's not Jim....

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    bandsaw

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    If you cut them on a band saw I would cut the upside down... when I cut some rails a while back the top surface seemed very very hard and the blade would struggle to get through the top. Once it was through it would cut better. I flipped them upside down and they seemed to cut much faster.

    I don't know if they actually hardened the rails, but if they didn't I would guess strain hardening.

    I would go for a chopsaw if you have one big enough... they cut SLOW on the bandsaw either way.

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    This really sounds like a job for OA....are you sure there isn't anyone nearby that can lend you one?

    Might be worth having it cut.

    The last time I had RR cut, a buddy who is a chief at a volunteer fire department had his guys practice using some kind of rescue cutter - for free.

    The top is work hardened - I use mine as a striking surface, poor man's anvil. It is hard enough to damage my small sledge hammer faces if I strike the cut corner.
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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    I just bought a used Partner saw and it came with railroad rail cutting abrasive blades.

    I would call Grainger, or any construction supply house near you. Pick up a couple 14" chop saw blades for rail. Then go to any concrete company and give them a couple of bucks to cut them. And let them keep the blades, because they will also cut rebar. You could probably get this done for around $25.00 total. Good luck.
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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    The old timers that I know talk about having to cut them with hacksaws back in the day!
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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    The old timers that I know talk about having to cut them with hacksaws back in the day!
    That sounds like it would wear out several good pairs of arms, not to mention blades getting thru the hardened top surface, web and bottom plate. Unless it was a powered hacksaw.

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    An 80 to 100 amp hand plasma (Hypertherm Powermax85 or Powermax1650) will be about the fastest process....if you had to do a lot. If it is just one or two cuts....then a band saw or abrasive saw will work fine...and with a cleaner, straighter cut. Just a bit slow! The top surface is pretty hard....which will have no effect on the plasma speed....but it will slow down a saw.

    Jim

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Since this is a gift that will be on display with a railroad enthusiast, how ‘bout cutting the rail the authentic old-time way?

    Score it with a chisel and then "split" it per 1869.
    It may be tough with a short length of rail, but it'd probably still be workable.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by denrep; 11-30-2011 at 07:30 PM.

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    6" or better cutting disks on an angle grinder would do it quite smoothly.

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Quote Originally Posted by gwiley View Post
    ...chief at a volunteer fire department had his guys practice using some kind of rescue cutter...
    It's a "K12" or "rotary rescue saw". The same saw you can rent at any equipment rental place. If you do go this route, it will be pretty quick, but noisy (and sparky) as hell. Oh, and make sure the 16 year old behind the counter gives you metal and not concrete blades.
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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquafire View Post
    It's a "K12" or "rotary rescue saw". The same saw you can rent at any equipment rental place. If you do go this route, it will be pretty quick, but noisy (and sparky) as hell. Oh, and make sure the 16 year old behind the counter gives you metal and not concrete blades.
    I've used my K-750 quite a bit with abrasive blades. Never done rail, but tons ( literally) of rebar, a few beams and columns and lots of concrete and block using the diamond blade. Good PPE is important.


    Also be sure they give you blades for a gas saw and not a standard abrasive chopsaw. They LOOK the same, but the gas saw blades are rated at a higher RPM. As soon as you rev up the saw you'll see the blade start to wave and wobble and if you don't shut it down instantly the blade will grenade. If you are lucky you'll have about 5 seconds to shut down or let go the throttle. When they grenade, you'll be wearing most of the shrapnel, trust me. I don't know how many times the idiots I used to work with would grab the wrong blades and instal them on the saw I had to use.
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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    i second the 6 in cutting wheel on a angle grinder be done in about 5 min than hit the ends with a tiger paw and call it a day.....
    After the arc has died the weld remains

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Track torch and then set it up in a mill to smooth down.

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Quote Originally Posted by bfastwelder View Post
    Track torch and then set it up in a mill to smooth down.
    Okay, I'll say it: "Uncle"

    What's a track torch?

    Do you mean a track torch as in line-burner, or something unique for track cutting?

    Good Luck
    Last edited by denrep; 12-01-2011 at 09:46 AM.

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    A track cutter runs the cutting torch down a track at a given speed so, once set up, you get "nice" straight line cuts.

    My own suggestion would be to use a band saw. If the blade is fine enough, the cut surface won't require much finishing and if you aren't "doing production", who really cares how long it takes? Although you should keep an eye on it, it's not like you have to sit and watch it.
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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Quote Originally Posted by denrep View Post
    Okay, I'll say it: "Uncle"

    What's a track torch?

    Do you mean a track torch as in line-burner, or something unique for track cutting?

    Good Luck
    I'm gonna guess he meant "torch (cut) track", and then mill it smooth. A typo, instead of typing "torch track", he typed "track torch" on accident.
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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    I'd just throw it on the water jet and be done with it.

    Second choice would be the bandsaw.

    The OP could take it to any decent fab shop in the area who would cut it for a few bucks.
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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Yea sorry an in-line torch torch. I got sausage fingers as my old lady says. Lol

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Right, I understand exactly what a track-torch/ torch-carriage/line-burner/Bug/whatever is.
    What I didn't understand is how a track-torch could be used as a practical way to cut rail perpendicuular to the flange, so I thought maybe the reference was to some other track-torch, which was specific to rail cutting.

    But anyway, for the OP, Sundown probably covered it best:
    Quote Originally Posted by SundownIII View Post
    . . . The OP could take it to any decent fab shop in the area who would cut it for a few bucks.
    Since the bookends are a gift to a rail enthusiast, my first choice was for the "snapped" cut's ornamental appeal and also being able to say that the rail was split by hammer and chisel, per the old school. Otherwise I vote for high-horsepower chop-saw as the quickest and smoothest track cutter

    Good Luck
    Last edited by denrep; 12-01-2011 at 10:11 PM.

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Probably not what everyone wants to hear but......take it down to your local steel supply...real deal that deals wth big structural steel ( ex: 16 inch I beams ).

    Pay them whatever their cutting charge is $10-20...??? a cut. Anyway you tackle this its going to cost you more in your own tools The right tip for my torch and gas will cost that.

    They will put it on a big honking bandsaw and have it done in 15 mins.

    Advice on turning it upside down and starting the cut from the softer underside is good advice.

    Its not treated on the top surface, the steel on steel wheels do that with time.

    Here is a link to some rail spec's ( not all ): http://www.icrr.net/rails.htm

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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    I agree with Fred, take it to someone that can cold cut it, maybe with a huge band saw, power hacksaw, cold saw, or whatever. You will get a nice clean square cut that way.

    Hot cutting it will leave you with a not quite so flat end, that is going to take a lot more finishing before it will look look nice enough for display.
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    Re: cutting railroad rail -plasma / band saw? need some advice

    Hard to beleve so much thought going into this when i see it done everyday.

    Demolition saw with Rail Cut abrasive blades.

    Thats how they cut it in the rail industry before they termite weld.

    If is just a quick cut to remove a section, then its flame cut.

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