Rail Insider-Product update: Rail fasteners and fastening systems 2021. Information For Rail Career Professionals From Progressive Railroading Magazine

2022-04-24 07:31:31 By : Ms. Anna Wang

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Compiled by Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor

Freight and passenger railroads require effective rail fasteners and fastening systems to hold all track components together for a long time despite severe weather conditions, excessive vibration and other operational factors.

Progressive Railroading reached out to a number of suppliers to learn what measures they're taking or efforts they've implemented to provide stronger and longer-lasting fastener products. Emailed responses from seven of them follow.

Construction Polymer Technologies is the North American licensee for the Sonneville LVT system, which is highly effective at noise and vibration attenuation, company officials said. The system is low-cost, easy to construct and used on many of the world's premier transit systems, they said.

A properly installed system is virtually maintenance-free. The system consists of a concrete block, resilient block pad and rubber boot that are surrounded by filling concrete. The rubber boot separates the concrete block of the LVT support from the surrounding concrete, which reduces vibrations, provides electrical isolation, and enables the individual components to be replaced quickly and easily, Construction Polymer Technologies officials said.

LVT supports are available for all rail and special trackwork configurations, and all LVT system components are Buy America compliant.

Some transit agencies are taking advantage of operational shutdowns during the pandemic to gain extra track time to expedite maintenance projects, L.B. Foster officials have found.

So in terms of fasteners, customers are seeking more high-resilient options, compact designs and corrosion-resistant coatings, said Sheen Fong, L.B. Foster's director of technical sales.

They also want higher resiliency products in the same footprint as existing direct-fixation plating systems, added Sarah McBrayer, the supplier's general manager of transit products.

"These can be in both two-anchor and four-anchor footprints," she said, noting that noise and vibration mitigation, corrosion control, ease of maintenance and a smaller number of assembly parts also are important factors.

Over the past year, L.B. Foster's product engineering and development teams have been working on specialty coatings for direct-fixation fastener applications to help extend product life by preventing rust and corrosion. They also are working on third-rail insulators to help prevent dirt and debris buildup.

The team's focus has been on developing prototypes and qualifying a high resilient direct-fixation fastener in a standard direct-fixation fastener footprint. The new product line would be ideal for use in areas where greater resilience, noise and vibration mitigation are desired, such as in transit stations, on bridges and overpasses and in residential areas, company officials said.

The product line is designed for use in new construction, retrofits and maintenance replacement projects because it will offer the same anchorage locations as a standard direct-fixation fastener, said McBrayer.

For example, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has been installing L.B. Foster's model F51R4 as a direct replacement for the four-anchor direct-fixation plating system as part of the Red Purple Modernization Project.

"This DF fastener offers superior resiliency, noise and vibration mitigation and electrical isolation," said McBrayer.

L.B. Foster is also working with the CTA on installing additional F51R4 fasteners with a special coating designed to prevent corrosion and rust in wet environments.

The coating can be applied to all exposed metal surfaces on any direct-fixation fastener to extend its life expectancy and reduce maintenance.

For track and grade crossings, Lewis Bolt & Nut Co. manufactures a line of screw spikes, including the Evergrip ® and Permagrip ® spikes, drive spikes, recessed head timber screws, frog and switch bolts and drive-on anchors.

Other products offered by the company include bridge bolts, drift pins and timber bolts for bridge construction. In addition, Lewis Bolt manufactures hook bolts and the Quick-Set ® Hook Bolt System.

The company's recently designed G2 ® Evergrip has now been fully approved and adopted by all Class Is that were using the Evergrip, Lewis Bolt officials said. The new G2 ® is designed to significantly increase fatigue resistance and offer new tie grabbing barbs to prevent backout.

Under the new design, the fins are located lower in the screw to dramatically strengthen the screw spike in its most critical area, which is a couple inches in the shank below the head of the screw spike, Lewis Bolt officials said.

Miller Ingenuity's ReLok™ fastener system — a vibration-proof, self-locking nut — can significantly increase a customer's hardware lifecycle and reduce maintenance labor costs, company officials said. It's designed so the annulus of the nut is forced into the collar during vibration movement, which captures, retains and delivers the energy back to the joint to ultimately deflect shock and vibration.

Even though the system is a locking fastener, customers can reuse the fastener for multiple installations and can remove the fastener using the same amount of force that was needed to tighten it up, Miller Ingenuity officials said.

The two-part ReLok system was enhanced to minimize parts for inventory and make installation easier for maintenance crews, they said.

The system has been tested at a well-known diamond location in Bremen, Georgia, where the lateral forces of trains at the crossing and automotive vehicles traveling across it create a severe condition. ReLok held strong at the location, which previously was under constant monitoring and upkeep, company officials said.

Progress Rail's customers have been ordering its GE11 American-made, AREMA-compliant "e"-type clips for North American applications. The fasteners have proven to be reliable, Progress Rail officials said.

In recent years, the company's new products have included the ADFF55 fastener, which was introduced as a more economical solution to the Egg Type DF, the legacy high-resilient DF. The ADFF matches the noise and vibration attenuation performance of the Egg DF while also matching anchor bolt patterns and rail-seat elevations of standard system-wide DF, making construction less complicated and more economical, Progress Rail officials said.

The company has also introduced the DF Block system, which revolutionizes the installation method for DF, they said. The system is especially useful in tunnels since a contractor no longer needs to embed rebar, form plinths, handle miscellaneous hardware or perform post-lifting procedure to level concrete and fill voids under the footprint of the DF units, Progress Rail officials said.

The DF Block offers a factory finished surface, with the DF and hardware already attached. A contractor can clip the DF Block system to the rails, set the rails to final position and elevation, and then pour the final concrete, Progress Rail officials said.

voestalpine Railway Systems Nortrak has developed a portfolio of rail fixation products ranging from Safelok I clips and associated rail pads and insulators to a complete line of mainline and special trackwork direct-fixation fasteners in standard-, medium- and high-attenuation versions.

The Keyway Tie's fastening design incorporates a ductile-iron tie plate with a multi-stiffness polymer plate pad and 10,000 psi concrete tie to replicate the 3,000 to 3,500 psi in track modulus of wood tie track, but with vastly improved durability and gauge-holding strength, company officials said.

The Keyway Tie System is designed to be randomly interspersed in wood tie track. Since it has the same exterior dimensions as a standard wood tie, it can be installed using standard MOW equipment and maintain a typical wood-tie spacing. The Keyway Tie acts as a concrete gauge rod to buttress wood-tie track against further deterioration, permitting wood ties to fully exhaust their useful life before being replaced.

End users eventually achieve a fully converted concrete-tie track with the added benefits of reduced ballast pressure consistent with wood-tie track, company officials said. The system also provides protection against rail-seat deterioration.

Vossloh has introduced transit fastening systems to the North American market over the past few years. Customers are seeking ease of installation and maintenance, low lifecycle cost, resiliency and safety, company officials said.

All of Vossloh's fastening systems are delivered to a work site preassembled and require minimal labor to complete installation after rail is delivered. Simple mechanical installation is performed in a consistent and controlled manner, eliminating the need for large crews, they said.

The company is providing fastener sets for concrete ties for several mass transit projects across North America. The projects have specific technical needs to ensure safety and reliability operating at speeds over 200 mph, Vossloh officials said.

The company has developed and delivered rail and turnout fastening systems for over 10,000 miles worth of high-speed track worldwide over the past 50 years. One innovation borne from its technical expertise and the needs of railroads worldwide is the cellentic rail pad.

Cellentic is a micro-cellular EPDM-based elastomer with a closed-cell structure, ensuring high elasticity and load absorption within its own structure. The result: very little deformation in a permanently elastic layer, reducing loads, vibrations and track maintenance, Vossloh officials said.

The cellentic intermediate layers have been used to optimize elasticity in a large amount of ballasted and slab track, they added.

Email questions or comments to julie.sneider@tradepress.com.