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Old 07-08-2009, 06:01 PM   #1
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rail road tie retaining wall


I have a rail road tie retaining wall in my back yard. I have several ties that are rotted and trying to fix the problem before it gets out of hand. I had two contractor gave me two differt ideas and now I am confused. Seeking solid solution from expert.

1st contractor wanting to cut out the only the rotted RR tie and replace it with new RR tie and securing with 45 degree nail to below. (have some doubt about the process)

2nd contractor wanting to dismantle all RR tie to get to the bad ones.. and rebuilt.

Problem is cost... my wall is about 4 ft high and 50 ft wide. It's holding alot of dirt behind it... I like to save some money without compromising the wall. Help!

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Old 07-08-2009, 06:33 PM   #2
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rail road tie retaining wall


Is the wall tilting at all?
Are the bad ties all in the same area?
Do you know if there is proper rock/drainage behind the wall?

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Old 07-08-2009, 06:44 PM   #3
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rail road tie retaining wall


bad tie are scattered... wall are not tilting. I don't know... my guest is no on gravel and drainage pipe .. althought hill has alot of dirt and rocks.
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Old 07-08-2009, 06:49 PM   #4
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rail road tie retaining wall


If you have a pic, post a picture
The easy way is to put new ties in - if the wall is not sagging
But -taking it apart will let you see if there are other bad ties
And put in a proper drainage system if one does not exist
Gravel against the ties would help prevent further rot

Did they both give you estimates of cost?

Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 07-08-2009 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 07-08-2009, 08:40 PM   #5
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rail road tie retaining wall


I would opt for the entire replacement. You can only see one side of the wall. The inside(dirt side) may have started rotting and it just cannot be seen. Besides, if there is no drainage installed the ties are just going to do the same thing, thus costing more money down the road. Maybe you can save some money by ripping it out yourself and having them install it??
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Old 07-09-2009, 06:47 PM   #6
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rail road tie retaining wall


If you go with a complete reconstruction of your wall, get everything sealed this time. Unless the wood has been there for 10 years, I don't see why it would be rotting unless the "retaining wall" was simply built of dirt. A good idea would be to remove some of the top pieces of the wall where possible and see if there is a thick gravel behind it (usually goes back and is as deep as the wall is tall). If not, this is one of your main problems. Retaining walls are supposed to hold planters, but not hold water, and when companies get lazy and don't do this right, it leads to problems like you're having here (with wood anyway, I don't see rock rotting away)

Also, you must think about this: Do you want your wall to be 2 different colors of old and new wood? Do you want to spend a little bit of money now, only to spend more later to have the older pieces replaced?

Another idea would be to have landscaping fabric or plastic separating the dirt//possible gravel from the RR ties.

Being a professional waterproofer, I've come to learn that water is the smartest thing on our planet. It can and will touch anything its able to reach. So you must find a way to separate it from the wood. On a typical day, rain water would ruin wood. Standing//holding water does. So the problem must be found.

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