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amakarevic 07-02-2009 03:48 PM

where to look for railroad ties ?
i live in the DC area and am looking for railroad ties to build a small retention wall. any ideas where to look ? lumber yards don't have them.


uphogger 07-02-2009 04:03 PM

railroad ties
Check out a local rail yard if you have one. They will usually give them away free if you ask.

clasact 07-02-2009 05:43 PM

agway store sell them
do not take them from a rail yard unless you have a signed permission paper from them since they are govenment backed it is a federal offense and they will come after you if you are reported dont ask how i know:whistling2:

Scuba_Dave 07-02-2009 06:25 PM

HD & Lowes have PT timbers, maybe different level of protection?
I've used their 3x5 PT wood (rounded sides) to build all sorts of gardens & walls - Max maybe 18" tall
I ended up with a bunch of 8x8 PT free from someone pulling apart a large play area. And some 10x10 old PT wood that I will use to build a wall maybe 4' tall

How small is small?

amakarevic 07-02-2009 06:40 PM

i think just PT won't do cause railroad ties are treated with creosote.

Scuba_Dave 07-02-2009 06:55 PM

PT wood has been used for retaining walls for some time now
I won't use creosote material around my son
The PT 10x10's were in the ground for over 15 years covered by decking. They look fine

From the EPA:


6. Are railroad ties safe for me to use for landscaping around my home?
There are no approved uses of creosote to treat wood for residential use. The Agency is aware that creosote-treated railroad ties are being used in the residential setting for landscape purposes and, in some instances, as a border around gardens. Such uses in residential settings are not intended uses of creosote and have not been considered in the preliminary risk assessment
I guess they tested on animals:


Animals fed large amounts of wood creosote had convulsions and died, while those fed lower levels had liver and kidney problems. Animal studies have shown that when pregnant animals breathe creosote, it may cause harmful effects to the baby.

Leah Frances 07-02-2009 07:01 PM

I've gotten a chemical burn from working with railroad ties.

Gary in WA 07-03-2009 11:33 PM

PT wood has been used for retaining walls for some time now
I won't use creosote material around my son
The PT 10x10's were in the ground for over 15 years covered by decking. They look fine.

Dave, read this for your son:

I hope he stays healthy with the old arsenic treated timbers in the yard. That why everyone changed over, I would not want those.

Be safe, G

roadhouse 07-04-2009 01:20 PM

iv got some to give away but u probobly dont want to come get them.

Scuba_Dave 07-04-2009 08:08 PM


Originally Posted by GBAR in WA (Post 296964)
Dave, read this for your son:

These are being used as the base for a retaining wall by my driveway
I'm not worried about them, reg PT will go on top
Without someone actually coming & testing every PT piece of lumber there is no real way to know what is what
Old PT lumber was still sold until it ran out, it was never "recalled"
I guess the reason they couldn't recall it is that it would bankrupt a lot of business
Nice that they just leave this stuff & still allowed the old stock to be sold until it ran out :(
As such if someone found some on the back corner of a warehouse it could still be sold
Not that unlikely considering all the old stock that is sold

And actually wood that is over 10-15 years old is supposed to be better as it has already released the arsenic - as long as you don't cut it

I imagine there are plenty of PT decls that were built 2004 & prior that are still standing
My deck is the newer wood, no other deck has been on this house


University of Florida study released last year found that CCA-treated decks caused surface soil arsenic concentrations underneath the decks to be 2000% higher, on average, than normal.

You should NEVER use bleaches, deck cleaners or brighteners on old CCA-treated wood because they oxidize the chromium-3 that's already in CCA-treated lumber, turning it into the highly carcinogenic chromium-6.

gma2rjc 07-04-2009 10:38 PM

Interesting. Thanks for posting that link GBAR.

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