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— Compiled by Walter Weart
Pandrol U.S.A. currently is developing "a number of new and improved fastening systems" for concrete and wood ties, working in conjunction with Class Is, the company said.
During the past year, Pandrol's design, engineering and technical staff worked with the staffs at Arkansas Steel Associates and Southwest Steel Processing to introduce two new robotic tie plate production lines to manufacture Pandrol VICTOR tie plates for wood ties. The new production lines more than double the capacity to supply VICTOR tie plates. Used in conjunction with Pandrol 'e' clip or FASTCLIP fastenings, the VICTOR tie plate is "becoming the standard railroad tie plate system for Class Is on wood ties for curves of two degrees or greater on bridges, on curves of more than six degrees and on steep grades," according to Pandrol.
Each line produces a finished VICTOR plate every 17 seconds. Once the shoulders are swaged in place, they have a pull-out strength more than double those specified for shoulders in concrete ties, the company said. Pandrol VICTOR plates are available in 16-inch and 18-inch versions, and enable the specification of both the type of shoulder and the hole punching type and pattern required.
The W 30 HH System is a patented, engineered system for heavy-axle loads of up to 35 tons and meets or exceeds all AREMA testing requirements, the company said.
The W 30 HH System rail pad is engineered to discharge lateral forces across a larger contact area and the angled guide plates spread the lateral loads over the entire shoulder of the tie instead of a single shoulder. Softer pads also are engineered for lower-axle loads and shared rights of way.
With an optimized geometry, the Skl 30 features "consistently high toe loads, high dynamic fatigue strength and high creep resistance," which helps keep the rail stable to reduce track buckles and excessive rail pumping, the company said. Produced at a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, all systems are free from decarburization and the tension clamps are able to be packed and shipped in sorted rows, reducing the need for additional handling at the installation site.
The engineering of the higher spring arms "greatly increased" the lateral resistance, providing better lateral load distribution throughout the fastening system with additional protection for the screw, the company said. Vossloh Fastening Systems also developed new dowels with improved threads to help relieve transverse stresses. The aim: increased performance and longer life cycles, the company said.
For more than 40 years, L.B. Foster Co. has been a global supplier of fastening systems to meet changing industry and transit agency demands. Later this year, the company plans to wrap up shipments of more than 170,000 F23R4 Direct Fixation Fasteners and special trackwork fastening assemblies to Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART). The HART order was the largest in L.B. Foster's history, company officials said, adding that the fastener was developed more than 20 years ago for the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), which remains an L.B. Foster customer.
A "work horse" in the company's stable of direct fixation fasteners with sales of nearly 500,000 assemblies since 1994, the F23R4 is a third-generation design that features fixed rail clamp housings and adjustable anchorage — an improvement upon earlier designs, which were vulnerable to electrical leakage and anchorage integrity, the company said. The fastener also is designed to reduce previous maintenance issues, such as gage widening and bolt failure.
In addition to TriMet and HART, the company has supplied the fastening system across the United States — from New Jersey Transit's Hudson-Bergen light-rail line to Seattle's Sound Transit and numerous transit agencies in between, the company said.
Lewis Bolt & Nut Co. offers the Lewis Evergrip™ Spike. Produced in 7/8- and 15/16-inch diameters, the spike is designed to be driven in by Nordco automatic spiking machines or turned in with lagging machines. Driving in the Evergrip results in "perfect installation every time, as you cannot over or under turn the screw," the company said, noting that the Evergrip "takes advantage of whatever the timber tie has to offer" — the fins lock it in place, preventing premature back out.
In addition, the double-head design enables removal with "beefed up" spike pullers, the company said. Recent tests have shown that loosening the Evergrip once it has been installed requires up to 100 percent more torque than what it takes to loosen a standard North American screw spike, the company said.
The 11/16-inch diameter Lewis Permagrip™ Spike offers similar benefits, but in a smaller version. Designed to be used in square track spike holes wherever extra holding power is required, the high-strength Permagrip can be ordered in square or rectangle head, with or without a bevel to go against the rail base.
Amsted RPS's customers made it clear: They needed an alternate source for "high-quality and competitively priced e-clips," as the company put it. In response, the company developed the Amsted RPS e-clip.
Manufactured at the company's Kansas plant, the Amsted RPS e-clip offers "superior performance" and serves as a "perfect complement" to the company's line of fastening systems for freight and transit applications — including a complete line of e-clip insulators, rail pads and MACRO Armor rail-seat abrasion protector plates for concrete ties, the company said.
The company also provides plates and screws to support wood tie systems, as well as applications for bonded direct-fixation fasteners and embedded blocks. Amsted RPS e-clips offer improved fatigue limits for long life and reduced maintenance costs; meanwhile, track installation is fast and efficient, the company said.
Made from high-quality spring steel, the e-clips are produced with a low-stress manufacturing process that "significantly improves fatigue performance and enhances the working range of the clip," according to the company. The e-clips are available in right-hand, left-hand, PR-style and specialty types.
United Steel Fasteners Inc. (USF) recently introduced the USF Model 2000 Super Spike, a 15/16- by 6-1/2-inch (patent pending) spike that is "installed by a spike driver for maximum efficiency, lower cost and less [installation] time," according to the company. The design facilitates easy removal with a spike puller, as well. The spike features "torque lock" splines to increase grip and prevent "back out," and it cannot be overdriven during installation, according to the company.
USF also offers a variety of track, crossing, bridge and car hardware and fastenings for various applications. For example, the company's new "Beaver" crossing timber screws are made from alloy steel in 5/8- and 3/4-inch diameters with square torx head for easy installation and removal. The company also offers AREMA split washers and premium tie plugs; bridge fasteners, including forged head hook bolts, one-piece washer nuts, bridge and stringer bolts, drift pins, drive spikes and malleable washers; a range of pins for rolling stock, such as knuckle, coupler and center pins; and locomotive fasteners.
Meanwhile, the USF research and development team is "constantly designing and developing more effective and efficient fastening components and systems" for testing, evaluation and adoption in the marketplace based on customer feedback, the company said.
Security Locknut L.L.C. recently introduced a new line of products featuring the company's custom ATD Lock Ring coating, which "creates more than two times the holding strength" and enables fast, easy installation without "worries of thread galling" in harsh factory or field environments, the company said. Most Security Locknut sizes and configurations are available for same-day shipping.
The original Security Locknut has been used to hold frog crossover assemblies and other rail applications for more than 40 years. It can hold tight under heavy load and vibration conditions, lock in any position on the bolt and maintain its locking function even with repeated use, the company said. The product is available in AREMA-specified common hex and square sizes. The U.S.-made Security Locknut conforms to all American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Buy America requirements, the company said.
Stage 8 Locking Fasteners Inc. designs and manufactures active mechanical locking mechanisms for standard and custom fasteners. For 29 years, Stage 8 has provided fastener solutions in a variety of different applications, including freight and transit rail. "Over 18 million Stage 8 locking systems have been installed without a single failure," the company said, adding that all Stage 8 products are manufactured in the United States.
The Association of American Railroads' Wheels, Axles, Bearings & Lubrication Committee has approved the Stage 8 Fastener Locking System, as well as the company's most recent design — a Cap Screw Locking System for railroad roller bearing end caps. Resistance to cap screw loosening is 10 times greater than the current locking plate, the company said. The design provides a "major increase in roller bearing retention and decrease loss of lubrication, while greatly improving safety and reliability, as well as lowering maintenance costs," according to Stage 8.
Walter Weart is a Denver-based freelance writer.