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Old 09-17-2019, 06:30 AM   #11
Lee Willis
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I have thought about this question on and off since my first post here, and have this further suggestion.

While details are what count in a really great model railroad layout, the difference between rust on a mainline is probably minimal, and varies enough to make any definitive rule impossible. I think what has been covered here is more than sufficient . . .

But there are differences that do matter and are there in the real world, the chief one I have seen by observation being that there is no vegetation in the active parts of a railyard - not a snip of grass has survived all the pedestrian and vehicle traffic between tracks, etc., whereas along a mainline you occasionally see grass and bushes that have encroached, and near a spur that is seldom used, you see grass - maybe tall grass even obscuring the rails.

Further, by observation back when I rode trains a lot, there is a lot of junk along the side of many mainlines - not muchwhen you are out in the country far from cities (i.e., halfway between Denver and Wichita), but particularly as you near cities there is the occasional broken tie just discarded near the track, a tire or two laying near the track, and litter and various crud like that scattered about, whereas in an active railyard, things are "workplace tidy" - kept cleaned up enough to work.
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Old 09-18-2019, 01:24 PM   #12
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What role does track grinding play? Don't railroads maintain mainline track surfaces by grinding them to remove the rust on the surface (see various youtube videos) which they don't do to track in railyards, sidings and spurs?
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Old 09-18-2019, 02:44 PM   #13
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@Tallaman -- My own take on that is the wear from the trains will generally keep the top of the rails bright and shiny, so you wouldn't see much difference after a grinder passes through. This would be similar to the wear pattern you see on the wheels. Some places the rail has more slope towards the inside of the track and leaves a narrower bright spot on the wheels, while other places the top of the rails has worn fairly flat so the wear in the wheels is nearly as wide as the rail. Rust doesn't really play a role in the prototypes and the friction of the wheels keeps the surface rust-free anyway.

On the other hand, I've only seen one grinder in operation and it simply worked across the top of the rails and didn't touch the sides at all. I'm not sure there would ever be a reason to grind the sides of the rails, other than maybe the head to catch spots where the rails have sagged towards each other and affected the gauge?
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Old 09-18-2019, 03:26 PM   #14
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RR wheels are slightly tapered, so the rail head will tend to wear more towards the inside. If left alone, the railhead would eventually wear down with an uneven slope.

The grinding re-profiles the *top* surface of the rail to even it out.

Grinding isn't to remove rust - the passage of a train's wheels does that rather nicely.
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:06 PM   #15
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I agree with cv_acr. I they were worried about rust they would be spraying anti rust solution all over the place. the rails are made to oxidize. That said, the wheels sort of just contact the inner top edge of the rail, so why is most of the top clean? Must be enough bad wheels (lost their taper) to keep the top clean!
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