What Do You Know about Dog Spikes in Railway?

Dog spikes are a vital component in the railway industry used to secure rails to sleepers and maintain track stability. They are also known as railroad spikes, rail spikes, or coach screws and come in different types, sizes, and materials. Dog spikes have been in use for over a century and remain a popular choice for railway engineers and contractors due to their durability, strength, and ease of installation.

Dog spikes play a crucial role in the railway industry as they help to maintain track stability and prevent derailments. They are designed to withstand the pressure and impact of heavy trains, extreme weather conditions, and environmental factors. Proper installation and maintenance of dog spikes are critical to ensuring the safety and efficiency of railway systems.

The historical background of dog spikes dates back to the 19th century when wooden rails were used to construct railway tracks. The first metal dog spike was patented in 1866 by an American inventor named William F. Butcher. Since then, dog spikes have evolved from being made of wrought iron to cast iron, carbon steel, and stainless steel, depending on the application.

Types of Dog Spikes

Dog spikes come in different types, and each type has its features, advantages, and disadvantages. The three main types of dog spikes are cut spikes, forged spikes, and screw spikes.

Cut Spikes

Cut spikes are the most traditional type of dog spikes used in the railway industry. They are made by cutting the spikes from a rod of steel or iron and shaping them to have a square shank and tapered point. Cut spikes are usually driven into wooden sleepers, and their square shape prevents them from rotating once they are installed.

One of the advantages of cut spikes is that they are easy to install, and they provide a secure grip on wooden sleepers. They also have a relatively low cost compared to other types of dog spikes. However, cut spikes have some disadvantages, including being susceptible to loosening due to vibrations caused by passing trains. They also tend to corrode and rust quickly, which can lead to the weakening of the sleepers and the track system.

Forged Spikes:

Forged spikes are made by heating a piece of steel or iron until it is red-hot and then shaping it into the desired spike shape. The forging process results in a stronger spike compared to cut spikes, and they can be used on different types of sleepers, including concrete, steel, and wooden. Forged spikes have a tapered shank, a pointed end, and a head, which can be square or round, depending on the application.

The primary advantage of forged spikes is their strength and durability, making them ideal for use in high-traffic areas. They are less likely to loosen or corrode, which reduces the need for frequent maintenance. The main disadvantage of forged spikes is their relatively high cost compared to cut spikes.

Screw Spikes

Screw spikes are a type of dog spike that has threads cut into the shank, allowing them to be screwed into a pre-drilled hole in the sleeper. They have a head that can be square or round, and a pointed end that can be easily driven into the sleeper. Screw spikes are typically made from high-strength carbon steel or alloy steel, and they are suitable for use on both wooden and concrete sleepers.

One of the main advantages of screw spikes is their ability to grip the sleeper tightly, reducing the risk of loosening or displacement. They are also relatively easy to install, requiring only a drill to make a hole in the sleeper. Screw spikes are also resistant to corrosion and rust, making them ideal for use in harsh environments. However, one disadvantage of screw spikes is that they can be challenging to remove once they are installed, requiring specialized equipment and tools.

Materials Used in Manufacturing Dog Spikes

Dog spikes are essential components in the railway industry, and they are made from various materials. The choice of the material to use depends on factors such as cost, strength, durability, and environmental conditions. The three main materials used in manufacturing dog spikes are carbon steel, cast iron, and stainless steel.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is a popular material used in manufacturing dog spikes. It is made by combining iron with carbon, which increases its strength and hardness. Carbon steel dog spikes have a high resistance to wear and tear, making them ideal for use in high-traffic areas. They are also relatively inexpensive compared to other materials used in manufacturing dog spikes.

The main advantage of carbon steel dog spikes is their strength and durability, making them suitable for use in harsh environmental conditions. However, they have a disadvantage of being susceptible to corrosion and rust. Regular maintenance is necessary to prevent corrosion and rust.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is another material used in manufacturing dog spikes. It is made by melting iron and adding carbon and other alloys to the molten iron. Cast iron dog spikes are strong and durable, making them ideal for use in high-traffic areas. They are also resistant to wear and tear, making them ideal for use in harsh environmental conditions.

One of the main advantages of cast iron dog spikes is their strength and durability, making them suitable for use in harsh environmental conditions. They are also resistant to wear and tear, making them ideal for use in high-traffic areas. However, they have a disadvantage of being relatively heavy compared to other materials used in manufacturing dog spikes.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a material used in manufacturing dog spikes that are resistant to rust and corrosion. It is made by adding chromium to steel, which increases its resistance to rust and corrosion. Stainless steel dog spikes are strong and durable, making them ideal for use in harsh environmental conditions.

One of the main advantages of stainless steel dog spikes is their resistance to rust and corrosion, making them suitable for use in harsh environmental conditions. They are also relatively lightweight compared to other materials used in manufacturing dog spikes. However, they have a disadvantage of being relatively expensive compared to other materials used in manufacturing dog spikes.

Manufacturing Process of Dog Spikes

The manufacturing process of dog spikes involves several stages, from raw materials preparation to finishing and inspection.

Raw Materials preparation

The first step in the manufacturing process of dog spikes is to prepare the raw materials. The raw materials used in the production of dog spikes include carbon steel, cast iron, and stainless steel. The raw materials are carefully selected to meet the specific requirements of the dog spikes.

Heating and Forging

The next step in the manufacturing process is heating and forging. The raw materials are heated to a specific temperature to make them malleable. The heated raw materials are then placed on a forging press and forged into the desired shape. The forging process involves applying pressure to the heated metal to compress and shape it into the desired form. This process helps to increase the strength and durability of the dog spikes.

Finishing and Inspection

After the forging process, the dog spikes are subjected to finishing and inspection. The finishing process involves trimming off any excess material, cleaning, and polishing the dog spikes. The dog spikes are then inspected for any defects that may have occurred during the manufacturing process. The inspection process involves a thorough examination of the dog spikes to ensure that they meet the required specifications.

Factors to Consider in Choosing Dog Spikes

When choosing dog spikes, there are several factors to consider to ensure optimal performance and longevity. These factors include track size and rail section, axle load, and environmental conditions.

Track Size and Rail Section

The size and section of the rail are critical factors to consider when selecting dog spikes. The size and section of the rail determine the type and size of dog spikes required. The rail section refers to the shape of the rail, and different rail sections require different types of dog spikes. The size of the rail refers to the weight of the rail, and larger rails require larger and stronger dog spikes.

Axle Load

The axle load is the weight supported by each axle of a locomotive or train. The axle load is a critical factor to consider when selecting dog spikes. Dog spikes must be able to withstand the weight of the locomotive or train passing over them. Heavy axle loads require larger and stronger dog spikes to withstand the increased weight and pressure.

Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions are another critical factor to consider when selecting dog spikes. Dog spikes are exposed to various environmental conditions, including extreme temperatures, moisture, and corrosive substances. The type of material used in the manufacture of dog spikes should be able to withstand the environmental conditions in which they will be used. For example, stainless steel is ideal for use in environments with high levels of moisture, as it is corrosion-resistant.

Other factors to consider when selecting dog spikes include the type of traffic, the speed of the trains or locomotives, and the frequency of maintenance. The type of traffic refers to the type of trains or locomotives that will be passing over the dog spikes. Different types of traffic require different types of dog spikes. The speed of the trains or locomotives passing over the dog spikes determines the amount of pressure exerted on the dog spikes. Higher speeds require stronger and more durable dog spikes. The frequency of maintenance also determines the type of dog spikes required. Regular maintenance may require a different type of dog spike compared to infrequent maintenance.

Installation of Dog Spikes

The proper installation of dog spikes is essential to ensure the safety and longevity of the railway track. The installation procedure can vary depending on the type of dog spike being used and the rail section. Here is a general step-by-step installation procedure for dog spikes:

  1. Remove the old dog spikes: Before installing new dog spikes, it is necessary to remove any old spikes that may still be in place.
  2. Clean the hole: Clean the hole in the rail to ensure that it is free from any debris or dirt.
  3. Insert the dog spike: Insert the dog spike into the hole in the rail, making sure that it is secure and that the head of the spike is flush with the rail.
  4. Hammer the dog spike: Hammer the dog spike into place using a spike maul or hammer. The spike should be driven in firmly, but not so hard that it causes damage to the rail.
  5. Repeat the process: Repeat the process for the remaining dog spikes, making sure that they are evenly spaced and correctly positioned.

Recommended installation tools for dog spikes include a spike maul or hammer, a claw bar or pry bar, and a wrench. These tools can help make the installation process more efficient and effective.

To ensure the efficient installation of dog spikes, there are several best practices to follow. These include:

  • Proper spacing: Dog spikes should be spaced evenly along the rail to ensure proper stability and support.
  • Correct orientation: The orientation of the dog spike should be such that the head is flush with the rail, and the point is pointing towards the center of the track.
  • Tightening: Dog spikes should be tightened securely but not over-tightened, as this could cause damage to the rail.
  • Inspection: After installation, the dog spikes should be inspected to ensure that they are secure and properly positioned. Any loose or improperly installed dog spikes should be replaced.

Maintenance and Replacement of Dog Spikes

Regular maintenance of dog spikes is essential to ensure the safety and efficiency of the railway track. Dog spikes can wear out over time due to heavy use, environmental conditions, and other factors, and it is crucial to identify and replace worn-out spikes before they cause damage or safety issues.

Regular maintenance involves inspecting the dog spikes for signs of wear and damage, cleaning the spikes and the surrounding area, and replacing any worn-out or damaged spikes. This helps ensure that the spikes are secure and properly positioned, and that the track is safe for use.

Signs of worn-out dog spikes include cracks, bends, rust, and loose or missing spikes. If any of these signs are observed during inspection, it is necessary to replace the affected spikes promptly.

Regular maintenance and prompt replacement of worn-out dog spikes are essential for maintaining a safe and efficient railway track. By following proper maintenance and replacement procedures, railway operators can help ensure the safety and reliability of their tracks, and provide a secure and comfortable transportation experience for their passengers and cargo.

In conclusion, dog spikes are essential components of railway tracks, used to secure the rails to the sleepers or ties. This article has provided an overview of dog spikes, their historical background, types, materials, manufacturing process, installation, and maintenance.

The key takeaways from this article include the different types of dog spikes available, the importance of selecting the right type of spike based on the track size, rail section, axle load, and environmental conditions. Additionally, we have discussed the different materials used to manufacture dog spikes and their features, advantages, and disadvantages.

Furthermore, this article highlighted the importance of proper installation and maintenance of dog spikes to ensure a safe and efficient railway track. Railway operators should regularly inspect dog spikes for signs of wear and damage, and replace any worn-out spikes promptly to prevent safety issues and maintain the track’s reliability.

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