How to Remove Railroad Ties

(Image: Looking down the rails image by MPfoto from Fotolia.com)

Railroad ties are useful for various home landscaping projects, such as making a retaining wall or a garden, or framing a walking path. Railroad ties are treated with chemical preservatives, such as creosote, which has advantages and disadvantages. The preservatives give railroad ties a great degree of longevity, which makes them ideal for landscaping projects, but the chemicals present problems when it comes to disposal.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Crow bar
  • Heavy rope or chain
  • Chainsaw
  • Work gloves

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Decide what to do with the railroad ties after you remove them. Old railroad ties can be resold, if they are in good condition, or they can be disposed of at a local waste management site. Determine what your plan of action is. If they are being resold, the ties need to remain whole. If you are disposing of them, call the local waste management site or landfill to inquire about the rules and regulations for used railroad ties. Some sites will accept railroad ties cut into pieces, some prefer them whole and other sites will not accept them because of the chemicals.

Dig out the dirt around the railroad tie. Use a shovel to dig the dirt out all the way around the railroad tie. Railroad ties are very heavy, and over time, they settle into the ground.

Pry the edge of the railroad tie up with a heavy duty crow bar. If the plan is to dispose of the old railroad ties, and the local waste site accepts ties that are cut into pieces, cut the railroad tie into several pieces with a chainsaw.

Attach a chain to the railroad tie and pull it free with a truck or a tractor. If you wish to keep railroad tie in one piece to sell or dispose of, the easiest way is to pull it free with a tractor or truck. The other option is to have several strong friends lift it. Some waste management sites will pick the ties up for you. If you have to take it to the site yourself, you will need a heavy duty pickup truck. Make several trips; be careful not to overload the truck.

Place an ad in the local newspaper or online. It is an easy task to sell your old railroad ties. Railroad ties are popular items with homeowners. Another option is to check with local lumber yards and home supply stores that sell used railroad ties.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear heavy duty work gloves and boots when you are moving railroad ties.
  • Wear a respirator when you cut railroad ties with a chainsaw so that you don't inhale the chemicals.

References

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