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AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS
Paper No. 1177
OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON RAIL SECTIONS.[A]
Your Special Committee on Steel Rails, since their appointment in 1902,
have held numerous meetings, not only of their own body, but also in
conference with Committees representing other Societies and the steel
rail makers. The results of their deliberations have been presented to
the Society in their reports presented on -
January 21st, 1903[B]
" 18th, 1905
" 17th, 1906
" 16th, 1907
July 9th, 1907
December 6th, 1907
" 18th, 1908
November 30th, 1909
As previously reported to you, the Rail Committee of the American
Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association is also acting
for the American Railway Association; and the latter organization has
guaranteed to it the necessary funds to make exhaustive tests and
observations as to the wear, breakage, etc., etc., of steel rails. This
work is being prosecuted, and will of necessity require several years.
Your Committee feels that it has nothing to add to the several reports
which it has presented to the Society, particularly as, so far, the
several cardinal principles outlined in them are being practically
followed in the several used and proposed specifications and rail
In view of the foregoing, your Committee would respectfully ask to be
discharged so that the field may be clear if at any future time the
Society should desire to again place the subject in the hands of a
JOSEPH T. RICHARDS,
C. W. BUCHHOLZ,
E. C. CARTER,
S. M. FELTON,
ROBERT W. HUNT,
JOHN D. ISAACS,
H. G. PROUT,
PERCIVAL ROBERTS, JR.,
GEORGE E. THACKRAY,
EDMUND K. TURNER,
Approved in connection with the attached report:
WILLIAM R. WEBSTER.
PHILADELPHIA, JUNE 1ST, 1910.
I have signed the Report of the A. S. C. E. Rail Committee, - "Approved
in connection with the attached report," as I feel that the report is
too condensed, and assumes that all are familiar with the Rail
situation, especially what has been done by the other Societies.
The work undertaken by this Committee has been delegated by The American
Railway Association to the Rail Committee of The American Railway
Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association, and it therefore seems
appropriate to give the results of their work, up to date, to our
members in convenient form for reference, especially as our rail
specifications have not been worked to, and they have offered a better
specification that will be worked to, and no doubt largely used by the
members of this Society. The specification is attached to this report.
In presenting this specification to the Annual Meeting at Chicago in
March last, the Committee said:[C]
"A new specification should not be proposed at this time without
careful consideration. So far as we know, no railroad company has
purchased rails under the specifications approved by the American
Railway Association and referred to us; nor do we know of any
railway company that has succeeded in buying rails during the past
two years according to a specification entirely satisfactory to the
railroad company. We believe that all of the specifications under
which rails have been rolled have been compromises on the part of
both parties, with the general result that neither party is
entirely satisfied. Our experience during the year has brought to
our attention some defects in all of the specifications now before
us, and acting under the impression that there is a distinct
feeling that we should revise our specifications, we offer the
attached specifications for your consideration. Our Association has
no specification for Open-Hearth Steel Rails, and in order to
comply with the instructions, a specification for Open-Hearth Steel
Rails is included.
"We believe it necessary to submit a sliding scale for the
percentages of carbon and phosphorus, which provides for increasing
the carbon as the phosphorus decreases. The fixing of this scale
properly is a matter requiring care, and we admit that our
knowledge on the subject is limited. The American Railway
Association specification calls attention to this matter in the
following words: 'When lower phosphorus can be secured, a proper
proportionate increase in carbon should be made.' The amount of
increase is not provided for in the specifications, and this
appears to us to be necessary in order to secure uniformity of
practice; otherwise, the fixing of these percentages becomes a
matter of special arrangement. Bessemer rails are being furnished
regularly with phosphorus under the maximum allowed, and where this
is done, the carbon should be raised above the higher limit now
fixed in our specifications, or a soft and poor wearing rail will
result; yet this condition has not been fully guarded against in
rails furnished under existing specifications. The lower and upper
limits for carbon have heretofore been fixed with the intention
that the mills furnish rails with a composition as near between the
two limits as possible. The mills, however, in order to meet the
prescribed drop tests with the least difficulty, keep both the
carbon and manganese as nearly as possible to the lower limits,
with the corresponding result that a generally poor-wearing rail is
"Some roads have prescribed the limits of deflection to be allowed
under the drop test. With our present knowledge, we believe that we
should fix a minimum deflection to eliminate brittle rails and to
secure greater uniformity of product; also maximum deflection to
eliminate soft rails. We are not able at the present time to fix
these limits, but our ultimate object will be to determine and fix
such limits for the specifications.
"With reference to the amount of discard, time of holding in ladle,
size of nozzles, and other such details of manufacture or
machinery, we are of the opinion that the physical and chemical
tests required should be prescribed, and that we should see that
the material submitted for acceptance meets the prescribed tests.
We should not dictate to the manufacturers the amount of crop which
shall be removed from the top of the ingot, as this should vary
with the care and time consumed at the various mills. The railroads
should not be asked to take anything but sound material in their
rails. The mills can furnish such sound material if the proper care
and sufficient time are taken in the making of the ingots.
Information derived from the tests being made at the Watertown
Arsenal shows definitely that sound rails cannot be made from
unsound ingots, and that, therefore, the prime requisite in
securing a sound rail is to first secure the sound ingot.
"We recommend that the present Specifications for Steel Rails be
withdrawn from the Manual of Recommended Practice of the
Association, as no longer representing the current state of the
"We submit herewith, as Appendix 'A,' a form for specifications. It
will have to be amended from time to time as we receive further
information on the subject."
The specifications referred to above were modified and presented at the
Meeting in _Supplement to Bulletin No. 121_, of March, 1910, and in this
final form are attached hereto.
These specifications do not represent the work of any one Society or the
work of any one Committee, but are the result of all the work of the
different Societies, as the members of all are so interwoven that
whatever work is done in any one Society, or by the Committee of a
Society, has very naturally and fortunately been carried into the
At the Chicago Meeting these specifications were accepted without a
single change, and this is very unusual and shows how generally
acceptable they were, as the members of all Rail Committees were present
at the Meeting. The main points in this specification were discussed and
agreed upon by the members of the Committee and the Rail Committee of
the manufacturers who have co-operated with them in this work.
In the matter of Rail Sections, the Rail Committee of The American
Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association has not arrived
at any definite conclusions. The new sections "A" and "B" of The
American Railway Association have not given as good results as was
expected of them, and the whole matter is yet under consideration. The
Committee reported as follows:[D]
"The instructions of the American Railway Association require us to
study the A. R. A. sections 'A' and 'B' in use and submit a single
type for standard. Owing to the conditions existing in 1908, very
little rail was laid, and practically none of the A. R. A.
sections, in such manner as to give the needed information. This
year, several roads have laid A. R. A. sections of rail, with a
view of determining the relative merits of the respective sections.
These rails have been in the track so short a time that we are not
justified in drawing any conclusions as to which of the A. R. A.
types, 'A' or 'B,' or if either, is better than the A. S. C. E.
"_Bulletin No. 116_, issued October, 1909, gives the statistics for
rail failures for six months from October 31, 1908, to April 30,
1909, as reported to the Committee. These statistics do show that
the difference in section can be entirely annihilated by difference
in chemical composition and by the treatment in furnace and mill.
"The results so far obtained from the heavy base A. R. A. sections
are disappointing, as we have received some rail from the mills of
the new section which was as bad as we did with the old
A. S. C. E. section, showing that the quality of the rail does not
depend entirely upon the section.
"The tests to be inaugurated by the Committee, combined with the
results of the tests at Watertown and the performance of the rail
in the track, will give us valuable data to aid us in coming to a
A careful study of the results already obtained, on both Bessemer and
open-hearth steel rails, indicates that the next necessary step will be
the use of a much heavier rail, and I think the sooner this is admitted
and trial lots of say 1,000 tons each of 110-lb., 120-lb. and 130-lb.
rails rolled, of Bessemer and open-hearth steel, and put in service
under the most severe conditions, the sooner we will get rid of the
present difficulties with our rails.
WM. R. WEBSTER.
"SPECIFICATIONS FOR STEEL RAILS.[E]
[Sidenote: Process of manufacture.]
"1. The entire process of manufacture shall be in accordance with
the best current state of the art.
"(_a_) Ingots shall be kept in a vertical position until ready to be
rolled, or until the metal in the interior has had time to solidify.
"(_b_) Bled ingots shall not be used.
[Sidenote: Chemical composition.]
"2. The chemical composition of the steel from which the rails are
rolled shall be within the following limits:
| BESSEMER. | OPEN-HEARTH.
+ - - - - - - -+ - - - - - - - + - - - - - - -+ - - - - - - -
|70 lbs. and | |70 lbs. and |
| over, but |85 to 100 lbs.| over, but |85 to 100 lbs.
|under 85 lbs.| inclusive. |under 85 lbs.| inclusive.
- - - - - - - - -+ - - - - - - -+ - - - - - - - + - - - - - - -+ - - - - - - -
Carbon |0.40 to 0.50 |0.45 to 0.55 |0.53 to 0.66 |0.63 to 0.76
Manganese |0.80 to 1.10 |0.80 to 1.10 |0.70 to 1.00 |0.70 to 1.00
Silicon |0.07 to 0.20 |0.07 to 0.20 |0.07 to 0.20 |0.07 to 0.20
Phosphorus, | | | |
not to exceed | 0.10 | 0.10 | 0.04 | 0.04
Sulphur, | | | |
not to exceed | 0.075| 0.075 | 0.06 | 0.06
"3. When the average phosphorus content of the ingot metal used in
the Bessemer Process at any mill is below 0.08 and in the
Open-Hearth Process is below 0.03, the carbon shall be increased at
the rate of 0.035 for each 0.01 that the phosphorus content of the
ingot metal used averages below 0.08 for Bessemer steel, or 0.03 for
"The percentage of carbon in an entire order of rails shall average
as high as the mean percentage between the upper and lower limits.
"4. The end of the bloom formed from the top of the ingot shall be
sheared until the entire face shows sound metal.
"All metal from the top of the ingot, whether made from the bloom or
the rail, is the top discard.
"5. The number of passes and speed of train shall be so regulated
that, on leaving the rolls at the final pass, the temperature of the
rails will not exceed that which requires a shrinkage allowance at
the hot saws, for a 33-ft. rail of 100 lb. section, of 6-1/2 in. for
thick base sections and 6-3/4 in. for A. S. CC. E. sections, and 1/8
in. less for each ten pounds decrease of section, these allowances
to be decreased at the rate of 1-100 in. for each second of time
elapsed between the rail leaving the finishing rolls and being
"The bars shall not be held for the purpose of reducing their
temperature, nor shall any artificial means of cooling them be used
between the leading and finishing passes, nor after they leave the
"6. The section of rail shall conform as accurately as possible to
the templet furnished by the Railroad Company. A variation in height
of 1-64 in. less or 1-32 in. greater than the specified height, and
1-16 in. in width of flange, will be permitted; but no variations
shall be allowed in the dimensions affecting the fit of splice bars.
"7. The weight of the rail shall be maintained as nearly as
possible, after complying with the preceding paragraph, to that
specified in the contract.
"A variation of one-half of one per cent. from the calculated weight
of section, as applied to an entire order, will be allowed.
"Rails will be accepted and paid for according to actual weight.
"8. The standard length of rail shall be 33 ft.
"Ten per cent. of the entire order will be accepted in shorter
lengths varying by 1 ft. from 32 ft. to 25 ft.
"A variation of 1/4 in. from the specified lengths will be allowed.
"All No. 1 rails less than 33 ft. shall be painted green on both
"9. Care shall be taken in hot-straightening rails, and it shall
result in their being left in such condition that they will not vary
throughout their entire length more than four (4) in. from a
straight line in any direction for thick base sections, and 5 in.
for A. S. C. E. sections when delivered to the cold-straightening
presses. Those which vary beyond that amount, or have short kinks,
shall be classed as second quality rails and be so marked.
"The distance between supports of rails in the straightening press
shall not be less than forty-two (42) in.; supports to have flat
surfaces and out of wind. Rails shall be straight in line and
surface and smooth on head when finished, final straightening being
done while cold.
"They shall be sawed square at ends, variations to be not more than
1-32 in., and prior to shipment shall have the burr caused by the
saw cutting removed and the ends made clean.
"10. Circular holes for joint bolts shall be drilled in accordance
with specifications of the purchaser. They shall in every respect
conform accurately to drawing and dimensions furnished and shall be
free from burrs.
"11. The name of the manufacturer, the weight of the rail, and the
month and year of manufacture shall be rolled in raised letters and
figures on the side of the web. The number of the heat and a letter
indicating the portion of the ingot from which the rail was made
shall be plainly stamped on the web of each rail, where it will not
be covered by the splice bars. Rails to be lettered consecutively A,
B, C, etc., the rail from the top of the ingot being A. In case of a
top discard of twenty or more per cent. the letter A will be
omitted. Open-Hearth rails to be branded or stamped O. H. All
marking of rails shall be done so effectively that the marks may be
read as long as the rails are in service.
[Sidenote: Drop testing.]
"12. (_a_) Drop tests shall be made on pieces of rail rolled from
the top of the ingot, not less than four (4) ft. and not more than
six (6) ft. long, from each heat of steel. These test pieces shall
be cut from the rail bar next to either end of the top rail, as
selected by the Inspector.
"The temperature of the test pieces shall be between forty (40) and
one hundred (100) degrees Fahrenheit.
"The test pieces shall be placed head upward on solid supports, five
(5) in. top radius, three (3) ft. between centers, and subjected to
impact tests, the tup falling free from the following heights:
70 lb. rail 16 ft.
80, 85 and 90 lb. rail 18 ft.
100 lb. rail 20 ft.
"The test pieces which do not break under the first drop shall be
nicked and tested to destruction.
"(_b_) (It is proposed to prescribe, under this paragraph, the
requirements in regard to deflection, fixing maximum and minimum
limits, as soon as proper deflection limits have been decided upon.)
"13. (A) Two pieces shall be tested from each heat of steel. If
either of these test pieces breaks, a third piece shall be tested.
If two of the test pieces break without showing physical defect, all
rails of the heat will be rejected absolutely. If two of the test
pieces do not break, all rails of the heat will be accepted as No. 1
or No. 2 classification (according as the deflection is less or
more, respectively, than the prescribed limit[A]).
"(B) If, however, any test piece broken under test A shows physical
defect, the top rail from each ingot of that heat shall be rejected.
"(C) Additional tests shall then be made of test pieces selected by
the Inspector from the top end of any second rails of the same heat.
If two out of three of these second test pieces break, the remainder
of the rails of the heat will also be rejected. If two out of three
of these second test pieces do not break, the remainder of the rails
of the heat will be accepted, provided they conform to the other
requirements of these specifications, as No. 1 or No. 2
classification (according as the deflection is less or more,
respectively, than the prescribed limit[F]).
"(D) If any test piece, test A, does not break, but when nicked and
tested to destruction shows interior defect, the top rails from each
ingot of that heat shall be rejected.
[Sidenote: Drop testing machine.]
"14. The drop-testing machine shall be the standard of the American
Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association, and have a
tup of 2,000 lbs. weight, the striking face of which shall have a
radius of five (5) in.
"The anvil block shall be adequately supported and shall weigh
"The supports shall be a part of or firmly secured to the anvil.
[Sidenote: No. 1 Rails.]
"15. No. 1 rails shall be free from injurious defects and flaws of
[Sidenote: No. 2 Rails.]
"16. Rails which, by reason of surface imperfections, are not
accepted as No. 1 rails, will be classed as No. 2 rails, but rails
containing physical defects which impair their strength, shall be
"No. 2 rails to the extent of five (5) per cent. of the whole order
will be received. All rails accepted as No. 2 rails shall have the
ends painted white, and shall have two prick punch marks on the side
of the web near the heat number near the end of the rail, so placed
as not to be covered by the splice bars.
"Rails improperly drilled, straightened, or from which the burrs
have not been properly removed, shall be rejected, but may be
accepted after being properly finished.
"Different classes of rails shall be kept separate in shipment.
"All rails shall be loaded in the presence of the inspector.
"17. (_a_) Inspectors representing the purchaser shall have free
entry to the works of the Manufacturer at all times while the
contract is being executed, and shall have all reasonable facilities
afforded them by the Manufacturer to satisfy them that the rails
have been made in accordance with the terms of the specifications.
"(_b_) For Bessemer Steel the Manufacturer shall, before the rails
are shipped, furnish the Inspector daily with carbon determinations
for each heat, and two complete chemical analyses every twenty-four
hours representing the average of the other elements specified in
section 2 hereof contained in the steel, for each day and night turn
respectively. These analyses shall be made on drillings taken from
the ladle test ingot not less than 1/4 in. beneath the surface.
"For Open-Hearth Steel, the makers shall furnish the Inspectors with
a complete chemical analysis of the elements specified in section 2
hereof for each melt.
"(_c_) On request of the Inspector, the Manufacturer shall furnish
drillings from the test ingot for check analysis.
"(_d_) All tests and inspections shall be made at the place of
manufacture, prior to shipment, and shall be so conducted as not to
unnecessarily interfere with the operation of the mill."
[Footnote A: Presented to the Annual Convention, June 21st, 1910.]
[Footnote B: These reports were published in _Proceedings_, Am. Soc.
C. E., as follows: February, 1903, p. 43; February, 1905, p. 60:
February, 1906, p. 50; February, 1907, p. 69; August, 1907, p. 290;
February, 1908, p. 85; February, 1909, p. 61; February, 1910, p. 62.]
[Footnote C: Bulletin No. 118, December, 1909.]
[Footnote D: Bulletin No. 118. December, 1909.]
[Footnote E: Reprinted from _Supplement to Bulletin No. 121_ of the
American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (March,
[Footnote F: Note: The clause in brackets in Sections A and C to be
added to the specifications when the deflection limits are specified.]