Skip to content
Battery vs Hydraulic vs Gas Railroad Tools: Which to Choose?

Battery vs Hydraulic vs Gas Railroad Tools: Which to Choose?

In today’s world, there are an abundance of choices offered to us on a daily basis often creating decision fatigue. In the railroad maintenance-of-way industry, the struggle continues. There are so many types and styles of tools, and so many brands to choose from. 

We’ll help narrow it down for you– What type of tool should you use for your railroad track maintenance job? Below are the pros and cons between hydraulic, gas and battery-powered tools.

Hydraulic Railroad Tools:

+ PROS +

+ Durable - Hydraulic tools, like these Matweld / Pandrol tools, are able to withstand high-usage better than gas alternatives and often last over a decade requiring little maintenance in that time.

Pandrol Matweld Hydraulic Rail Tools

+ Low noise - Hydraulic tools emit less noise in comparison to gas tools.

+ High power - The compressed fluids make hydraulic tools the highest power in the smallest package providing high-torquing capabilities.

+ Cold weather - Despite popular belief, these hydraulic tools are still effective in extremely low temperatures.

+ Lower vibration

+ No exhaust - Powered by an electric power unit, these tools do not release harmful emissions and can be used in enclosed spaces.

- CONS -

- Require multiple steps - Longer setup time

- Require a longer warmup time in freezing cold temperatures (below 32F)

- Hoses pose a tripping hazard

- Potential for hydraulic fluid leaks

Gas Railroad Tools:

+ PROS +

+ High power - Gas tools, such as this Hougan saw, have a longer run time than battery tools and are powerful for tough jobs.

+ PortableGas Rail Saw

+ Less setup time- Gas it up and go.

+ Easy re-fueling - They are powered by the readily available gasoline, which can be kept on hand for quick refueling of the tool.

+ Cordless - No cords or lines associated with gas-powered tools so no potential for tripping hazards.

+ Cold weather - Gasoline is freeze resistant therefore gas tools provide just as much power in warm or freezing cold temperatures and can be used year round.

- CONS -

- Noisy

- Exhaust fumes

- Heaviest

- Though newer gas tools produce fewer emissions, they aren’t the most environmentally-friendly option

Battery Railroad Tools:

+ PROS +

+ Durable - Battery-powered tools require little maintenance because there are less parts to maintain, and these Milwaukee tools include a 5 year maintenance warranty. It is not uncommon for them to last over a decade.

+ Low noise - Electric motors are virtually noise free.Milwaukee Railroad Tools

+ Light weight - Battery included, battery-powered tools weigh less than gas and hydraulic tools.

+ Cordless - No cords removes potential tripping safety hazards.

+ Environmentally friendly - These tools do not produce carbon emissions nor do they rely on fossil fuel therefore can be used indoors or outdoors.

+ Portable

+ Little setup time - Plug in the battery and go.

+ Cold weather - As long as the batteries are stored indoors prior to tool usage, these tools operate at their normal capacity despite cold temperatures.

+ Operator safety - No fume inhalation, no handling gas or oils, lighter weight and no cords.

+ Cost - Over lifecycle, battery-powered tools are the lowest-cost tool.

- CONS -

- Need to keep fully charged backup batteries and/or chargers on hand

- Batteries must be stored out of the cold

- Torque and power is dependent on the type of battery used. Investing in high-quality brands such as Milwaukee will give you higher-power capabilities.

It is ultimately the operator’s decision to weigh the pros and cons of hydraulic, gas and battery-powered tools to determine which tool is best suited for their railroad maintenance job. If you need help deciding which tool is best fit for your need, please give our customer service department a call at (630) 766-5708 where Bob, Ken or Lili will be happy to help direct you.

Previous article A Railroad Industry Veteran With IRS
Next article Norton QC & NEW Abrasive Bond Technology Testing
Experienced customer service team
In-field product support
Safety is our priority
Family owned company

Follow us on Instagram