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Do your railroad ties need a facelift?

Do your railroad ties need a facelift?

Damaged railroad ties after winter

As predictable as fresh bloomed flowers and longer, warmer days are to spring, so is trouble for railroad ties. From winter to spring, ties undergo freeze and thaw cycles. When frozen, ties show no mercy causing spikes to break, especially in rail curves. During the spring thaw cycle, ties become soft and spike holes loosen and elongate, losing their holding strength of the spikes.

Rather than replacing the entire tie, a tie plugging compound is necessary to strengthen the holding power of spikes to the tie plate and tie. Some traditional tie plugging compounds include polymeric and epoxy foam, wood plugs and granules.

-Problems with traditional methods-

  • Wood can rot, and still falls victim to the never-ending freeze/thaw cycles. Installing wood plugs is also the most labor intensive method.
  • Tie plugging granules do not penetrate the wood as deeply. They are not small enough to fill small cracks or other unseen voids beneath the surface of the ties that are causing the spike to loosen.How Spikefast ES-50 sets up in wood

Spikefast ES-50 is a two-part, non-foam, polyurethane resin designed to remediate holes and splits in wood ties by deeply penetrating cracks, voids and crevices. Spikefast sets up quickly, allowing spikes to be anchored just 10 minutes after application, and has a 20% greater pullout resistance than new hardwood. 

-Benefits of Spikefast ES-50-

  • Ready to be drilled or spiked just 10 minutes after application
  • 20% greater pullout resistance than new hardwood
  • Apply in heavy rain or humidity, and extreme temperatures of -40°F to 180°F
  • Free-flowing material deeply penetrates wood cracks and crevices, & prevents future tie rot
  • Displaces any standing water
  • Proven to outperform traditional methods in both pullout and lateral resistance


Applying Spikefast ES-50 with a gun dispenser and cartridge Jeremy Urlacher, Major Projects Manager of Railworks, has been working in the railroad industry for 22 years, and has used Spikefast on various projects throughout his career. Some projects include a 15-mile rail replacement in Northern Wisconsin, an 8-mile project in the Chicago area, a 6-mile rail replacement in Southern Minnesota among others. Urlacher is also currently using Spikefast on a maintenance project as well.

When asked about Urlacher’s experience with Spikefast he said,

“It's one of my preferred products to use for tie plugging. I like the rapid cure time and the hardness of Spikefast, and I like how well the spike fastens to it.”

Urlacher was asked if there was one project where Spikefast proved particularly helpful. Urlacher said,

“Honestly, all of the projects I have used SpikeFast for have helped greatly. When used with the applicator machine, it saves us several days on a project.”

Spikefast available in cartridges or 265 gallon totes

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