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I want to use railroad ties as a retainer wall. Advice needed

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  #1  
Old 09-29-03, 12:02 PM
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I want to use railroad ties as a retainer wall. Advice needed

Hello, my house is aprox. 3 feet below my neighbors. On one side, there is a three foot vertical climb to my neighbors yard, and that is just a wall of dirt, which is erroding with the rain. I don't have the cash for a full on brick wall, so I want to go the cheaper route, the railroad tie route.

Just to let you know, that I am in SO CAL, and it doesn't rain a lot here. The wall isn't crumbling fast, in fact it survived all last winter, so I think that the railroad ties will work.

What is everyones experience on this?? Should I cement them into the ground? Should I bolt them to each other?

this will go along the whole left side of my house, and along the back, forming a long L kind of shape.
 
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  #2  
Old 09-29-03, 10:31 PM
awesomedell's Avatar
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I'd use rebar to anchor things together.
 
  #3  
Old 09-30-03, 03:14 AM
mudder
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if you mean used railway ties treated with creosote no not a good idea as they are toxic and will ruin the lawn.
If you mean the pressure treated mini ties they work and look great. I did it at my house and we get a lot of snow and run off and they've held up perfectly.
Place the first row of ties the length of the driveway, place the second row staggering the joints, and nailing each tie down from top (no toenailing). To anchor the entire wall dig a post hole a couple of feet away from wall and dig a trench from the post hole to the wall. Make a 'T' with two pieces to tie and bury the 'T' sideways and nail the wall to the leg of the 'T' backfill the holes and it achors itself. Mine has held up for 5 years so far five bad winters and 3 very wet spring and falls and an inclined drive.
 
  #4  
Old 09-30-03, 04:47 AM
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I agree with mudder, don't use the ties treated with creosote. In addition to the toxic issue, they smell bad in really hot weather. One of the guys in my office took out a bunch at his house for just that reason several years ago.

My experience with the treated timbers with the rounded sides is that they don't last very long; a retaining wall at my parents house with these are starting to show some rot after just 9 years. If your area is relatively dry, that will help slow the rotting. If you really want to be safe, look for a treated timber with .40 or .60 lbs per c.f. retention; I've always used .60.

Bruce
 
  #5  
Old 09-30-03, 08:24 AM
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thanks for those tips.

What is pressure treated mini ties, and how much do they cost?

I need a good low cost alternative before the rainy season comes
 
  #6  
Old 09-30-03, 09:54 AM
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I think the mini ties mudder is talking about are called landscape timbers around here. I'm going by memory now, but they are about 3-1/2" thick and about 5-1/2" wide and the two edges are rounded. As far as cost, you can just call a local lumber yard or Menards/Home Depot for a price.

Bruce
 
  #7  
Old 10-15-03, 06:37 AM
Douglas M
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I've also used pressure treated landscape timbers, basically a 4x6x8'. About 10 years ago I think they were in the neighborhood of $8.00 each. I also tied rows together with spikes and pre-drilled holes from the top. I tied the wall into the hill with rebar going from the wall into cement holes. One other thing to consider is some kind of French drain at the bottom of the backside of the wall to help with drainage, though maybe in So. CA this isn't a big issue.
 
  #8  
Old 10-15-03, 08:23 AM
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I have talked to a lot of friends on this, many who have done it, and I have decided to actually go the railroad tie route. I am going to begin one week from fri. I think it will look alright...considering how the back yard looks now. I need the lowest cost alternative at this point, and this looks good. I'll post pics of my progress when I start
 
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