Grade: Grade 1 (medium to top grade) African tropical hardwood railway sleepers, known as Azobe or Ekki. Approx 50-60 years old. Heavy & long lasting untreated railway sleepers for a wide range of landscaping projects and general purposes. Generally fairly square and straight, with some having notches or indents on one side where the rails were attached to the railway sleepers. See pictures above.
Colour: Various shades of brown to dark grey. You can jet wash them if you want a lighter colour. Various shades of red and brown on the inside, when cut or planed.
Weight: Can be heavy to lift. A 2.6m x 240mm x 140mm (approx) size Azobe railway sleepers can weigh as much as 90 - 100 kilos. Bear this in mind when you are ordering your particular type of railway sleeper. How do I plan to carry the railway sleepers into position? (e.g. the back of a garden). You'll need at the very least several willing and strong people, and the serious possibility of bribery or cohersion.
Treatment: Untreated. These railway sleepers were originally used on the railways without any form of treatment, with an intended lifespan of up to 100 years. Very durable.
Description: When new these were probably seen as the ultimate railway sleepers. They were constructed from a very durable, tight-grained tropical hardwood with excellent longevity, and made from one of the hardest wood in the world. These reclaimed African Azobe (Ekki) railway sleepers are probably between 50-60 years old, depending on which section of railway line they came from in Europe. Some have been machine notched on one side to accept the attachment plate of the railway line. Having spent up to 60 years on a railway track, they may also have the rustic signs of cracks, loose bits, and 'character' with occasional areas of crumbly softness.
Cutting: Very hard. You'll need a circular saw / chainsaw / powered saw to cut these railway sleepers. Start off with a new or sharpened blade, and be prepared to re-sharpen. Occasionally optimistic people try by handsaw, but you'd have to be very determined or fit. As with any project, it makes sense to try and limit the amount of cuts you need to do. Try and plan a design that fits with the size of our railway sleepers!
Attaching / Fixing: Timberlok will not screw through these railway sleepers without a pilot hole, even if the drill is powerful, so it is essential to pre-drill. These railway sleepers are very tough !
Sizes: IMPORTANT. All sizes are approximate. That means that although a railway sleeper may be described as approximately 2600mm in length, or 250mm in depth, or 150mm in width it may in fact be several centimetres (or inches) longer or shorter. Click to see Ben's experience of Azobe railway sleepers in his wall and step project. As it happens, most landscaping projects have an element of flexibility or tolerance in them and can cope with this. If your project needs exact accuracy in length, width or depth, then you may need to cut the railway sleeper to your precise specifications yourself, or think of using a different size or type of railway sleeper.
The king of railway sleeper timbers! Even though they are 60 years old, and medium to high grade, these incredible reclaimed African tropical hardwood railway sleepers are still suitable for a welcome second life as outside landscaping, steps, raised beds, construction, decking, aquatics etc.. as well as internal furniture, lintels, woodturning etc.. Indeed, any project where you want untreated and durable railway sleepers without any creosote complications, and with the character of its railway history all apparent on one side. Having spent up to 60 years on a railway track, they will inevitably have the rustic signs of weathering, with cracks, loose bits, and 'character' with occasional areas of crumbly softness or decay. These long lasting timbers are sometimes even used underwater. Very serious weight, so plan for strong help ! There can be some variations in width and depth, so allow for this in your project. Click to see Ben's experience of Azobe railway sleepers in his wall and step project.
Important information about your used railway sleepers
Reclaimed railway sleepers have been practically used for many decades out in the open to support train tracks. Naturally, they have been weathered by the wind, rain, sun and snow, and also can be have residues of grime, dirt, or oil from the trains that have passed or stopped over them. This is simply the obvious consequence of using authentic and historical railway sleepers. Having spent 30 - 60 years on a railway track, they may also have the rustic signs of cracks, loose bits, and 'character' with occasional areas of crumbly softness or decay. Most landscapers install them in the garden, and simply allow the rain and snow to clean them up. Others may choose to jet wash them, especially if they want to sit on them. If you visit our projects pages, you will see thousands of landscaping projects that have used reclaimed railway sleepers, recently taken from the railways.
Historically, railway sleepers never had to be exact in length or width for their purpose on the railway track, and so the sawmills were fairly ‘give or take’ in the timbers they produced. Hence all sizes were approximate. That means that although a railway sleeper may be described as approximately 2600mm in length, or 240mm in width, or 140mm in depth it may in fact be several centimetres (or inches) longer or shorter, thicker or thinner. As it happens, most landscaping projects have an element of flexibility or tolerance in them and can cope with this. However if a specific project needs exact accuracy in length, width or depth then a landscaper may need to either cut the railway sleeper to their precise specifications, or think of using a different size or type of railway sleeper that is more accurate, e.g. the new pine ones.
Extra delivery information:
WHAT DELIVERY CHOICES DO I HAVE FOR THESE RAILWAY SLEEPERS ?
You have two options, depending on which delivery option you chose at the checkout stage online, or when you telephone the office.
1) THE CHEAPEST OPTION - STANDARD DELIVERY - CUSTOMER TO OFFLOAD RAILWAY SLEEPERS
This is the cheapest, most popular & efficient means of delivery that covers 100% of the UK.
* YOU can chose any delivery day you want in advance within 2- 4 working days, Mon - Fri, between 9am & 5pm.
* YOU can chose, for a surcharge, a next day delivery or a saturday delivery.
* YOU are responsible for offloading the railway sleepers from the vehicle. The vehicle does NOT have a crane offload. If you do not have a forklift, you MUST have at least 2 or more strong people to manally offload. These timbers are too heavy for one person. The driver is not able to help you offload or carry materials into your house or garden.
One exception! If the railway sleepers are 1.2m or less in length, the lorry driver CAN place the railway sleepers onto the pavement or road using the lorry tail lift and hand pallet truck.
The vehicle is normally a non-artic rigid lorry (carrying approx 10 - 15 tons)
2) THE MORE EXPENSIVE OPTION - PREMIUM DELIVERY - LORRY OFFLOADS RAILWAY SLEEPERS WITH CRANE OR FORKLIFT
This delivery charge is usually more expensive than the Pallet system, but is essential if you order some heavy railway sleepers, without any forklift, or sufficient people to help you offload.
* Your railway sleepers can be offloaded so long as there is sufficient space for the crane or forklift to operate without lifting over vehicles etc...
You must ensure in advance that a lorry has clear access to your property. It is crucial to tell us, when we contact you to arrange delivery, whether there are any delivery problems - e.g. a narrow road, cul de sac, cars parked in front of the property etc... An unsuccesful delivery will incur a further charge, often equal to the original.
IS THERE A MINIMUM ORDER ?
No. It makes no difference. The cost to you is the same whether we deliver 1 railway sleeper or 10 railway sleepers... e.g. if the delivery cost to somewhere in the UK for 20 railway sleepers was for example £99 + Vat, then the delivery for 1 railway sleeper would cost the same. That's because our hauliers charge us according to how many pallets the order takes up, so whether there is 1 railway sleeper on a pallet, or 20 railway sleepers on it, it makes no cost difference!
HOW DO WE WORK OUT THE DELIVERY COST ?
The delivery charge depends on what type of railway sleeper you chose and where you live. If you go online and place the number of railway sleepers you are interested in into the shopping basket, and imput your postcode, the website will calculate the delivery cost according to the number and length of the railway sleepers. If you play around with different lengths of railway sleepers, you will discover that 1.2m ones are the cheapest to have delivered, followed then by any sleeper up to 2.4m in length, and then finally the longer 2.6m, 3m and 3.6m ones. It's all about what space the railway sleepers take up on a lorry, and what the haulage companies then charge us. Lots of different variables ! If you order online, the delivery cost will be worked out automatically by a computer brain. If you order by telephone, the delivery cost will be calculated by a mere human being, who will chat with you whilst working it all out!
CLICK HERE for more answers to DELIVERY QUESTIONS
WHY ARE TROPICAL HARDWOOD RAILWAY SLEEPERS UNTREATED?
Dense, tight grained, hardwood railway sleepers, especially tropical timbers, are completely different to light, softwood railway sleepers which have to be treated with either creosote or pressure treatment to prevent them rotting and collapsing. Hardwood railway sleepers are much more durable and naturally longer lasting.
African Azobe railway sleepers, for example, are often used untreated by British Waterways under water, due to their natural preservative qualities. Jarra, Karri, Mora, and Greenheart are likewise placed untreated on the railway track by Network Rail, and are expected to last for up to 100 years.
So, untreated railway sleepers are popular with those wanting to keep clear of chemical treatments, or contamination, and wanting to use something that is naturally very long lasting.