Grade: Grade 1 softwood railway sleepers are the second best grade of pine railway sleepers, after relay grade, and are generally good quality old weathered timbers, with reasonable sides, and occasional cracks.
Colour: Various shades of light, medium and dark brown with some silver grey if bleached by sun. Spots of tar on surface sometimes. See photos above.
Weight: Easier to lift than the used hardwood railway sleepers. Approx 45 - 55 kilos. Always bear this in mind when you are ordering a particular size 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 least two willing people, with the possibility of incentives to sweeten the lifting process.
Treatment: Creosote treated. Handle with gloves. Avoid using them around children's play areas, schools, public areas or places where people may sit on them or regularly come into skin contact with them. Probably best to chose a different type of railway sleeper if you want to grow vegetables, through possible risk of contamination. British pine used railway sleepers will commonly weep tar in the summer, although it is hard to predict which ones will or won't. For further details about creosote see CREOSOTE PAGE.
Description: These reclaimed softwood British railway sleepers are probably between 30 - 60 years old, depending on which section of the railway they were taken up from. They are generally squarer, straighter, and lighter than hardwood railway sleepers, and so good for stacking and slotting into RSJ's. See pictures above. Having spent 30 - 60 years on a railway track, they may have the rustic signs of cracks, loose bits, or occasional areas of crumbly softness or decay.
Cutting: Fairly easy. You can use a circular saw / chainsaw / or even handsaw to cut these railway sleepers. There is quite a smell from the creosote as you cut it, so avoid getting sawdust on your clothes or skin. You'll reek of it for days. Use gloves. 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 probably screw through these railway sleepers without a pilot hole, so long as the drill is reasonably powerful, so no need to pre-drill.
Sizes: IMPORTANT. All sizes below are approximate. That means that although a railway sleeper is described as 2600mm in length,depth or width it may in fact be several centimetres or inches longer or shorter. This is due to the fact that these railway sleepers were cut decades ago, in circumstances when it wasn't crucial to be centimetre perfect or accurate in dimension. 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 them to your precise specifications yourself, or think of using a different type of railway sleeper
Almost all of the British railway system was originally constructed with these softwood creosote treated railway sleepers, and so for decades they were the only railway sleepers that were available and used by gardeners, farmers and builders. They gained a reputation as excellent for stacking or laying side by side, slotting into RSJ's, and generally were frequently seen on farms, builders yards, golf courses and allotments. However, in recent more health conscious years, the fact that they also leaked tar and creosote in the summer or when they get hot, made them increasingly unsuitable for domestic gardens. Their creosote treatment led to recent legislation banning their use around children, or places where there might be frequent skin contact or possible food conamination, or any indoor use. On top of that, people began to dislike the whiffy creosote smell at times, and found it a nightmare when the sticky tar got on their clothes.
Having said all that, hundreds of thousands of these widely available railway sleepers are bought and used each year, especially by farmers, builders yards, and those who insist that it's all scaremongering nonsense or control by a nanny state. "I've used them for years on my allotment, and it's never done me any harm!". They are also popular due to sometimes sadly nationalistic reasons. "I'm not buying a German or French sleeper". As if the plants were bothered!
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 300mm in width, or 125mm 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!