Plastic Sleeper Test

I was talking to one of our members at the Southam Show about using plastic sleepers, and I said that we had been using them now for nearly five years without any problems, he then said “do they break in frosty weather conditions” I replied that we hadn’t had that problem but said I would check it out in the near future.

So after keeping a 100x60mm sleeper in our domestic freezer for about five weeks I finally got round to testing its strength, it had been drilled with a 6mm pilot hole before screwing in a standard 60mm coach screw, I then gave it several hard blows with a 4Ib lump hammer while it was flat on the floor and it remained intact, I then placed it on two pieces of wood and repeated the test, this time it did break longitudinally after 5-6 good heavy blows.

I think in my own mind I am still happy with the plastic sleepers after this test because it was so extreme, with our sleepers at 600mm centres and using 25lb rail they would never get that sort of treatment and of cause they are flat on the ballast not suspended between two pieces of wood.

I haven’t carried out the same test with a frozen wooden sleeper but I’m willing to bet it would break just the same, if any body has any other information please let me know and I will post the results on here for all to see.

David Coging
Ferry Meadows Railway