Railway sleepers types mainly include 4 kinds: wooden sleepers, concrete sleepers, steel railway sleepers and plastic composite railroad sleepers.
Wooden sleepers are the original railway sleepers with the characteristics of elasticity, light weight and good insulation. It is easy to lay, maintain and transport the wooden sleepers. It also saves a lot of trouble to fasten other railroad fasteners into the wooden sleepers. Moreover, the coefficient of friction between the wooden sleepers and the ballast is larger. Wooden sleepers can be divided into hardwood sleeper and softwood sleeper. And the most common wood timbers for making into sleepers are: oak, jarrah, karri and pine, etc.
Nowadays, wooden sleepers are slowly replaced by concrete sleepers in railway track usage, mainly because the insect infestation and large wood consumption and that the wood sleepers have shorter service life compared with concrete sleepers because of corrosion. However, wooden sleepers do not entirely disaffiliate from people’s usage. As a matter of fact, they have more and more interesting and creative applications apart from being used in fastening railway.
Wooden Sleepers’ Creative Usages
Nowadays, more and more people use either new or used wooden sleepers for landscaping projects, and in their garden (take boundaries, edgings and planters, raised beds and borders, decks, terraces and walkways for example) to create indoor furniture, such as: chunky mantelpiece, rock-solid settee or bed base and dining tables. Here are some cool and interesting usages of wooden sleepers in garden:
- Raised beds filled with soil and plants.
- A raised garden pond, building a wooden container to take a pond liner
- An entire garden paved with wooden sleepers instead of flagstones, gravel or paving.
- Lawn edging,
- To make walls to divide your garden into different ‘rooms’
- As a pillar to stand a bird feeder or bird bath on, or to stand an outdoor sculpture on.
- Wood carving – if you’re ambitious and skilled you could carve a totem pole.
- Garden benches, demarked seating areas, seats and tables.
- Pile them up to create a giant wooden jenga-like garden sculpture, or your own miniature Stonehenge, a maze
- Line a pit with them to make a semi-subterranean seating area
- A composting area
- A children’s sandpit
- To mask ugly stuff like compost heaps and garden tools
- As super-strong fencing, or as an alternative to a low brick front garden wall
- As bollards to protect your verge
- To build terraces, making a steep garden useable
- The used ones are so attractive, especially when really worn, that you could dig a hole, stick one in and set it into the ground with sand and cement for an instant garden sculpture, all on its own. Stand a beautiful rock on top and it’ll look even better. Create a random collection or straight line of three or five sleepers with different rocks on top for an extra special effect.
Apart from the usages in garden above, wooden sleepers are predestined in particular for use in industrial, dock and shunting areas, because of their favorable properties with respect to vibration and noise nuisance. Besides, wooden sleepers are widely used on mountain railways because of their easy handling, smaller amounts of space and ballast required, individual track gauges and inclinations.
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