Replace Railroad Ties

From Popular Mechanics

QUESTION: I built a retaining wall of used railroad ties. In a few areas the rot is creating holes. Is there any way I can remedy this situation besides rebuilding the entire wall?

ANSWER: There really isn’t much you can do about repairing the rotting sections in your retaining wall. There are epoxy fillers that are used to rehabilitate rotting trim in houses but they’re not intended for retaining walls. If you only have a few sections that are rotted, and if the structural bracing for the wall (tie backs and dead men) has not deteriorated, then reconstructing the entire wall should not be necessary. You can remove the extensively rotted ties and replace them.

Rotten used railroad ties are not unusual. This is because the species of wood that are used for railroad ties are difficult to impregnate with creosote. Consequently, there is quite a lot of untreated wood and moisture in the interior of the ties. When the ties dry, they check and split, exposing the interior portion to some decay.

Furthermore, creosote consists of hundreds of components, some of which are soluble in water. Over time, the creosote retained in the tie is depleted as these components leach out. Eventually decay occurs in the ties.


Try Automotive Wax on Aluminum Siding

Q: The outside of my home is covered with wood-grain aluminum siding. In a few areas, the bottom edges of the siding have developed a white chalklike substance. What is it? Can I prevent it from spreading and how do I remove it?

A: The chalky substance is a layer of dead paint pigments along the bottom edges of the siding. It is not aluminum corrosion. Over time, the siding’s paint weathers, developing a dead pigment layer on the surface. Particles of dead paint are washed off by rain and accumulate along the siding’s bottom.

Idle Transformer Still Draws Electricity

Q: I have a question on rechargeable tools and small appliances around the home. Most rechargeable items plug into a charger-transformer that is plugged into a wall outlet. If the transformer is plugged in, but the appliance not connected to the charger cord, does the transformer still use electricity? Is there any fire hazard with these transformers?

A: The transformer does use electricity, but at a lesser amount than it would draw if the appliance was plugged into the transformer while being recharged. Providing that the transformer is used properly, and has a UL listing attached to it (or any other third party testing agency’s label) then there is generally no fire hazard associated with the device.