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Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by sancraft, Jan 29, 2005.
I have a free source for railroad ties. Could I use them to build a house?
See the thread about telephone poles. Railroad ties are treated much in the same way as they are, and the fumes, and bad effects might be a serious issue. Then again, as a kid I attened cub scouts in a building made of ties, and I'm not dead yet.... Of course that was just an hour or two a week, not actually living in it.
The fumes they would give off isn't safe for a house. The free ones may have much of the creosote leached out. For a temporary home I would line the inside with visqueen plastic film. Leaving no tie whatsoever uncovered. Over this You could put whatever you can find at the lowest cost. I wouldn't use a pressed sawdust type board due to the formaldahide fumes they give off. Dry wall is a good fire retardant. Ties could be laid flat on the ground for floor joists. Cover them with plastic also. Be sure to give it plenty of ventilation.
I wouldn't risk it. My Daddy worked around telephone poles and has had lymphoma and is dying of colon cancer...linked to creosote exposure. Read the links I posted in the other thread. We were around them when I was a kid, because Daddy brought home the discarded poles for use around the farm and we played on them, etc. I've had a three inch tumor removed from my neck, a softball size tumor on my right ovary and a thumbnail size tumor in my uterus - resulting in a hysterectomy. Two years ago I had two colon polyps removed that had cells in the first stage of cancer. My brother had 13 colon polyps removed when he was 30 and probably has colon cancer now, but refuses to go to a doctor (plus he's in Iraq at the moment).
It's just not worth the risk.
You probably want to know more about the railroad ties. Their age, what they were treated with as a preservative, are they used or new, etc. Usually you can smell the creosote if used, not much doubt. Stuff lasts forever.
If they were treated with creosote, don't think I would want anything to do with them in any fashion or have them anywhere near my property in any form. Just too many risks. Apparently they can and do contaminate both soil and groundwater. Have been linked to all sorts of medical conditions.
One of the reasons many railroads have gone to concrete ties. Lots of lawyers roaming the woods. You have to be wary of all of the perservative treatments including the normal pressure treated lumbers. They keep changing the materials but none of them are probably good for your health, especially if exposed to fairly good levels over a longer term. Never want to breathe any dust created, burn any of it or be exposed to smoke or ash from any form of burning of preserved woods.
Probably free for a reason, think in today's World I would tend to pass on any involvement with wooden railroads ties or telephone poles in any form. Might be a future issue for selling land or property. What potential hazardous materials have been used there, they focus on lead paint and a few others today but surely it will become broader in scope for the future. You want to be able to say NONE.
Way back when I almost bought 56 acres with a small house and barn within an easy commute of Boston for very little money. Would be worth a lot of money today. Reason I didn't pull the trigger was some defects in the Title and mounds on the property that they would not allow me to investigate / dig into. One trap when considering land is what has been disposed / dumped or contaminates it. Last thing anybody wants in a mini-Love Canal. They are out there, maybe a matter of degree.
sancraft one word NO!! Hey can you find a country Sawmill around close by that has Rough Cut Lumber? Usally you can get it cheaper but workable.
Dang I wish I was down there we could sure have fun :haha:
Thanks, I won't touch them with a 10 foot pole.
Was going thorough back issues of Mother Earth News. There is an article on this subject. Go to their website and it's in issue#8.
I love the look of RR ties and stone! I would happily use them for my exterior! send them my way.