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Fast Tracks • View topic - Building Your Own Spike Friendly Pliers -Newsletter 9

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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 7:05 pm 
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Location: Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Building Your Own Spike Friendly Pliers

By Tim Warris

They say that as one gets older your perspective on time begins to change. As a youngster weeks can seem like months, as an oldster months begin to feel like weeks! Well I guess I must be reaching that point in life because it only seemed like a few weeks ago that I wrote my last newsletter, but in reality it has been several months! I guess it is time to start keeping a personal schedule?

So how many times has this happened to you? You are all lined up ready to insert a spike into a tie when, ting!! The spike shoots out from your pliers and kills someone. I used to have about a 50% success rate with the spikes, having to scour the carpet with a magnet every few hours to pick up the ones that got away.

One day I finally had enough and decided to make a small modification to my pliers and solve this problem once and for all.

So I took a small triangle file and carefully filed a small groove into one jaw of the pliers.

Image

This groove is filed on an angle to match the way the pliers sit in my hand when being used.

Image

(All the pictures are of my left handedness, sorry.) I know that there are some commercial spiking pliers available with this type of modification, but the groove is cut parallel to the edge of the jaw, which makes them very cumbersome to use.

The pliers that you use will make a difference too. My favourite spiking pliers have driven several thousand spikes, and if I ever lost them I would have to take up a new hobby. I bought these at a surplus store several years ago. They are nothing special, just a cheap imported set of pliers, with smooth jaws (no serrations). They are small, so they fit comfortably in my hand, which is critical. They are also not hardened, which is common among cheap imported tools, and in this case, that is a plus, as it will be difficult to file a groove into the pliers if the jaws have been hardened.

Filing the groove into the jaw should be done carefully as you want to get the groove as close as possible to the outside edge of the jaws. If it is too far in, the pliers will cover up too much of the spike. Keeping the groove close to the edge will allow more of the spike to be exposed, making it easier to insert into the ties. I will admit, these pliers were my second attempt. The first ones I filed didn't work because I filed the groove to far away from the edge of the jaws.

Using the pliers with this groove completely solves the problem of turning spikes into projectiles, and greatly reduces the number of bent spikes as well. When placing a spike in the pliers you will hear a distinctive "click" as the spike snaps into the groove, telling you that the spike is in place and ready to go.

Image

Driving the spikes is a simple two-step process. Insert a spike into the pliers and partially pushing the spike into a tie just slightly away from the base of the rail. Then reposition the pliers and push the spike fully in place.

Image

Sometimes it may be necessary to turn the spike head a bit to ensure proper positioning. If the spike needs to be removed, a dental pick works great for getting under the head of the spike to pry it up.

To make it easy to pick up spikes from the bag, magnetize the jaws by rubbing them on a magnet a few times.

Image

So if you are tired of spikes flying around the layout room, only to be found when you are in bare feet, get some cheap pliers and build your own spike driving pliers. Lives depend on it.

- Tim

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Have a question or comment about this issue of the Fast Tracks newsletter? Then post a reply! I will be happy to respond to any posts. - Tim


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 Post subject: Re: Track Spiking Pliers
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 7:21 pm 
Tim:

It has a different geometry but Micro-Mark has a very good set I have used and have been pleased with. The description is:
The SPIKE INSERTION PLIER
Item Number: 82839
Our Price $16.95

Tom


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 Post subject: Spiking Pliers
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 12:40 pm 


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 2:03 pm 
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Site Admin

Joined: Fri May 07, 2004 11:22 pm
Posts: 311
Location: Port Dover, Ontario

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Cheers!

Tim Warris
Fast Tracks
http://www.fast-tracks.net
service@fast-tracks.net


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