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Using a hacksaw cutting big(gish) stuff. Or how to saw a railway line.

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pe2dave

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My thanks to @AES for this piece. I too was shown how to use a hacksaw, but had never tackled anything big(gish).
Last week I picked up a 12" piece of railway line and decided it was over weighty, hence wanted to cut it in half.
After advice I rejected using my chop saw (for wood), I don't have a 9" angle grinder, even my 4.5" had me running
scared (sparks and wood shavings), hence I resorted to a 12" hacksaw.
Lessons: As my father said, let the saw do the work. As @AES said, teeth pointing to the front (contra my metalwork
teachers advice). I marked the rail all the way round (ideally in white pencil). File (triangular file) a mark to get started straight.
Watched the line as I cut, trying to keep the blade parallel to the line. Worked in 30 minute sessions, after which I started
to get impatient rather than tired. Don't hold the saw in a grip of death (do as I say, not as I kept doing).
Use a fair to middling stiff saw frame. Mines a 50 yo Eclipse. Use least number of TPI you can get hold of. I started with
a 24 tpi blade (waiting for Amazon to deliver 18) and managed 12mm per 30mins.
I'll add photographs when I have some.
P1002314.jpg
 
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Rorschach

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I'd have phoned a local blacksmith shop and got them to stick it on their bandsaw, couldn't be hacksawing something that big. Well I never do because I own a bandsaw but if I didn't I would find someone who did.
 

Alpha-Dave

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I was looking at powered hacksaws a few weeks ago on the usual second hand sites (ebay, Gumtree, Facebook) and saw one that was surprisingly cheap for its size. In the description it described it as a saw for cutting railway track in-place. It was powered by an attached engine, diesel I think. So good work doing what that machine was designed to do!
 

AES

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My thanks to @AES for this piece. I too was shown how to use a hacksaw, but had never tackled anything big(gish).
Last week I picked up a 12" piece of railway line and decided it was over weighty, hence wanted to cut it in half.
After advice I rejected using my chop saw (for wood), I don't have a 9" angle grinder, even my 4.5" had me running
scared (sparks and wood shavings), hence I resorted to a 12" hacksaw.
Lessons: As my father said, let the saw do the work. As @AES said, teeth pointing to the front (contra my metalwork
teachers advice). I marked the rail all the way round (ideally in white pencil). File (triangular file) a mark to get started straight.
Watched the line as I cut, trying to keep the blade parallel to the line. Worked in 30 minute sessions, after which I started
to get impatient rather than tired. Don't hold the saw in a grip of death (do as I say, not as I kept doing).
Use a fair to middling stiff saw frame. Mines a 50 yo Eclipse. Use least number of TPI you can get hold of. I started with
a 24 tpi blade (waiting for Amazon to deliver 18) and managed 12mm per 30mins.
I'll add photographs when I have some.
Well done pe2dave! Not sure I would have wanted to attack a bit of railway line with a hacksaw, and sorry you had to work with "only" a 24 tpi (that's the trouble with most shops - even those for the professionals - as I said in my diatribe, I find it very difficult to get 18 tpi off the shelf, and 14's seem to have disappeared altogether.

I remember reading on here sometime earlier about a metalwork teacher saying that the teeth should always point backwards. Was that you/your teacher? Anyway, I hesitate to say "complete nonsense" (your teacher must have got that idea from somewhere) but I've never tried that, and it goes completely against all I was taught, plus every book or article I've ever seen on the subject.

Anyway, I assume you got there in the end, so as said, well done mate. I'll refrain from the usual "more power to your elbow" - you probably won't appreciate that comment right now. :cool:
 

pe2dave

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Well done pe2dave! Not sure I would have wanted to attack a bit of railway line with a hacksaw, and sorry you had to work with "only" a 24 tpi (that's the trouble with most shops - even those for the professionals - as I said in my diatribe, I find it very difficult to get 18 tpi off the shelf, and 14's seem to have disappeared altogether.

I remember reading on here sometime earlier about a metalwork teacher saying that the teeth should always point backwards. Was that you/your teacher? Anyway, I hesitate to say "complete nonsense" (your teacher must have got that idea from somewhere) but I've never tried that, and it goes completely against all I was taught, plus every book or article I've ever seen on the subject.

Anyway, I assume you got there in the end, so as said, well done mate. I'll refrain from the usual "more power to your elbow" - you probably won't appreciate that comment right now. :cool:
Have attached photo to top post. through the bulk (top 2").
14tpi on order, enjoying 'learning how to...' ;-)
So far, seems to be straight?
Trial and error, found that thumb weight on front 'hook' of saw on forward stroke, weight off drawing it back - seems to 'bite' more?
(Or gives that impression).
Neck shades down to 1/2" - when I get there, I'm home and dry ;-)
 

Rorschach

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Hope you don't mean putting your hand/thumb within the "loop" of the saw frame. You can seriously injure yourself if the blade snaps, don't ask me how I know.
 

Trainee neophyte

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I can't get hacksaw blades that aren't made of cheese, and my angle grinder motor died a smoky death the other day, so I have started using my Lidl reciprocating saw with with a metal cutting blade. It works surprisingly well. Just as neat as a hacksaw.

Just in case you have something similar to hand...
 

pe2dave

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I can't get hacksaw blades that aren't made of cheese, and my angle grinder motor died a smoky death the other day, so I have started using my Lidl reciprocating saw with with a metal cutting blade. It works surprisingly well. Just as neat as a hacksaw.

Just in case you have something similar to hand...
Using Eclipse blades (Amazon), seem OK.
Yes, I've a (monster) reciprocating saw... Wickes own brand. I can't see the blades being 'well made' though.
Thanks for the suggestion, not thought of it (seriously, for such a big job).
 

gmercer_48083

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I can only imagine how difficult it is to cut the rail with a hack saw. I would only consider using a 12" gas powered cut off saw using metal cutting blades. Readily available for rent here in the USA.
 

gmercer_48083

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Sterling makes high quality blades for hack saws and reciprocating saws (sawzall and jig saws) and may be available in UK. But the reciprocating blade are thicker than hack saw blades, and would jam in the hacksaw kerf you have cut already. It makes me tired just thinking about what you have already accomplished.
 

pe2dave

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Sterling makes high quality blades for hack saws and reciprocating saws (sawzall and jig saws) and may be available in UK. But the reciprocating blade are thicker than hack saw blades, and would jam in the hacksaw kerf you have cut already. It makes me tired just thinking about what you have already accomplished.
Drat! Too late, I'm an inch into it by now.
@Trainee neophyte - You should have shouted sooner ;-)
(I am wondering if the 18tpi blades I have on order may suffer from the same issue)
 

gmercer_48083

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You may be able to widen the kerf using a 4" grinder with metal cut off wheels to that depth... to keep reciprocating blades from jamming.

NOTE: Use oil to keep the saw blades cool for longer life.
 

AES

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Above you've referred to 18 tpi and then 14 tpi blades. IME 18 tpi's are "orderable" but 14s are not. Have you found a source for 14s or was it just a typo?

BTW, does anyone know what railway line is made of (serious Q)! I'd imagine a somewhat harder than usual "mild steel", in which case I think we all take our hats off to pe2dave don't we fellas? (I'll have a go at most things with a hacksaw - often no other choice - but "Your'e a better man than I am Gunda Din")!
 

AES

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I can't get hacksaw blades that aren't made of cheese, and my angle grinder motor died a smoky death the other day, so I have started using my Lidl reciprocating saw with with a metal cutting blade. It works surprisingly well. Just as neat as a hacksaw.

Just in case you have something similar to hand...

Instead of cheese buy Starrett, Eclipse, or Bahco/Sandvik - if not off the shelf in Greece, then mail/internet.

On what material/s and size/s do you use Lidl recip saw?
 

pe2dave

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Above you've referred to 18 tpi and then 14 tpi blades. IME 18 tpi's are "orderable" but 14s are not.
14tpi was preferred, for bigger jobs (see link in Original post). Likely a typo. I have 18tpi on order.
See this piece (provided by another reader for rly line steel.

Now through the top 'bulk' of the rail.
 

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