Elastomeric Rail Products: Rail Boots, Tie Pads, and Elastomeric Grout

Elastomeric rail products include rail boots, tie pads, and other rubber extruded products used by the railroad industry. These products are made from a variety of thermoplastic and elastomeric materials that are flexible, lightweight and have excellent shear and tensile strength. In railway applications, these materials help insulate components from electrical currents and reduce track system wear and tear caused by heavy loads and exposure to harsh environmental conditions.

All forms of rail transport require rail boots and tie pads to keep tracks in good operating condition and prevent damage from excessive heat and vibration. A few examples of transport where these products are used include:

  • Subway Cars
  • Commuter Rails
  • Light Rails
  • Streetcars
  • And other forms of train transport

Rail boots are used in embedded railway tracks to absorb vibration, reduce noise and provide electrical isolation between the rail and concrete roadway. Rail boots’ primary benefit is their high electrical resistivity. The special thermoplastic elastomer provides insulation against stray current that can transfer from electric rail cars to tracks and leach into surrounding communications and utility wires, pipes, etc. Stray current can cause electrolytic corrosion on rail tracks, among other problems. Because rail boots tightly surround the entire embedded portion of the rail, our rail boots help dampen the noise caused by passing railcars. Though this is merely a side effect of the rail boots’ design, it can be of substantial benefit in areas where noise must be kept to a minimum. In addition to muffling sound, the thermoplastic material in Northwest Rubber Extruders’ rail boots also helps reduce vibration. Over time, vibration caused by passing railcars can degrade the rail bed and the tracks themselves, ultimately leading to significant—and costly—damage. Our rail boots minimize vibration and, as a result, help reduce the need for maintenance and track repair.

Crossing tie pads are placed between railroad ties and concrete to absorb weight and vibration that degrades concrete over time. Any place where concrete railroad ties are in direct contact with concrete support panels, such as road crossings, the weight and vibration of railcars passing on the track above will quickly degrade the concrete components. Railroad crossing tie pads act as a barrier between the two concrete surfaces, protecting panels from repeated impact on the ties and vice versa, to extend the life of both components and reduce replacement costs. Our crossing tie pads are made from thermoplastic materials designed to meet the demanding needs of the railroad industry and designed to resist movement from their intended positions. They distribute the forces caused by irregularities protruding from the edges of ties and can compensate for uneven ties.

Under tie pads are installed at rail transition zones and other areas where tracks are more susceptible to excessive stress. Our under tie pads are made from specially formulated elastomeric material that reduces the modulus of railroad tracks over relatively stiff structures to a magnitude approximating the modulus of track over the terrain surrounding the structure. In other words, our under tie rail pads help the concrete railroad ties used on bridges and other specialized track sections behave more like standard wooden ties. Under tie pads reduce vibration and impacts that can dislodge cargo and damage railcars, ties, and tracks. They help reduce ballast breakdown and associated maintenance costs. And, because they’re molded directly into the concrete ties themselves, they also help reduce installation time and cost.

Elastomeric grout has electrical resistant properties and helps dampen vibration and reduce noise generated by railway systems. LRT is a two-component elastomeric rail grout formulated with fast setting, return to service, Polyurethane. The product is specifically designed for use in rail applications to fill the space between transportation rail structures and the adjacent concrete. LRT elastomeric grout provides electrical isolation for electrically-powered light rail and street car tracks. It also absorbs vibration to prevent cracking and damage, and reduces noise caused by rail traffic.

Northwest Rubber Extruders offers a full line of high quality, high performance railroad equipment and supplies. We offer rail boots and rail pads that are extruded from durable elastomeric and thermoplastic materials and easy to install.

  • Thermoplastics are high strength, lightweight and provide excellent wear resistance, impact resistant and chemical resistance. They perform well in rail applications because of their excellent flex fatigue, durability and resistance to creep and tearing.
  • Elastomeric materials are rubber compounds that resist tearing and breaking and have excellent heat and chemical resistance. The flexibility, durability and insulative properties of elastomers makes them perfect for vibration dampening, electrical insulation and noise reduction.

Our product line also includes elastomeric grout specially formulated for demanding railroad construction conditions. Check out projects we’ve completed in the past! Request a quote on the thermoplastic and elastomeric rail products you need, or contact us for more information.

NW Rubber Extruders