Q. I have a retaining wall along my driveway made of railroad ties. Id like to remove them because theyre rotting and unattractive, but theyre reinforced with rebar and concrete. How should I remove them?
A. Railroad ties are tricky when theyre reinforced. When theyre not, you can just break them out with a sledge hammer and strong back. Since they are reinforced, you might try using two steel splitting wedges.
Try to start an opening with each one by driving them between the ties with a sledge hammer. If you can make an opening, try taking a crow bar and lift them up individually. Sometimes the rebar is vertical and placed in a cavity that is drilled through the tie; if so, the wedge should be placed closer to the rebar to expose the bar.
If possible, use a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade to cut the rebar. You may be able to lift them one at a time to break the bond.
But dont forget you have dirt that the retaining wall terraces. Moving dirt is heavy and could become a safety factor when the ties are removed. Remember to wear safety glasses and gloves. Also, ties may contain creosote and can irritate skin.
Gary Sanderson is a carpenter and general contractor who owns Sanderson Construction & Remodeling in Kansas City. Send questions to email@example.com or Handyman, House + Home, FYI, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.