Effect of Distance Above Ground during Air Seasoning on Flexural Properties of Blackgum and Red Oak Ties


  • Leon Rogers Oregon State University
  • Jed Cappellazzi Oregon State University
  • Jeffrey J. Morrell University of the Sunshine Coast


Railway ties, air-seasoning, decay, red oak, blackgum, Modulus of Rupture, Modulus of elasticity


Stacks of red oak (Quercus rubra) and black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) railroad ties were seasoned 150, 200, or 300 mm above the ground to investigate the effect of height on fungal colonization and timber properties. Decay fungi became increasingly abundant as seasoning time increased. Decay fungi were more abundant on black gum than red oak ties, but fungal isolation frequency did not differ with variation in seasoning sill height. Similarly, neither MOR nor MOE differed with seasoning height. The results indicate that decreasing the tie seasoning height by 150 mm had no significant effect on either fungal colonization or timber properties.



American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) (2019) 2019 manual for railway engineering. American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of-Way Association, Landover, MD. Section 30-3-20.

American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) (2017) Standard M1, Standard for the purchase of treated wood products. Pages 323-326 in AWPA book of standards. AWPA, Birmingham, AL.

ASTM (2017a) Standard test methods for small clear specimens of timber. D143-14. Pages 20-50 in Annual book of standards, Vol. 4.10. ASTM, West Conshohocken, PA.

ASTM (2017b) Practice for establishing clear wood strength values. D2555-17A. Pages 269-286 in Annual book of standards Vol. 4.10. ASTM, West Conshohocken, PA.

ASTM (2017c) Standard test methods for mechanical properties of lumber and wood-base structural material. D4761. Pages 436-446 in Annual book of standards, Vol. 4.10. ASTM, West Conshohocken, PA.

Babiak M, Gaff M, Sikora A, Hysek ˇS (2018) Modulus of elasticity in three- and four-point bending of wood. Compos Struct 204:454-465.

Biondini ME, Mielke PW, Redente EF (1991) Permutation techniques based on Euclidean analysis spaces: A new and powerful statistical method for ecological research. Pages 221-240 in E Feoli and L Orloci, eds. Computer assisted vegetation analysis, 11.

Carey JK, Hull AV (1989) A selective medium for the isolation of wood-rotting basidiomycetes. Int Biodeterior 25:373-376.

Conners TE (2008) Producing and inspecting railroad crossties. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, FOR-108, Frankfurt, KY. 16 pp.

Davis PM, Gupta R, Sinha A (2012) Revisiting the neutral axis in wood beams. Holzforschung 66:497-503.

Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) (2010) Wood handbook: Wood as an engineering material. U.S. Forest Products Laboratory General Technical Report GTR-192, Madison, WI.

Gerhards CC (1977) Effect of duration and rate of loading on strength of wood and wood-based materials. U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI.

Hepting G (1971) Diseases of forest and shade trees of the United States. USDA Agriculture Handbook 386. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, D.C.

Humphrey CJ, Richards CA (1939) Railroad tie decay: Comprising the decay of ties in storage. Defects in cross ties, caused by Fungi. Pages 9-18, 27-35 in Thirty-fifth Annual Meeting of the American Wood-Preservers’ Association, vol. 35.

Kirker GT, Bishell AB, Hickey WB (2017) AWPA biodeterioration hazard map revisited. Pages 90-99 in Proceedings, One Hundred Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the American Wood Protection Association, vol. 113.

Mathewson JS (1930) The air seasoning of wood. U.S.D.A. Technical Bulletin 174, Washington, D.C.

Mathewson JS, Morton CS, Bescher RH (1949) Air seasoning of red oak crossties. Pages 216-230 in Proceedings 44th Annual Meeting of the American Wood-Preservers’ Association, vol. 45.

McCune B, Grace JB, Urban DL (2002) Analysis of ecological communities. 2nd printing. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, OR.

Neyman J, Pearson ES, Yule GU (1933) The testing of statistical hypotheses in relation to probabilities a priori. Pages 492-510 in Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, vol. 29.

Parchami A, Taheri SM, Mashinchi M (2008) Fuzzy p-value in testing fuzzy hypotheses with crisp data. Stat Hefte 51: 209-226.

Reinach S, Gertler J (2001) An examination of railroad yard worker safety. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, DOT/FRA/ORD-01-20. Washington, D.C.

Rogers L (2019) The effect of sill height on decay in air seasoning crossties. MSc thesis, Department of Wood Science & Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Scheffer TC, Morrell JJ (1998) Natural durability of wood: A worldwide checklist of species decay resistance. Research Contribution 22, Forest Research Laboratory, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. 40 pp.

Schwarze FWMR, Engels J, Mattheck C, Linnard W (2013) Fungal strategies of wood decay in trees. Berlin, Germany: Springer Verlag.

Smith SM, Graham RD, Morrell JJ (1987) Influence of air seasoning on fungal colonization and strength properties of Douglas-fir pole sections. For Prod J 37(9):45-48.

Smith SM, Morrell JJ, Sexton CM (1992) Effect of fungal colony size on residual strength of Douglas-fir sapwood and heartwood. For Prod J 42(4):19-24.

Taylor AM, Jordan B, Lloyd JD (2013) Pre-treatment decay and strength loss of railroad ties, and their prevention. International Research Group on Wood Protection Document No. IRG/WP 13-30610, Stockholm, Sweden.

Taylor A, Irby N, Lloyd J, Watt J, Amburgey TL (2015) Best practices for handling crossties. UT Extension Bulletin PB 1833, Institute of Agriculture, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. 16 pp.

Webb GV, Webb DA, Zarembski AM (2016) The tie guide: Handbook for commercial timbers used by the crosstie industry. Railway Tie Association, Fayetteville, GA.

Webster PD (1992) The wood crosstie: A 150-year success story. Railway Tie Association, Gulf Shores, AL.

Wilcox WW (1978) Review of literature on the effects of early stages of decay on wood strength. Wood Fiber 9(4): 252-257.

Winandy JE, Morrell JJ (1993) Relationship between incipient decay, strength, and chemical composition of Douglas-fir heartwood. Wood Fiber Sci 25(3):278-288.

Zabel RA, Morrell JJ (2020) Wood microbiology: Decay and its prevention. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.





Research Contributions