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  1.  
    Six years ago we installed some oak sleepers in soldier format for a client. We import the oak 400 sleepers at a time and use it for many varied external applications. We concreted the sleepers into the ground and told the client there was no great need for a treatment and that they would weather naturally and last a long time.
    The client decided to treat the sleepers in a black treatment(variety not known at this time), and now is complaining that some have rotted.
    ALL the other applications we used the same sleepers for are absolutely fine.

    Can anyone shed any light on why this rot may have occurred in a relatively short period. Could it be something in the soil which surrounds their feet?
    Could it be moisture that has been trapped in by a non breathable treatment?
    Any suggestions would be welcomed as we have used green oak for years without a problem

    Thanks in advance
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2014
     
    Perhaps the sleepers had a large percentage of sapwood. This rots quite quickly and the rotting may have allowed water to enter down the sides of the sleepers where it's been retained in the concrete shell surrounding it.
    By contrast I removed an Oak gatepost a few months ago. It was just plunged about 3' into the ground and had been there at least 50+ years and it was still reasonably sound.
    Question has to be do you really need to use concrete?
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2014
     
    A most unlikely title!

    I would venture to suggest that the black is holding water inside the oak and stopping it drying out, lime washing them would have done more good!
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2014
     
    Where are they rotting? High up above ground level or at/below ground level? Perhaps the concrete they are in forms a nice bucket shape to collect water?
    • CommentAuthordickster
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2014
     
    Are they old railway sleepers or modern "sleepers" which have not been soaked in tar?
  2.  
    Thanks all
    I agree with the comments suggesting that the concrete housing/ foundation can act to hold water, and over the years have seen evidence of this many times in lesser timbers(softwood).
    The thing most puzzling is that we ordered green western european oak 400 sleepers at a time and used the rest of the batch for very similar applications, none of which has been affected in this way
    Can only assume it is site specific.....but whats the cause???
    Could it be something fungal in the soil???
    Thanks for your comments again
  3.  
    The sleepers sem to be rotting all the way up....but is worse nearer ground level
    The highest point of the wall is only 500mm though
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeSep 19th 2014
     
    Posted By: northumbrian.
    The thing most puzzling is that we ordered green western european oak 400 sleepers at a time and used the rest of the batch for very similar applications, none of which has been affected in this way
    Can only assume it is site specific.....but whats the cause???
    Could it be something fungal in the soil???

    My money is still on the fact that as sleeper timber it is unlikely to be graded and certain logs may well contain a disproportionate amount of sapwood and it's this sap on some logs that is rotting.
    • CommentAuthorTimber
    • CommentTimeSep 19th 2014
     
    I would tend to agree with owlman in the absence of any other information.

    Pictures would help a lot!
    • CommentAuthorBeau
    • CommentTimeSep 19th 2014
     
    What owlman has said.

    The sap on oak rots out in no time.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeSep 19th 2014
     
    Posted By: TimberPictures would help a lot!

    I agree! Pictures would answer most of my questions.

    I have a lot of respect for owlman, Timber & Beau but I do think it's odd that only the sleepers on this site have the problem. So how much concrete footing is there? Which part of the sleeper is covered in black stuff? And I suppose what is the black stuff? Is there anything on top of the sleepers that may be keeping them especially wet?
  4.  
    Thanks very much for the help so far..
    On your advice i have added some images of the problem timber.
    There is evidence of a fungal growth at the base and in the surrounding soil, but don't know what to make of this???
    any comments or suggestions truly appreciated
    Thanks
    i can not get photo below 700kB.. sorry
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeOct 8th 2014
     
    Edit it for web page or link it to another website for us.
  5.  
    Or for a really quick and dirty simple solution: send an E Mail to yourself, attach your picture and (in Outlook anyway) you get to choose to send attachments as originals or small or med or large - large is fine - go to sent items and your photo is attached at the right size, drop it on the desktop and attach it in the GBF from there.
    • CommentAuthorcjard
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2014
     
    Might not even have to send the mail. On my system I right click the images, choose SEND TO..MAIL RECIPIENT, choose large, new mail window appears and I just drag the attachments back out of it, newly resized

    Your mail client may not support this drag out op. Some do. Some don't

    PicResize.com if it doesn't
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