120 N. 3rd. Street * Richmond, IN 47374
(765) 962-0526 * Fax (765) 966-5374

The Purpose of a Western-Cullen-Hayes Derail

"A Hayes Derail, is a device designed to limit the movement of free rolling, uncontrolled railroad cars. This is accomplished by guiding the flange of a car wheel up and over the railhead and deflecting it laterally, dropping the wheel clear of the rail on the field side (outside) of the rails. The wheels lodging in the tie cribbing and ballast halt movement of the car."

The preceding statement of purpose was written almost 100 years ago by the people who designed the Hayes derails that are so widely used throughout the railroad industry in North America. Hayes derails have saved hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property damage, simply by being there in track, doing their job. Our derails have prevented freight cars from fouling the main track, rolling into shop or factory doorways, and have protected roadway workers, car knockers and other personnel on every railroad in the continent.

An enviable record; but, there is more to be done. As the railroad infrastructure is being upgraded for the twenty-first century and rolling stock becomes heavier, it has become apparent at Western-Cullen-Hayes, that we need to redouble our efforts in the area of derail application and maintenance.

Our various sizes of derails are designed to fit a specific range of rail heights. In many instances, the rail at a particular location will be upgraded without a corresponding review of the resulting derail requirements. An improperly fitting derail is worse than no derail at all, because it gives a false sense of security that can lead to tragedy.

Derails placed on the inside or bottom rail of curves are also not effective in derailing rolling equipment. The wheels of the freight car bind against the rail opposite the derail and will not drop off as is desired.

Bi-directional or two-way derails are usually not the best choice, because their angle of deflection is almost twice that of a single directional derail. We have taken steps to address this issue with our new HBXS bi-directional derail that is larger than previous models. Still a large number of older units remain.

Today's demand for increased productivity has lead to higher speeds in switching yards and industrial facilities, leading to more high-speed encounters with derails. Our concern at the higher speeds is the greater chance that a piece of rolling equipment may 'skip' over a derail. There is simply too much weight and momentum to be overcome with the application of a derail alone.

Western-Cullen-Hayes has developed a Wheel Crowder to be used with the derail where these higher speeds are likely. While Crowder use is not yet widespread, using it with any older derail installation and particularly the new 'S' series of derails, will improve safety. A derail that has been involved in an accident with any type of rolling stock, should be thoroughly inspected to make sure that the derail has not been bent or damaged in any way that could interfere with its fit to the rail, or its operation.

Our customers' safety is the primary concern of all of us at Western-Cullen-Hayes. To that end, we ask that special attention be paid to the application and condition of all Hayes derails on your property.

If there is any question regarding the use of any of our derail products, we encourage you to contact us by calling our Chicago office 773-254-9600, our Richmond office 765-962-0526, or if you wish, through our website email function below. You may also send a direct email to info@wch.com.