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Measuring wheel/rail contact stresses using ultrasound

By M.B. Marhsall, R. Lewis, R.S. Dwyer-Joyce, O. Olofsson and S. Bjorklund


The investigation of contact area and pressure distribution in a wheel/rail contact is essential information required in fatigue and wear calculations to determine design life, regrinding requirements, and maintenance schedules. The aim of this work was to use ultrasound to non-destructively determine wheel/rail contact pressures. Three different contacts were investigated those resulting from; un-used, sand damaged, and worn wheel/rail specimens. \ud \ud A wheel/rail interface behaves like a spring. If the pressure is high the interface is very stiff, with few air gaps, and allows the transmission of an ultrasonic sound wave. If the pressure is low, interfacial stiffness is low and almost all the ultrasound is reflected. \ud \ud A spring model was used to determine maps of contact stiffness from wheel/rail ultrasonic reflection data. Pressure was then determined using a calibration experiment. Separate calibrations were performed for each of the three sets of wheel/rail specimens investigated. Measured contact pressure distributions are compared to those determined using analytical and computer bases numerical techniques

Year: 2004
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