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Review Article

Open System Tribology in the Wheel–Rail Contact—A Literature Review

[+] Author and Article Information
Ulf Olofsson

Professor
Department of Machine Design,
KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Stockholm SE 100 44, Sweden
e-mail: ulfo@kth.se

Yezhe Lyu

Department of Machine Design,
KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Stockholm SE 100 44, Sweden

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received February 21, 2017; final manuscript received October 9, 2017; published online November 14, 2017. Editor: Harry Dankowicz.

Appl. Mech. Rev 69(6), 060803 (Nov 14, 2017) (10 pages) Paper No: AMR-17-1015; doi: 10.1115/1.4038229 History: Received February 21, 2017; Revised October 09, 2017

The tiny contact zone (approximately 1 cm2) where steel wheel meets steel rail is fundamental to rail transport. This work is a comprehensive presentation of recent research in wheel–rail contact tribology. It stresses that, unlike gears or rolling bearings which are sealed contacts with reduced exposure to the surrounding environment, a wheel–rail contact is an open system that is exposed to dirt and particles as well as to applied and natural lubrication (the latter category includes rain, dew, and biological materials such as leaves). As an open system contact, it also radiates sound and airborne wear particles. These characteristics of an open system underscore the need for special studies of open system tribology. Areas requiring study include airborne particle emissions and the environmental effects of applied lubrication and friction modification. Given that adhesion, wear, and sound and particle emission are closely related in an open system, these should be studied together rather than independently.

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Copyright © 2017 by ASME
Topics: Friction , Wear , Rails , Wheels , Adhesion
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References

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Rail wear rate versus average daily precipitation (MGT = mega gross ton traffic) [2]

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Fig. 2

Photographs of test tracks on four different periods: (a) September 2008, (b) October 2008, (c) November 2008, and (d) March 2009

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Fig. 3

Schematic of two contact types typical of a wheel–rail contact: left, a wheel tread–rail head contact; right, a wheel flange–rail gauge contact

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Fig. 4

Worn wheel–rail contact pressure maps at 65 kN for (a) single tread contact and (b) double tread and flange contacts [6]

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Fig. 5

Common friction coefficient levels at the wheel–rail contact and their consequences

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Fig. 6

Friction coefficient in Stockholm, Sweden, demonstrating a notable variation in different seasons. Adapted from Ref. [14].

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Fig. 7

Tarnished layer (a) and a piece of leaf crushed (b) on the rail head

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Fig. 8

Sensitivity of friction coefficient to the change in relative humidity (obtained from a pin-on-disk test with wheel and rail materials)

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Fig. 9

Friction coefficient as a function of temperature. Friction coefficient declined notably with snow presenting at the wheel–rail contact.

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Fig. 10

Profile change of wheel and rail over a 2-yr period (measured with a Greenwood Engineering® Miniprof system)

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Fig. 11

Appearance of catastrophically worn rail gauge corner with a lot of worn particles at the rail foot

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Fig. 12

Wear rate as a function of temperature. Large drop in wear rate was observed at −25 and −35 °C, where large area of flake-shaped oxides was found on the worn surfaces [30].

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Fig. 13

Wear rate as a function of absolute humidity. Decrease in wear with the increasing humidity can be seen at 3 and 10 °C [11].

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Fig. 14

Worn surfaces observed using scanning electron microscope at different testing conditions: (a) 900 MP/−35 °C and (b) 900 MPa/10 °C/85% relative humidity

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