Molyneux-Berry, Paul, Bevan, Adam, Zhang, S. Y and Kabra, S (2014) Residual Stress in Wheels: Comparison of Neutron Diffraction and Ultrasonic Methods, with Trends in RCF. In: The Second International Conference on Railway Technology: Research, Development and Maintenance, 8-11 April 2014, Corsica, France.

The critical damage mechanism on many GB passenger train wheels is Rolling Contact Fatigue (RCF) cracking in the rim. Evidence from field observations suggests that RCF damage occurs much more quickly as the wheelsets near the end of their life. Wheel manufacturing processes induce a compressive hoop stress in the wheel rim; variations in residual stress through the life of a wheel may influence the observed RCF damage rates.
This paper describes experiments to measure residual stresses in new and used wheel rims to identify whether this could be a significant factor, and compares the findings from neutron diffraction and ultrasonic birefringence methods. The scope goes beyond previous applications of neutron diffraction to railway wheels and identifies key considerations for future testing.
Assuming that the as-manufactured stress distribution was similar for all three wheels tested, it is found that the stresses are redistributed within the wheel rim during its life as material is removed and plastic flow occurs. However, the hoop stress near the running surface remains compressive and may not have a large influence on the RCF damage rates.


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